As a central part of our appearance, our hair is crucial to our confidence. Appearance affects every aspect of our lives including our social, professional and personal feelings and interactions.
Why does hair have such psychological power over our feelings about ourselves and others? There are five perspectives that inform hair’s enduring mystique and it’s cultural importance:
- Historical: Throughout history beautiful, decorative hair has been highly valued and seen as a sign of status. Beginning back in Greek and Roman times elaborate wigs were worn by the rich and powerful. In colonial times wigs were worn as a sign of wisdom and sophistication.
- Developmental: From the time we are babies, hair growth is seen as a sign of good health and as an adult thick, lustrous hair is seen as a sign of sexuality, especially in females. Thinning, dull hair is conversely associated with poor health, aging, and decreased virility and fertility.
- Aesthetic: Hair is one of the top three features used to describe people and it is frequently the trait that is remembered after a social interaction. Hair has the important role of framing the face and its features and plays a big role in the perception of initial attractiveness.
- Self-Esteem Effects: Attractiveness is strongly associated with self-esteem and therefore hair plays a role in confidence levels. But hair is also one of the easiest areas of appearance to control and improve: well-kept hair can give powerful feelings of control over appearance and attractiveness. In this way hair can be a special esteem booster.
- Aging Effects: Along with all the other effects of aging, most people will experience hair loss, thinning or graying. The good news is that anti-aging enhancements to hair can have dramatic positive effects on our aging appearance. Great hair makes you feel and look younger. And achieving more youthful hair is often easier, less expensive, and less invasive than turning back the clock on other aspects of appearance.
As we age, keeping a thick, lustrous head of hair becomes more difficult for both sexes. We are more likely to think of men when thinking about hair loss, but 40% of women experience hair thinning during menopause and 80% of women experience noticeable hair loss by age 60. It’s a common part of aging, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. So what can we do to get great hair and keep it for the long term?
How to Take Care of Your Hair’s Health
The health, condition and style of our hair can improve or detract from our appearance in dramatic ways. It’s also an area where we have a lot of control; we can cut, style, color, seek cutting edge treatments for thicker, fuller hair or we can improve our hair health through better overall health. Think about great nutrition, exercise, sleep and all the other “healthy” habits.
Here are some tried-and-true practices to help maintain a gorgeous, healthy head of hair at any age.
Use heat sparingly. Save the high-heat styling tools for special occasions instead of daily use. When you do use heat on your hair, rub a few drops of grapeseed, argan or coconut oil into the hair’s ends to provide protection from the heat.
Use apple cider vinegar as a rinse. After shampooing and conditioning apply a generous amount of apple cider vinegar to hair and scalp. This will close the hair follicles and help balance the pH of your hair. Results will be smoother, shinier, stronger hair.
Treat tresses and scalp with essential oils. Create your own DIY hair growth serum with essential oils. Consider a base of grapeseed oil if your hair is typically dry or aloe vera gel if it’s typically oily, then add drops of your favorite hair-loving essential oils. Essential oils can increase circulation in the scalp and increase delivery of hair growth nutrients. Oils can also protect hair from damage by filling the gaps between cuticle cells and stopping water and other substances from being absorbed, which can stress the hair. Good essential oil options include Rosemary, Lavender, Lemon, Cedarwood, Tea Tree, Thyme and Cypress.
Use fewer and healthier products. Try to shampoo less frequently and avoid adding lots of commercial, chemical products to your hair and scalp. Stick with all-natural, clean, organic products as much as possible.
Seek help from experienced professionals and cutting-edge technologies. The array of medical options available for addressing hair regrowth, restoration and replacement goals is immense: everything from prescription topicals to laser treatments to transplantation and more is easily available to you. Many options are now less invasive with no downtime, and are creating great results for the patients who need them.
Pay attention to nutrition. We saved the best for last. Specific nutrient deficiencies including vitamins A, C, D and E, zinc, iron, biotin, protein, and essential fatty acids can slow hair growth or even cause hair loss. All these nutrients are also needed in proper amounts to keep hair healthy, shiny and lustrous. For superior hair nutrition consider supplements or eat more of these foods:
- Collagen protein powder - Add it to smoothies or other drinks daily to make lots of collagen for strong hair.
- Healthy fats - Include oils such as coconut oil and olive oil into your diet frequently as good sources of fatty acids. Grass-fed meat is another good source of healthy fat.
- Eggs - They contain protein and biotin to promote hair growth and also have zinc and selenium.
- Berries - These provide a good dose of vitamin C and antioxidants to protect hair follicles from damage due to free radicals. Vitamin C is also needed for collagen production and keeps hair from getting brittle.
- Salmon, sardines, mackerel, Omega-3 fatty acids - Fatty fish or a good Omega-3 supplement have been shown to stop thinning and promote hair growth in older women.
- Avocados - These are a great source of healthy fats and vitamin E. Vitamin E promotes hair growth, as seen in this study.
- Nuts and seeds - These are another great source of vitamin E, zinc, vitamins and essential fatty acids.
- Sweet peppers - Get a huge dose of vitamin C in order to stop oxidative stress linked to hair graying and hair loss. They also contain vitamin A, which helps to regulate sebum production and keep hair healthy.
- Oysters - They provide a big boost of zinc that is important to the hair growth and repair cycle. If you are deficient consider zinc supplementation, which can cure hair loss that is caused by zinc deficiency.
We all deserve to have beautiful, healthy hair that boosts our appearance and confidence. With a little attention and effort we can have it!