Oct. 9. 2015
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of NS and Creator of The Method

One of the most frequent compliments I get, is about my hair, which I’m so flattered! Questions about, how to grow it this long, if you have long hair how to take care of it without damaging it, what products I use, how I style it, etc. Trust me, it hasn’t always been healthy, I used to have dry, brittle, “lifeless” hair that would never grow past my shoulders. Today, I’m sharing my ultimate guide to strong and healthy hair and a couple tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years. Having a an amazing hairstylist as your mother is a perk, she’s taught me so much about how to maintain healthy locks for life and intertwining some of her wackiest remedies and tricks that I still do daily. Let’s give those locks a little extra love.

Nourish those locks

Nutrition plays a crucial role in how strong and healthy your hair is, it’s vital! If we break down what hair is, it’s made up of protein and if our bodies don’t get enough nutrients, especially B vitamins, minerals like zinc, healthy fats, and protein, our hair will suffer (as well as skin and nails). Nourishing our bodies from the inside always will show on the outside, with hair, skin, nails, etc. therefore the most important thing you can do to get healthy locks is to start from the inside, supporting your health. Revisit this eBook all about beauty foods and foods that nourish your hair and skin from the inside out.

Think about it in this way, let’s say you’re not eating enough, a problem I encounter so often with my clients thinking they have to “diet” to be a certain shape or to get “toned”- it’s the furthest from the truth AND you’re never going to achieve a “toned” figure let alone healthy hair following this deprivation method. As much as hair is important for our bodies, it’s not a necessity, our bodies would much rather utilize all nutrients available to shuttle to our vital organs keeping our brains and organs healthy- not grow hair. So, we must think about this with the food we eat and how we treat our bodies, making sure we’re eating enough nutrient dense food and enough food to feed every cell in our body so it can also spill over into those “accessory” parts like hair, skin, and nails. (I’m putting this entire system in a big nutshell here, there’s far more that goes into it). If you suffer from hair conditions like dandruff, alopecia, bald spots, brittle hair, falling out more than normal; these can all be attributed to poor nutrition, food allergies/intolerances undiagnosed, your gut function decreasing (i.e. not absorbing the nutrition you’re consuming), stress, hormone imbalanced, or chronic illnesses. Again revisiting your lifestyle and what you’re putting into your body is key for these hair conditions as well.

Fun note: My grandmother once told me Cherokee Indians and many native american tribes purposely grew out their hair as a sign of strength and to heighten sensitivity to energy; some say this is because hair follicles are basically an extension of the nervous system and are receptive acting comparably like a “feeler” or “antennae” that helps transmit information to the brain, check this article, here and here. Is this definitive, no? But it’s cool to think about…


No. 1

Live Whole and Eat Well.

The foundation of Nutrition Stripped is encased in those 5 words, and it can be applied to hair care as well! The more that we treat the inside of our bodies with care and nourish on a cellular level, the more out body can absorb and utilize those nutrients to help grow our hair to be strong and healthy. But, it’s not all about what you eat, it’s also about how you think, what you do. Managing stress is one of the most important things you can do to help improve your hair- I know what you’re thinking what does stress and hair health have to do with each other…everything. The more our bodies are “stressed out” not just emotionally/mentally, but physically impacting our hormones, the more challenges we’ll have growing strong and healthy hair. Be sure to manage your stress, sleep well, and follow all of my 15 Steps to Living Whole and Eating Well to get the most out of of this #1 tip for healthy hair!

No. 2

Wash only when needed.

I know I’m going to sound like a bit of a hippy right now, but truthfully the less we wash our hair, the more we allow our natural oils to nourish our scalps giving our hair the opportunity to grow, shine, and be healthier. For me, when I was a teenager I wanted long hair so bad but it would never grow past my shoulders, I washed it daily, took “care” of it but it didn’t budge. I started to slowly cut back on washing my hair every day to every other day, then to every third day and it helped heaps. Be patient with how oily or dry you hair gets, your hair will adjust to the less frequent shampoos!

No. 3

Get chilly!

Eeek, this is the “worst” part of hair care but I do it everyday, whether it’s just a myth my moms taught me or if it actually works, it works for me! When you’re about to hop out of the shower or tub, give your hair a rinse with ice cold water, as cold as you can stand it, for at least 30 seconds or longer to help close the hair cuticle which helps retain the moisture. Since I’ve been doing this, I notice shinier hair and it feels much softer than when I rinse with steaming hot water.

No. 4

Skip the hot tools

The less heat you put on your hair the better and the less damage it’ll face. I get it, you want bouncy curls or straight locks every once in a while, but do you really need to style your hair this way ALL the time, so be picky and purposeful with using hot tools. For example, checking in with No. 5 below, using what you naturally have is best and let the rest do the work or skip out on blow drying as much as possible and let it air dry.

No. 5

Go au naturel!

My absolute favorite tip of the bunch- use what your momma gave you! My hair is naturally fine but I have a lot of it and it’s wavy. I love letting it air dry into beachy waves and then supporting the curls/waves with natural sea salt spray and a little hairspray or styling spritz. Simple, no mess, no fuss and takes me all of 4 minutes! Take the Parisian stance on this one and own what you have, make it work for you, be confident and just rock it! Here’s a couple of my favorite no heat, au naturel hair styles:

  • WAVES FOR DAYS: Shower before bedtime, with wet hair divide your hair into three large sections, braid each section and sleep on it. Release the braids in the morning, give it a good shake or spritz of sea salt spray and you have effortless waves!
  • OVERNIGHT BEACH BABE: when you’re hair is wet, divide into two large sections, twist each side until tight, then roll into a ball towards the side of your head (think Princess Leia), hold in place with hair ties

Added bonus!

Scalp massage

Massaging the scalp helps stimulate hair growth, try doing this whenever you can remember! Sitting on the couch? Massage that scalp! Washing your hair or applying my Coconut Rosemary Hair Mask? Massage away! It’s super simple- aim for a couple times a week for at least 10 minutes, even daily for 5 minutes is great.


Verb | Acure | Avalon | Calia | R + Co | my DIY Coconut Rosemary Hair Mask


Wooden brush | Argan oil | Emi Jay hair ties | Sea Salt spray | Volume spray | when you need it, the 1-inch curler

Tell me what your favorite hair care tips and tricks are, what about products I haven’t tried yet, love to hear your comments! As always, I love seeing you do and apply these posts to your life, share with me on Instagram your favorite way to naturally style your hair using #nutritionstripped.

xx McKel

Kelsey Cherry Photography