Photo: Ali Kate Cherkis. I receive numerous questions a everyday regarding hair but the most popular one by far regards growth and what products I would suggest to help grow long hair successfully. As simple as this question seems, many people are looking for a topical miracle. A magical product that will enhance growth and prevent breakage and as much as I wish I could give them the answer they are looking for (believe me I have been there), my first answer to them is, “Tell me about the history of your hair, current regimen plus products, diet, prescribed to any medications, under extreme stress or sudden change in diet and daily lifestyle habits.” The reaction to my question could either go one of two ways “girl pull up a chair, I need all the help I can get” or simply a side eye as if I am hoarding a secret product to cure all hair woos, but the truth is, our life is a journey and this does not exclude our hair.
If you are having problems in your life and seek help through therapy, you don’t sit down and tell the therapist, “look I need a drug that is instantly going to make my life problems disappear!” The reality is you need to take a long hard look at your past & present. Access why you are currently at this point and do the work to change it! As dramatic as this seems, you need to correlate the same type of attitude to problems you are having with your hair.
Below are 4 tips you may have not considered in promoting healthy hair growth.
I have to mention diet first. What you put into your body really does correlate to everything, including the “health” of your hair. Want longer and stronger strands, with less shedding and breakage, improve your diet and I guarantee you will see a tremendous difference. Providing your system with the minerals and vitamins it needs can directly affect the dryness of your strands and how much hair you shed per day. Yes, a poor diet can cause unnecessary shedding, leaving you with a less than voluminous crown. Every strand of your hair is composed mainly of overlapping flat cells surrounded by keratin, the basis of durability and structure. These protein fibers, like your nails need protein to grow. An inadequate diet can also affect your anagen phase which is your growth period, much like a malnutritioned child, a poor diet can stunt your true predetermined length, while a healthy diet can improve growth rate and length.
Long story short, exercise increases blood circulation, including to your hair follicles, in return this stimulates hair growth and prevents unnecessary hair loss. Exercise also directly connects to the condition of the sebum (natural oils). When you exercise you release toxins, through the release of these toxins the sebum is purified. As I always say, “think of is as changing the oil in your car, neglecting the act of change and the car will lose its effectiveness of running properly and the same goes for hair”, sebum is strongest when we as a whole are healthiest. Besides purified sebum, your chances of unnecessary hair loss are diminished because of stress reduction through a regular workout regimen.
A clean scalp goes hand in hand with growth. Hair can be the dirtiest because it is exposed to the elements on a daily basis and therefore attracts dust and microbes and microbes are simply organisms too small to view without the aid of a microscope. Microbes depend on the availability of water, nutrients, heat and oxygen or sometimes lack of. Dust works as a breeding ground for microbes, dust mites and fungus and they work over time, like they are paying the rent to weaken your hair roots, which leads to hair loss.
Reduce Product Usage On Scalp Area
Since your body secretes an oily, waxy substance called sebum, through microscopic glands in the skin located predominantly on the scalp and face, placing additional oils and products directly on the scalp could increase your chances for dandruff. Dandruff (not to be confused with dry scalp) is a sign that your body is over producing a yeast which is caused by a yeast-like fungus called ‘malassezia globosa’ present in our sebum, this over production can stem from a multitude of things, including as previously mentioned an excessive use of products such as heavy oils/butters, an allergic reaction to a product to an improper diet especially those containing an abundance of refined foods.
As most of us know sebum, or our natural oils are what lubricate our strands and provides a natural barrier in preventing dryness and breakage. Now when these microscopic glands or sebaceous glands are blocked from an outside factor, like certain hair products preventing the sebum from secreting properly, this can wreak havoc on our scalp leading to breakage as well. Your pores need to “breath” and be clear to ensure healthy hair follicle growth and strong shaft walls
*Tip: Try to stick with light oils if you prefer a bit of product on your scalp. Oils like coconut and rosemary are great options. 100% organic cold pressed coconut oil is high in Lauric acid which is an antimicrobial agent. Antimicrobial agents work to destroy dust and microbes (organisms too small to view without the aid of a microscope). One of the main reasons for hair loss besides genetics and age is because of microbial action on the scalp and hair roots. Coconut oil contains high percentages of lauric acid while rosemary oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, including the power in many cases of stimulating hair follicles which promotes growth.
Also, all though a heavy oil, a bit of castor oil on the scalp area has its benefits as well! Containing protein, vitamin E, minerals, anti-fungal/bacterial /insecticidal/ fungicidal and germicidal properties. Due to the fatty omega 6 acids, castor oil like rosemary can also increase circulation to our hair follicles stimulating growth.
All and all the “health” of our hair like anything we may be striving for takes work, and if you want the results you are hoping for be honest in what you could be doing to prevent just that.