For women (and men) around the world, hair is an important part of how we present ourselves to others. Through style, cut, and color, we can present ourselves how we want others to see us. However you decide to do your hair each day, a good hairstyle begins with good hair. But how exactly do you get “good hair” that can serve as a good foundation for your chosen look? If you’ve ever wondered how to enhance your hair’s growth and thickness, how to stop your hair falling out, or what measures you can take to protect your hair through daily styling, keep reading for all this information and more!
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Four Factors of Hair Growth
The above information is consistent for a normal, healthy adult and is pretty much what you can expect for your scalp. However, certain factors can affect the growth of a person’s hair.
Because our follicles are so new and fresh when we are born, our hair tends to be thick and healthy. But as we age, our hair can often struggle to keep up and may not receive as many nutrients, since they are often diverted to more essential parts of the body for upkeep. That means that with advancing age, the diameter of the follicle starts shrinking, as it is only able to “feed” a thinner hair root. As a result, the hair that comes through the shrinking follicles is much thinner than before. While you may not be losing more hair as you age, the thinning strands can give you the appearance of less hair as time passes.
As we learned above, the blood in the vessels of the scalp gives nutrients to the hair root to encourage growth. However, if a person is experiencing an illness or disease, these nutrients need to be sent to other areas for more pressing health matters. The result is that hair strands are released from the follicle much sooner than they would have been.
Likewise, unexpected hormonal changes can lead to hair falling out. During pregnancy, for example, a shift in hormones in the woman’s body can cause hair fall, hair growth, or even a change in hair texture. It is not uncommon for women to experience their hair going from straight to curly (or the other way around) during pregnancy!
Finally, as far as physical health goes, you must have a proper diet that will give you all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to feed the root of the hair. A diet that is deficient in the necessary nutrients means that hair will grow much slower or not at all. Remember: your hair is very much like a plant, and without the hair equivalent of sunlight, water, and soil, the hair simply cannot grow.
It’s hard to believe, but our emotional health also contributes to our hair health. Essentially, the basis of all emotions is rooted in chemical cocktails that occur naturally within the body. These chemicals, in larger amounts, can inhibit the growth of hair. Stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental or emotional trauma can cause the hair to slow or stop growing and can cause follicles to close up, releasing the hair strands in much larger numbers than usual.
In recent years, many studies have been done on the importance of sleep. From mental processing to physical health, sleep is an essential part of our lives that should not be neglected. It has been recently discovered that a lack of sleep may inhibit hair growth. Without the right amount of sleep, our bodies don’t have the time or energy to metabolize nutrients or deal with non-essential bodily functions like hair growth. Getting enough sleep, on the other hand, will ensure that our bodies can attend to all the regular dealings of the day without interruption, meaning your hair will get everything it needs.
Overall, even when you make sure you are doing your best on the four factors listed above, you may find yourself growing impatient. In this case, feel free to check out our hair extensions as a quick option to satisfy your long hair needs in the meantime!
Preventing Hair Loss
If you haven’t experienced hair loss yet, now is the time to begin taking preventative measures to ensure that hair fall doesn’t become an issue you have to deal with. There are three main ways that you can thwart any hair rebellion your strands might be inclined to take up.
Remember how important nutrients are for creating strong and healthy strands of hair. Well, without these nutrients, your roots will struggle to get enough protein and vitamins to push the strand of hair through the skin of the scalp. A diet rich in healthy fats, also known as omega-3 fatty acids, is a good place to start when considering a hair-healthy diet. These fatty acids add strength to the hair root and can help you avoid unnecessary hair loss. And since you’ll be hanging on to those strands for a longer period, you’ll be giving them the chance to grow long and healthy.
Along with the food that hair requires to grow (vitamins, minerals, and nutrients like fat and protein), it also needs a good amount of water. Yes, of course, you should wash regularly, but that’s not exactly what we mean. Hydrating your body through drinking enough water each day is critical for healthy hair growth. Staying hydrated means there is enough water content in your body to send to all the exterior parts of your body as well as the interior ones. If you’ve ever been dehydrated, you might have noticed that your skin tends to get itchy and flaky. When this happens on the scalp, these flakes can clog up resting follicles and prevent new hairs from taking root there. But if you stay hydrated by drinking enough water each day, your scalp will be soft, supple and healthy, a perfect place for the roots of the hair to grow and thrive. Dehydration will ultimately lead to hair falling out prematurely due to an improper “field” for growth, so to speak.
Once you understand how the hair grows, you can fully appreciate how scalp massages can help you avoid hair loss. You should remember that the blood is what carries the nutrients to the root of the hair, where it drops them off and allows the root to feed and grow. A gentle but firm scalp massage stimulates blood flow to the scalp area, encouraging a rush of nutrients to be delivered to each hair follicle. Doing these massages regularly will help ensure that the roots of the hair are receiving nutrients, even if you are otherwise experiencing a sickness, hormonal change, or emotional stress. During these times it may not make your hair luscious and fast-growing, but it will help slow down any hair loss that you might have otherwise experienced without the extra blood flow.
Diet for Hair Growth
As mentioned above, the health of your hair is directly related to the health of the rest of your body. Getting enough nutrients is key to encouraging hair growth. So which foods should you focus on if your goal is long, strong, shiny hair? Here are four things to consider when creating your ultimate healthy-hair diet plan.
Long gone are the days where we the majority of health professionals and consumers alike considered fat to be bad for you. Instead, science has discovered that fat is actually pretty necessary for growing a healthy human body. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, have been linked to better heart health, improved eye health, treatment for depression and anxiety, and have been shown to even reduce ADHD symptoms in children. With all that we know now about fat, it’s a shame that we’ve been so hard on it for so long!
Regarding hair health, omega-3s have been linked to healthier and thicker hair growth, even though fat is not necessarily one of the building blocks of a strand of the hair itself. Instead, fats are necessary parts of cells throughout the body, and as you should know by now, the healthier the body, the healthier the hair.
Several studies have revealed that there is a definite link between fatty acids and the health of hair. Taking a fish oil supplement, for instance, was shown to greatly reduce hair loss in women. It even helped increase hair growth and thickness.
Look for healthy fat-filled foods to include in your diet if you want the benefits they have to give. Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel have plenty of Omega-3s as well as other hair-growth promoting nutrients. Avocados are also a great source of fatty acids, along with nuts like almonds and cashews.
If you remember from the beginning of this article, the magic of hair growth begins in the hair follicle. If the hair follicle isn’t healthy, then it won’t be able to produce a good strand of hair. It’s important to note that the hair follicle is made almost exclusively of protein. It follows reason, then, that protein is essential to hair growth. Without protein, the follicles simply cannot do the work they were designed to do.
One type of protein that is crucial for hair growth is biotin. It works by helping to create keratin, the main protein in hair. You have probably heard of biotin as being the main ingredient in hair-growth supplements being touted on Instagram. While it’s true that biotin is absolutely necessary for hair growth, an excess of it won’t necessarily help your hair grow extra long or thick. If you are getting a balanced diet, chances are you have enough biotin necessary for hair production, and there’s just no need for biotin supplements (unless you are deficient).
When looking for protein and biotin in your diet, the best place to start is eggs. They are packed full of the hair-building materials your scalp needs to create a healthy head of hair. Shrimp and other seafood are also packed with protein, as is meat, of course. If you adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet, beans are a healthy and inexpensive source of good protein.
While protein and fat are the building blocks of cells and hair, extra nutrients like vitamins make sure that the quality of your hair is in good shape and that it stays thick and strong as it grows. One of the most important vitamins for hair growth is vitamin C. In the body, vitamin C is a key player in the production of collagen, which is the most abundant type of protein in the body. It is found in nearly every location in the body, including the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It is key for strengthening the bones and giving firmness to the skin. The body produces collagen by using proteins and Vitamin C, so don’t skimp out on your vitamins! As the body creates collagen near the hair follicle, the new hair root has access to this protein for building a stronger strand. Berries, avocados, bell peppers, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are all high in vitamin C.
Another important vitamin for hair growth is vitamin A. While this vitamin doesn’t necessarily go into the construction of the hair itself, it does help encourage a healthy environment for the hair to grow. Remember that as the hair is pushed out of the follicle and through the skin that it passes by an oil gland. This oil serves as a sort of protective layer as the hair enters the harsh wilderness of shampoo, hot water, harsh sunlight, or extreme temperatures. Vitamin A contributes to the production of this oil, called sebum, so that the hair remains nourished. With the sebum, the hair is much less susceptible to hair breakage, which will help your hair grow longer instead of breaking off due to dryness. For foods rich in vitamin A, look for spinach, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.
Finally, vitamin E contributes to great hair growth due to its antioxidant effects. In the body, there are atoms called free radicals. As these atoms go around the body, they seek out other electrons to pair up with. As they do so, they take electrons that are in use by cells, which can cause massive damage to proteins and even DNA. An antioxidant like vitamin E protects the cells from these free radicals, making sure that cells remain safe and whole. What that means for hair is that the oxidative stress related to free radicals is minimized, ensuring healthy cells in the hair root and follicle. It also encourages blood flow to the scalp, bringing in even more nutrients to increase the size of follicles for thicker hair strands. Vitamin E-rich foods include avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Finally, the last element for hair growth is minerals. These are not something that the body can naturally produce, so the only way to get them is through diet or supplements. The first main mineral that is necessary for hair growth is zinc. It can be found in several enzymes throughout the body and is responsible for creating a variety of proteins that the body needs to build itself up. It is particularly important for healing wounds, creating a healthy immune system, and taste perception. As far as hair goes, it uses its healing properties to help repair tissue around the hair follicle. As it helps to create a healthy scalp, hair is more readily able to thrive. Another thing that it does is ensure that the oil glands that produce sebum for the hair are in good working order so that the hair is strengthened as it grows out of the scalp. Because there are reports that taking zinc supplements can cause hair loss, it’s a better idea to go the whole food route for your zinc intake. Oysters, spinach, pumpkin seeds, lentils, and red meat are all high in zinc, so consider adding a few of these into your diet.
The other mineral that is important for hair growth is iron. Iron is found in high amounts in red blood cells, located specifically in the hemoglobin, a molecule that carries oxygen throughout the body through the bloodstream. It is important for energy metabolism and general health. Because it carries oxygen through the blood to the cells, it contributes to hair growth by making sure there is enough oxygen reaching the hair follicles. With proper oxygen delivery, hair follicles will remain active and healthy, ready to sprout new hairs. Iron deficiency, which can cause anemia, especially in women, is one of the leading causes of hair loss. To combat or prevent this loss, look for foods high in iron to add to your diet. Oysters, clams, eggs, spinach, and red meat are all great options for adding more iron to your diet. If you still struggle to get enough, iron supplements may be helpful.
Along with a proper and well-rounded diet, there are several all-natural remedies that you can try to prevent hair loss and encourage a thick and healthy head of hair. Most of the following items can be found in your local grocery store or health food store.
Coconut oil has grown in popularity in recent years and has been hailed as a sort of cure-all for a variety of physical problems. While it is not as healthy to take into the body as it was once claimed (hello, saturated fats!), using it topically can help with a ton of problems.
For hair growth, take a couple of tablespoons (or more, depending on your hair length and thickness) of oil into your hands and massage it gently onto the scalp and dry hair. Let it sit for an hour or so, covered or uncovered. There’s no need to shampoo beforehand; instead, let your hair soak up the fatty oil for a nourishing scalp treatment. Then, wash it off with a very mild shampoo (look for sulfate-free options for the best results). Make sure to remove all the oil before moving on. Repeat this twice a week for maximum benefits.
Created from the Indian gooseberry tree, gooseberry oil, also called amla oil, is an all-natural and long-loved hair treatment. It has been used for thousands of years for a variety of illnesses and general health. The oil is created by soaking the dried fruits in a carrier oil like coconut or sesame oil. The natural oil of the fruit is then released and mixed in and the fruits are removed.
In uses for hair, there aren’t many studies that have been done to prove its usefulness, but anecdotal evidence from its usage in different cultures indicates that it can stimulate hair growth, strengthen the scalp, prevent scalp infections, and even reduce greying!
A much more accessible hair treatment, coffee is an easy-to-find and easy-to-use supplement that encourages hair growth. Simply drink at least one cup a day for benefits, but be careful not to drink to excess, since too much caffeine can lead to anxiety and dehydration.
The coffee works mostly through its caffeine for hair growth. It can stimulate the roots of the hair in the follicle and can even improve the very structure of the hair itself. If you’d rather avoid consuming coffee, it can even be used topically for similar benefits. Soaking hair in brewed coffee can stimulate the roots for growth, can help detangle the hair (preventing damage and encouraging smoothness), and can even enhance the color of your hair.
When it comes to a do-everything remedy for hair growth, yogurt stands out in the crowd. It contains high amounts of both protein and fatty acids, which we learned above are essential for healthy hair. Eating just one serving a day can have huge effects on the shininess and manageability of your natural locks.
However, there is also the option of using yogurt as a topical treatment for better hair. Natural Greek-style yogurt is a good option for any of these treatments. You can use it alone as a hair mask; just let it sit for half an hour before rinsing out and shampooing. Or you can add lemon juice and honey to just a little bit of yogurt to create a thick paste for an extra-strength mask. Other ingredients like aloe vera, olive oil, or eggs can also be added, depending on your desired effects.
As we mentioned above, omega-3 fatty acids are critical for healthy hair development. If you are not a fan of eating fish, you can still get the benefits from supplements. The fatty acids present can help reverse thinning hair and even balding.
The tiny yellowish seeds of the fenugreek plant are a popular spice in Indian cuisine, but they are potent in the realm of hair health as well. They are very high in protein, an indispensable ingredient in happy hair. It also contains something called nicotinic acid, which helps prevent dryness of the skin and hair, and as we know, the healthier the hair, the longer it will stay intact and be able to grow longer. To get the maximum moisturizing and strengthening benefits of the seed, soak a quarter cup of them overnight in clean water. In the morning, use a mortar and pestle or food processor to grind the seeds into a thick paste. The paste will serve as a hair mask, which you should leave on for at least half an hour. Finally, rinse it off with warm water and don’t shampoo after. Doing this once a week will help make your hair healthy and shiny.
Several recent scientific studies are focusing on the health potentials of ginseng, especially as it relates to hair and scalp health. The plant’s magic is located in its fleshy root, which has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is most commonly used as an energy stimulant similar to caffeine. But for hair care, the effects are even better. The root is thought to increase the growth of skin cells in the scalp, which shore up the follicles so that they are stronger, in turn creating strong hair roots. New hair growth is promoted, and thinning is prevented. It has even been shown to remove dandruff and prevent it from returning, most likely due to the presence of the anti-bacterial compound Saponin.
To get these benefits, take a couple of tablespoons of ginseng oil and massage into the scalp for a few minutes to coat the hair and scalp. Leave it to rest for about an hour and then clean with a gentle shampoo. Doing this twice a week will help you receive the most benefits.
No one likes to smell like an onion, but this remedy could prove to be just what you need! The sulfur in the onion can help with collagen production, much like vitamin C, which will further strengthen the hair and encourage growth. You’ll need to extract the juice from half an onion by blending, grating, or smashing small onion pieces. Strain it through cheesecloth to remove any pieces of the onion and apply the juice to your scalp. Let it sit for up to an hour and wash thoroughly with a good shampoo to remove the smell. You can do this up to twice a week.
Another famous Chinese traditional herb, the hibiscus flower is a somewhat tropical plant that is popular as an herbal tea. The flowers are also used to make dye for clothing. But the realm of hair care is where hibiscus really shines. The flower is extremely rich in vitamin C, so collagen production will soon be underway. It also stimulates hair growth in follicles that have long been dormant and could reverse balding in some instances. Take a few dried flowers and grind them up with a few of the leaves into a paste. Add in some coconut oil to make a mask and coat your entire hair and scalp. Leave it on for about an hour and then shampoo away with warm water. This treatment can be followed once a week.
Like coffee, green tea contains a lot of caffeine that can stimulate blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles. However, it also contains antioxidants that can prevent damage to the hair roots by free radicals. Take advantage of this plant by brewing a strong cup once or twice a day and enjoy either plain or with a bit of honey.
Rosemary essential oil is a rich oil that is often used in cooking and cleaning, but of course, it has health and beauty benefits as well. The oil’s potency rests in its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to improve blood circulation. Used topically on the scalp, it can promote blood flow to the follicles and feed the hair root with the necessary nutrients. Simply mix a few drops of rosemary essential oil with your carrier oil of choice, like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Wait about an hour before washing with a gentle shampoo.
Geranium oil is packed with amino acids, the building blocks of the proteins needed to grow strong hair from healthy follicles. These amino acids nourish the hair strands so that they come through the skin of the scalp as strong as they can be. All you need to do is take a few tablespoons of this oil and massage onto your scalp for a few minutes, making sure to saturate your whole head at the roots of the hair. Let it sit for up to an hour and then wash with a gentle shampoo. This can be done at least once a week.
If you have tried all of the above suggestions for repairing hair and encouraging growth without much luck, you might have a particularly difficult case on your hands. Luckily, there are a few medical treatment options that can help you make the changes that you want to see in your hair’s health.
Perhaps one of the most popular medication treatments for hair loss, Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medication option that is suitable for both men and women. It is a topical treatment in liquid form, so it goes directly onto the scalp. You can use it every day as it is very safe for use.
To use Minoxidil, you will apply it directly onto dry hair. There’s no need to shampoo before using; in fact, shampooing too often can also be a contributor to hair fall! Take the liquid (or foam, occasionally) and place a small amount directly onto the crown of your scalp. This is the area of the head just behind the top. Then, rub it into the hair, massaging onto the scalp all around your head. Do not wash after and try to avoid getting your hair wet for at least four hours following the application.
Minoxidil can be used up to twice a day for the best results. It does take a while to notice a change, and you might even experience some extra hair loss when you first begin, but don’t worry! This is normal; it’s just your hair’s way of making space for newer and healthier hair strands. Most people see results after about three months. With consistent use, this medication will slow down hair loss and help you grow newer, stronger, healthier, and thicker strands.
Finasteride is a less commonly used, but still very effective, medical treatment for hair loss. It is a prescription drug which uses a process of converting the male hormone testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. Because it relies so heavily on the male hormone, it has only been approved for use by men. Women and children should never take this medication. Indeed, it can be dangerous for a pregnant woman to even handle the tablets themselves since it could cause extreme birth defects. But for men, this could be a miracle solution to the problem of male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
Before being prescribed this medication, men will undergo a series of blood tests and a health history to make sure there are no conditions present that could be dangerous with the usage of the medication. These conditions might include liver disease, prostate cancer, urination problems, or certain allergies.
Finasteride is usually taken once a day and should be taken at the same time every day. It can be taken with or without food. Consistency is key with this medication. Like Minoxidil, it might take up to three months to notice any changes in the hair, but the more regularly you take it, the more noticeable those changes will be. Discontinuing use will stop the effects, though, and your hair could be back to normal after just a year of not taking it. This means that if you want to keep the benefits, you’ll need to keep taking the tablet every day.
What to Do in the Meantime
Whether you’ve had a bad haircut or are experiencing some hair loss, waiting for your hair to grow can be a nerve-wracking and stressful experience. And even though the above solutions can provide some relief, hair will still always grow just a bit slower than what you want. Luckily, there are a few things you can do in the meantime.
As you create a good hair care routine using a few ideas from this article, make sure to also focus on your diet and exercise. Ensuring that you are getting the right nutrients for optimum hair health is the easiest way to wait for results.
If you’re getting a bit impatient, a very simple option is to try out wigs or extensions to get the look you want. If you are losing a lot of hair, a wig can cover up bald patches or areas where your scalp shows through. If your hair is just naturally thin, or you’ve noticed that it’s growing thinner than it used to, high-quality hair extensions, like those we carry at AmazingBeautyHair will offer you the length and volume you’ve been searching for. We carry all types of extensions, from clip-in extensions to tape-in to halo style, in a variety of colors.
One of the best things about hair extensions is that they are easy to use and blend in seamlessly with your natural hair. That way, even if your hair is being stubborn and slow to grow, you can still look fabulous for events, parties, or even just to improve your daily look.
If you’re ready for some immediate hair growth, check out all of our top-quality virgin hair extensions available today!