According to the definitions of Health given by WHO, healthy hair are thick, bouncing, have a smooth texture and are shiny. Loss of hair lustre, dryness and brittleness of hair, frizzy hair, hair with split ends are signs of hair damage.
Structure of hair consists of an outer hydrophobic Epicuticle made up of lipid cells; middle Cuticle, made up of flattened overlapping cells; and inner Cortex made of elongated cells which are filled with Keratin filaments. The Epicuticle and Cortex are responsible for the shine and volume of the hair, and the Cuticle is responsible for the texture of hair. Rigorous frictional forces such as too frequent brushing, hair curling or straightening procedures, and coloring cause damage to the Cuticle, also known as weathering of hair. Since the inner and outer layers are made up of protein (Keratin) and lipids respectively, therefore a diet deficient in these will result in loss of volume and lustre of hair.
Hair health is thus affected by a number of factors, such as Ageing, Heredity, Dietary deficiencies, side effects of some drug therapy or cosmetic procedures, long term illness, infection of scalp, and pregnancy etc. Treatment of hair damage aims at improvement of structural integrity of hair, improving hair manageability, and increasing hair volume by stimulating hair growth.
Let us look at some Do’s and Don’ts for healthy tresses:
· A serious deficiency in protein, iron, zinc, or other nutrients can make hair fall out. Hair loss in women can also be a symptom of a disorder such as lupus or diabetes. Eating an iron and protein rich diet with lots of green leafy veggies such as spinach, celery etc will help.
· Telogen effluvium is a condition developed in response to stress, such as surgery, grief etc. which triggers loss of hair; can also result from a sudden change in hormone levels; such a change can be caused, for example, by childbirth. When stress is the cause, hair will grow back over several months. However Pranayam and certain Homoeopathic medicines may help coping the stress, and reducing hair loss in such cases.
· Certain types of fungal infections, like infection with Candida albicans, can make the hair break off at the scalp. This can be treated with oral medication as well as using specially formulated anti-fungal shampoos.
· Braiding your hair tightly, using curling irons or hot roller, or coloring your hair can make hair brittle and more likely to fall out. Try to wear your hair loose at least once a day.
· Certain medications such as lithium, beta-blockers, warfarin, and heparin, may cause hair fall as a side effect. Consult your Doctor for switching to a different remedy in such cases. But never discontinue a medication without consulting your doctor first.
· Do not share combs, hats or headgear with others, if you want to avoid fungal infection.
· Make sure your hair have ample moisture to prevent dryness and brittleness of hair. Using a proper conditioner that also moisturizes the hair is essential. A conditioner provides lubrication and moisture to hair making them soft and manageable.
· Humidity in atmosphere may cause frizzy hair. You must use a leave-in conditioner with humidity protection to tackle frizzy hair and repel humidity in air.
· For maintaining curls use a diffuser, scrunching the ends as you dry. If you want a straight look, blow-dry your hair until it’s 95 percent dry and then blow it out with a brush.
· Winter tends to increase hair loss; this is probably due to the dryness caused by the season. Avoid too frequent shampooing of hair in winter. Use hair packs to retain moisture of hair during winters.
· Try these simple home-made hair packs:
1. For dry hair, oiling is the best option. Try this oil pack: Take warm olive oil and mix just two drops of Lavender essential oil, apply it to your scalp and sparingly on your hair. Leave it overnight and rinse it off in the morning. Lavender oil has been proven to significantly promote hair growth in a scientific research.
2. Crush a bowlful each of strawberries and rosemary; add a tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar. Apply this pack to your hair, leave it for half an hour then rinse it off.
3. Beat an egg, add a teaspoonful of fresh (unboiled) milk, apply it on your hair and leave for half an hour, then rinse off thoroughly with lukewarm water. This is my quick fix formula for regaining hair lustre and volume.
4. Boil a few hibiscus flowers in coconut oil. Filter and use this hair oil to control hair loss and thinning.
5. Add 10 drops of Arnica 1X dilution to half a bowl of lukewarm coconut oil; apply it to your scalp twice a week for vigorous hair growth.
6. Mix an egg white, 2 tsp of castor oil, and 1 tsp glycerine, and apply on scalp as well as hair. Wash off with a mild shampoo after an hour.
· Amla or Indian gooseberry significantly increases hair growth and make them strong and lustrous.
Follow these tips for shiny and healthy hair. Have healthy hair via smart living :)