7 Surprising Spices That Support Healthy Hair

If you've been into natural beauty since you tinted your tresses with henna in middle school, you've probably tried everything from avocado masks to skin-smoothing shea butter. It's time to revitalize your easy, breezy routine by adding these seven spices to your hair care regimen.

Black Pepper

Pepper up your tresses by applying this go-to spice, which facilitates the flow of blood and nutrients to your scalp and hair follicles. You'll notice your hair remains healthy and strong even as it grows faster than expected. Just mix a tablespoon of black pepper with about 1/4 cup each black castor and coconut oils (organic if possible). Apply it to your scalp for about 20 minutes, then rinse completely before styling those gorgeous locks.

Chamomile

While you're making your next cup of tea, steep some for your hair to revitalize your roots, soothe itching, and moisturize the scalp and strands. You only need to boil a teaspoon of chamomile flower in 1 cup of water and use it to rinse your hair after your next shampoo and condition.

Cinnamon

You know about the sun's unwanted impact on your skin, but you should also be aware of environmental damage to your hair and scalp. In addition to wearing a hat whenever you have a pool day planned, you can use cinnamon to dial back dryness and damage caused by the sun. Because it increases cell turnover and circulation, it also encourages hair growth. To take advantage of this spicy tip, simply stir some cinnamon (a teaspoon or two) into your oatmeal, cereal or morning beverage of choice. You can also mix it with some olive oil and honey to make a salve that will soothe and exfoliate your scalp.

Cumin

In addition to cooking up an amazing curry, cumin can reduce symptoms of dry scalp, help moisturize your mane, and even prevent damage. To try this tip, slowly stir warm water into powdered cumin until you have a pasty texture. Spread the solution on clean hair and relax for 30 minutes, then wash it out, condition, and do your thing.

Gingko Biloba

Ginkgo makes a great rinse if you want to accelerate hair growth. According to research published in Neuroradiology, this herb works by stimulating blood flow to the scalp. Throw a few cups of dried ginkgo Biloba in a pot of boiling water and steep for a few minutes, then use the resulting mixture as a rinse whenever you wash your hair.

Rosemary

Essential oil made from this herb can help with hair growth. However, don't put the formula directly onto your scalp, which can cause irritation. Instead, add a few drops to your shampoo or mix with a gentle, moisturizing oil like sunflower, coconut and jojoba to make a hair mask. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research even showed that the spice can shield against pattern baldness by rejuvenating nerves in the scalp.

Mustard

It's not just a sandwich spread - when massaged into your scalp, mustard oil boosts the health of your hair with fatty acids and antioxidants. It has been also used to help hair growth for generations in India since it's rich in nutritious zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D and E. In addition, studies suggest mustard oil may help shield the scalp from the sun's damaging UV rays. Finally, you can even use this essential substance to treat minor scalp infections and deep condition your tresses.

Next time you feel like your locks are looking a little lackluster, raid your kitchen for any of these seven spices to restore your hair to its most glorious state without leaving your home.

The Necessity of Scalp Care

Most people concern themselves with hair care, finding the right shampoos, conditioners, and treatments, but scalp care often flies under their radar. The scalp is the foundation of healthy hair; however, more than that, the scalp is susceptible to problems, including:

  • Cysts
  • Irritation
  • Itchiness
  • Flakiness
  • Sun damage
  • Acne
  • Hair loss
  • Pain

Scalp Hygiene, Hair Health, and Medical Conditions

The scalp and hair have a symbiotic relationship — if one is healthy, the other usually is. When the scalp is unhealthy, a person can experience different medical conditions, such as atopic dermatitis or seborrheic dermatitis. Both conditions can cause hair breakage, rough texture, hair loss, etc.

Atopic dermatitis is commonly known as eczema. The chronic condition causes itchy and red skin. While there are many potential causes of eczema, atopic dermatitis is often a reaction to hair care products like shampoos or dyes.

Seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff also causes redness and itchiness but can also be characterized by flakiness—dandruff results from dry skin buildup or oiliness.

Maintaining a healthy scalp is about knowing and adhering to proper scalp hygiene. If you experience scalp problems despite practicing good hygiene, consult with your primary care physician or a dermatologist.

Treating the Scalp and Common Conditions

While common, dandruff is a challenging condition to treat. Many over-the-counter products claim to treat the condition, but you must be careful about which items you choose. People are typically better served to consult their dermatologists or doctors for better and more practical remedies.

If you choose to go it alone and use OTC products, shampoos, or treatments, you will need to be selective. You will want to ensure the products have proper ingredients, including:

  • Selsun blue (selenium sulfide)
  • Salicylic acid
  • Dermazinc (pyrithione zinc)
  • Nizoral A-D (ketoconazole)
  • Tar

You do not need to use these products habitually. In fact, consumers should only use the items until the symptoms subside. Using certain products too often can nullify efficacy, meaning the items will not be as effective. Experts recommend alternating treatments every few months to avoid a loss of effectiveness.

If so, you can also try at-home remedies for treating the scalp. Some of the most effective treatments include:

  • Avoidance of styling products
  • Avoidance of products containing alcohol
  • Applying mineral oils to the scalp
  • Applying aloe vera to the scalp
  • Using tea tree oil in shampoo
  • Taking fish oil supplements

Promoting and Maintaining a Healthy Scalp

You may already have a healthy scalp, but that does not mean you are off the hook. Scalp health is an ongoing and ever-changing element. Adopting healthy practices is the only way to ensure or encourage continued health.

One of the best things you can do for your scalp is to avoid shampoos and conditioners with sulfates, alcohol, or fragrances. Certain ingredients in commercial beauty products can irritate the scalp, causing damage and promoting different conditions.

Additionally, do not overwash your hair. Most experts agree that you only need to wash your hair three to four times per week. Washing your hair more often can strip away natural oils, the same oils essential for a healthy scalp. Also, when shampooing your hair, massage the product into the hair, don't scrub. Massaging increases circulation and blood flow to the scalp.

A healthy scalp is vital to a healthy, full head of hair. Caring for your scalp can reduce the risks of specific conditions and improve hair feel, appearance, fullness, and thickness.

7 Tips That Work for Thinning Hair

Many women think that thinning hair is just something you have to accept. Forget that! You may not be able to change genetic factors, but you certainly can repair damaged hair, strengthen your strands and care for your scalp. Follow these seven tips.

1. Massage Your Scalp

A scalp massage feels amazing after a long day, especially in a warm shower with soothing essential oils (try diluted lavender oil for a heavenly experience). Massaging provides several benefits in addition to helping you relax. It increases blood flow to the scalp, boosting the nutrients available for healthy hair. It also helps shampoo ingredients penetrate more deeply.

Avoid the common mistake of massaging your hair, which can cause broken strands. Instead, give all the TLC to your scalp and let shampoo roll down your hair on its own.

2. Choose the Right Shampoo for Your Scalp

Make sure your shampoo meets your particular needs. Some shampoos help with volume, smoothness, root repair, hydration and strengthening.

Again, focus on your scalp, not your strands. Don’t choose a moisturizing shampoo for an oily scalp; pick one that helps with volumizing or strengthening.

What if you have a dry scalp and curly strands? Use a shampoo designed for hydration first. Take care of your curls with a second shampoo or conditioner.

3. Stress Less

Have you ever heard people say that a stressful situation is making their hair fall out? They’re not exaggerating.

The more stressed you feel, the more strands you lose. Stress hormones can alter your hair’s natural growth cycle.

Make time for rest and relaxation every week. Getting enough rest is good for your immune system and overall health, too.

It’s also important to avoid stressing too much about your hair. Seeing a bunch of strands in your hairbrush after bathing doesn’t necessarily mean your hair is thinning. It’s perfectly normal for women of any age to lose 50–100 hairs a day.

4. Take Time for Conditioner

Conditioner does for your strands what shampoo does for your scalp. Shampoo helps with cleansing and nourishing, while conditioner is designed to soften, detangle and protect your strands. That’s a big help in avoiding breakage.

5. Talk to Your Doc

Most women probably don’t think of thinning hair as something to discuss with a doctor, but your physician can be a huge help. Treating hair loss is easier when you know the underlying cause.

Sometimes, the issue is scalp inflammation, such as eczema. Hormone levels or nutrient deficiencies may be to blame. Even certain medications can trigger thinning hair.

6. Protect Your Hair

Treat your hair like it’s your favorite designer dress. Be gentle with it.

Limit washing to 2 or 3 times a week. Don’t be rough when toweling off. Forget about your blow dryer. Even if you’re in a hurry to get to work, your hair deserves a few minutes of your time.

7. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Iron and Zinc

Your follicles need zinc and iron to produce healthy and strong hair. Most of the strands you lose are because of breakage, so these strengthening minerals can make a big difference. Other hair-healthy essentials include omega-3 fatty acids and proteins. Fish, avocadoes and nuts are excellent sources.

With these easy tips, you can get back your luxurious hair. You deserve to rock the vibrant hairstyle you love.

Are You Washing Your Hair Too Often?

Between hair gel and an active lifestyle, shampooing is necessary to keep pores clean and hair strands bouncy. At the same time, washing too often can make hair look tired out. How can you tell if you’re washing your hair too often?

How Often Should Women Wash Their Hair?

The truth is that your hair (and your scalp) has different needs than everyone else’s. Some hair looks phenomenal shampooing daily. Other women only need to wash their hair once or twice a week! Your ideal routine can even change depending on the time of the year or even how stressed you feel.

Generally speaking, people who have fine-textured hair need to shampoo more often than ones with coarse strands. For many women, washing hair 2–3 times a week is perfect.

How Can You Tell If You’re Shampooing Your Hair Too Often?

Is your shampooing schedule a little too intense? Check for these seven warning signs.

1. Dry or Flaking Scalp

Just like other parts of your skin, your scalp needs to stay hydrated. Flaking means it’s too dry. This can happen if you’re washing too frequently or using a shampoo that's too harsh for your scalp.

2. Tangles

Shiny, healthy hair lets a brush slide through easily. If you frequently run into tangles in the morning, your strands are probably too brittle.

3. Dull or Frizzy Hair

Overdoing shampooing strips your hair and hair follicles of natural oils. This leaves strands looking frizzy and dull instead of vibrant and bouncy.

4. Split Ends

It’s normal for hair strands to eventually develop split ends as the tips dry out. With a healthy hair care routine, this should take a long time to happen — like three or four months. Are you seeing lots of split ends a few weeks after you visit the stylist? Either you’re washing too often or drying your hair too aggressively.

5. Breakage

Does it seem like you’re losing a ton of hair? Trust me, I've been there. The good news is that your hair isn’t actually falling out. It’s just breaking because the strands are too brittle. This can happen because of over-washing or rough shampooing.

6. Faded Color

Don’t tell anyone, but I dye my hair (gasp)! Isn’t it frustrating when that gorgeous color only lasts a week or two before fading? If that happens to you, you may need to dial back the shampooing and use a shampoo specifically designed for color-treated hair.

7. Oily Hair

Believe it or not, one of the signs you’re washing your hair too much is oily hair! When your scalp feels like it’s under attack, it increases oil production to compensate. Shampooing less often can help balance things out again.

How Can You Keep Your Hair Healthy?

The first thing you should experiment with if you're running into dry, brittle or dull hair is to wait an extra day to shampoo. Here are other tips that can help:

  • Towel off gently
  • Don’t brush when you hair is still wet
  • Use leave-in conditioner
  • Choose a moisturizing shampoo
  • Get plenty of antioxidants and nutrients for hair health

Washing your hair is a good thing. A soft massage with shampoo feels refreshing and exfoliates your scalp gently, keeping skin cells from clogging your pores. Just keep an eye on the appearance of your hair strands from time to time to make sure you're not overdoing it.