Is your hair thinning or lacking lustre?
The expression “Your hair is a reflection of your inner health” is very true and the look of your hair is often an indication of your food choices and overall wellbeing. If you eat an unbalanced diet, exercise infrequently, smoke, drink, use poor quality or ineffective hair care products and pay minimal attention to your stress levels and quality of sleep, you could be compromising the health of your scalp and hair.
Here are our 10 Top Tips for achieving healthy natural hair.
1. Good Nutrition is essential for healthy hair
Good nutrition is important for healthy hair growth and conversely many deficiencies correlate with hair loss. The living part of hair is in the scalp where the root is housed within a follicle. The follicle derives its nutrients from the blood supply.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for healthy hair. A lack of protein in your diet can lead to thinning, dry and brittle hair; potentially even hair loss. Hair contains very high concentrations of amino acids that support the structural integrity and healthy development of hair follicles. You can obtain all the amino acids you need by including either animal-based foods such as milk, lean meat, fish, and eggs or a variety of plant-based foods like soy, grains, nuts and legumes.
B-group vitamins are important for healthy hair, especially biotin. A deficiency in biotin can cause brittle hair and hair loss. Biotin is found in cereal-grain products, liver, egg yolk, soy flour, and yeast.
Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, yellow apples, pineapples, nectarines, yellow tomatoes and other orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are full of beta-carotene that convert to vitamin A in your body. Sufficient vitamin A helps produce oils essential to a healthy scalp. When your body is lacking vitamin A, itchiness and dandruff can appear.
The essential omega-3 fatty acids found in fish sources like salmon also prevent a dry scalp and dull hair colour.Leafy greens are packed with nutrients and disease-fighters known as phytochemicals. They also contain a very high percentage of water, which helps to keep your hair and skin hydrated.
If you love oysters then great, they are rich in zinc. When you don't have enough zinc in your diet you can experience hair loss, including your eyelashes. Cells that build hair rely on zinc. Nuts contain high sources of selenium and zinc, also important for a healthy scalp.
Low-fat dairy products are good sources of calcium, another key component for hair growth. Greek yogurt has an ingredient that helps with blood flow to your scalp and hair growth. It’s called vitamin B5 (known as pantothenic acid) and can help with hair thinning and loss. Sprinkle cinnamon on your oatmeal, toast, and in your coffee. Cinnamon also helps with blood circulation which brings oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles.
2. Fad Diets and eating disorders can cause hair loss
Fad diets, crash diets and eating disorders can be counterproductive to normal hair growth. Inadequate protein in your diet or abnormal eating habits may lead to protein and nutrient deficiencies. The body will save protein by shifting growing hair into the resting phase. Severe hair shedding can occur two to three months following restricted eating.
3. Alcohol can affect normal hair growth
Moderate your alcohol consumption. Alcohol has a net acidic effect on your body. This means that when your body digests and metabolises alcohol, you are left with an ‘acidic waste’ in your body. When your body becomes overly acidic it will do almost anything to try and get back to an alkaline state. One of the ways it can achieve this is by using protein stored in the body to reduce the acidity. So instead of having strong, thick and healthy hair, your body is now taking the protein from your hair and using it to reduce its acidity.
4. Smoking impairs blood flow to hair follicles
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, many of them toxic, which affect all areas of the body including the hair. This smoke negatively affects your circulation in general which means impaired blood flow to your hair follicles.
5. Exercise is great for the hair
Exercise is great for your body. It reduces the risk of illness and strengthens your cardiovascular system. A healthy body provides a good foundation for having naturally healthy hair. Exercise produces a hormone called serotonin which helps to reduce stress by promoting normal mood and sleep patterns. Exercise which includes back bends and inverted poses increases the blood flow to the scalp and head. Yoga is considered to be beneficial for encouraging hair growth as it involves a variety of inverted poses such as shoulder stands, sun salutations, etc.
6. Sleep promotes cell regeneration
While you are sleeping your cells within the follicle regenerate, so lack of sleep can affect hair growth. If the body is deprived of sleep then it fails to undertake essential detoxification, repair and growth processes.
7. Stress affects the hair growth cycle
Intense physical shock or emotional stress may trigger hair thinning and hair loss. This is because trauma can shock the hair growth cycle and push more hair into the shedding phase rather than the growth phase. Find your personal activities and practices to manage stress.
8. Scalp conditions can lead to hair loss
Don’t ignore any scalp conditions. Scalp issues if left untreated can lead to more severe conditions including hair loss.
Dandruff caused by an oily scalp can be treated using a shampoo with ingredients to inhibit the microorganisms that trigger the over-active shedding of skin cells. We recommend the Holistic Hair Sensitive Shampoo
or Pure Shampoo
with natural ingredients helpful in resolving the precursors to dandruff. (Read our blog How to treat your dandruff or dry scalp condition
). Maintaining a normal pH is equally important in preventing microbial activity on the scalp. Using the Holistic Hair Herbal Finishing Rinse
will normalise the pH and leave the hair smooth, soft and shiny.
If your scalp has a tendency to be dry, try the Scalp Treatment Oil
with 6 nutrient-rich plant oils designed to moisturise and care for the scalp. This treatment oil will assist in removing the build-up of scale that can occur. Apply it before bed and wash it off the next day or use it for a scalp massage.
Use a shampoo that suits your hair (Read our blog Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner
) and never skip using a conditioner
after the shampoo. Critical to keeping hair looking shiny and healthy is replacing nutrients with effective plant oils that help to protect and smooth the cuticles. Light reflects from the hair when the cuticles are lying flat and conditioners reduce frizz.
9. Good hair care regimes & natural products make a difference
10. Seek help sooner rather than later
Chemical and colour treatments, heat styling tools and hairstyles like tight braids and high ponytails all take a toll on the hair and follicles. Be thoughtful around how often you colour treat and heat style your hair, which over time damages the hair fibre. Choose premium hair care products that suit your scalp or hair condition. Holistic Hair products are designed to nourish the scalp and hair and resolve conditions. (Read our blog on Is your Hair Care Holistic? )
If you’ve noticed that your hair has become thinner over time, or you are losing more than 100 hairs a day and the hair loss feels more than normal, then see your GP, Dermatologist or Trichologist, for the right diagnosis, to help determine the cause.