Like everything else about true, lasting beauty, healthy hair begins within your body. Start with your diet. Include lots of green leafy vegetables and sweet juicy fruits. Dairy products such as milk and fresh yogurt will also help. Fresh coconut is also considered excellent “hair food” – sprinkle grated coconut over salads, diced fresh fruit, or rice.
Cut down on refined, processed and canned foods. Ayurveda considers foods with artificial preservatives and chemical additives stripped of their inherent “intelligence” and therefore not helpful in supplying nutrition to your body and mind. Ice-cold beverages also hamper the process of digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
Cooking with certain spices adds flavor to your food and provides nourishment for your hair. Cumin, turmeric and black pepper are some “hair-friendly” spices. Add a healthy pinch of each to single-portion soups and stews as they are cooking. Sauté 1/8 –1/4 teaspoon each of the three spices in a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil and add to cooked veggies. Roasted ground cumin and ground black pepper can be sprinkled over fresh yogurt.
Stress can be seriously injurious to long-term health and color of hair. Try and manage your time and tasks to minimize time-related pressures. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation. Seek out tranquil sights in nature to help restore balance to your mind. Relaxing or uplifting music can be therapeutic. Get adequate, good quality sleep to help the natural process of rejuvenation.
Ayurvedic herbs that help hair health include Eclipta alba and Gotu Kola. Eclipta alba is called “Bhringaraj” – literally, king of tresses. It nourishes the hair and helps resistance to stress as well. Brahmi, sometimes called Gotu Kola, also helps balance the mind and nourishes the hair and scalp. Since Ayurveda considers the health, color and luster of hair so dependent on overall mind/body health, synergistic Ayurvedic herbal preparations for hair can also include herbs such as Country Mallow, which is supposed to strengthen the physiology, and Winter Cherry, which aids resistance to stress.
Stay away from harsh chemical topical products that can damage hair over time. Look for gentle, natural cleansers and conditioners, especially if you wash your hair more than three times a week. Shampoos and conditioners that contain nourishing botanicals are even better. Read labels carefully – sometimes, products that say “herbal” or “natural” can include no-no chemicals.
A warm oil scalp massage two or three times a week will help stimulate and moisturize the scalp. You can use good quality coconut, almond or olive oil Ayurvedic hair oils also contain some of the herbs mentioned earlier. Apply some mildly warmed oil to your hair and gently massage into your scalp evenly with your fingertips. Leave on overnight if you can, if not, leave on for at least an hour or two, then get it out by shampooing your hair. The scalp massage helps you relax and aids sound sleep as well.
Never attack wet hair with a brush, no matter how rushed for time you are. Tangles in wet hair are best removed with a wide-toothed comb. Use a wooden comb if you can find one; it won’t generate static electricity. Excessive blow-drying can damage hair in the long-term, making it brittle and causing split ends. If you can, let your hair dry naturally, then brush into place.
Last, but not least, brushing your hair regularly to stimulate the scalp will keep it looking healthy and lustrous. Brush each night in all directions in turn – left to right, right to left, front to back and back to front Use smooth long strokes from scalp to hair-tips.