We live in a world where we seem to be moving further and further away from nature whilst forming habits that go against our natural beings, like sitting still for eight hours a day and using all kinds of chemicals in our food, in our beauty products and on our clothes. I decided to visit a natural hairdresser in the hopes of seeing if she could point me toward the right path to taking better care of my hair in a natural way. For almost 20 years, Lieve Noels has run her salon Lila from a charming location in Antwerp, Belgium. She works alone and opens only on appointment, so you always have the place to yourself. From the vintage display cabinet on the antique retro floor tiles, you can buy handmade combs from India and all of the natural products she uses in her salon.
To be honest, I pretty much just expected to go home with a bottle of earth-friendly shampoo and call it a day — but what Noels had to say surprised me. She taught me about what our hair actually needs, whilst explaining that it reacts differently to each season and therefore needs to be treated differently based on the time of year. I guess this is sound logic, when you think about it. We do, after all, wear different clothes depending on the seasons, or purchase different moisturizers, so why not do the same for our locks?
The treatments are based on the Five Elements cycle of Chinese medicine, with each season represented by an element. The Chinese Five Elements Theory refers to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, and practices such as Acupuncture and Feng Shui are rooted in this element cycle, along with tea ceremonies, yoga and martial arts. I know what you're thinking: There are only four seasons, right? But late summer is included as a fifth, and I guess we can all recognize that period in which summer has ended but the beauty of autumn is not yet in full force.
Theories like this go back hundreds of years and are very profound and complex. So I do not claim to be an expert in any way. But my chat with Noels piqued my interest, so I've done a bit of research and have hopefully managed to simplify these hair care tips. Personally, I would like to get a bit closer to nature in my everyday life, without actually going to live in the forest.
SPRING: WOOD AND GROWTH (FEBRUARY 1 - APRIL 26)
Spring is the season of detox and purification, during which you should wash your hair every three days. You may notice that your hair is very greasy, and experiencing some hair loss is usual. Of course, this is nothing to worry about: We lose an average of 100 hairs a day. During this period your body goes though a cleansing process and you can help it along by doing a juice cleanse. As for your hair, the best way to cleanse it during this period is to put clay in it! Applying a green clay hair mask for 10 minutes removes toxins and leaves your hair shiny and clean. You should go for an energizing shampoo to keep your scalp stimulated.
SUMMER: FIRE AND ENERGY (APRIL 27 - JULY 20)
During the summer, you will need to wash your hair every day due to the transpiration that sometimes occurs excessively on your head. It is the season of sun and warmth, and the perfect time to eat mineral rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. It is, of course, compulsory to protect your skin from the sun (we all know that), but our hair can also benefit from some coverage, such as jojoba oil or aloe vera. During this period, you should use a shampoo designed for dry hair.
LATE SUMMER: EARTH AND SHEDDING OF IMPURITIES (JULY 21 - AUGUST 31)
This is the second cleansing phase: You can experience dandruff due to the cell renewal and some skin spots or breakouts. To keep you feeling great on the inside, go back to the trusted juice cleanse. The best thing you can do for your hair is dry brushing: Brushing helps your hair to eliminate debris encrusted on the scalp, but it also stimulates your hair follicles and promotes new hair growth by increasing the blood flow to your scalp. To combat the dandruff issue, you can try a Propolis shampoo that is made from a tree extract that bees use to strengthen their hives.
AUTUMN: METAL AND MINERALS (SEPTEMBER 1 - NOVEMBER 29)
This is an important season for haircare. In autumn, our lymphatic system slows down, which leads to a loss of minerals and means that we are less efficient at absorbing water. For our hair, that means dryness, itch and hair loss — and the best remedies are, again, the green clay mask, using a mineral spray with Organic Silicon, Magnesium and Vitamin D, and rehydrating with a Phyto Emulsion, which contains extracts from Baobab seeds (that's the tree from The Little Prince).
WINTER: WATER AND LIQUIDS (NOVEMBER 30 - JANUARY 31)
You're going to love this one: The best thing you can do for your hair in winter is to get your head massaged, which stimulates the blood flow to the scalp. In terms of food, eat warm food as much as you can (even for breakfast and lunch). Your body uses so much energy in order to keep warm that eating cold things just works against what your body is trying to achieve. Winter can also be a time of hormonal hair loss, but again, I wouldn't worry about it too much. It happens every year and truly isn't noticeable.
I love the idea of getting more in touch with nature as well as learning about, and paying attention to, the needs of my hair and body. I am particularly keen on using natural remedies to solve hair issues such as dryness, greasiness or dandruff, avoiding adding more unnecessary chemicals and medication to the mix.
Images: Giphy; Flickr/HolySkittles