Aloe Vera for Hair Loss

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If you read the blog, you’ll know by now that I’m prone to putting a lot of obscure things on my head (unless they contain chemicals, that is!). Recently I stopped using powders with water (too messy) in favour of Khadi and Morrocco Method shampoos. I only wash my hair once a week, so you can imagine how long my shampoos last! I often add Aloe Vera, coffee or Rhassoul to the Khadi shampoo to make it more potent.

In between using these ready-made poos, I like to make my own (much less messy) shampoo which works wonders for my hair and scalp. It’s easy, no fuss and cheap.

Aloe vera is said to have cleansing and purifying properties for the scalp whilst maintaining healthy, shiny hair. It’s supposed to help strengthen the strands themselves whilst soothing the follicles at the root, which can also help with hair loss. After hearing glowingly positive reviews about fresh aloe vera online, I was determined to give it a go. I’ve heard equally good things about honey, so I thought why not combine the two? They’re both gloopy and shampoo-like, plus some people had already used them together with decent results. Cheap runny honey in a squeezy bottle will do – apparently using raw wild honey causes build-up of beeswax (no thanks!)

I am currently growing my aloe vera (it’s only a baby so I can’t cut it – and don’t want to!) so I bought fresh, pure organic aloe vera gel online (it’s relatively cheap and you don’t need a lot). Mine came in a sachet so get a clean jar or pot to decant it into.

To make the honey shampoo, simply squeeze equal amounts of each into the palm of your hand. You don’t need a lot – about the size of a 50p coin each. Then mix them with your finger and slop it all over your head, getting right onto the scalp and all over the roots. Don’t worry about the ends so much – my ends are never dirty now I don’t use chemicals and wash only once a week – but if yours feel a little heavy then add some more down there and massage it in.

I leave this on a bit like a mask sometimes for 5 or 10 minutes pre-shower or while I’m in the bath – or rinse straight away. Each time my hair is soft, shiny and clean – and it stays that way for the duration of the week.

You can see from this BTS that my hair is growing a lot thicker and longer – I’m positive that the no-washing no-chemicals policy is working wonders. Have you tried aloe vera for hair loss??

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Soap Nut, Shikakai and Rhassoul clay shampoo for hair loss – Recovery hair

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You might have seen that recently in my hair loss quest (I lost a considerable amount of hair for the third time last year) I’ve gone all-natural in my quest to find a solution. I’m very lucky in that my hair is growing back thick and strong (although this hair is only 3-4 inches long at the moment!) but I want to maintain that growth, in addition to the health of my hair and scalp, to hopefully ensure no further hair loss takes place.

I posted about Rhassoul Clay and its benefits for the hair and scalp a few weeks back – and although I loved it as a shampoo I did feel it was a little drying and that I needed something more than just Rhassoul in the mix. On further research I discovered that a basic Indian shampoo is comprised of Soapnut and Shikakai – then often mixed with Rhassoul, Henna, Amla or other ingredients to further benefit the hair. I read a lot of good reviews online, so I decided to give it a try.

What is Soapnut (or Reetha) powder?

Soapnuts are used as a natural cleansing and conditioning agent which have been used for centuries in Indian culture for washing the hair and body. It effectively cleans the hair without stripping the scalp, restoring softness and shine. It’s great for hair loss and an unhealthy scalp because it’s all natural and contains vitamins A, D, E and K. Because of these aspects, and especially when combined with Shikakai, Soapnut helps to strengthen, lengthen and encourage regrowth of hair – keeping the scalp AND the hair happy is a powerful tool in combatting hair loss.

The powdered form is SO easy to use. Some do say they boil the nuts and make shampoo that way but honestly I don’t have the time, patience or attention span for that!!

What is Shikakai?

Shikakai strengthens the hair and cleanses just as Soapnut does – but where Soapnut (and Rhassoul especially) can cause the hair to become knotted, Shikakai combats this with detangling properties. It softens the hair whilst giving it lots of healthy volume and shine – plus it stimulates hair growth and nourishes the scalp preventing dandruff and flakiness.

Together, Soapnut, Shikakai and Rhassoul provide a perfect pH and a powerful combination of hair and scalp loving vitamins and minerals to aid in combatting hair loss. Without any moisture they can be a bit drying, so they’re really best combined in a recipe for optimum results.

How do I use it?

I mix a dessertspoon (around half a tablespoon) of Soapnut powder and Shikakai powder in an applicator bottle (you can get these from eBay for £1 or just use a plastic bowl) with about the same amount of Rhassoul (your bowl and mixing implement need to be non-metal as this reacts with Rhassoul clay) and then add a little boiling water and mix or shake until I have a foaming paste. It looks a lot like a runny, creamy shampoo consistency which is good (If you’ve tried Rhassoul on its own, you’ll know that it’s a little like cement dissolved in water – you get none of that with this!)

Then I add a few drops (I’d say around a teaspoon) of Argan Oil or Almond Oil (I use pure organic oil from Argan Liquid Gold). The shampoo does have a funky, ‘spicy’ scent but it’s nothing you don’t get used to after a while and it doesn’t linger on your hair once it’s dry. I love using essential oils in my shampoo – I usually add rosemary essential oil as it has fabulous hair-loving properties which help to repair and soothe the scalp but Cedarwood and Peppermint oils are also good and you can also use essential oils just for the scent, like Orange and Rose (I use pure Rose essential oil from Thailand – it’s TO DIE FOR!).

So, now for the application. I apply mine like a spa treatment in the bath so that when it goes everywhere (which it inevitably does!) it goes into the bath and not on the bathroom floor. Then I soak and leave it on for around half and hour then wash it off still sitting in the bath tub. I won’t lie, it’s incredibly messy. But so worth it!!

The good thing about Soapnut is that it foams and lathers up a little bit like conventional shampoo. I scoop it out with my fingers and apply to directly to my scalp, gently massaging my hair over the covered areas. I make sure my whole scalp is covered – I usually just pour the rest of the mixture over my head. I don’t bother too much about the ends of my hair, because they tend to get covered in the mixture by default and of course the ends of your hair don’t need washing as the scalp does. The Shikakai does make it quite gritty, so it’s a little like rubbing in and washing mud and gravel out of your hair (well, that’s exactly what it’s like),

The BAD NEWS about this shampoo is that it is an absolute NIGHTMARE to use and wash out if you’re used to ‘normal’ shampooing and hair washing. The GOOD NEWS is that you only have to wash your hair once a week – because your hair is returning to its natural state and is not getting greasy so quickly. Also the less you wash your hair the better it will be for the health of your hair and on improving hair loss.

I just stick my head under the shower for at least 5-10 minutes until the water runs clear and I can’t find any grit. I always find at least one little piece when my hair is dry but that’s fine as they come out easily.

Once your hair is rinsed clean, wrap it up in a warm towel and leave it to dry (don’t use heat when you’re suffering from hair loss!!). As always, don’t brush until it’s dry.

There you have it – the method seems lengthy when you first read it, but I promise that after one or two gos you will be sold as I was and won’t mind the slight hassle when you see the incredible effect it has on your hair. Go on – give it a go – and let me know how you get on!

 

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Before going ‘no-poo’ after an eating disorder – what you should know

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I do a lot of posts on the blog about hair loss, because it’s something I get asked about a lot, as many people suffer from some sort of hair loss during or after an eating disorder. Understandably – it’s devastating losing your hair and when it happens you feel like you’ll do anything to ‘fix’ it.

Having recently regrown my hair from a fairly bad bout of hair loss last Summer, (not fully regrown, just a thick 3 inch fringe of baby hairs!) and finding recently my body is struggling with the combined effects of winter and my anxiety, I have been back reading up on the negative effects of using chemicals artificial entities such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Silicones which are widely present in commercial shampoos and are less than good for scalp health.

I knew this before, of course – I even bought a Morocco Method shampoo which was lovely but just didn’t have the familiar old gloopy consistency I knew and loved from a shampoo. I’m not very patient and have a very short attention span, so in all honesty I gave it a couple of washes and gave up, without giving it the time I’ve heard is needed to really go for ‘no-poo’. After I gave up I completely forgot about it and went back to using expensive chemical products!

I went on holiday with my beautiful friend Faye in October. We have very similar hair types – sleek, brown, difficult to get body into (she likes it that way, I don’t!) She lives in Spain, so when she came over I hadn’t seen her for a good few months. And her hair was amazing – so amazing in fact I couldn’t stop looking at it and messing with it and asking her how she’d managed to get hair like that. This was a role reversal for us because when we met years ago at college, she always used to ask me about my hair, which at the time was so thick and long (that’s how I know it’s not how it should be now!).

She told me that because of the hot weather and not having to see anybody in Spain, she was only washing her hair once a week. For the rest of the time, it was up in a bun. She hardly ever used conditioner and attributed the massive growth, beautiful condition and thickness down to a combination of the sun and no-washing. Now I can’t magic the sun to the UK (I can’t tell you how much I wish I could!) but I did immediately cut my washing down from every other day (3-4 times a week) to just once a week. Yep it hasn’t always been pretty but my hair is getting used to it now – and dry shampoo is my saviour on any particularly dodgy in-between days!

Coupled with this revelation, my recent research had frightened me again into thinking that maybe   using chemicals on my hair (and everywhere, really) might be harming my body in more ways than I realised, and I wanted to go further to getting back my beautiful college hair.

Google ‘natural shampoo’ and you’ll find all sorts. Google ‘no poo’ and you’ll also find all sorts – but mostly you’ll find a lot of people talking about Baking Powder (or Baking Soda) and Apple Cider Vinegar. Neither of which I really fancied putting on my hair! Baking powder just sounded like it would be too harsh, and the vinegar element had me worrying I’d be walking around smelling like a bag of salt and vinegar crisps.

I did a little more research and came across this excellent post by Kanelstrand. Basically, she found that actually, this method is not so good at all because baking powder is very acidic, even when dissolved with plenty of water. It’s especially one to avoid if you are suffering acute hair loss.

So what to do now? Well I googled natural shampoo (again) and found lots that weren’t natural and a few that were. Some of these were bars, like bars of soap – something I hadn’t thought of using since I was very much younger and had one from Lush and one from the Body Shop. These bars are 100% natural, so they shouldn’t damage your hair or scalp and also contain ingredients which should aid in combatting hair loss.

I’ve come to the conclusion personally that if you are only washing your hair once a week as I do, you’re virtually ‘no-poo’ anyway. If you can choose a shampoo which is as saintly as it possibly can be, but that you enjoy using, then at least that is better than washing your hair every day or every other day and stripping it with chemicals regularly. Korres, The Body Shop and Organix have natural, silicone and sulfate-free ranges so browse the internet and try a few to see which one is your favourite. You might already be using one! In between washes I also use Klorane sensitive natural dry shampoo – it adds loads of body, keeps hair soft and clean and is easy on the scalp and hair.

In my last post about what to do when you’re losing your hair, I talk about the best standard shampoo ranges on offer (which all contain chemicals – however some are highly effective). But if you do want to go down the all-natural route, you can read my updated ‘What to do’ post here. Let me know how you get on!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Uplifting scents – tried and tested

It’s no secret that aromatherapy, whilst not necessarily being a ‘cure’ for low mood or mental health issues, can really help to boost mood and trigger ‘happy hormones’ in our bodies. I absolutely LOVE perfume, something I think I inherited from my Mum who is a perfume fiend. I’m very particular about how things smell and I have a fair amount of scented candles and room sprays in my arson for when I need a little lift. Here’s my pick of favourite uplifting scents for body, pillow and home for when you need a boost!

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Body Shop Vanilla Body Spray – £7.00, The Body Shop

Not everyone is into vanilla scents, but this spray is so sweet and warming it’s difficult not to fall in love with its heady scent. I like to spritz this over my bedlinen and on my clothes for a little comforting boost. It’s so reasonably priced you really can go wild with it and just buy another when it runs out, plus it does have decent staying power especially in hair and on clothes.

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Laura Mercier Eau Gourmande – from £32, John Lewis, Harvey Nichols

These perfumes are good enough to EAT! Very much like The Body Shop spray, these are very earthy, sweet patisserie scents.

I used to love Pistachio but now my favourite is Almond Coconut, although it took my ages to decide between this and Ambre Vanille.

They’re a little pricey at around £32 for 50ml, however they are really very strong and a little goes a long way.

Like my next choice Rituals, a full range of products is available for each scent, and if you use the shower gel, whipped body butter and perfume together you really are cocooned in the most amazing cloud of fragrance!

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Rituals, from around £20, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis, House of Fraser

I don’t think there’s a single one of these scents I dislike. The Rituals ethos is all about calming, zen spa scents which are deliciously uplifting, fresh and sumptuous. Can’t argue with that!

If I absolutely had to choose one (or let’s say two!) I love Happy Mist and Chakra Water. And Hammam Secret. Okay I love all of them!

What’s nice about this range is that it is extended to body products too. Energy Bubbles are fantastic for a long, hot calming bath and is complimented perfectly by Yogi Flow shower foam. The body butters are gorgeous too.

All in all you can use this spray to give you a wonderful little life throughout the day, then go home and indulge yourself in the most luxurious shower or bath experience ever! They even do candles and reed diffusers, if you fancy going all out.

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Espa – from £28, www.espaskincare.com

Famed spa brand Espa have always been a favourite of mine. Although they don’t yet do fragrance of any kind (sadface), they do the most sumptuous oils each with a different aim suited to certain ailments of the body and mind. The restorative bath oil and soothing bath oil are really good for relaxing and lifting your mood; I would recommend smothering it all over your body and hair then having a good soak in the bath – the scent will stay with you and the oils are nourishing for your skin and hair.

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Diptique Solid Perfume – £28, John Lewis

Famed for their candles, Diptyque also do solid perfumes which are handy for popping in your bag and using as and when needed. Because it’s solid perfume, it lasts that bit longer than a spray which you can always be a bit trigger happy with. Diptyque fragrances have a musky decadence so they’re not as light and floral-y as say the Rituals scents, and they’re certainly not sickly sweet like Eau Gourmande.

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Voluspa – from £30, Anthropologie or www.voluspa.com

Voluspa don’t do body products, but their sprays, candles and reed diffusers really are heavenly. The luxurious scents and packaging really do make you feel special and the sprays linger in the air and on fabrics for a long while.

There are so many scents to choose from here but that’s good – it all depends on your preference. Each one really is headily strong and uplifting and although they’re a little pricey they do last forever, especially the room sprays.

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Tisserand Roll-On Survival Scents – £5.49, Holland and Barrett

Whilst the above are perfumes, these are very much a return to traditional aromatherapy and are made from pure essential oils, really giving that ‘spa’ calm on inhaling the scent. Available in Energise, Head-Clear, Inner Peace and De-Stress to name a few, each product is tailored using aromatherapy principles to different needs. Like the solid perfume, these handy little rollerball decanters are easy to use and pop in your hand bag for emergencies. They last for ages and are really so reasonably priced at just over a fiver a piece. Why not get several for different occasions!?

Tisserand also do some beautiful non-targeted scents in the rollerball format which look and smell amazing! The image above is from this range; which features floral scents such as Garden Rose and Lavender.

Do you have any of your own to add? Share them below!

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