All of us worry about our hair. Whether it’s premature hair loss, a dry and itchy scalp, or a lack of shine to our locks. No matter what our concerns are, we all want healthy hair.
Each and every one of us have about 100,000 hairs on our heads. Just like our skin, our hair has multiple layers with the cuticle being the outside layer that protects the rest of the shaft of hair from damage. The scales of the cuticle overlap protecting the rest of the hair from external extremes including, heat, cold, sun, chlorine, etc. Damaged or dry hair occurs when the scales of the cuticles have separated.
What we forget about our heads is that our scalps need maintenance as well. A healthy scalp promotes hair growth and reduces hair loss. The scalp is similar to the skin on the rest of our bodies, containing a dermis and epidermis, but it has a greater concentration of large, terminal hair follicles. It has skin cells that are constantly reproducing and shedding to make room for the new cells that are growing. We don’t even know that it’s happening because it is so microscopic, but when a disruption in the regrowth process occurs, we become aware of problems. Some of these problems can be flaking, pimples or bumps, psoriasis flare ups, and itching. It is important to figure out what is causing these problems in case they are from something more medically serious.
Your scalp produces a natural oil called sebum, which coats the hair strands and lubricates the scalp. Most scalp problems are directly related to either an over production or under production of sebum. When skin cells are replicating at an accelerated rate, this causes those large flakes to sit on the scalp causing irritation, itching, sore spots, and other inflammatory problems, like psoriasis. It is important to identify any and all scalp problems so you can begin to treat them properly.
The most common signs of an unhealthy scalp are dandruff and flaking. An acidity needs to be maintained on your scalp for it to fight fungi and bacteria that cause hair loss and damage. It is important to find hair care products that don’t contain harsh chemicals like sulfate, which strips your hair and scalp of that natural oil needed to maintain moisture and shine. These harsh chemicals also dehydrate your scalp when they strip the hair of its natural oils so it is important to drink a lot of water.
- Sun Overexposure
- Being out in the sun for too long can cause your scalp to dry out and your hair to become brittle. A great way to keep your scalp and hair from drying out is to keep a bottle of water with you when you will be in the sun all day and mist your hair when it starts to feel dry and irritated.
- Hats are also a great way to protect yourself from the sun. Don’t believe the myth that they cause hair loss and balding because that is not true.
- Beware of harsh chemicals in hair products
- As stated above, these harsh chemicals in relaxers, shampoos and conditioners, hair dyes, and styling products contain chemicals that dry out and can aggravate an already irritated scalp.
- Regularly wash your hair
- It is vital to have a clean scalp so it can produce those all-important natural oils and aid in your hair growth. When you have some build of dirt and products, the hair that is trying to grow is unable to. Some people have to wash their hair everyday based on their thickness and texture, but make sure to figure out what washing schedule is right for you.
- Give yourself a nice little scalp massage
- Not only does this make you feel great, it also stimulates circulation which improves healthy hair growth.
- Choose gentle hair care products
- Make sure to avoid sulfates and ammonium based products because they strip your hair, making it unhealthy. Use moisturizing shampoos without added sulfates and be sure to deep condition your hair at least a few times a week to make your hair healthy and lush.
- Avoid aggressive styling
- Braids, tight ponytails and buns, permanent hair straightening, etc. cause sever damage to occur to the hair follicles. That dull pain you feel when you take your hair out of its braids or ponytail at the end of the day is the result of that damage. Once this damage happens, it is hard for the follicles to revert back to normal.
- Stay away from extreme heat
- That means you need to watch out for blow dryers, hair straighteners, curling irons can dry out your hair and scalp.
- Use blow dryers on low heat settings and make sure to apply a heat protectant before you start styling your hair.
- Whenever you can, try to take the natural route. To avoid the harshness of these tools, air dry your hair and avoid frequently dying your hair. The chemicals in the dye are harmful to your scalp.
- Make sure to live a healthy lifestyle
- A healthy body equals healthy hair and who doesn’t want that! Make sure to follow a healthy diet that will provide your body the nutrients it needs to nourish you. The bloodstream distributes those nutrients to nourish your hair follicles. You need to have an abundance of vitamins and minerals so they will make it to your scalp. Since hair isn’t a main organ to be maintained, the body sends those important nutrients to the parts that are most vital.
- Avoid junk food and high calorie foods, smoking, drinking, and build a healthy exercise routine that you will be likely to keep up with.
- Stress Relief
- It is well known that stress is a major factor in hair loss for women. Be sure to keep yourself stress free by doing those activities that make you happy. If you are curious about why happiness is important to your overall health, be sure to read our past post on happiness.
Hopefully you are now more aware as to why it is important to keep you scalp and hair healthy. Not only is it beneficial for the rest of your health, but it will make you feel good about yourself, and that is very important.
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