Am I hallucinating or does my hair look like straw? That moment of reckoning hits all of us right between the eyes. After subjecting our locks to years of chemical coloring agents, hot styling tools and hair care products with ingredients that are literally unpronounceable, there comes a time when it all catches up to us. Dragging a comb through freshly washed, conditioned and purportedly detangled hair suddenly becomes an exercise in pure frustration, with the casualty of our chemical tendencies being broken bits and pieces of dull organic material that once looked and even felt like genuine hair. (Even birds wouldn’t want to insulate their nests with it!)
Why must it be this way? Oh…come on, we all know why. Very few of us are satisfied with what Mother Nature gave us. If we’re blessed with glossy raven locks, we want platinum blonde instead. Those fortunate enough to rock a ginger head sometimes crave a deep mocha tone, while ladies sporting natural ringlets may end up cursing the hair gods, opting for a chemically straightened look no matter the cost to scalp or wallet. Desiring an ever-changing look is certainly part of the very spice of life… it’s just a shame that it takes such an obvious toll on the quality of our tresses.
Barring an all-out-Britney shearing — which looked great on Natalie Portman and Demi Moore, but could conceivably backfire for mere mortals without access to extraordinary styling gurus — is it really possible to correct the damage done by one thousand and one primping and preening sessions? According to the experts, nope… not really. Once the cuticle has been compromised, the best hope we’ve all got for a better looking head of hair is to be diligent about getting monthly haircuts, going easy on the styling tools and using nourishing personal care products that are absent of sulfates, parabens, silicone and other dangerous, often petroleum-based, chemicals. For noticeably manageable locks, however, these key plant-based oils will smooth your hair cuticle with nary a chemical in sight:
Virgin Coconut Oil
A boon to satisfying, flavorful and culinarily creative vegan dishes as well as a whole host of natural body care products, the high saturated fat content of coconut oil is perfectly suited to locks that look far more limp than lustrous. In fact, a study found that whether it’s applied on healthy or chemically-compromised hair, coconut oil reduces protein loss since it “is able to penetrate inside the hair shaft.” So, whether you scoop it straight out of the container and allow it to work its magic for a few hours or opt for a longer-term deep conditioning treatment, your hair will sing with hydrating relief.
Morocco is no stranger to the medicinal, nutritional and beauty-bestowing benefits of Argan tree kernels, which are roasted and then pressed to yield an antioxidant-rich oil that is apparently as delicious as it is restorative to the skin and hair. A word to the wise – just a little of this rapidly absorbing oil goes a long way, with its best application as a post-shower hair treatment when sparingly applied to towel-dried locks.
Your favorite heart-healthy oil is good for so much more than grilling organic chicken breasts and providing the foundation for a zippy salad dressing. Did you know that it can also clean your facial skin (without triggering blemishes!), work extremely well as a natural shaving lotion and help to exfoliate dead skin cells when mixed with coarse salt? But you want to use it to restore the elasticity to your chemically ravaged tresses, right? Then this is what you need to do. Warm 1–2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil before applying it to the entire length of your hair (don’t forget your scalp!) and then create a mini greenhouse effect by tucking your locks into a plastic bag. Not terribly attractive, but after allowing your hair to chill out for at least 1 hour (preferably longer for the best effect) and washing it out thoroughly with warm water and a natural shampoo, you’ll wonder why you never marinated your mane sooner!
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