. healing malnourished hair .

by Amanda @ .running with spoons. on September 6, 2012

Today’s post is all about hair…

Or, more specifically, how to help repair hair that’s suffered as a result of extended periods of malnutrition. Although I was never blessed with an amazingly thick and voluminous head of hair to begin with, whatever I did have took a big hit after my bout with anorexia. It became thin, limp, brittle, and lifeless. Basically, it became a spitting image of me.

Now, I’m by no means a hair expert, but over the years I’ve picked up a handful of tips and tricks that have helped my hair return to some of it’s former glory, and I wanted to share those with you guys because I know nothing can wreck a good mood like a bad hair day… or bad hair in general. Sad, but true.

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. Diet and Nutrition .

First thing’s first. If you want to have healthy hair, you have to have a healthy body. Hair is pretty much at the bottom of the list when it comes to our body’s list of important/necessary parts (heart, brain, and organs are at the top), so it’s the last thing that receives nutrients from the food we eat. This means that you have to 1) eat enough, and 2) focus on foods that are going to help your hair. This means eating a diet rich in whole foods, and specifically those with healthy fats like: salmon, olive oil, coconut, avocados, and nuts.

Supplementing with good multivitamins and omega 3′s can also help. As can drinking enough water.

. – . – . – .

. Washing .

I hate to say it, but how much effort you put into washing and caring for your hair really helps determine how healthy your hair will be. For a long time, I thought that eating a good diet was enough to heal my hair, and while it certainly helped, it never gave me the full results that I wanted. It wasn’t until I started paying more attention to products and really babying my hair that I noticed bigger changes.

Let’s start with washing. I strongly suggest that you don’t wash your hair on a daily basis because doing so strips your hair of its natural oils and can cause it to become overly dry. I wash mine every 2 or 3 days, and if I find that I need a little bit of help between washes, a good dry shampoo works wonders. Batiste is my favorite.

When you do wash your hair, make sure to really take some time to massage your scalp thoroughly; I know it’s a pain in the butt, and requires some pretty decent upper body strength, but it really does help. As for shampoo, I absolutely love Lush’s solid shampoos

I know they look completely bizarre but these things are fantastic. You use it like you would a bar of soap, and lather it up in your hands before working it into your scalp. What I love most about these is that they’re made from natural ingredients, clean my hair exceptionally well, leave it so soft and shiny, and don’t weigh it down at all. They do contain sulfates, which I wasn’t too thrilled about in the beginning, but before this I used sulfate-free shampoos for years and they did absolutely nothing for my hair. A few weeks after switching shampoos, however, I noticed a big improvement so I can’t really deny that they work. They also last through a good amount of washes – about 4 months worth for me.

My favorite Lush shampoos are Seanik (more clarifying), and Godiva (more moisturizing).

. – . – . – .

. Conditioning .

In my August favorites post, I received quite a few questions about the Nioxin Scalp Therapy conditioner that I featured…

According to Nioxin, this product is supposed to: “activate the scalp and hair by breaking down the sebum containing environmental residues and DHT; and deliver vitamins and nutrients to the scalp and hair. SPF 15 protects the scalp skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays.” It’s a conditioner that you apply right to the roots of your hair and it basically strengthens and improves the condition of your scalp, protects it from environmental damage, and stimulates new hair growth by improving circulation (it starts to tingle and feel cool when you put it on). Now, I was reaaaaaally skeptical about this one at first, but I can honestly say that it does work.

My mom even began commenting on the newfound thickness of my hair and switched over to using the product herself. I don’t use it to cover all of my hair, though – just at the roots. For the ends, I use Lush’s Retread.

It’s a pretty rich conditioner and does wonders for moisturizing dry ends without weighing hair down. It has olive, jojoba, and avocado oils to moisturize, and soya milk and yogurt for added protein.

Then, once a week or so, I’ll sub out Retread with this reconstructive hair masque by Macadamia Hair.

This is a more heavy-duty conditioner that you penetrates deeper into damaged hair to help rebuild and moisturize it. You apply it to the ends of your hair and let it sit for about 7 minutes before rinsing it out. It really works wonders in softening hair, and it smells absolutely incredible… just don’t be tempted to taste it.

. – . – . – .

. Leave-in Treatments and Styling .

After washing, conditioning, and gently towel drying my hair, I apply this light healing oil by Macadamia Hair.

It’s a light-weight, non-greasy conditioning spray that helps detangle my hair while adding some shine. What I like most about it is that it doesn’t weigh my hair down or make it look greasy. Since my hair is fine, a lot of leave in conditioners can be too heavy and cause my hair to fall flat, which isn’t the case with this spray.

I also like to put a little bit of coconut or jojoba oil on my fingertips and work it into the ends of my hair.

At this point, it’s time to brush through the tangles, and it’s really important to be gentle and use a wide tooth comb.

Your hair is a lot more fragile when it’s wet, so tugging and combing with a regular brush can do a lot of damage and leave you with split ends. And speaking of damage, if you need to blow-dry or style your hair, make sure to use a heat protectant before applying heat. I really love the one by TRESemmé.

Other than that, give it time and make sure to get a trim every 3 months or so. I used to be the girl who would get a haircut maybe once a year, but ever since I started putting more effort in visiting my stylist more regularly, I’ve noticed my hair getting a lot healthier. Speaking of which, I think I’m due for a trim…

. – . – .

. In A Nutshell .

  • Eat enough (!!), and focus on whole foods with an emphasis on healthy fats.
  • Don’t wash your hair every day. Every 2-3 days is enough.
  • Take time to really massage your hair with shampoo when you’re in the shower.
  • Let conditioner sit in your hair for 5-10 minutes.
  • Apply oils to the ends of your hair as a leave-in treatment.
  • Use a wide tooth comb to brush your hair when it’s wet.
  • Apply a heat protectant before you apply heat.
. – . – . – .
How’s your relationship with your hair? Love it? Hate it?
What kind of hair do you have? Curly? Straight?

Any more tips to add? Products that you love?
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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sarah September 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm

I <3 this post! Seriously, thanks so much for sharing all this:). I got super excited to see that I use all the Lush products you've featuted( twin!), solid shampoos are so fun ( Godiva is my absolute fave), & Lush stuff smell ah-mazing, period.

I'm REALLY wanting to improve the condition of my hair badly, but swimming almost daily, ( chlorine, hair washing everyday, argh), has properely taken its toll. And my hair being super ugly, in turn makes me feel the same way:(. I'm going to try to take on as many of your tips as possible, they're certainly working for you! Your luscious locks look like they fell straight outta Pantene advert.
Xxx

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2 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Oh I love Lush! Their bath bombs make me wish it were cooler out more often so I could take a soak in the tub. And have you tried their lip scrubs/balms? Heavenly!

The swimming thing is a tricky one for hair :( Do you use a swimming cap? Maybe that would help with some of the damage.

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3 sarah September 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Yaaay, fellow Lush addictee<3! Agreed- everything there smells divine. And yes , I do love the lip scrubs- I use Lip Dip scrub( which do you have?) , followed by None of Your Beeswax lip balm- everyone is always trying to kiss me believe it or not:). I just bought the Vanilla Deelight body lotion too, muchly recommended!
Xxx

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4 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I’ve never tried either of those! I use Mint Julips and Honey Trap.

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5 Aimee September 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

What great tips for amazing hair! My hair definitely suffered during my years of anorexia but thankfully has recovered! It now has shine and grew in so much thicker due to my intake of healthy fats daily.
I now really like my hair – I have straight hair that I cut about every 6 weeks – ever since I started eating more healthy fats my hair grows like weeds! Some of my favorite products are John Freida shampoo for brunettes – it helps to bring out your natural color.
Definitely have to try some of your suggestions – the shampoo looks really interesting and I’ve never used a heat protectant before but sounds like a great idea.
Thanks again for sharing your secrets to great hair!!
:)

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6 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I used to use that John Frieda shampoo when I had blonde hair :) And definitely try the heat protectant! It also adds a little bit of extra texture to your hair.

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7 Tessa @ Amazing Asset September 6, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Thank you so much for this post Amanda… fantastic information and also one so many people can relate to and benefit from! My hair used to be quite thick and voluminous, but cutting back to nearly 0 grams of fat per day really took a toll on it. I don’t use too many fancier products, but I want to start to… my hair is just “okay” at this point, and apparently it needs a bit of extra help to keep on improving :)

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8 alex September 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Wow, your hair looks amazing and you can tell it has lots of volume, just what a girl wants. Thank you for the great tips!! :)

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9 Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body September 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm

This is so great, I am so not well educated on hair products so I found this post really informative! I love genuine health products, I don’t use there Omega3s or multivitamins, but I do use some of their other products. My hair is wavy/curly depending on the weather and how I often I wash it haha :)

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10 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Their Proteins+ whey protein was my favorite back in the day :) And I think my mom had me drinking their Greens+ while I was growing up, but I don’t remember liking it too much lol.

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11 Alexandra September 6, 2012 at 7:16 pm

YOUR HAIR IS STUNNING!!!! :D These are some amazing tips, thanks for posting!

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12 Ellie@Fit for the Soul September 6, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Well, your tips have definitely worked because your hair looks gorgeous and elegant! :) Hmmm I feel funny saying this but I’ve actually been “blessed” with super thick, strong hair! Growing up i used to really hate that fact since all my friends (Argentinean girls with beautiful light brown/blond hair :P) had thin and easy to style hair. Mine was always hard to even tie in a ponytail, hah! But the older I get the more I love it esp. since I’ll lose it in the future anyways. And I can def. say that healthy food and oils make hair wayyyy stronger. Mine is shinier and dare I say even thicker ever since I started to love avocados, nut butters, coconut oil, etc. in my daily meals.

Long live strong hair! :D

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13 Ksenija @ Health Ninja September 6, 2012 at 11:55 pm

That is a great post Amanda, thank you. I always admired your healthy long hair and now I know that it’s not given but nature, but actually took some afford. Nice thing that just recently a Lush store opened nearby. I do already use argan oil for the ends of my hair, but I always skipped the heat protectant before blowing my hair and do not massage shampoo properly – also I am one of the bad girls who actually use a regular brush instead of a comb. So there are a few things on my shopping list right now.

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14 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Oh it definitely takes some effort. I used to be soooo lazy when it came to taking care of my hair and it showed. Even now, if I start slacking on the maintenance, it shows. It kind of sucks, but I guess like anything else in life, you have to put in the work if you want the results.

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15 Katy September 7, 2012 at 2:48 am

OooOooo I’m definitely gonna look out for the Batiste dry shampoo. I tend to only wash my hair every couple of days. I have a really dry scalp so I need to put coconut oil on my scalp and through my hair every week and after I’ve washed it out my hair feels amazing. I don’t use anything else ;)

I have fine hair so I find it gets greasy quite quickly, which is why I don’t have a fringe. It’s just too much trouble.

xxx

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16 Floey September 7, 2012 at 4:29 am

This is off topic, but that turquoise hoodie looks SOO comfy. Haha. Can’t wait until fall to whip out my own.
Awesome post though…do you highlight your locks?

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17 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I don’t. I used to color my hair in my teens and early 20′s, but then decided to go natural because it was just too much trouble to maintain and I didn’t like how it was damaging my hair.

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18 Laura Agar Wilson (@keephealthstyle) September 7, 2012 at 5:24 am

Wonderful post! I found that my hair suffered last year and is just getting back to itself now. I also use that solid shampoo from Lush and I need to start remembering to use coconut oil! I do have coloured hair so that’s another reason for me to not wash every day. Dry shampoo is my saviour!

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19 Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin September 7, 2012 at 5:33 am

Thanks for this post girl! I’ve got the adequate nutrition (with lots of healthy fats) thing down pat, but hasn’t been enough to help heal my hair in the past 2 years. I guess haven’t been paying much attention to the actual product aspect of caring for your hair. :P I’m definitely planning on buying that Nioxin stuff this weekend though!

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20 Amanda @ .running with spoons. September 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Yeah, I used to be really lazy when it came to actually putting effort into my hair, but it made a huge difference when I started! It’s a pain in the butt, but like anything else, if you want the results, you have to put in the effort. Boo to that :P

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21 Shannon September 7, 2012 at 6:37 am

Great post! Your diet really does play a big part in hair health. I have extremely thick and curly hair, but during my anorexia my hair was coming out in big clumps and it became very thin and dry. When I began incorporating fats into my diet again and gaining weight my hair became its old self again too. I can’t believe I didn’t see what was happening to my beautiful curls when i wasn’t treating my body well

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22 Jessy September 7, 2012 at 6:41 am

Your hair looks gorgeous! I completely agree about the importance of proper nutrition for healthy hair. When I was too restrictive (not eating enough in general, but especially not enough fats), my hair was thinning and falling out. I was in denial and thought that perhaps it was because of stress or something like that. Since I started eating better (more, with a lot of fat), my hair is nice again. What I’m very good at is not washing my hair too often haha (I wash it 2-3 times a week) and not damaging it with heat (I never use hair drier, unless I’m really in a hurry to go out, which happens maybe once a year). Now I only need to start visiting hair dresser more often to get a trim! In the past I always wanted curly hair, mine is straight. I do like the colour though, it’s almost like natural ombre (darker on the top, lighter in the end).

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23 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers September 7, 2012 at 10:03 am

I use that same heat treatment. (It fits in my budget!) I’m going to keep an eye out for that Nioxin though – sounds like a winner.

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24 Liz (formerly VeggieGirl) September 7, 2012 at 10:43 am

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for these tips!

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25 Tori September 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

So glad you did a post on this! I actually just ordered that conditioner after I saw it on your favorites post the other day. I’d been looking for some more products to help my hair but there’s so many to choose from and they’re all so expensive! This one seems to get such great reviews! I’m excited to try it.

Unfortunately, like most people here, I too lost a lot of hair due to malnourishing my body. Plus I’ve always had thin, soft, baby-like hair. It’s great usually, but if I lose ANY hair it’s pretty noticeable right away.

I’ve switched over to natural hair products (not LUSH, it’s out of my college price range but I wish I could try it; I just buy the natural versions of the brands at the grocery store) to keep from putting too many chemicals in my hair, and I’ve been taking hair/skin/nails supplements for the past 8 months or so. Luckily my hair only falls out more than it should now if I’m really stressed for a few days. However, it’s only stopped— I have some new growth but not very dramatically. I’m hoping this conditioner and some coconut oil can get this party started some more. Haha!

I don’t eat as many fats anymore… I’m so burnt out on nuts and peanut butter. Ugh. Who would’ve thought that could ever happen….

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26 Shannon (Healthiful Balance) September 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Thanks so much for this! Great tips that I’ll have to try out. :)

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27 Lisa September 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I’m working on a hair post as well, since SO many people ask me about mine ha ha. Same wavelength:)
Love the tips! We share a lot of similar ones.

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28 kris September 7, 2012 at 2:53 pm

i love all your hair tips! and your hair looks so healthy! i definitely try not to wash my hair everyday, but it gets oily really easily making it hard not to. i’ve always wanted to try the macadamia hair line so i’m glad to see that you like it. perhaps i’ll have to give it a whirl. i usually change up my shampoos every couple months so my hair kinda experiences something new and doesn’t get too used to the same product.
i m currently loving ‘its a 10′ miracle leave in plus keratin that i spray into my wet hair especially before blow drying my hair, & then the miracle shine spray afterwards. it smells really good which is a plus :)

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29 Irina @ Chocolatea Time September 7, 2012 at 10:27 pm

This is such an informative post…I’m gonna bookmark it! I’m always on the lookout for new natural shampoos and have never seen a shampoo bar. I wonder if they sell it at Whole Foods? I’ll give it a try, especially if it can potential give me hair like yours :) My three hair problems are daily washes, rare haircuts, and too much heat styling. Ugh I just can’t seem to drop the bad habits

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30 Albizia September 10, 2012 at 12:22 am

Your hair products seem to work wonders but I have heard only of TRESemme and that’s because somebody else with amazing hair is using it. They are not available in this parts and neither is my own shampoo as a matter of fact but I keep getting supplies from abroad. I use exclusively Fructis and no other shampoo I’ve tried has ever succeeded in keeping my scalp dandruff-free and my hair in place at the same time.

My hair is curly and unruly with a history of severe hair falls followed by every single hair fall treatment available on the market. That makes me very picky when it comes to hair products. As a shampoo I mainly use anti-dandruff Fructis for falling or damaged hair, though most other types are OK too. After that I apply some damage treatment masque, currently Loreal but I have a Fructis hidden in my closet :D Then I apply some Fructis anti-breakage serum (surprise!) on damp hair and, if the weather is too humid, anti-frizz treatment which you have probably already guessed is Fructis too. I never blow dry my hair and I only use mousse to define the curls. Mousse makes it slightly uncombable but I don’t brush it more than twice a week anyway so it’s OK for me.

With all this pampering my hair is finally starting to get it’s healthy look back and it’s actually growing longer which I had stopped believing was possible.

As for tips: vitamin A, selenium, zinc, brewer’s yeast, egg yolks, vinegar… And ,yeah, food.

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31 Cherie Buttonss September 10, 2012 at 1:59 am

The day after I read this post I saw Nioxin in the chemist, its pretty expensive but Im actually thinking of giving it a try. Ive bleached my hair for a LONGGG time, and it is actually in a pretty healthy state but I would love for it to grow a bit longer and thicken up a bit. And that dry shampoo works wonders, much better then I thought it would be. Its good for me to use because if I wash my hair too often I lose all the pretty colours in my hair.

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