Maintaining hair health goes beyond just using natural hair products — although those can be helpful, too. If you want to keep your hair thick and shiny naturally, follow a healthy diet and avoid using shampoos and conditioners that contain harmful chemicals.
Hair health basics
According to Andi Scarborough, stylist and co-owner of Framed salon in Santa Monica, California, it’s normal to lose at least 100 strands of hair daily.
However, McKel Hill, a registered dietitian and founder of Nutrition Stripped, says that if you’ve been losing more hair lately, you may be suffering from high stress levels or hormonal issues, or you’re not following a balanced diet. Hair loss can also be caused by aging, genetics, certain prescription drugs, smoking, and thyroid problems.
Follow these tips if you want to add volume to your crowning glory.
Scalp care is important too.
Hair care doesn’t just involve your long tresses. Scarbrough says that dry skin on the scalp or product buildup can choke out follicles, reducing the diameter of the hair growing out. This can also reduce the follicles’ ability to produce hair.
To maintain scalp health, use a scalp scrub or shampoo brush to turn over dead skin cells and stimulate blood flow to hair follicles.
You can also increase hair thickness by giving yourself a relaxing scalp massage. A daily four-minute scalp massage can make your hair thicker. Data from an animal study also reveal that peppermint essential oil helps increase the number of hair follicles when applied topically.
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To make your own scalp massage oil, combine a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil with a carrier like argan oil.
Don’t use shampoos with sulfates.
Sulfates make shampoos sudsy, but these potentially toxic chemicals can also cause your hair to lose volume by making it dry and stripping it of natural oils and color. When buying shampoos, opt for sulfate-free options that are gentle on the hair.
The link between diet and hair health
What you eat also affects your hair’s growth and fullness, which is why it’s necessary to follow a nutritious diet. When planning your diet, include foods like fruits, healthy fats, lean protein, nuts, seeds, and vegetables.
Snacking solely on junk food and not eating fresh fruits and vegetables can cause nutrient deficiency. Eat various foods to give your body access to adequate nutrients that support healthy hair.
Consuming foods rich in different types of protein will also keep your hair strong and lustrous. Hill notes that protein is a key macronutrient for overall hair health.
Hair is made up of mostly protein, and studies show that not getting enough can result in thinning hair. To prevent this, consume foods that contain various proteins.
Aside from protein-rich foods, you should also consume foods that contain the following nutrients:
- Biotin— Sources include beans and eggs. (Related: Shiny hair, stronger nails: Add these 8 biotin-rich foods to your diet.)
- Omega-3 fatty acids – Sources include herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Fatty fish also contain selenium, vitamin D3 and B vitamins that promote strong hair.
- Zinc – Food sources include nuts, oysters, pumpkin seeds, and shrimp.
Biotin, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc are nutrients that have been linked to hair health and growth.
Foods rich in vitamin C can make your scalp healthier. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects hair follicles from free radical damage, which can affect hair growth and thickness.
Vitamin C is also crucial for collagen production, which helps strengthen hair. Natural sources of vitamin C include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, citrus fruits, kale, kiwi, red pepper, and strawberries.
Supplements can also promote hair growth. But before you start a new supplement routine, consult a dietitian first.
Collagen supplements may prove effective, especially if you want more lustrous hair. While they don’t have instantaneous effects, collagen supplements offer various full-body benefits and minimal side effects.
Make positive lifestyle changes and follow a balanced diet to maintain your overall health and keep your hair healthy and strong.