Hair helps to give us our beauty and when we lose it, it can be devastating to our self esteem. Thinning hair is also a problem for many people. Some people are so affected that they are unable to function in their everyday lives. Some try drastic measures such as using surgery and chemical-based products to heal their affliction. And then there are others who simply give up because there seems to be no solution to their ailing problem.
Understanding the hair growth process
There is much about hair growth that we do not understand but we do know that our genes control much of how we grow and lose hair. Hair consists principally of a protein called keratin and is of different types depending on the gender and its location on the body – androgenic hair, vellus hair, etc.
Hair has 3 growth cycles – the growth phase (anagen), the cessation phase (catagen), and a rest phase (telogen). At any given time each strand of hair could be in any one of these phases. The average person’s hair grows at a rate of half-an-inch per month. Some grow faster and some slower but that’s the average. If you find that your hair isn’t growing past a certain length, then something is definitely stopping it from growing. Once you realize what your hair condition is, you can then begin to address each of the problems you are facing.
Factors affecting hair growth
Genes are probably the single most important determinant of how fast your hair grows, how thick and luxuriant it is, its color and its quality. It also determines when you will start to lose hair and at what rate. However other factors include hormonal imbalances (thyroid, menopause, etc), disease, certain medications, surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, and stress levels. And then there are environmental factors, pollution and one’s diet and levels of activity that could also impact hair growth.
Tips and precautions for healthy growth
So other than being born with great genes, over which you have absolutely no control, what else can you do to make your hair grow faster? Here are a few tips:
1. Be gentle to your hair: Avoid excessive and harsh combing to reduce pulling out of hair. Brush out the snarls gently; else it may cause hair breakage.
Also remember that certain hair styles (tight braids, cornrows, etc.) damage hair; and so do the hair extensions. These could even cause bald patches and permanent damage in some cases. So avoid these to the extent possible.
2. Avoid hair damaging products: Choose your hair products carefully. Know the ingredients they contain. And stay away from those with harsh chemicals.
3. Avoid hair damaging treatment: Say no to harsh chemical treatments such as frequent coloring, perming and rebonding. Also, the treatments that subject hair to a lot of heat are bad for hair. They dry out and damage hair, making it brittle and prone to breakage.
4. Massage your scalp: When follicles are clogged, your hair is starved of vital nutrients. Root nutrition is major factor in healthy hair, and you should seek to give your hair roots what they want. Treat your scalp to massage and hot oil treatments. These can nourish hair, improve blood circulation to the follicles, and stimulate growth.
5. Look after physical health: Being fit and in good health can mean that your hair is also healthy and in good health. Concentrate on being fit, exercise regularly and keep disease at bay.
6. Eat well: The kind of nutrition that goes into the body is what will ultimately reach the hair as well. So eat nutrient rich food consisting of fresh fruit, veggies, whole grain and lean protein. Avoid refined foods, sugary, salty and additive laden foods which are bad for hair.
7. Sleep well: All the body’s cells, including hair, need adequate sleep for growth and rejuvenation. Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the other ways to make your hair grow faster.
8. Reduce the stress: Stress can literally cause your hair to fall out. And stress is terrible for health in a number of other ways. Relaxation techniques can help to consciously limit stress.
9. Hair growth products: There are certain products like oil, shampoo and supplements that are said to help with hair growth. Oil can help with the topical supply of nutrients to the scalp and follicles. Similarly, shampoos can help unclog follicles, improve moisture, provide antioxidants, and enrich with vitamins and minerals to promote healthy hair development.