We all have a bad hair day from time to time. Whether it’s flat, frizzy, oily, dry or just doesn’t want to stay where you want it. This can leave you feeling pretty drab, and losing hair is even worse, as you have less and less hair to have a bad hair day with!
Hair loss is common, and can be caused by anything from illness to pregnancy. In men, it generally occurs in a specific pattern from the front through to the crown, while women have thinning of the hair over the whole scalp. Some men are predestined for male-pattern baldness simply because of their genetics, while women can lose hair due to a number of factors such as stress or changes in hormone levels.
CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS
The major culprit in men is the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is directly related to and affected by the level of testosterone in the bloodstream. It blocks the growth of hair and is the cause of most male baldness. Hair loss related to hormones (androgens) and genetics is known as androgenetic alopecia. It is extremely common, and about half of all people experience inherited hair loss by about 50 years of age.
Poor blood circulation, poor nutrition, chemotherapy and stress are important overall causes of hair loss. It is common after pregnancy, and can be caused by side effects of medicines such as those for reducing cholesterol, acne and depression. Or if dental amalgam fillings have been removed without a rubber dam being used to prevent the mercury-containing fillings from falling on the tongue. If you have sudden unexplained hair loss, have your thyroid function checked.
Studies have indicated that pollutants in the atmosphere contribute to the production of ‘environmental hormones’, which can also contribute to hair loss.
NATURAL WAYS TO DEAL WITH HAIR LOSS
Aromatherapy and herbal-based products and those containing botanicals, proteins and vegetable extracts are freely available in South African stores, and you won’t have to look far to find organic and natural products that are not only gentle on your skin, but also safe for the environment. These products don’t contain toxic ingredients, leave your hair healthy, free of build-up, soft and shiny, and don’t damage the hair shaft.
Some natural hair care treatments contain ingredients you’ll have in your home, including lemon juice – a great way to get back shine. You can also mix apple cider vinegar with water for shiny, bouncy hair. Take care of dandruff by mixing one teaspoon each of castor oil, mustard oil and coconut oil, and massaging it into the scalp. Coconut cleanses and degreases, and catmint or chamomile infusions used as a final rinse can help with itchiness. Tea tree has been proven to rid hair of lice and nits. Juniper has anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties, while lavender purifies and soothes the skin and can prevent hair loss.
Massaging the scalp with certain essential oils stimulates circulation of the scalp, improves overall hair health and helps to rejuvenate skin pores. Try a blend of bay and lavender essential oils, adding six drops of each to 50 ml of a warm carrier oil such as almond, soybean or sesame. Massage the mixture into the scalp and allow 20 minutes for it to be absorbed. You can also add three drops of bay essential oil to your regular shampoo. Another way to encourage hair growth is to apply a combination of egg yolk and honey, or apple cider vinegar and sage tea.
Most salon and over-the-counter products, such as shampoos, conditioners and hair dyes, contain toxic ingredients that research suggests can cause cancer and conditions such as infertility. If you use box hair-colouring kits at home, you are putting yourself at a greater risk of suffering from skin allergies, eye irritations and burning of the lining of the throat and lungs due to exposure to toxic ammonia fumes.
Complementary remedies can help restore hair health and slow down hair loss.
Rich in antioxidants, Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the hair follicles, strengthening and stimulating the hair shaft.
Fo-ti or he shou wu is a Chinese herb that has been used for centuries to slow hair loss, promote growth of hair, restore hair to its original colour, and slow the ageing process. It is often mixed with other herbs to make a tonic that stimulates the scalp and hair growth.
Reishi mushroom is another well-known Chinese herb and is often combined with fo-ti and other Chinese herbs in tonics to promote hair growth and prevent balding.
Our modern diet routines, stressful lifestyles and environmental factors starve our bodies of these essential nutrients. Supplement with folic acid, vitamin B12, zinc, Amino Acids and biotin, a water-soluble B-complex vitamin (also known as vitamin H). Biotin promotes healthy hair by increasing the hair’s elasticity and protects against dryness, which also helps prevent breakage. Biotin benefits include helping to give us a young, attractive appearance since it plays a major part in maintaining the health of our hair, nails and skin.
Biotin acts as a coenzyme in the body that’s needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose. Amino acids are the building blocks of all the proteins found in the body and hair is composed of keratin, a protein. It is this keratin which gives hair strands their strength. If amino acids are insufficiently supplied to the cells of the hair follicles, the level of keratin production will drop or the keratin produced might lose most of its strength. Both of this will lead to reduced hair growth, discolored hair and hair strands that easily fall off.
It is always best to consult a medical professional if you are experiencing sudden hair loss, to ensure that it isn’t caused by any underlying health issues. Ensure optimum nutritional status as a poor diet can result in hair loss.
An essential oil blend for hair growth
- Thyme essential oil – 2 drops
- Cedarwood essential oil – 2 drops
- Lavender essential oil – 3 drops
- Rosemary essential oil – 3 drops
- Jojoba oil – ½ teaspoon
- Grapeseed oil – 4 teaspoons
Put the first four ingredients into a small glass jar. Mix well. Now add the remaining two ingredients and mix thoroughly. Massage this mixture into your scalp for at least two minutes every night. Wrap your head in a warm towel after treatment.