It's turning out to be a beautiful hot summer: what better way to relax and enjoy it than to let your hair flow full and free?
If your strands need a helping hand to complete the look, look no further!
Here's a quick guide to the best natural hair thickeners around.
Natural Ingredients Can Thicken Your Hair
These uninterrupted stretches of sunkissed, balmy weather are threatening to change the definition of the British summer. And with the beaming sunshine and sultry breeze, the last thing you want to do is keep your hair hermetically sealed away in a taut bun.
If your tresses are on the thin side, though, you might be a little iffy about wearing them loose. Luckily, nature has come up with some natural body-boosting ingredients to give limp locks a lift all around. Not only do they thicken your hair, they also do double duty, bringing a range of other unique benefits to your mane.
So here's how to ensure hair that's as full and bouncy as can be, taking advantage of the best natural ingredients to thicken your hair.
Natural Hair Thickener: Guar Gum
Naturally derived from the guar bean, this stuff is ground into a fine white powder which is mixed with water to form a jelly-like substance, used for everything from paper making to vegan baking.
How guar gum thickens your hair: This mucilaginous ingredient soaks up water till it's full and thick. Then it forms a flexible transparent layer over your hair, fattening your strands so they stay looking thick for days at a time.
Side benefits: The invisible layer guar creates over your strands protects against breakage. It also helps seal in moisture on thirsty summer strands. This multi-functional ingredient also adds tons of shine and slip.
Where can I get guar gum: Guar is a common ingredient in many conditioners and natural styling gels. In products it's commonly found as guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride, or cationic guar gum, where a positive charge is added to the molecule, helping it adhere better to our negatively-charged hair.
To make your own mixes from scratch, look for food grade guar gum at herbal or health food stores – it's commonly used as a stabiliser in eggless cooking and baking.
How should I use guar gum: Sprinkle a teaspoon of guar gum over 1 cup of water, while stirring continuously. Cover and leave it to hydrate. Within an hour or so, you should get a thick jelly. Mix with a rich, slippery conditioner and leave on your hair for 15 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly with warm-to-hot water to reveal smoother, fuller, thicker strands.
Watch out for: Build up. Natural products can build up just like synthetic ones, so if you plan on making regular use of guar, be sure to use a deep-cleansing shampoo on a regular basis.
Natural Hair Thickener: Coconut Oil
Pressed from the flesh of this supernutrient tropical fruit, coconut oil is not only good for you on the inside, it has many benefits for your hair - including being a great natural thickener.
How coconut oil thickens your hair: How exactly the almost-instant plumping effect comes about is not known. However, people report fuller feeling hair after treating with coconut oil and its effects on the hair have even been examined in scientific journals.
Side benefits: Coconut oil strengthens the hair by lubri-cating strands, reducing protein loss, and preventing the hair from contracting as sharply when drying.
Used long term, it can give you thicker hair all around – by preventing the chipping away of the cuticle that happens with wear and tear. That's in addition to the temporary boost in thickness you can get from one-off use.
Where can I get coconut oil: You can get this almost everywhere, thanks to a recent resurgence in popularity. Try anywhere from big supermarkets to local grocers specialising in Caribbean or Asian food. Coconut oil can also be found in pharmacies, hair stores and health food stores – the latter is the best bet if you want the organic, unrefined variety.
How should I use coconut oil: Studies have shown that coconut oil is highly effective as a pretreatment, left in overnight hours before washing. Check out our guide to using coconut oil as a pretreatment for step-by-step instructions.
Watch out for: Crunchy or oily hair. If your hair does not tend to like oils, you can still get the benefits from coconut oil, but be careful to wash it out completely after it's done its job to avoid grease or crunch.
How Long Do Natural Thickeners Last?
Typically, the temporary thickening effects will stick around for three days or so. To revive them, simply wash your hair and repeat. Due to coconut oil's dual thickening effect, expect to see more lasting results once you've been pretreating your hair for 3 months or longer.
As with all mixes, whenever you blend any of these natural thickeners with water or a water-containing substance (check the label for "aqua" some treatments seem oily or buttery but still incorporate water) it's best to use it immediately.
And There's More. . .
Coconut oil and guar gum are two great natural hair thickeners, but they're not alone. Nature is abundant in materials you can use to help build volume into your strands. For more ways to thicken your hair naturally, check out Part II of this post, here.