If you want to have soft, shiny and healthy hair, first your hair needs to be strong.
When it comes to our hair, we all want it to look shiny, soft, smooth and healthy. What we don’t want to see is a lot of breakage, split ends, color fading and damaged hair. Our hair needs to be resilient, elastic and resistant to breakage. In other words, our hair needs to be strong! How can you tell how strong your hair actually is? Well, strength all comes down to porosity and elasticity.
Test the porosity of your hair to measure its ability to absorb and retain water. The next time you wash and towel-dry your hair, feel it with your hands. If it feels quite wet, then chances are it’s more porous. When hair is porous it becomes dry and prone to damage. In other words, porous hair is weak hair. On the other hand, if your hair feels quite dry after towel-drying, then it’s less porous and therefore healthier. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also do a quick test by dropping a few clean, dry hair strands into a bowl of water. After a few minutes if your hair sinks, it has high porosity because it absorbed the water quickly and sank. If your hair is still floating, then it has low porosity and is stronger.
To test the elasticity of your hair, you need to stretch a strand while it’s wet. The farther you can stretch your hair the more elastic and healthy it is. Healthy hair, when it’s wet, will stretch up to 50% of its original length and return to its normal shape and size without breaking. Unhealthy (dry) hair only stretches to about 20% of its original length. But remember, it’s never a good idea to brush your hair while it’s wet. You don’t want to stretch your hair out to the point of breakage so be careful.
Here are a few simple ways to keep your hair strong:
Good nutrition builds strong hair.
A healthy diet is the key to the health of your hair. Protein is essential, as your hair is made up of a tough protein called keratin, which helps form the strength of your hair, skin and nails. But, you also need to focus on trace minerals like copper, iron, magnesium and selenium, as well as Vitamins E, D and C. These nutrients are important in the production of keratin. Antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies are a great vitamin source, as are healthy fats. Fish is also a great choice because omega-3 fatty acids encourage hair growth.
All shampoos are not created equal.
Choose a shampoo specifically for your hair type that helps strengthen your hair. Select a gentle shampoo and conditioner to help repair hair and bring it back to a strong and healthy state. Choose products that are sulfate-free and clinically tested to improve hair strength. Try to avoid chemical-based products, as they can be damaging. Look for more gentle ingredients like Aloe vera, shea butter and plant-derived micro proteins to help soften and strengthen hair.
Condition more often.
Even on the days when you might not be shampooing, if your hair is wet, apply some conditioner. This will help lock in much needed moisture. When water evaporates, unfortunately, it draws moisture out from the inside of the hair shaft, ultimately causing it to dry out and weaken. Consider a weekly deep conditioning treatment, including DIY ones like this: 4 tbsp. of coconut oil and 2 tbsp. of pure honey mixed, warmed and applied to your freshly washed, towel dried hair. Put on a shower cap and leave for approximately 20 minutes before rinsing. It’s a great alternative to a store bought conditioning treatment.
Tip: When conditioning hair, squeeze out excess water before applying. If your hair is saturated with water, it can’t absorb your conditioner.
Get a trim.
As your hair ages the ends will tend to split more. And if your hair is damaged, you should cut off the damaged areas. Regular trimmings will give your hair a much healthier appearance and will also help to prevent split ends from traveling up the length of your hair.
Cut out the heat.
We all use dryers and irons to achieve a specific look, but if healthy, strong hair is what you’re striving for then cut back on the heat as this can burn and damage your hair quickly. Use heat protectant spray and clean your styling tools with alcohol to help remove product residue, which can damage your hair over time.
There are several other things to keep in mind as you are working to strengthen your hair:
When it comes to hair, nails, skin, it’s all about strength. So, implement some daily practices to look and feel your absolute best.
Written by beauty expert Jacquie Carter. Jacquie is Director of Outer Nutrition at Herbalife.
In keeping with this month’s theme of “strength,” here are some key nutrients that help support strong bones.
Ask most people what nutrients are needed to support bone health, and they’ll likely say calcium and Vitamin D. And they would be right, of course, calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body (most of it is socked away in our bones and teeth) and Vitamin D is critically important in helping the body absorb calcium. But many other nutrients play an important role in keeping bones strong and healthy.
Nutrients for Healthy Bones
Bone is a living, growing tissue made up of a collagen – a protein that forms a soft framework for bone – and a mineral component called hydroxyapatite (made primarily of calcium and phosphorus) that is deposited in this framework to give bones strength and hardness. In addition to protein, calcium and phosphorus, there are other nutrients that help support bone health. Here are some key bone-building nutrients and where to find them:
Calcium makes up about 2% of your total body weight, and most of it is stored in your skeleton.
Where to find it: Milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.), almonds, green leafy vegetables.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body and combines with calcium to form the crystalline structure of bone.
Where to find it: Phosphorus is in many different foods, and most people get plenty in the diet. Major sources include milk, fish, poultry, meat, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the digestive tract.
Where to find it: Fatty fish, liver, some fortified foods. Many people don’t consume enough Vitamin D, however, and may benefit from supplementation.
Magnesium stimulates the production of the hormone calcitonin, which helps to move calcium from the bloodstream into the bones. Magnesium is also needed to convert Vitamin D into its active form, which, in turn, supports calcium absorption.
Where to find it: Green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Potassium helps to maintain calcium balance in the body and helps to reduce losses of calcium in the urine.
Where to find it: Melons, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, oranges, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, beans.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein matrix of bone tissue.
Where to find it: Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwifruit, peppers, green leafy veggies.
Boron is a mineral that supports the body’s use of other bone-building nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus and Vitamin D.
Where to find it: Dried fruits (prunes, raisins, dried apricots), peanut butter and avocados.
Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
*Results may very from person to person
Working on muscular strength and endurance can help you to achieve many goals related to health, fitness and weight loss.
Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or maintain your current body composition, strength training can help you to achieve your body-focused goals while improving the way you feel. Here are a few of my favorite strength training benefits:
Weight loss. When your overall body weight is made up of a lot of lean muscle, your body needs more calories to sustain that muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat and can, therefore, help you to burn a few extra calories a day at rest. However, I believe that the excitement of having more lean muscle mass goes far beyond the calorie burn, including increased strength and reduced risk of injury.
Increased lean body mass: Strength training, when combined with protein-rich foods, can help to prevent or minimize the loss of lean body mass that is typically a by-product of dieting. Quite often when people cut their daily calories in order to lose weight, the weight lost is not always healthy or sustainable. When people are dieting without exercise, they can lose body fat in addition to healthy muscle tissue, which can play havoc with your body weight long term.
Appearance: Strength training can favorably affect your overall body composition, resulting in a greater proportion of lean tissue relative to fat tissue. This can greatly enhance your overall appearance and reduce your dress size. Muscle takes up less space in the body per pound than fat, so having lean muscle mass can make you both look and feel great.
Tighter skin: Although strength training itself does not actually tighten the skin, it can make your skin look tighter, especially if you have lost a lot of body fat and are suffering from loose skin as a result. When you lose fat and build muscle, the appearance of loose and sagging skin can be greatly improved.
Antiaging: Strength training can help to counteract natural age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia. Losing muscle mass as we age is just a part of the aging process in the same way that we naturally lose bone density. If you continue to strength train as you age, you can keep on top of this loss. The good news is that it’s never too late to get started. Even if you have lost muscle mass as part of the aging process, you can start to train and rebuild it at any age.
Strength: The training adaptations that happen in the body as a result of strength training can greatly enhance the activities of daily living, such as lifting, standing, walking and enjoying simple activities. If you love to play sports, strength training can also help you to improve your overall performance.
Training for strength does not have to mean lifting weights. You can improve your strength with body weight exercises, resistance bands or objects that you have around the house, such as water bottles. A lot of the time, women believe that strength training means getting heavier and looking bulky, but it’s not true, unless you want to specifically get that result.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.
The appearance and strength of your fingernails are good indicators of their overall health. Healthy-looking nails are usually strong nails.
Are your nails everything you want them to be or are they brittle, do they break easily or never seem to grow? If they are not up to par, then you are not alone. Sure, there are ways to camouflage the condition of your nails with polish, gels and even acrylics. But, did you know that there are a few habits that you can develop to truly make a difference in your nails?
Here are a few simple tips to get your nails in top shape:
Eat right for strong nails.
Just like our skin and hair, nail health is also tied to diet. If your nails are brittle and weak, then you want to evaluate how much protein you are eating. Your nails are comprised of protein so, if you aren’t getting enough in your diet, it will be reflected in your nails. Protein shakes are great for adding necessary protein to your diet, as are eggs, meat, fish, beans and legumes. Be conscientious of the foods you are eating if your nails are weak and brittle. There can be other reasons, of course, why nails might not be strong. Remember to check with your doctor if you are concerned about your circulation or chronic problems with your fingers and nails.
Regular maintenance is key.
Trimming your nails on a regular basis will help to keep them strong. When you allow your nails to constantly grow without trimming, they tend to get rough and jagged in appearance. When this happens, they are more likely to get weak or break. Think of your nails in the same way you think about your hair. A regular trimming will help remove the weaker, damaged areas that develop at the tips, encouraging the rest of the nail to strengthen. They will look fresher and healthier as a result. Here are a few trimming tips:
There is a right way and a wrong way to file.
Yes, something so simple as filing your nails can actually weaken them when not done properly. It’s important to select an emery board for nail filing. They are available in fine or course textures, similar to sand paper. When you file your nails, you should never file back and forth, as if you’re sawing your nails. You should always file in one direction. And do this in a gentle way. Remember, your goal is to strengthen the nail by removing the ragged areas so they don’t split or fray. When you file too hard or in a back-and-forth motion, you run the risk of damaging the fibers in your nails, which only causes them to weaken more. A little regular and gentle filing will keep your nails in top shape and they will be less prone to tearing.
Moisturize and condition.
Just like your hands, your nails can become dry, too, and will benefit from a good conditioning. Hand creams and lotions are great for both your skin and your nails. Remember to apply hand cream on a regular basis, especially after washing them. Take a few extra seconds to massage your cream into your nails and surrounding cuticles. Ingredients like aloe, shea butter and olive oil are great when it comes to conditioning. Keep your favorite hand cream on your nightstand and apply before you got to sleep. You will wake up with hydrated hands and nails that will not only look good, they will feel good, too. Remember, when your nails get dry, they can become brittle and more prone to breakage.
Sure, most women love to get their nails done. But, if strong nails are your goal, then it’s good to go au naturel once in a while. Think about it, filing, buffing, base coats, color, topcoat, gels, acrylic fills and more definitely affect your nails. Give them a break. Again, similar to your hair when you take a break from your styling aids and heating devices, your hair will flourish. Same rule apply to your nails. Give them a break so they can stay strong and not break.
Protection is key.
When doing household chores, especially those that involve hot water or harsh chemicals, wear gloves. You want to keep your hands and nails protected from being exposed to damaging and drying chemicals at all costs. Wearing gloves when you are washing the dishes or cleaning your house is the best way to keep nails from becoming weak and damaged due to exposure.
Everyone wants healthy-looking nails and by following these simple steps, you too will have fabulous nails in no time. Remember that what you put in and on your body is equally important. So, take care of your nails and they will be stronger in no time.
Written by beauty expert, Jacquie Carter. Jacquie is Director of Outer Nutrition at Herbalife.
*Results may very from person to person