Is your hair getting thinner, more brittle and less glossy as you get older? We asked blogger and nutritionist Suzi Grant of Alternative Ageing to share her top tips on how to improve the condition of your crowning glory, by feeding your hair from the outside in and the inside out.
Despite what the manufacturer might promise, many shampoos contain sodium laurel and sulfates which can exacerbate any hair problems you have. Swap to a natural one.
Washing your hair every day removes the natural oils produced by your scalp in order to protect your hair and keep it healthy. Unless you have oily hair, try skipping a couple of washes a week. Or just rinse with clean water instead of shampooing.
Hot water is hard on the hair and can cause it to dry out and become brittle. Cold water helps the hair shafts lie flat, protecting it from damage and breakage.
The sun can make your hair dry and brittle. Wear a sun hat and always wear a bathing cap in swimming pools to protect your hair from the chlorine.
Blow drying or straightening your hair every day doesn’t help that sleek, glossy look we all want, it actually thins out your hair pulling on the roots and heating the hair shafts. Let it dry naturally, unless you're going out and need it looking its very best. Don't wring it or brush it when it's wet: it's another cause of hair breakage. If you want thicker hair, pat it dry with a towel and comb through with a wide-tooth comb.
You can use olive, argan, coconut, avocado, jojoba oil and shea butter in oil form on your hair to help it become more glossy and look thicker. These oils are completely natural, packed full of hair-friendly nutrients, such as Vitamin E and Vitamin A and are a natural nourishing alternative to expensive conditioners and hair masks.
Apply your chosen oil all over your hair, combing it through. Cover it with an old shower cap, or a warm towel, and leave for the evening or even overnight. Shampoo your hair as normal.
After decades of dyeing, I have been going naturally and fashionably grey over the last year, which has meant regular bleaching. But my hair has remained thick and healthy thanks to Olaplex. For anyone who's been dyeing or bleaching their hair for decades, this is one is a must. It’s not cheap, but it is the only one that permanently rebuilds the damaged bonds in your hair that have been broken during any chemical process. Ask your hairdresser for details.
Sometimes, unhappy hair is a sign of a diet short of the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and shiny. So here are my top foods for helping your hair look and feel beautiful.
Fatty acids such as Omega 3 are needed for the health of every cell in the body, and therefore your hair. Increase your intake of:
If your hair has deteriorated since the menopause, it may well be due to decreased oestrogen levels. Unless you are on HRT, incorporate more natural phytoestrogens into your diet. You can also find more advice on eating your way through the menopause on my blog.
Hair is primarily made of protein, so make sure you're regularly eating:
Biotin is essential for hair growth and health. It is found in seafood, soya beans and eggs in particular. In fact, a hair mask of two raw egg yolks is also worth a try! Eggs contain all the amino acids that help cells grow stronger. Whip up a couple of egg yolks and use instead of your usual shampoo for healthy, thick hair growth.
Some experts believe that thinning, dull hair could be caused by a sluggish thyroid, which needs iodine to function properly. If you have any worries about your thyroid, it could be worth seeing your doctor to have tests. But, as long as you are not on thyroid medication, it is well worth adding more iodine-rich foods to your diet:
Make sure you incorporate plenty of yellow, red and orange foods for vitamin C and loads of green veg for essential minerals such as magnesium and calcium. My daily smoothie recipe might help.
Apparently nettles and nettle tea are also renowned for encouraging healthy hair, as nettles are very high in vitamin C as well as natural silicone, (also found in high amounts in cucumber) which help protect and strengthen the hair shaft.
Finally, there are numerous hair and nail supplements on offer that may well help. So if all else fails, it could well be worth talking to a pharmacist or a hair expert to find the very best one for you.
Suzi Grant is a broadcaster, author and blogger for over 50s specialising in fashion, fitness and food. She is also a qualified nutritionist. Find out more about Suzi and her blog, Alternative Ageing, here.