Updated: Feb 13
New year new me, right? Let’s modify that to “new year new hair.” As we roll into the second week of 2020 some of you may have already made new year’s resolutions and some maybe not. For those of you who have there is nothing wrong with adding a couple (easy to follow) more, especially in regards to your hair! For those who haven’t, why not?! Resolutions are a great way to reflect on some of your habits and hold yourself accountable to make changes in areas that need improvement!
In this article I thought it would be beneficial to provide some ideas of resolutions that you can easily implement into your routine to improve your hairs health and appearance and even reduce hair loss! If you stick to them for the whole year you could be rolling into 2021 as a new person with drastically healthier and better looking hair:
1. Commit to changing various shower (and post-shower) habits
Ah showering, one of the best feelings ever, but did you know there are a lot of things you might be doing that could be accelerating hair loss?
Committing to the cold: A nice hot shower may sound nice, but it’s not nice for your hair. Hot water has a host of negative effects on the hair and scalp. It strips the hair and scalp of natural protective oils which can result in your hair being dry and the scalp being itchy, and even causes inflammation in some cases.
On the contrary, cold water showers have been shown to have many benefits for your hair. The first and most profound being that it boosts circulation. This happens because as your body cools down quickly your blood rushes to your vital organs, this causes the heart to work harder and pump more efficiently which allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach the scalp. This is very crucial for someone suffering from pattern baldness as circulation is a common issue that is correlated to receding hair. Also, cold water tightens your hairs cuticles which holds in moisture and can protect against breakage.
Rethink wet hair: As you read that what comes to mind? If vigorously rubbing your hair dry pops up, it’s time to change. You see when you do that you are putting a lot of stress on your hair follicles, which are already in a weakened state when they are wet because the cuticles are open. When you put stress on the hair it causes damage to the cuticles which eventually can erode them to the point that hair starts to fall out.
When hair is wet the proteins in the hair form weaker (hydrogen) bonds than when they are dry (protein-protein bonds). This is why you should not brush your hair when it is wet. It can have extremely detrimental effects and can pull a lot of hairs out.
Stop showering…every day: Or at least don’t wash your hair every day. I get it, it’s nice (and important) to be clean, but it’s also important to look good. Showering every day strips your scalp of the natural oils that is uses to keep hair moisturized (and shiny J). You know what else strips the hair of not just its natural oils, but its dignity too? Harmful shampoos. Big brand name shampoos often contain chemicals that are absolutely terrible for your hair. If you NEED to stick with the brand name stuff, read the label and find a shampoo that doesn’t contain: sulfates, parabens, fragrance, triclosan, or polyethylene glycol (all can accelerate hair loss). Or you could make it easy on yourself and get Lipogaine: The Big 3, it contains all natural chemicals and was specially formulated to block DHT and help hair loss, I highly recommend.
2. Get into the doctor’s office and start a treatment plan
If you are just starting to lose your hair there is no better time than now to start treatments, you will be able to keep a lot more hair for longer. If you are well past your Johnny Bravo days, better now than never as several treatments can maintain what you still have and possibly even grow some back.
Take a minute to think, have you noticed any of the signs of hair loss? If so pick up that phone and schedule a doctor’s appointment. When you’re there ask them about a finasteride prescription. It is one of the best moves you can make early on.
Finasteride is THE go-to FDA approved hair loss treatment and is used by millions. It is technically what’s called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. Basically, what it does is stops the enzyme (5-AR) from converting testosterone into DHT, the hormone responsible for the overwhelming amount of pattern hair loss. Once DHT production is slowed down you will begin to notice reduced shedding and possible regrowth. I emphasize possible because it varies on a case to case basis which is why I recommend utilizing other treatments alongside finasteride. Minoxidil i.e. Rogaine (and derma roller) is your best option for starters, for other treatments check here.
3. Avoid stuff that has consistently been shown to be bad for your hair
I mean seriously all of these things I am about to list are so terrible for your hair I don’t know why you would do them in the first place, let alone if you are suffering from hair loss:
•heat treatments (curling, blow drying, straightening): they cause significant damage to the cuticles which often results in hairs breaking off
•over-brushing: brushing too often also causes damage to the hairs cuticles and can cause them to flake and break off (make sure you use the right brush too)
•cotton pillowcases: I know, surprised me too. Cotton fiber is rough meaning that when your hair rubs against it there is tension and breakage can occur. It has also been shown to absorb oils and leave hair dry/ prone to falling out
•smoking: causes blood vessels to constrict leading to reduced blood flow to the scalp
•itching head: causes intense damage to your hair. Instead of itching, talk to a dermatologist about how to treat the underlying cause of the itchiness
4. Take your health serious
Yeah yeah I know this is a vague statement and I could honestly create a whole separate list of resolutions about health. Best advice here: take it one step at a time and focus on the overall picture, don’t get too caught up on one aspect and ease into it.
I’m going to sound like a broken record here but diet and exercise are very important, we all know that. There is a wide range of benefits your body gets from a healthy diet and regular exercise, including a host of benefits for your hair. I will briefly dive deeper into how each can help improve your hairs condition:
Exercise: The most profound benefits that exercise, specifically more cardio based, has on your hair is that it boosts circulation. By challenging your body you are strengthening your circulatory system which makes your heart stronger and more efficient (pumps more blood with each beat). As you very well know by now increased circulation means more nutrients and oxygen getting to the hair which are both very important for growth, but blood also contains antioxidants which protect hair from damaging free radicals.
Beyond boosting circulation exercise reduces stress and promotes better sleep, both of which help your hair. Stress induced hair loss is quite common (8 in 10 Americans say they experience daily stress), when you exercise endorphins, or feel good chemicals, are released that have been proven by scientific studies to reduce stress, anxiety, and other emotional tensions. Sleep also can be improved resulting from the reduction in stress. Sleep, more specifically deep sleep, is very important for hair health because it is during this time that protein synthesis and the release of growth hormones takes place.
Healthy Diet: Your body needs essential nutrients for healthy hair growth, specifically: vitamins a, c, d, e, b-vitamins, iron, zinc, protein, essential amino acids, and more. If you are lacking in any essential nutrients your hair is one of the first things to suffer. This is due to the fact that your body prioritizes your vital organs for nutrient distribution, unfortunately your hair is not a vital organ.
A well-rounded diet also supplies the body with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, both of which are very important in maintaining scalp health. Without going into too much detail, a well-rounded diet should consist of: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, eggs, and nuts (more details here).
There are also some foods that you should definitely be avoiding if you are trying to combat hair loss. These include:
•dairy: it can cause epidermis plaque buildup on the scalp resulting in miniaturization of hair follicles
•sugar: strong evidence supports male pattern baldness being connected to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance comes from spikes in blood sugar levels
•greasy food: can cause a greasy scalp which can result in the overproduction of sebum and subsequent clogging of the hair roots leading to dandruff and DHT becoming trapped and re-activated in the scalp
2021: The year of healthy hair
I know I will be sticking with all of these resolutions, just as I did in 2019. If you choose to as well, there are good things for your hair in the years to come, it’s just a matter of sticking with them. Try your best not to be a “resolutioner” and drop out after the first month. Let’s have not just a great hair day, but a great hair year, and how about decade!