Reasons for unhealthy hair

Sad girl looking at her damaged hair; Shutterstock ID 364442840; PO:

In this modern beauty world, almost every hair problem can be solved by a product. Lacking in lift? Throw some volumising shampoo in the shower. Greasy roots? Spritz some dry shampoo and move on. Damaged ends? Slather on a hydrating hair mask.

And while it’s great that frustrations can be fixed fairly easily, paying attention to the problem in the first place could give some insights into your health and habits. In fact, the outside of your hair can tell you a lot about your insides.

Increased oiliness: It’s not just sweaty gym sessions making your hair greasy. Turns out if you’re stressed, this can raise the level of cortisone your body is producing, which in turn makes your scalp produce more oil. Sunburn is another lifestyle factor to take into account.  And lastly, a diet high in dairy can also accelerate sebum production on the scalp, as the hormones present breakdown androgens and cause an imbalance.

Dry and lackluster hair: A lack of vitamin D can cause hair to become dry and brittle, and possibly even result in hair loss. While the sun can stimulate vitamin D production in the skin, when it comes to the hair its best retrieved from supplements, combined with a diet of healthy fats including avocado, eggs, salmon and nuts.

Premature greys: As the gland largely responsible for producing our hormones, an overactive or underactive thyroid can have an impact on the hair. Research specifically suggests that it may alter the hair follicle (where the pigment is produced), which can result in premature grey hairs.

A vitamin B12 deficiency could also be at play. This vitamin is responsible for the metabolism of both fatty acids and amino acids, essential for hair health. So if lacking, it can result in grey hairs or even hair loss. B12 is found in eggs, meat, poultry, and dairy products, so vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of deficiency.

Dry and brittle hair: As the main protein present in hair, keratin is key for keeping it healthy and strong. There are products that attempt to mimic the production of keratin, but ultimately, real protein needs to be built by the body from the inside out.

Hair that breaks easily or just won’t grow, may reflect a low intake of protein. Try adding more lentils, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds in your diet.

Hair loss: For sudden hair loss, look at what happened 2-3 months ago. Numerous events such as a short term illness or acute period of stress can cause short term heavy hair shedding. If this is the case you do not need to do anything, hair loss will stop on its own.

However, if stress or illness doesn’t seem to be connected, it may require further action. If your hair loss has been an issue for some time you may have an underlying nutritional or hormonal issue, which can be detected by a blood test.