Whether you've got a trailing mane or a sharp pixie crop, your hair deserves as much TLC as the rest of your bod. So do you want to know the secrets of thick, shiny hair and a super-healthy scalp? Of course you do.
Today, we asked leading hair and scalp expert, consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong, to share with us the NTKs of loving your locks.
Every woman fears hair loss, but what can cause it?
"In women, the commonest cause of hair loss is female pattern hair loss (the female equivalent of male balding). It occurs due to the hair follicles being genetically more sensitive to testosterone in the blood. Female pattern hair loss has been estimated to affect approximately 50% of women over the age of 65, but this is probably under-reported. Female pattern hair loss typically appears with gradual thinning on the crown with a widened parting. The hair line is not usually affected unlike in men.
"In women, hair loss can be further exacerbated at times of hormonal fluctuations such as post pregnancy, menopause and with the use of some forms of contraceptive pills – all of which can impact hair growth.
"Many women experience dramatic hair shedding a few months after pregnancy known as post partum shedding. This is due to the pregnancy hormones returning back to their pre-pregnant state.
"The menopause is also a time of significant change where the oestrogen levels drop and there is a proportionate increase in male hormones (androgens)in the body. Oestrogens have a protective effect on hair growth whilst androgens can exacerbate hair thinning and loss.
"Emotional stress, crash diets and nutritional deficiencies can all cause hair shedding. Over-styling with heat and chemicals/dyes causes hair loss through hair breakage and weathering."
What’s the best food for healthy hair?
"Hair follicle cells are the second fastest dividing cells in the body and require all the nutrients of a well balanced healthy diet. This includes lean proteins, good carbohydrates and fats, vitamins and minerals. There is no one superfood for hair.
"As hair is not an essential structure for survival, the body does not prioritise nutrients for hair growth. As a result, hair is very sensitive to nutritional deficiencies and this, together with crash diets can both arrest the growth of hair follicles and cause hair shedding."
How often should you *really* wash your hair?
"There is no one size fits all when it comes to shampooing. This depends on your scalp and hair type. Dry hair needs less frequent washing whereas greasy scalp and hair types may require daily washing. However, if you use styling products it is important to ensure these are washed out just as I would recommend removing all make up from the face before going to bed."
And how can I look after my scalp too?
"In addition to regularly cleansing the scalp with a shampoo that is suited to your skin/hair type, incorporate a scalp scrub/exfoliation once a week into your hair regime – it helps to remove surface dead skin, dandruff and excess sebum and maintain healthy cell renewal on the scalp.
"Don't forget to protect your scalp from being sunburnt, especially along the parting where the hair tends to be less dense. This can be as simple as wearing a hat and or using various leave in products which contain UV filters."
Can you share your top hair care tips?
"Whenever you can, go natural - repeated heat and chemical styling can really damage the structural integrity of the hair which not only causes it to look dry and aged, it can lead to hair that breaks easily.
"Sun protection applies to the hair as well as the scalp. Protein damage from too much UV exposure from the sun can weaken hair and accelerate fading of hair colour.
"Take time to de-stress - Stress itself is a major cause of hair shedding. Whilst eliminating stress is impossible, developing coping strategies to help us effectively handle stress is extremely important. Make time in the week to regularly practice stress relieving activities such as meditation and yoga."
What are your go-to wonder products?
"As with the skin on your face, hair and scalp products need to be tailored to specific needs. For example, I have a tendency to dry, flaky scalp and dry hair. I love the Philip Kingsley Exfoliating scalp mask which helps to reduce dandruff and soothe irritated scalp. I also use a few drops of L'Oreal Elvive extraordinary oil to the hair strands from mid length to tips to add extra moisture and shine to my dry hair."
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