HOW TO GROW AND MAINTAIN HEALTHY HAIRReading Time: 5 minutes
Human hair can be compared to a picture, it says a thousand things about a person without them saying a thing. Careful assessment of someone’s hair can provide Information about their hygiene, health status, nutrition, ethnicity, gender and age.
The appearance, texture, thinning or fullness of your hair can mirror what is going on inside. It can tell your doctor if something is going on inside the body, such as hormonal imbalance (e.g polycystic ovarian syndrome, thyroid disease, cushing syndrome), stress, autoimmune disease (e.g alopecia areata or totalis) and scalp infections (tinea capitis).
Fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals needed for hair growth and one of the necessary minerals is zinc.
Zinc deficiency can cause your hair to become brittle and fall off. Beef, fish, avocados, beans, chickpeas, eggs, nuts and dairy are all rich in zinc and other nutrients that promote hair growth.
Diet can only help with hair loss in cases where malnourishment is the cause of the loss.
Gently massaging your hair for a few minutes daily or weekly using a small amount of oil has been reported to increase rate of hair growth. According to a 2016 study, hair massage stretches the root of the hair, causing the cells to multiply and hair to thicken.
Hair massage also increases rate of blood flow to the hair follicles and stimulates hair growth.
A list of oils to choose from include Amla, coconut, almond, castor, avocado oil, peppermint or jojoba oil. The choice is yours!
Do not use a lot of oil so your hair does not become greasy.
Avoid Harmful Chemicals
Treating your hair with chemicals (perms, dyes and relaxers) may cause hair damage.
Carefully read the labels of every product you plan to use in your hair; shampoos, conditioners, oils. If possible, use chemical-free, alcohol free, mild, hypoallergenic, organic and natural based hair products. They may be more expensive but totally worth it!
Moisturize Dry Hair
Each strand of hair is in proximity to oil glands. These glands produce oil that moisturize the hair. People with dry scalp may not produce enough oil to moisturize their hair or may be be unable to retain hair moisture. Dry scalp becomes scaly, sheds easily and promotes dandruff. Heat styling tools strip hair of its moisture. Natural hair oil production decreases as one gets older.
To moisturize, massage either coconut oil or any oil of your choice into your scalp.
Limit Use of Heat Styling Tools
High heat denatures protein and human hair contains the protein keratin. According to a study published in International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the authors studied the temperature at which the hair is able to withstand heat damage.
They found that above 140 degrees centigrade, the damage to hair becomes irreversible. Above 200 degree celsius, hair experiences complete structural deformation and becomes dry, brittle and eventually fall off.
The authors recommend drying temperature of 60 degree celsius as hair can still recover its moisture at this temperature.
Use Silk/Satin Pillowcase and Hair Bonnet
Silk and satin fabrics are very soft and smooth. They cushion the hair, protecting it from shearing forces that cause breakage and prevent tangling.
Brush Your Hair Wet (For African Hair Only)
The unpermed, untreated virgin African hair can be tough to manage sometimes as it tangles easily. Some experts recommend wetting the hair with ordinary water and using small amount of coconut oil when combing through the hair.
Combing the hair when dry will cause it to break and you may also experience pain and headache afterwards.
Go Easy On The Shampoo
Hair has its own natural oil and shampooing your hair daily strips your hair of its natural oils. Limit the shampoo use to 2 -3 times a week.
Stress has been reported to cause hair loss. According to study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, stress increases the hormone, cortisol. High levels of cortisol destroy and reduce the production of important proteins (hyaluronan and proteoglycans) needed to maintain healthy skin and hair.
Stress can cause hair in active growth phase to enter resting phase prematurely, making it likely to fall out easily.
Stress can cause the body to start fighting itself (autoimmune disease), in the case of alopecia areata, totalis and universalis. In alopecia areata (patchy hair loss), the body’s defence mechanism mistakes hair follicles as foreign and destroys them.
Identify the stressors and remove or avoid them. Take time out to pamper yourself at the spa, go to the movies, spin class, yoga, meditation, gym, sleep, meet up with friends or anything you know might help you relax. Your hair will thank you!
Avoid Sun Exposure
Too much exposure to sun can cause your to become dry and brittle. People at risk of sun induced hair damage include individuals living in the tropics (Africa, South and Central America, Mexico, Caribbean), individuals with thin hair, light coloured hair (grey and blond hairs).
To reduce sun damage to your hair, wear a hat and other protective clothing. Limit the time you spend out in the sun. You may use Aloe vera gel to condition your hair after exposure.
Smoking cigarette increases an individual’s risk of hair loss. Researchers say this may be due to the reduction of blood flow to the hair follicles. Noxious substances contained in cigarettes cause the blood vessels to become narrow, as a result blood supply to hair follicles is reduced which deprives them from nutrients required for growth.
Quitting smoking may help restore your hair and prevent further hair loss.