At some point, we’ve all longed for our hair to grow quickly, for it to be less dry or less prone to breakage. For most of us, the first thought is to turn to products as the solution, pinning our hopes on shampoos, conditioners and treatments with promises to make a visible difference in just a few washes (the dream)! But to support healthy hair growth, we believe a more holistic approach is best. We’ve compiled our top tips for the 3 main aspects: nutrition, stress management and scalp/hair care, to share these with you today.
Unsurprisingly, our diet affects the health of our scalp and hair, so eating a well-balanced diet is key:
- With our hair follicles mostly made of Keratin, protein is an essential building block for our hair. If we’re lacking protein in our diet, the hair can become dry, brittle and weak, and may result in restricted hair growth/hair loss. While keratin treatments can help to strengthen the hair, supporting this with sufficient protein in the diet will aid hair growth from within.
- When we consume foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, apricots and peppers, the body turns the antioxidant, beta carotene, into Vitamin A which helps glands in the scalp to produce sebum (the body’s natural oil). This helps to keep our hair and scalp balanced and revives dry, dull hair. We also know that we can support this further by drinking plenty of water to keep cells hydrated and healthy.
- Another vitamin which plays a vital role in achieving healthy hair growth is Vitamin C. Found in oranges, broccoli, strawberries, blackcurrants, brussels sprouts and more, this produces collagen which helps strengthen hair right from the roots whilst protecting the follicles from damage. Vitamin C also helps the body to absorb iron from the diet – an essential mineral for hair growth. An iron deficiency results in anaemia which has been linked to hair loss. If you are experiencing this, your GP may also suggest supplements to increase your iron levels.
- The minerals Zinc, Vitamin E and Selenium help protect the scalp from oxidative stress and damage. We know from previous posts that if our skin barrier becomes damaged, we’re more susceptible to dry or dehydrated skin, irritation and inflammation. The same applies to the skin on our scalp – if we don’t take care of this, we encounter poor hair health, a dry/flaky scalp and fewer hair follicles. The best way to care for our scalp is from within, assisted by external products.
- Omega 3 fatty acids – which come from some of our favourite plant oils, nuts and seeds – provide oils to keep the hair and scalp hydrated. They also provide anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce eczema, psoriasis, alopecia, scarring and hair loss. It’s also thought that Biotin (a form of Vitamin B) can help with this too but at the moment there’s not enough evidence to substantiate this.
2. Stress management
Experiencing stress isn’t uncommon but the side effects aren’t just burnout, it also impacts the condition of our hair and scalp. When cortisol (our stress hormone) rises, the adrenal glands produce fewer hormones that promote hair growth. Stress also causes the body to burn through nutrients faster than normal leaving the body short – the demand for minerals increases but the nutrient absorption decreases. As a result, as much as 70% of hair can prematurely fall out. But we can take control and manage stress by developing positive coping strategies, incorporating these into our everyday lives, to keep levels of cortisol in balance. Because unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how expensive hair products are if stress is not managed. Here are some of our favourite ways to manage stress:
- For us, self-care is time well spent. Why? The body needs time to recover and repair itself. Practising mindfulness activities and exercise daily benefits both the mind and body.
- Listening to or singing along to some happy, uplifting music or dancing around to our favourite tunes helps to decrease stress levels.
- Spend time with people who bring you joy or watch a comedy programme/film on the TV – laughter truly is the best medicine!
You might also like to read: Tips on Shifting Our Energy to Shift Our Mindset
3. Scalp and hair care
Once we’ve looked at both diet and lifestyle, next up is the products we choose and the routines we carry out to improve the health of our hair and scalp.
We love a face and head massage, and everybody we’ve shared our technique with does too! (Discover How to Give Yourself a Soothing Head & Scalp Massage and Face Massage for Naturally Glowing Skin). Massaging the scalp helps to stimulate blood circulation bringing oxygen and nutrients which feeds hair follicles and removes toxins. We recommend using a specific scalp product (like our Scalp Oil) which supports the health of the scalp, and softens hair near the roots, helping prevent breakage. Exfoliating the scalp also cleanses, removing dirt, oil, excess sebum, dead skin cells and product build-up from hair follicles and keeps the scalp supple.
- Where possible, avoid washing your hair every day. We recommend using a natural shampoo and conditioner, free from sulphates and silicones like SLS/SLES (which may irritate the scalp) when you do. Shampoos are essential for cleansing the hair, while conditioners restore moisture and protect the hair shaft. For more TLC, give your hair a treat with a deep conditioning mask every few weeks. If an itch starts at any point, do not scratch or pick as this can damage roots/follicles. Strip back everything being used until the product causing irritation has been identified.
- Small changes can make all the difference to the condition of the hair and the rate at which it grows. For example, getting hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks will remove split ends and promote growth, refraining from tight ponytails/headbands or tying the hair back too regularly will reduce strain on the roots, and blow-drying at a lower temperature, using heat-styling tools less frequently and brushing/combing hair only when necessary can prevent hair becoming brittle and breaking.
Our Founder, Sofia, experienced her hair thinning through peri-menopause, an iron deficiency, and poor stress management 10 years ago. She used these tips personally to help bring her hair back to health. Watch her hair story to learn more about her hair journey!
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WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR SUPPORTING HEALTHY HAIR GROWTH?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below!