Before complex beauty products and cluttered bathroom cabinets, women looked to their surroundings to fulfil their beauty needs.
Dry, parched hair? Flaky scalp? Whatever the dilemma, nature had the answer, whether that miracle cure could be found in a garden, a wood or a meadow.
And while beauty and technology has advanced significantly since then, nature still has plenty to offer when it comes to making our hair look heroic. Here are 5 natural ingredients to take note of, ASAP.
Beauty experts have been going loco for the coco for years now, and for very good reason. One of nature's most powerful emollients, the coconut flesh is packed with essential fatty acids and vitamins that help smooth down the hair's cuticles to leave tresses feeling impossibly soft and smooth, making it the ultimate frizz-fighter. And its heroic hair benefits don't stop there.
"Not only does it moisturise, add shine and boost softness, but it also has a natural SPF of 4," says Shannon Lewis, director at Neville Hair & Beauty. "Using coconut-infused hair products is also a great way of stimulating the scalp and penetrating deeply into the follicle, helping to keep the hair strong and promote growth."
Start with Herbal Essences bio:renew Coconut Milk shampoo, which cleanses and hydrates, and follow by running Herbal Essences bio:renew Coconut Milk conditioner through the lengths of your hair and leaving for ten minutes to lock-in moisture. Bonus: Your shower will smell like the Caribbean.
Green tea is one of the biggest heroes of the superfood world, and in the same way that sipping on the stuff can kick-start your day, green tea is also a godsend for your hair.
"Green tea has many health benefits and is amazing for the hair and scalp," says Shannon. "It's a great source of antioxidants such as polyphenols, vitamin C, vitamin E and the almighty EGCG, all of which help to boost circulation to the hair follicle, meaning a super healthy scalp." The anti-inflammatory properties in green tea are also great news for anyone suffering with hair loss, as the DHT-blockers found in the tea can help halt baldness, while the caffeine works to stimulate hair growth.
Give your scalp some TLC by seeking out moisturising masks and scalp treatments that are specifically enriched with green tea extract to help diminish damaging free radicals that live on the scalp and relieve unwanted itchiness.
Just as avocados can work wonders on your skin, the fleshy green fruit is also a saviour for dry, stressed strands. Loaded with over 25 hair-healing nutrients, the avocado was first identified as a must-have beauty essential by Egyptian women, who used it to condition their hair and encourage growth.
And it's not just the flesh that can be used in your beauty routine, either. With avocado oil now being hailed as the latest beauty miracle worker (hot on the heels of coconut oil), it's time to start stocking up. "Avocado oil contains biotin which strengthens and moisturises the hair, so it's a great deep conditioning treatment," says Shannon. "It's also extremely rich in 'healthy' fats, proteins, amino acids and vitamins B and E, all of which are great for promoting long, strong and healthy hair growth."
The next time you're buying your brunch essentials, set an avocado aside for a DIY hair mask.In a bowl, mix the pulp with a few glugs of olive oil and apply it to the lengths (only) of your hair. Wrap your hair up into a shower cap to lock in the moisture and leave for 20 minutes before rinsing out.
It's not dubbed 'liquid gold' for nothing. Squeezed from the nut of the argan fruit (which only grows on certain trees in Morocco), argan oil is extracted by hand and it can take hours just to get a few ounces. But boy, is it worth it.
"The ultimate multi-tasker, argan oil is proven to make hair softer, silkier and shinier and is packed full of vitamin E, hydrating linoleic acid and essential fatty acids to tame frizzy hair and treat split ends," Shannon says. Warming five or six drops of oil between your palms and massaging into the scalp twice a week can also do wonders for a stressed scalp. "Argan oil is also a very soothing ingredient that can be used to help treat dryness or irritation of the scalp," adds Shannon.
Due to its popularity, you can now find this elegant oil not just in serums, but also in hairsprays, stylers, shampoos and conditioners. Transport yourself to the warm sands of Morocco and enjoy a more luxurious shower experience with Herbal Essences bio:renew Argan Oil of Morocco shampoo and conditioner. Hello, smooth, sleek locks.
We love it on toast and in our tea, but a little bit of the sweet stuff can also go a long way when it comes to your hair routine.
Honey's magical restorative properties make it a bathroom shelf essential. Moisturising, strengthening, cleansing, bacteria-fighting - the list goes on. But if tackling dull, dry hair is your #1 mission, honey is queen. "Honey has humectant properties which means it draws moisture from the air and into the skin and hair, resulting in long-lasting hydration," says Shannon. "It's also made up of antioxidant and age-fighting enzymes which help to protect your hair and scalp."
While honey in its raw form would leave you in a sticky mess, products enriched with royal jelly (the holy grail of the hive) can help restore lustre and shine. Alternatively, DIY your own hair mask by mixing honey with olive oil, warming slightly and applying to hair once a week - just make sure you rinse it out thoroughly.