Your hair is the crowning glory of your beauty, dignity, and personality. The association with health and hair is lifelong, and hair is among the very few things on your person that you are extremely passionate about. Naturally, you are very much concerned about the growth and well being of your hair. A number of factors like genetics, hormones, nutrition, lifestyle, and environment influence growth of hair and its good health.
Hair grows from the follicular cells on the skin and its lifecycle is marked by three distinct phases. These three phases are the growth phase or Anagen, the transitional phase or Catagen, and the weaning off phase or Telogen. On an average, human hair grows ½” a month. Average human scalp contains 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and sheds 50 to 100 hairs daily. Generally a hair has 3 to 6 year lifespan.
The Anagen phase is of around 1000 days, during which the hair grows rapidly from the follicle to the mature elongated shaft stage deeply embedded in the scalp. The following Catagen phase is of 1-2 weeks duration, during which the hair stops growing and the follicle begins to shrink. Finally, in the Telogen phase, the old hair dies out. At any point of time, around 90% of your hair is in the Anagen phase, and the rest 10% is in the Catagen and Telogen phases.
Although your body systems are well equipped to initiate and sustain natural hair growth and maintain its beauty and luster, hair problems are very common these days. Most of it is due to nutritional and systemic deficiencies, illness, environmental pollution, lack of proper hair care, excessive use of artificial hair applicators and use of sub-standard cosmetics.
Genetic loading or heredity is also an important factor, often limiting healthy hair growth. Unbalanced diet can deprive your hair of essential nutrients, and lead to brittleness, dryness, dandruff, and eventually hair loss.
As hair is made up of a protein, keratin, your diet must contain sufficient amount of protein in the form of lean meat, fish, egg, yogurt, peas, nuts and beans. Besides proteins, Vitamins, and particularly B-complex vitamins are extremely essential for hair. They play a major role in restoring the health of hair.
Iron, zinc, sulphur, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and iodine are some of the important minerals required for optimum hair growth. Iron prevents dullness and brittleness of hair, whereas iodine and sulphur play a protective role by helping functioning and utilization of B vitamins. Iodine is necessary for proper functioning of the thyroid gland that also stimulates hair growth. Your diet must also contain adequate quantities of vegetables and fresh fruits that provide the body with enormous supplies of minerals, vitamins, and enzymes to tone up your general state of health and optimize hair growth.
Other than diets, hair care and regular conditioning are extremely important for maintaining healthy hair growth. Conditioners should be applied weekly or bi-weekly and only professional products should be used.
Avoid using hard water and excessive chemical cosmetics. Thermal and Ultraviolet protectors are good for your hair.
About hair care, it is important that you message your scalp regularly to promote oil secretion and improve blood circulation. This gives your hair solid grounding in the scalp. Avoid drying hair with hot air, brushing wet hair, combing dry hair, and rubbing hair vigorously with towel. If your hair gets into too much tangles and knots, go for a trimming to manage your hair better.
And finally, don’t forget to drink lots of water, as it ‘lubricates’ and ‘detoxifies’ the body, and foster healthy functioning of the body organs and systems that, amongst others, perpetuate healthy hair growth.