If you’ve noticed a sudden change in your hair but are still loyal to your go-to products, it could be time to take a look at your water. Water hardness differs from state to state and may be to blame. Read on to learn what hard water is, how it affects hair, and how to get your hair back to its roots.
Water that contains a large amount of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, is called hard water. It forms as water passes through limestone and chalk. While hard water isn’t harmful, the buildup of minerals can change the texture and feel of hair.
The dissolved minerals in hard water coat hair, which can make it feel rough and dry. While one study found that hard water doesn’t affect hair strength or elasticity, the buildup can make styling more difficult and cause color-treated hair to fade quicker. Since hair feels more straw-like and knotty, it’s also be more difficult to brush.
Eggs, yogurt and honey are, at first glance, all components of a tasty breakfast—but they also happen to be hair treatment ingredients, and affordable, all-natural ones at that. And they’re not the only ones. Did you know, for instance, that the oils in avocados more closely resemble our own skin’s oils than any product in the beauty aisle does? Or that the mild acidity in lemon is an effective—and gentler—alternative to chemical-laden products? Next time your locks need a lift, save money by using one of these kitchen fixes.
For All Hair Types
“The [raw] egg is really the best of all worlds,” says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home. The yolk, rich in fats and proteins, is naturally moisturizing, while the white, which contains bacteria-eating enzymes, removes unwanted oils, she explains.
To Use: For normal hair, use the entire egg to condition hair; use egg whites only to treat oily hair; use egg yolks only to moisturize dry, brittle hair, Cox says. Use 1/2 cup of whichever egg mixture is appropriate for you and apply to clean, damp hair. If there isn’t enough egg to coat scalp and hair, use more as needed. Leave on for 20 minutes, rinse with cool water (to prevent egg from “cooking”) and shampoo hair. Whole egg and yolks-only treatments can be applied once a month; whites-only treatment can be applied every two weeks.
For Dull Hair
Styling products (as well as air pollution) can leave a film that both saps moisture and dulls shine—but dairy products like sour cream and plain yogurt can help reverse this damage. “Lactic acid gently strips away dirt while the milk fat moisturizes,” says Lisa Belkin, author of The Cosmetics Cookbook.
To Use: Massage 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt into damp hair and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water, followed by cool water, then shampoo hair as you normally would. Treatment can be applied every other week.
For Itchy Scalp
To fight flakes—brought on by poor diet, stress and climate, among other factors—try a lemon juice and olive oil mixture in your hair. “The acidity in lemon juice helps rid your scalp of any loose, dry flakes of skin, while the olive oil moisturizes the [newly exposed] skin on your head,” says Cox.
To Use: Mix 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp water, and massage into damp scalp. Let mixture sit for 20 minutes, then rinse and shampoo hair. Treatment can be applied every other week.
For Limp or Fine Hair
To add body to hair, reach for an unlikely beauty beverage: beer! The fermented drink contains generous supplies of yeast, which works to plump tired tresses, explains Cox.
To Use: Mix 1/2 cup flat beer (pour beer into a container and let it sit out for a couple of hours to deplete carbonation) with 1 tsp light oil (sunflower or canola) and a raw egg. Apply to clean, damp hair, let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Or add flat beer only to a spray bottle and spritz onto dry hair. “When the liquid evaporates, the remaining protein residue (from the wheat, malt or hops) continues to strengthen and structure hair,” says Belkin. Treatments can be applied every other week.
For Dry or Sun-Damaged Hair
Whatever your hair-dehydrating demon—hard water, sun overexposure, your trusty flat iron—nature’s sweetener can help. “Honey is a natural humectant, which means it attracts and locks in moisture,” says Cox.
To Use: Massage approximately 1/2 cup honey into clean, damp hair, let sit for 20 minutes, then rinse with warm water. You can also add 1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil to loosen the honey for easier application. For extremely sun-damaged hair, trying mixing honey with 1 to 2 Tbsp of a protein-rich ingredient, like avocado or egg yolk, which will help replenish the keratin protein bonds that UV rays attack. Treatment can be applied once a month.
For Oily or Greasy Hair
“Used properly, [cornmeal or cornstarch] is an inexpensive way to remove oil and grease,” says Belkin.
To Use: Pour 1 Tbsp cornmeal or cornstarch into an empty salt or pepper shaker and sprinkle onto dry hair and scalp until you’ve used it all. After 10 minutes, use a paddle hairbrush to completely brush it out. Treatment can be applied every other day.
For Frizzy Hair
Home beauty experts swear by avocado—and not just to repair damaged hair. Its oils (which are light and moist like our own natural skin secretions) and proteins boast the best combination of nutrients for smoothing and weighing down unruly hair, explains Cox.
To Use: Mash up half an avocado and massage into clean, damp hair. Let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing with water. Amp up moisturizing power by combining mashed avocado with 1 to 2 Tbsp of a hydrating ingredient, like sour cream, egg yolks or mayonnaise. Treatment can be applied every two weeks.
For Residue-Ridden Hair
“Nothing eats through product buildup like baking soda,” Cox says. Sodium bicarbonate essentially breaks down anything acidic.
To Use: Mix 1 to 2 Tbsp baking soda with small amounts of water until a thick paste forms. Massage into damp hair and let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with water, then shampoo hair. Treatment can be applied every two weeks.
Hardness indicates the concentration of calcium, magnesium and manganese in water. Hard water exceeds three grains per gallon, or 51.3 parts per million. Though hard water is not a hazard, it can be an inconvenience.
Follow these steps for a simple, homemade hair treatment to remove hard water buildup.
Measure 2 cups warm distilled water and add 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar. For longer hair, you can double the quantities.
Pour the mixture into a squeeze bottle or an old shampoo bottle.
Shampoo your hair as you normally do and then rinse hair with the vinegar solution. You can rinse your hair in plain water after using the vinegar rinse, but you don’t need to, according to Chagrin Valley Soap and Craft Company.
As your hair dries, the vinegar smell will dissipate. Use this vinegar rinse once or twice a week.
is particularly great for natural hair. It’s loaded with nutrients, amino acids, essential fatty acids, as well as vitamins A, B, D, and E. And it’s excellent for moisturizing, deep conditioning, improving hair strength, strengthening hair, and boosting shine.
thickens hair, promotes hair growth, prevents thinning, moisturizes, helps reduce split ends, helps to tame frizz, and prevents scalp infections.
is great for preventing dandruff, promoting hair growth, moisturizing, strengthening hair, thickening hair, and preventing damage.
Not only does the sweet smell of coconut oil instantly transport you to a tropical island beach, it also has incredible benefits for transforming your hair.
Coconut oil is a natural emollient meaning it locks moisture in to each individual hair strand to restore body and shine.
It’s also a rich source of vitamin E, one of the most important vitamins for healthy hair growth.
Microbial action on the scalp and roots is one of the biggest causes of hair loss. Lauric acid and capric acid are both compounds found in coconut oil that act as antimicrobial agents making coconut oil an effective hair loss treatment.
Coconut oil is packed full of saturated fats which penetrate deep into the scalp to prevent flaky skin and reduce dandruff.
The most effective way to apply coconut oil is to massage it into the roots and scalp and then run your fingers all the way through to the tips of your hair approximately 30 minutes before you shower. Rinse out with warm water and a natural shampoo.
which is also referred to as the “godmother of hair oil,” is great for moisturizing, deep conditioning, improving hair strength, eliminating dandruff, and also has powerful antioxidants that can help fight hair loss.
We’ve all used olive oil for cooking and dressing salads, but did you know that extra virgin olive oil can also transform your hair?
Much like coconut oil, olive oil nourishes, moisturizes, conditions and strengthens your hair while also minimizing hair loss and dandruff.
Try this simple olive oil treatment for achieving beautiful hair at home.
Half fill a cup with extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of an essential oil of your choice, such as lavender or rosemary oil. Shake or mix well and allow to stand in a cool dark place for 24 hours.
Pour one tablespoon of the olive oil mixture into the palm of your hands and rub your hands together to warm it up.
Starting with your scalp, massage the oil into your hair in a circular motion using your fingertips. Finish by massaging the tips of your hair.
Secure a plastic bag around your hair and leave for 30 minutes.
Finally, rinse your hair as usual and shampoo.
is great for stimulating hair follicles for hair growth, preventing hair loss and greying, preventing dandruff, strengthening hair, and boosting shine.
protects hair, nourishes hair follicles, moisturizes, and stimulates blood circulation to promote hair growth and thickness. And it is extremely beneficial for natural as well as dry chemically treated hair.
Sweet almond oil
works great as a “sealant.” This means that it “locks-in” moisture. Sweet almond oil also nourishes hair, smoothes hair cuticles to control shedding, promotes hair growth and thickness, prevents hair loss, and boosts shine.
Argan oil is one of the most expensive oils for our hair, but it’s certainly worth every penny. It is extracted from the kernels of the argan tree – an endangered tree native to Morocco.
Application is similar to that of most other oils. Place a tablespoon of the oil into your hands, rub together and apply to hair starting at the scalp working through to the tips of the hair. Use a brush or comb for even distribution if necessary. Wrap your hair in a towel for an hour, rinse thoroughly and shampoo.
The essential fatty acids present will strengthen your hair proteins resulting in stronger hair with fewer split ends. In addition, the rich sources of vitamin E will repair hair damaged by destructive agents and the non-greasy argan oil will add shine and moisture without the horrible greasy feeling.
So the next time you want to repair or improve the appearance of your hair, try one of these natural oils or a hair oil blend instead of spending a fortune on over-the-counter chemical-laden hair products.