Joyous Health Recipes Food
Joyous Health Wellbeing Well-Being
Joyous Health Beauty Beauty
Joyous Health Family Family
Previous Episodes 
Joyous Health Kids
Joyous Health Kids

6 Chemical-Free Tips for Healthy Shiny Gorgeous Hair

I was watching a show and the expert was discussing products for hair health with the host. While I'm sure the expert had good intentions, every single prod
Jan 18, 2012 | Joy McCarthy

I was watching a show and the expert was discussing products for hair health with the host. While I'm sure the expert had good intentions, every single product was FULL of chemicals!! So this inspired my post today because I know this is a very popular topic for women (and men).

If you want gorgeous, shiny, healthy hair then follow my tips because they actually work, minus the chemicals. Remember, your hair is a really good indication of the state of your overall health, especially if you have been experiencing unusual hair loss, dryness, breakage or dull hair.

I wish I had a "before" photo because if you saw my hair 14 years ago, you would see a significant difference! I am the result of good nutrition. Good nutrition provides the best possible environment for building strong, gorgeous hair -- not slathering on toxic lotions and potions.

Disclaimer: Keep in mind you cannot expect immediate results. It takes a couple of months to start to see noticeable change as your hair actually grows. Six months to a year is when you will really notice change, so stick to it! Let's get right to it, shall we? :)

1. Reduce stress

This might surprise you, but stress is one of the most common causes of unusual hair loss. The hormones associated with stress can send your hair follicles into resting phase prematurely. Resting phase is when growth no longer occurs and the hair can easily shed from the follicle. This can occur up to three months after a traumatic event.

You can't always control what happens to you, but you can always ease the burden of stress on your body by thinking positive thoughts, practicing optimism, doing yoga, being grateful and remembering that stress is YOUR reaction to a situation. Crappy things happen and while I don't suggest you go into denial, you also don't want it to take over your life.

If you have been through a traumatic event ie. death, surgery, accident, illness and have lost some hair, just wait it out. It will grow back.

2. Lack of protein

Many different nutrients contribute to healthy hair but protein is literally a building block. Your hair gets its structure from keratin and without enough protein for keratin, your strands will weaken and grow slowly. Hair loss is a common symptom of anorexia nervosa and extreme weight loss (due to lack of protein). The overall shine and health of hair is affected too, as starvation also depletes the body of other nutrients needed for healthy hair.

Bean Chili is an excellent source of non-heme iron and protein! Good sources of protein are: eggs, fish, Greek yogurt, chicken and let's not forget all the non-animal sources: chia, hemp seeds, quinoa, beans, lentils, bee pollen, green leafy vegetables, blue-green algae, nuts and seeds. Make sure you eat protein at every single meal and snack. But don't overdo it either. Many people assume that protein is the only factor in hair growth. While it may be a raw material, it certainly isn't the only factor.

3. Healthy Fats

Lack of good quality fat in your diet creates lack lustre dull dry hair. Further, eating the wrong fats and not enough of the right fats promotes hormonal imbalance which can be a cause of dry hair and hair loss. Fats help to provide moisture from the inside out and will nourish the root of your hair -- your follicle.

Kale Pasta Pesto is loaded with vitamin C, protein, good fat and B vitamins! Eat plenty of good fats including: coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, fish and fish oils, chia, flaxseeds, hemp oil, greek yogurt with fat, nuts and seeds such as chia, pumpkin and sunflower. Avoid bad fats such as fried fats, fat found in processed baked goods and avoid cooking in high temperature heat with liquid fats ie. olive, sunflower, safflower, corn oils.


4. B Vitamins

Folate, B6 and B12 are all involved in the creation of red blood cells which carry nutrients to your hair. Without enough of them, hair is starved of nutrients which affects the health of your hair and you will be more prone to shedding, slow growth and weak hair.

Sources of these B vitamins include: leafy greens, chick peas, wild salmon, sweet potato, lentils, eggs, apricots, Greek yogurt, lean beef, berries, parsnips, broccoli, sunflower seeds, whole grains, wheat germ, nutritional yeast.

Many people ask me about biotin for healthy hair, likely because they've read it in a magazine. The truth is, biotin deficiency is extremely uncommon, but lack of it leads to hair loss. Instead of taking a supplement, eat these foods for biotin: eggs, almonds, wheat bran, walnuts, swiss chard, whole grains, salmon, avocado, berries.

5. Vitamin C

There are various reasons this vitamin is extremely important for hair health. First of all, it helps your body use non-heme iron (the type found in veggies) to assure there is enough iron in red blood cells to carry and feed oxygen to hair follicles. Second, it is used in the formation of collagen, which literally holds our body together! Hair follicles and skin require collagen for growth and to maintain good health.

Lack of vitamin C can lead to dry hair that is prone to breakage. Vitamin C is really not hard to find in your grocery store! Eat more of these foods: kale, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, grapefruit, berriers, lemons and so on. If you eat a large variety of vegetables and fruits every single day, then you will get enough vitamin C.

6. Iron

The most common nutritional deficiency is iron. Not only does low iron affect your energy and immune system, but it can also cause hair loss. I know this first hand. When I had low iron, my hair was falling out and this was very unsettling!

There are two types of iron, heme and non-heme. Heme iron from animal foods is more easily absorbed by the body than non-heme (vegetarian sources). However, if you are vegetarian and you eat plenty of iron rich foods with vitamin C rich foods then you will have good absorption.

Good sources of iron, both heme and non-heme include: All animal products, beans, lentils and dark leafy greens.

I could keep going on and on here giving your more tips for hair health but I think that's a great start. If you want to read more, then research beta-carotene and zinc because they are also important for getting gorgeous sexy hair!

Remember it's your overall health that affects your hair. Create beauty from the INSIDE out, instead of buying expensive lotions and potions. Also, be cautious of hair dyes, chemical treatments, harsh styling products and don't overdo the heat on your hair. I used to dye my hair and put so much junk in it! However, now that I'm a nutritionist I haven't dyed my hair in well over 10 years and I used the simplest of products ie. shampoo and conditioner - that is it! People ask me all the time how I have such nice hair and it's not my products, it's my good nutrition.

I do hope these tips help you. Have a joyous day!


Moreen Murray   •   January 18, 2012

Love your posts, Joy - they truly are joy-ful. I would love to book a session sometime. As far as great natural hair products - I am using something phenomenal - locally grown and produced by Vauxhall - she usually sells at Liberty Village market in the summer and does Sick Kids Hospital Atrium in the winter months. The conditioner is called "Crowning Glory" - and it really is truth in advertising - I have a few of her products and they all work wonderfully - just home grown herbs and flowers. The website is

Joy McCarthy   •   January 18, 2012

Mandy Young   •   January 18, 2012

Hello Joy, I truly love all your posts and love what you have written today, but I was waiting for you to add in about the chemicals in almost all shampoos and conditioners. I started learning about parabens and sodium lauryl sulfates (SLS) and can't believe how many products these chemical fillers are in; including shampoos and conditioners. Thank you for your posts, Mandy


Tiffany   •   January 18, 2012

I am in my late 20's and already have a lot of gray. Does diet have anything to do with this? I dye my hair to cover it, but would really like to get away from all the chemicals.

Joy McCarthy   •   January 18, 2012
Tamara   •   May 27, 2013

Leila   •   January 18, 2012

Great post Joy! I can attest to the havoc stress can bring to full, healthy locks. I do have one question though: I am getting grey hair in conspicuous areas. I'm not ready to go au naturel (vanity, thy name is Leila). Any suggestions for a more healthful way to colour greys?

Joy McCarthy   •   January 18, 2012

Theresa   •   January 18, 2012

I love John Masters Organics. Not local, but very clean ingredients, and it works beautifully. I also like Rare Elements, but it's very pricey, so I keep it for occasional use. Their oil treatment is amazing. =)

Joy McCarthy   •   January 18, 2012

Sheila   •   January 19, 2012

Hi Joy, Great post. I was looking for some of the recipes on your website that you mentioned in this article. I just wanted to let you know that most of the links aren't working -- they direct you to a page not found on website. Thanks.

Joy McCarthy   •   January 19, 2012

Maria @ Scandifoodie   •   January 27, 2012

Thank you Joy! This is a great post!


Way Back Wednesday! | Healthnut Nutrition   •   October 31, 2012

[...] 6-Chemical Free Tips for Healthy Shiny Gorgeous Hair! [...]


Joyous Health   •   March 16, 2013

[...] your skin from conventional lotions you slather on your body or shampoo your wash your mane with that may be full of parabens, SLS and the list is [...]


Jennifer Freitas   •   May 27, 2013

Thanks Joy for a great post!!!! I have fabulous hair - even though I am hard on it - blow dry and flat iron... I have never dyed my hair I am proud to say and hope that stays true.... I have a great diet, which I feels contributes to how healthy and shiny my hair is. I know though, good products are key too! I love John Master's ... But I have to say my new obsession is Yarok. Seriously, it's soooo clean... Non-GMO, vegan, Kosher ... seriously.. and it all works... mousse, hair spray, serums (best ever!) and shampoo and conditioner!!


Joyous Health   •   May 27, 2013

[...] I’m going to focus on tips for hair only. Hopefully you had a chance to read a previous post: 6 Chemical_Free Tips for Healthy Shiny Gorgeous Hair because in that post I also share hair beautifying nutrients. Here are 4 more tips for gorgeous [...]


Kiren   •   January 25, 2018

Hi Joy, I have a question about hair loss for women. My mom is almost 65 and has very thin hair. Is it possible that her hair could get thicker without the different chemical filled shampoos that are often recommended. Any suggestions that would be first to try. Thanks

Joy McCarthy   •   January 26, 2018

Post Comment

Say hi to Hello Joyous!

An organic, plant-based, sustainable beauty brand here to bring more joy to your day.