Here’s an A-to-Z list of tips and ingredients on what makes stronger, shinier, healthier and more beautiful hair.
The scientific name is withania somnifera, an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. Dubbed as “Indian ginseng,” its roots and berries are used to treat a variety of ailments including arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, insomnia, fibromyalgia, and tuberculosis, to name a few. It is also known to be an adaptogen, a natural substance in herbal medicine that helps the body increase its ability to resist damage caused by stress.
Brushing your skin stimulates your lymphatic system, exfoliates dry and dead skin, improves blood circulation to the scalp and other areas, reduces cellulite, and calms your mind. Dry skin brushing with bristles made from natural materials can be done once or twice a day for two to twenty minutes.
This natural compound found in the plant turmeric has been labelled the “Indian solid gold” because of its golden color. It has been studied for its effect on inflammation and the growth of tumors that cause cancer, blood sugar regulation, prevention of fat accumulation, and its potential benefits in slowing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Its compounds have also been studied for their impact on stress associated with hair thinning.
What you eat plays a major role in strong and beautiful hair. A healthy diet filled with protein, iron, vitamins D and E, and trace minerals such as selenium, copper and magnesium help keep your hair in good shape. Lack of essential nutrients like iron, for example, can lead to hair loss.
Getting plenty of exercise improves the circulation of oxygen and nutrients to all body parts, including hair follicles. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as brisk walking and swimming every week, or 70 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity such as running and aerobic dancing per week. Strength training with the use of weight machines or any activity such as rock climbing that gradually tones muscles and increases strength should be done twice a week.
Feeling good about our day, our family, our work, and the daily things we encounter helps keep our stress levels low and our over-all health in excellent condition. When we feel good on the inside, it tends to manifest on the outside through clear skin, bright eyes, and shiny hair.
Grooming is a must for any length or type of hair. Knowing your hair type helps determine the right kind of products you should use. Shampooing every other day washes out dirt and excess oil, although frequent shampooing can also strip the hair of its moisture and shine. Use a conditioner to add shine and remove frizz. A visit to the salon for a cut and various natural treatments can also help your hair look and feel its best every month.
Hyaluronic acid (HA)
This is a substance, like collagen, that our bodies produce and is found specially in the fluid in our eyes and joints. Because it acts as a lubricant and cushion for joints and tissues, it is used to treat joint disorders such as osteoarthritis, and replace fluid lost during eye surgery. Hyaluronic acid also acts as a lip filler in plastic surgery and is used in shampoos and food supplements to support hair growth.
In combination with iron, magnesium, and zinc, this is an important mineral used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones needed for the healthy growth of hair, bones, and teeth. Iodine deficiency can lead to the weakening of the follicles, causing alopecia or hair loss.
Junk food includes anything highly processed and containing large amounts of fat, sodium, or sugar. Sadly, most food in our supermarkets that comes in boxes, cans or plastic containers are filled with preservatives, food coloring, extenders, and other chemicals that accumulate in our bodies, potentially contributing to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. Fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and chicken, and whole grains that haven’t undergone processing are recommended for better health.
These are salon favorites for restoring hair strength and resilience. A 90-minute treatment is used to straighten curly or wavy hair with a keratin hair-straightening product and heat from a hot iron to seal it. The result, which looks sleek and frizz-free, lasts for around two and a half months. Use these with caution if your hair is too fine or you have psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis.
Layering your hair as opposed to a blunt cut can help create the illusion of longer, thicker, and more beautiful hair.
This is widely used as a food supplement in countries like Japan. Although collagen is a natural protein that our bodies produce to prevent dermal layers from folding or wrinkling, this depletes as we age so collagen supplementation is beneficial. This fibrous protein is often extracted from fish scales and is beneficial for the skin, hair, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It fights off free radicals that can affect the growth, texture, and thickness of hair.
Along with dark green vegetables and dried fruits, nuts are rich in iron – a mineral that helps reduce excess hair shedding.
This therapy is a kind of scalp treatment using a pressurized device that delivers oxygen to the scalp, improving the circulation of blood in the roots. This can help increase the supply of nutrients to follicles needed to build the protein that forms hair.
An essential nutrient that makes up most of our muscles, bones, skin, and hair. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, not all proteins are alike – some are healthier than others and depends on what the “protein package” brings. Healthy protein-rich foods such as salmon and other fatty fish should contain low amounts of saturated fat and hidden salts.
Make sure to get some quiet time for yourself on several occasions each day. It helps relieve stress and rejuvenate the body, allowing for longer periods of concentration and energy.
Different relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, exercise, and massage can reduce stress which plays a major role in many hair thinning problems. Stress can promote increased levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the blood, which can result in excessive shedding of hair.
This is a kind of palm with sharp, fan-shaped leaves. The ripe fruit of this plant is used to treat the symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate in men by inhibiting testosterone from binding to the receptor 5-alpha-reductase and being converted into DHT. It is also known to promote relaxation and increase libido.
Tuna, especially yellowfin, is one of those high-protein foods packed with B vitamins and the antioxidant selenium.
UV rays from too much exposure to the sun destroys the protein bonds in hair, making it dry, brittle, and discolored. Wearing a hat or scarf or taking an umbrella outside on a sunny day are some ways you can protect your hair from these damaging rays.
Vascular health is the condition of our vessels – veins and arteries included – that transport blood from the heart to all of the body organs and back again. Hair follicles are dependent on oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to stimulate hair growth. Clogged vessels inhibit the free flow of blood to the follicles and may result in dry and brittle hair. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, weight control, maintaining normal blood pressure, and avoiding smoking are some ways to keep our blood vessels healthy.
When rinsing your hair, it’s best to use cold water because it closes the pores of your scalp – protecting it from dirt, grease, and oil. Cold water closes the hair cuticle for a shiny, frizz-free appearance and improves the circulation of blood to your scalp by enlarging the capillaries to warm the skin and bring needed nutrients to the follicles.
Taking extra care in handling your hair can prevent breakage. Make sure you untangle the knots in wet hair with your fingers before brushing. When tying into a ponytail, don’t pull hair too tightly, as the tension can lead to strands being pulled out of their follicles.
Beautiful hair that also feels youthful is achieved not only by changing hair color or trying a new cut. You can also have hair that’s voluminous and bouncy by taking care of it from within. Watching your diet, avoiding sun damage, and being mindful of the vitamins and nutrients we take in can help against the changes stress and aging have on our hair’s health.
This is one of those trace minerals that you have to take in the right amount to achieve desired results. Too little or too much of it can lead to hair loss. Zinc deficiency can weaken the protein structure of follicles and cause hair to fall out. High doses of zinc supplements, however, can inhibit the anagen and catagen phases of hair growth and can cause hair loss as well. You can find zinc in foods such as egg yolks, wheat germ, poultry, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, red meats, liver, shrimp, oysters, lobsters, crab, chickpeas, and fortified breakfast cereal.