Vedic Founder in Martha Stewart Magazine
Posted on By Rachel
A number things can weaken hair, making it more fragile and breakable, but in the context of brumal hair breakage it's famously the cold, dry winds of winter. Human bodies require moisture on the cellular level to maintain optimal health; our hair is no different. According to Ayurveda (a 5,000 year old system of health and beauty native to India), both the human body and the planet are governed by the elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Too much of one element causes imbalance in the body, and in one's environment. Winter, being cold and dry, is governed by the elements of air and space (Vata). These elements strip moisture, making hair and skin more and more dry- causing feebleness, cracking, and breaking. The solution is to balance air and space with water and earth, the elements which are the source of moisture and strength.
Hair masks are an excellent way to lock in moisture and strengthen your locks; this is especially true in the colder months. A hair mask largely consists of applying oil to your scalp and hair, leaving it in for an extended period of time, and then washing it out, but it can be done a few different ways depending on individual needs.
For general hair health and maintenance, a hair mask can be done about every other week; you might want to aim for once a week in cold seasons, and once a month in warm seasons. Apply your oil of choice to your scalp, massaging it into the follicles, and then extending outward applying the oil to your hair in general, finishing by being sure to get the tips of your hair. (pro tip: do a hair mask right after a haircut or trim to protect the freshly snipped ends of your hair.) Clip, tie up, or otherwise contain your hair and leave the oil in for at least 4 hours. Some will even wear a shower cap to bed to leave it in for 8+ hours. Wash out the oil and air dry your hair. Enjoy your luscious locks!
For individuals more concerned with dandruff, scalp psoriasis, and hair loss, oil can be applied daily to the scalp specifically. Individuals concerned with dry and damaged hair might find it helpful to apply a thin film of oil to their hair daily, taking care to get their ends as well. This can be done by putting a nickels' worth of oil in the palm of your hand, spreading that oil over the palms and fingers of both your hands, then running your fingers through your hair, transferring the oil on your hands to your hair.
Not all oils are created equal.
Coconut oil is easily one of best and most affordable oil to use in a hair mask. It's high lipid density creates a protective barrier on the surface of the scalp and provides long-term protection for the actual strands of hair. It's also been used to prevent hair loss in India for centuries. However, the high lipid density means it usually doesn't get as deep into the tissues.
Sesame oil and olive oil are low lipid density oils, and penetrate deeper into the scalp, providing moisture at deeper levels. However, you might have to mask more frequently with these oils, as they will be less protective against the elements. For those looking for the best of both worlds, a combination of the two oils would be a good place to start.
Beyond those two, we start to get into more specialized oils. Castor seed oil and pomegranate seed oil are loved for their hair-growth and hair-thickening properties, but they are incredibly viscous, sticky, and often unpleasant to work with (unless mixed with other oils like olive or coconut). Borage seed oil helps to balance hormonal fluctuations, and can assist with hair loss problems related to changes in the endocrine system. Baobab seed oil is particularly beneficial for thicker strands of hair, softening them and adding extra moisture.
Herbalized oils are some of the best to work with- herbs are infused with a low-lipid density oil like sesame, and then applied to the hair. These herbalized oils were developed in Ayurveda and are commonly used in India and the Middle East, treating your hair and scalp to herbal nutrition as well as healthy, moisturizing, protective fats. These oils usually contain herbs like bhringaraj, amalaki, brahmi, and rose; all herbs that have been used for centuries to promote and encourage healthy heads of thick, strong, and beautiful hair. Bonus: these herbs are also good for the brain and nervous system.
Of course, our hair serums at Vedic Botanicals contain many of these herbs and our NouRiche Hair Serum was recognized by British Vogue earlier this year (2020) as a top hair-care product.
Of course, wearing a hat or protecting your hair from the cold is always a good idea, but a less-common solution is to use a sleeping cap. It might seem outdated, but covering your hair in a silk or satin cap can protect it from damaging friction caused by tossing and turning in the night. You can also switch to silk or satin pillowcases, but for those their homes cool in the winter can benefit from a silk or satin sleeping cap.
As with any question about maintaining healthy hair, healthy skin, or a healthy body, it comes down to what you put into it: your diet. Your hair needs good proteins nutrients to stay strong and healthy: proteins like chia seeds and avocado, leafy greens with phytonutrients and trace minerals like chard and sprouts- don't forget that every cell in your body, every strand of hair on your head is the result of what you give your body to work with: food is the building bricks of your body. Be sure to keep up a balanced and nutrient rich diet!
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