When I was a baby, I rubbed my infant head on the back of my chair so often and so repeatedly that I developed a bald spot and looked like a little old man. When I was three, a fellow pre-schooler made fun of me for “looking like a boy” because my hair wouldn’t grow past my ears. When I was a teenager with extremely disordered eating habits, I had long locks that grew dry, thin and brittle from years of malnutrition.
The years between ages four, when my hair finally started growing and about fourteen, when my eating disorder commenced were pretty okay in terms of hair health, but I’ve only just begun to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel of post-ED hair distress.
As I’ve recovered, my body’s slowly begun to return to normalcy, and that includes reviving my tresses to their natural state. My hair should be, without interference, thick and shiny and easy to grow out. That being said, even though I’ve made great strides towards this in recent years, it was not done through diet alone.
Sure, my hair may have reached a low point during my most malnourished years, but I’ve also recognized the impact of other natural occurrences and not-so-natural lifestyle habits that can cause similar results.
You may have too, even if you’ve never incurred hair loss or thinning for any other, health-related reason. Think constant years of drying and dying and straightening. Hormone fluctuations that can change the constitution of your hair, along with where and how thickly it grows. Tight ponytails. Swimming caps. A habit of rubbing your head on car seats. You name it.
While we may not yet have the technology to halt hair thinning and loss, we can certainly decelerate and perhaps even reverse it for a time if we take the right approaches. Here are a few I’ve found handy in my journey towards better, fuller, shinier hair:
One of the worst things you can do for your hair is shampoo it too often. I’ve found that when I shampoo more, my hair gets used to this routine and gets dirty faster as a way to compensate, whereas less frequent shampooing (once or twice a week) has allowed my hair to rebalance its natural oils and maintain a clean state for longer. If I do need a refresh in between washes, I’ll either use some dry shampoo or rely on my new favorite: the simple practice of washing with water only, giving my scalp a good massage and my hair a good comb to move the oils from roots to tips, and then very lightly drying with a tee shirt or towel.
Increasing my intake of protein and whole, plant fats has helped boost my hair growth. So has taking vegan biotin supplements like HUM, which has biotin (healthy appearance), folic acid (healthy growth of cells), B12, zinc, and PABA (wards off gray).
Research Your Shampoo Before You Buy
I intensely study shampoos nearly every time I switch to a new brand or even a new line from a brand I know. It’s worth it. I was recently reading up on an organic, “natural” shampoo I used to use, only to find many user accounts of hair loss and scalp burning. Needless to say, I’ve done diligent research ever since. Mostly, I look for shampoos that are vegan, low-sulphate (I find that no sulphate leaves my hair greasy), and low in fragrances, as these can dry out the scalp.
Speaking of a dry scalp, this can be one reason why people face difficulty in growing out their hair. When dry skin builds up, it can block follicles and limit growth. Accumulation of hair products and oils can also clog follicles and get in the way of healthy, thick hair. It’s worthwhile to do a hair detox every few weeks in which you cleanse and remove buildup so hair can grow uninhibited. If your scalp tends to be quite flaky and sensitive, you may want to instead opt for a monthly or bimonthly oil massage to rub away dry, dead skin and help lubricate your scalp.
Combat “Bad” Habits
I’m not here to say anyone shouldn’t straighten or dye their hair, or partake in any other beauty rituals that may be deemed damaging. If you’re a natural brunette that feels better as a blonde, so be it. Just know that combative measures should be taken to keep your hair healthy despite those practices. I don’t color my hair often, but when I do, I’m extra cautious to condition much more than usual, not wash too frequently, and allow enough time between coloring sessions for my hair to rebalance. Again, research here also helps. From finding the right hair mask to protect against heat damage to choosing a bleach that won’t fry your hair, searching for the right preventative products for your needs can do wonders.
What other methods have you found helpful in reviving limp, thin or damaged hair? I’d love to add them to the list!
Photo: Ömürden Cengiz on Unsplash