Beautiful hair is a kind of a weak spot of every woman in the world - no matter of the longitude or latitude she lives at. For most females it's just a sheer willingness to take care of hair and a way of expressing themselves, wheres for the others hair conditioning has either a ritual dimension or simply help define a tribal identity. It also happens that some hair conditioning techniques are determined by an idiosyncratic religious requirements. Regardless of the reason - it's hair that is always in the spotlight: its look and health. It's truly wonderful how much we can learn about this issue from women living in various regions of the world. Would you like to find out how hair care rituals look in all continents? Keep reading the article. Surely, it'll appear to be a true inspiration for you.
HAIR IN DIFFERENT WORLD CORNERS - PART 1 - ASIA
What can we learn from Hindu, Japanese or Russian women?
How Chinese women take care of their hair - Yin Yang, Beautifully Scented Honeysuckles and Mighty Ginseng
Chinese women are famous for being the owners of astonishing hair, and the issue hair care itself is treated by them very seriously. The secret of beautiful strands is the use of a huge quantity of herbs combined with hair care inspired by the two contrary forces, which is yin and yang. According to the first force, hair needs support that should be delivered to it from the outside. In short, it depends on nourishing hair together with the bulbs it grows out from. The second force, the contrary model, deals with 'toxic warmth' that spreads all over our bodies. The very warmth stands for inflammation that can be caused by following an unbalanced diet, for example. If either force, no matter if yin or yang, is disturbed, they require being given immediate and appropriate care, best if provided due to long-known substances.
- Hijiki - a type of brown algae (most frequently it's available in the powdered form that has to be mixed either with water or brewed herbs; they are often added as a natural component to many cosmetics). Hijiki is rich in fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium. Basically, dry algae can be soaked in water, drained and mixed by using a hand blender to obtain paste to put it on hair afterwards (a kind of a hair mask).
- Wheatgrass - it features an incredible quantity of vitamins and minerals. Chinese people don't only recognize wheatgrass for its beautifying purposes but also as an element of well-balanced diet. To demonstrate, wheatgrass delivers even 30 times more vitamin B1 and calcium than milk as well as a few times more vitamin C and carotene than spinach. In general, Chinese women use wheatgrass both as a cosmetic and an additive to vitamin cocktails. Moreover, juice extracted from wheatgrass can be used as a hair wash or a scalp conditioner. It's frequently mixed with other precious vegetable substances, e.g. combined with powdered hijiki algae. Last but not least, wheatgrass is often used to detoxify hair and scalp.
- Wild Privet - it's a plant that belongs to oleaceous; its extract encourages hair growth. Also, this substance stimulates yin so it adds energy, reinforces hair bulbs and stimulates blood circulation of scalp.
- Honeysuckles – this flowery climbing plant, which smells beautiful, is extremely popular in China. It's available in the form of conditioners and hair washes. This substance is frequently added to natural hair care products because honeysuckles is responsible for more than just gifting hair with a beautiful scent. This plant is also able to add lightness, smoothness and shine to hair.
- Ginseng - root of ginseng is a real hit not only in the field of beauty but mostly in the wide field of well-being. Chinese people treat this plant with respect because it's one of the substances that contains powerful rejuvenating features and combats cancer cells. Moreover, ginseng extract supports protein synthesis which is essential for hair regeneration as well (stimulates blood circulation in scalp, reinforces hair matrix). Also, it belongs to the group of the most powerful anti-oxidants. It's worth mentioning that ginseng contains saponins, also known as ginsenosides, glycosides, vitamins (B1, B2, C), proteoglycan - panaxans and amino acids. Finally, it directly contributes to hair self-renewal processes and slows down ageing of scalp that lacks suppleness.
- Smartweed Root - in China this plant is known as Fo Ti (He Shou Wu). Chinese medicine categorizes smartweed root to the substances of powerful tonic and rejuvenating features. Moreover, if applied to hair, smartweed root improves vitality of hair bulbs and maintains pH of scalp (it balances sebum production and reduces seborrhoea). Also, this plant is good at cleansing scalp and reinforcing natural hydro-lipid barrier.
How Hindu women take care of their hair - Oiling, Henna and Secrets of Ayurveda
Hindu females base their hair care and self-love on ancient, traditional medicine called Ayurveda. The secrets of this medicine are written in the Holy Book which contains primeval tips and recipes for both medicine and cosmetics purposes. This is the very book which Hindu women make most of from - they treat Ayurveda as a kind of beauty oracle. All the recipes this medicine provides work in a marvellous way - just think about the beautiful, shiny hair of women living in India.
- Coconut Oil - In India this oil is the very core of proper hair care. Coconut oil is treated as a base ingredient and rarely used alone. Hindu women believe that coconut oil works better when combined with herbal or flower extracts, which are able to intensify the oil's action. Moreover, when mixed with vegetable extracts, coconut oil creates a kind of impregnable mixture which doesn't only beautify, reinforce and protect hair but also accelerates its growth and mends inner structures of hair (it reaches hair matrix). For that reason, coconut oil frequently appears in the form of macerate where other precious vegetable extracts are soaked. Thanks to this procedure, all valuable substances are left in the coconut oil.
- Amla - also known as Indian Gooseberry. Amla trees are high and their fruit is slightly bigger than European Gooseberry but the colour and structure of both plants are lick-alike. However, different are the features both plants have. For example, amla is considered as a marvellous remedy for thinning and weak hair that doesn't want to grow. Moreover, Amla reinforces hair bulbs and improves blood circulation of scalp. It's also worth mentioning that amla delivers warming-up action, boosts energy and affects scalp cells. As a consequence, hair bulbs become stimulated as well so they start working better and more efficiently. This results in accelerated hair growth.
- Brahmi - another mighty, beautifying and healing herb that belongs to Ayurveda. Hindu women use brahmi by mixing it with natural oils and applying them directly to hair and mostly to the scalp. This herb serves dark hair well because it intensifies natural colour of strands. Moreover, brahmi prevents thinning, supports hair cell self-renewal processes, combats dandruff and protects hair against damages.
- Bringaraj - minced leaves of Eclipta Alba aren't only added to oils but also to all kinds of washes, conditioners, shampoos and balms. The truth is, bringaraj serves hair well if applied to strands for hair oiling procedure. When used in this form, bringaraj reinforces scalp, stimulates hair bulbs, helps them become better rooted in scalp and prevents excessive hair loss.
- Henna Leaves - it's a boon that many women from all over the world love. Henna is the alternative to dyes and other chemical products designed for hair colouring. Natural and safe - it doesn't do harm to hair. Hindu women claim that henna doesn't only intensify hair colour but also improves condition of the strands. Therefore, even the ones who aren't interested in changing colour of the hair keep applying henna in order to gift their strands with shine, smooth them and help them restore good condition. All things considered, henna is able to colour hair, take care of strands and improve their state.
- Indian Lilac (Neem) - a tree labelled by Ayurveda as truly marvellous. This tree is hold almost sacred by Hindu women because both the oil extracted from this plant as well as combs made of its wood accelerate hair growth, make hair thicker and slow down excessive hair loss. It's worth pointing out that the power of neem oil is so great that it has to be diluted with other oils, such as coconut oil or almond oil, in order to prevent irritations. Moreover, Indian lilac oil is good at disinfecting scalp and combating dandruff. Also, it boosts blood circulation and handles pH level of skin. The oil is able to reinforce hair from its bulbs and encourage its accelerated extension. When it comes to comb made of neem wood, it's considered as an irrepressible hair tool because it massages scalp while being used. Last but not least, Hindu women believe that neem comb accelerates hair growth and reinforces strands.
How Japanese women take care of their hair - Camellia Oil, Tsubaki Oil and Bamboo Extract
For Japanese women the very core of proper hair care is clean scalp. To them, it's impossible to have healthy hair without keeping head skin clean. No wonder why Japanese cosmetic market is full of scalp scrubs, scalp cleansing masks and natural oils which don't only make hair bulbs stronger but also take care of scalp. Thanks to this, blood circulation in scalp isn't disturbed and the cells are constantly exposed to oxygen. As a consequence, hair becomes well-rooted and are better at absorbing all active and nourishing substances. It's possible to make scalp clean either by using various kinds of specialistic shampoos, which power is based on natural substances, or by applying a special scalp scrub. The main cleansing agent of many Japanese hair products is powder obtained from volcano lava. Furthermore, Japanese women willingly apply oils to their hair. The most popular substances used for hair oil treatment are camellia oil and tsubaki oil. While talking about Japanese beauty routines, it must be mentioned that the women try to avoid the sun. Why is that? In short, they believe that hair doesn't deserve to be exposed to damaging UV radiation; also, white, almost pale face hides signs of ageing better. Additionally, Japanese women love all possible herbal and flowery hair rubs/tonics that are responsible for reinforcing hair and preventing dehydration. It's also worth mentioning that Japanese women don't treat alcohol added to cosmetics as an invasive ingredient. In fact, they believe that alcohol warms up scalp and boosts its absorption rate (skin transports nourishing substances to the inner hair structures faster). Besides, it's Japan that leads the way in hair trends - unicorn hair, mermaid hair and all kinds of decorations attached to hair including Kanzashii (diligently created decorations interwoven into braids and any other kinds of hairdos). The most popular hair beautifying substances are:
- Tsubaki Oil - it's extracted from a plant growing truly lovey flowers. It's said that nobody knows when the flower blossoms and when it dies. The oil obtained from this plant is considered as priceless. Tsubaki is fast to be absorbed by strands and is able to reach inner hair structures. Basically, this oil is perfect for conditioning heavy and thick hair of low porosity. It adds lightness, softness and shine to hair. Also, this oil is able to balance sebum production.
- Camellia Oil - it's another marvellous oil beloved by Japanese women. It contains plenty of vitamins (A, B, E) which are responsible for reinforcing hair and preventing excessive hair loss. Moreover, camellia oil features a very characteristic substance owned only by this plant. It's action can be described as anti-age so, in other words, it's a powerful anti-oxidant which slows down hair greying and prevents hair thinning.
- Isodon Trichocarpus Extract - in Japan called kuro-bana hikiokoshi. This tiny plant has nettle-like leaves and delicate, violet flowers resembling bells. Extract obtained from this plant is able to accelerate hair growth, stimulate hair bulbs and encourage cell self-renewal processes.
- Sophora Angustifolia - extract obtained from this plant is as thick as honey. It perfectly conditions hair. Moreover, it serves strands well when mixed with natural oils or when applied as a hair mask (it gifts hair with lamination-like effect). Moreover, Sophora angustifolia stimulates blood circulation in scalp and takes care of head skin.
- Bamboo Extract - Japanese hair care has its core in the extracts obtained from shoots and stems of bamboo. Its marvellous smell and even more marvellous, strongly rejuvenating features make it the key component of shampoos, conditioners, creams, oils, hair mists, masks, body butters... bamboo extract is added to almost all kinds of beauty products. The truth is, bamboo extracts nourishes hair, reinforces its structure, helps hair stay fresh longer as well as it combats dryness and roughness of strands.
How Korean women take care of their hair - Hair Rubs, Aloe and Perfectly Clean Scalp
While Japanese hair care begins with perfectly clean scalp, Korean women are almost obsessed with this method of hair pampering. Scalp cleansing is a procedure that can be carried out at home or at a hairdresser's. Korean women tend to use all possible hair rubs available and these products need scalp to be clean (this boosts action delivered by the hair rubs). Moreover, Korean climate is warm and rather sultry therefore such scalp cleansing procedure is considered as a good way of hair conditioning. For that reason, Korean women wash their hair frequently. They believe that hair has to be washed as often as it needs to and the best way of doing this is focusing on the scalp in particular. Hence, Korean females tend to cleanse scalp really often and massage it precisely. What's interesting, they believe that shampoo shouldn't be applied lower than to ear-length of hair. Another cosmetic favoured by this group of women is hair serum - a product that has been widely used and popular in Korea for centuries is now being slowly recognized in other parts of the word. This product can be applied to hair ends or to the exceptionally damaged hair parts. Scalp, hair bulbs and roots should be treated with a herbal hair rub. In Korea hair serum is called 'essence' and is a record-breaker not only in hair care but also face, hand and foot care.
- Aloe - it's a real cosmetic pride of Korean women. The best form of aloe is gel that is characterised by its fast absorption rate. It's obtained from plants growing on Jeju island - the cleanest, uncontaminated terrains of Korea. Jeju island is also called The Island of Love because it's beautiful, romantic and clean, without smog and toxins, unpolluted, housing neither factories nor traffic noise. Aloe growing on this island preserves all its precious caring features. Korean women like applying aloe in the form of serum (essence) to face and hair, they add it to hair rubs and coconut oil to carry out oil hair treatment. As mentioned above, aloe in its gel form is the best one: it doesn't run down the face, is versatile and effective. How does aloe affect hair? First of all, it contains an array of precious vitamin (A,C, E and B) as well as folic acid, amino acids and minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, magnesium, chrome, zinc, manganese, copper and fatty acids. Secondly, it moisturises hair and scalp, softens strands, soothes scalp, eases all possible irritations, boosts blood circulation, smooths hair and reinforces hair bulbs.
Indeed, Korean women are exceptionally proud of their thick and neat hair. The most favourable hairdos in Korea are those which bring out beauty of shining and strong strands. Having this in mind, no wonder why neither so-called controlled chaos on hair nor boho are popular in this Asian country. Instead, Korean women wear smooth and neat hairdos that can astonish others with shine and perfect form.
How Russian women take care of their hair - Propolis, Cedar and Siberian Pine
Russia is a country of vast stretch so we can expect that Russian women approach the subject of hair care in various ways. Naturally, the process of pampering hair is strictly connected with the region of the country they live in. On the other hand, surprising is the fact that almost all hair care cosmetics contain the same ingredients, and they are:
- Cedar Oil - perfect for treating weakened and thinning hair. It stimulates blood circulation, encourages hair bulbs to more efficient work and accelerates hair growth. Also, this oil is a precious source of proteins, which are one of the most important building blocks of hair. Moreover, cedar oil can be used for hair oil treatment to heal up dry and damaged strands. Russian women frequently mix cedar oil either with other natural oils or with egg yolk and then apply it to hair. It's worth pointing out that cedar oil might deliver too strong action to scalp if not dissolved with other natural substances.
- Siberian Pine Oil - it's a very precious oil which is considered as iconic in Russia. It's obtained from seeds of Siberian pine. The oil is dense and features a huge concentration of proteins. Moreover, Siberian pine oil contains an array of B-group vitamins which contribute to strengthening hair steam and are responsible for gathering sulphur in hair matrix. Also, this oil promotes hair growth.
- Yeast - used in Russia for centuries to condition hair. It contains plenty of B-group vitamins, minerals (potassium, selenium, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron and phosphore) as well as tyrosine, arginine and cysteine which are amino acids important for the entire organism. In general, they deliver a very strong reinforcing action and contribute to improving skin, hair and nail condition. Finally, face and hair yeast masks are one of the most popular in Russia.
- Propolis - also known as bee glue. In its composition propolis contains about 40% of waxes that form a coat of natural protective filter around hair. Floral propolis is ideal for winter hair care because it protects against low temperatures. It accelerates the processes of healing, regenerates tissues and soothes scalp irritations. Propolis is also considered as an excellent protection against toxins, air pollutant, it shields epidermis against fungi, blastomycetes and severe forms of dandruff.
- Common Sea-Buckthorn - it's often called the 'Russian Pineapple' of olivaceous. This twiggy shrub, reaching even up to 6 meters in height, produces orange fruits with stones. The fruits are the source of common sea-buckthorn oil that is eagerly used by Russian women to treat their hair with. This plant is a precious source of vitamin C, K, P, E, folic acid and saturated fatty acids. Apart from that, common sea-buckthorn oil also features macro- and microelements (the most important are manganese, iron and borum). It reinforces hair and delivers anti-inflammatory action, smooths hair and closes hair cuticles. Moreover, it works soothing and antiseptic so it’s a perfect substance to treat greasy scalp. Common sea-buckthorn oil is considered as one of the most popular natural substances used in hair cosmetics.