Monday, May 4, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair: The Friend

In the previous posts for the Long, Luxurious Hair Series, we discussed the science behind hair growth and factors that negatively affect the growth process. Armed with that information, we are now able to investigate ways to optimize individual hair growth cycles. The key is to protect the hair from extensive damage and breakage.

The very best way to promote healthy hair growth is from the inside out. Incorporating foods that aid in hair growth and strength is a healthy and safe way to reach the ultimate goal. Hair is made primarily of a strong protein called keratin which is also found in skin and nails. Variations in the amino acids found in keratin account for the differences in texture with some being soft and/flexible and some being hard. Since hair is made of protein, eating foods that are high in protein will be beneficial to the condition of the hair. Iron, B Vitamins, Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin E and sulfur are also good additions to a healthy hair diet. Adding more of the following foods will be a good start: fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, yogurt and nuts. Experimenting with different recipes that include these foods is a fun way to change your diet. Stear clear of hair growth supplements, they are potentially dangerous and unnecessary.

Aside from altering your eating habits, there are some topical hair treatments that will help to repair and prevent damage. Moisture is a must for healthy hair. Dry hair is often brittle and easily broken. It is important to note that hair oil products are not moisturizing products. Good moisturizing products will infuse moisture (water) in the hair shaft which hydrates the cuticle layer helping to create shine and prevent breakage and/or split ends. Use shampoos and conditioners that have humectants in the ingredients list. Humectants draw moisture to the hair and hold it there. Some humectants are glycerin, honey, sugar cane, hydrolyzed wheat starch, sodium PCA, panthenol, sorbitol, propylene glycol, butylene glycol and acetamide MEA. Also be sure to avoid of sulfates and alcohol which strip the hair of its natural oils.

Heat styling can cause damage to the hair shaft when used in excess. In addition to minimizing the use of heat, you should invest in thermal styling hair products which help to protect the hair from permanent damage and usually have other nutritive properties.

Finally, having your ends trimmed on a regular basis is your hair's very best friend. Split ends are not only unsightly, but they spread. Ragged ends easily get tangled with other strands of hair and cause breakage when the hair is combed or brushed. Uncontrolled split ends continue to split, higher and higher up the hair shaft causing frizzy, dry, damaged looking hair. When this sort of damage is finally addressed, the hair has to be cut much more than it would had it been dealt with early. Most stylists recommend a scheduled trim every six weeks.

In the final post of the series, we will discuss a technique to maintaining healthy hair for optimal hair growth.


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