It’s funny, now that I’ve entered my 40s a new conversation has become common among my friends~ worry about thinning hair. I’ve been dealing with grays for a couple of decades so that isn’t new, but the realization that all that ‘dealing’ with grays might cause hair thinning was partially what led me to switch to henna and other herbs instead of conventional dying. (More on that in another post.) Other friends have the same issue, and certainly hair thinning isn’t just related to heavy processing, it’s a part of aging just like wrinkles and wisdom, and it’s often men who have that issue earliest and most severe, though women suffer with hair loss too. There are things you can do, whether you want to work from the inside-out, or outside-in, or attack hair loss from both sides and hopefully stop it in its tracks or at least minimize it. Taking action sends the message to yourself that you have some control so that alone alleviates some stress over the situation, and everyone knows that stress contributes to all things bad, including hair loss and graying.
The first and most basic thing is to make sure you are getting enough B vitamins. B vitamins are water soluble, meaning they don’t accumulate in your body like vitamins A and E, so it’s important to get Bs everyday. Vegetarians and vegans especially need to supplement with B12, and I’d say a total B with added B12 because all the Bs are together under “B” because they need each other to work together. That’s why there is B1, Folic Acid, B12, niacin, etc in a total B supplement. B vitamins are also essential in stress and anxiety regulation, as well as energy production, so they are pretty important in how you feel on a day to day basis. There is sound science around B12 and graying hair and hair loss, but I’ll let you read about that elsewhere and just continue on here with some other things you can do for prevention and recovery.
Collagen has become an important ingredient lately in the beauty nutrients arena. Collagen, which you can read much more about by clicking that link, not only is important for healthy hair, it’s important for healthy skin, nails, and bones. There are quite a few products that incorporate collagen into their recipes so it’s easy to find something that works for you. Neocell makes these delicious chews which is a nice way to take a supplement if you are sick of pills. Biosil is a popular supplement that is a collagen booster, and you can read about the difference on their website. It comes in caps or powder, has great reviews, and has been featured in Vogue recently in an article on growing out hair.
Hair, Skin, and Nails is a classic beauty multivitamin which has been around for ages. If you want to just know that your multi is helping you achieve your beauty goals, Futurebiotics has you covered. I love that they have one specifically for men too. That might be a nice stocking stuffer for anyone trying to get their guy to take a daily vitamin for his New Year’s resolution. There are good formulas from other reputable brands as well, like Megafood’s.
Still working from the inside out, there are herbs that are traditionally known to help hair stay vibrant, thick, youthful, and even to prevent graying and reverse graying. I can’t guarantee results with the gray reversal because it seems to really depend on the person, but two things can be said about these herbs in regards to that~ 1. it takes time to work. Don’t expect results for months, possibly even 6 months, and 2. even if they don’t reverse graying, they will make your hair healthier, thicker, and more youthful and help to prevent more grays. Not bad side effects, eh? If you know anything about herbs you probably already know one of them which I’m referencing: Fo ti. This herb comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is an adaptogen with anti-aging effects on the entire body. It is traditionally used for longevity, disease prevention, and beauty, including beautiful hair. Also known as He/ho Shou Wu, which means roughly ‘Mr. Ho’s black hair’ because of the legend of a weak man (Mr. Ho or He) returning to vitality with the help of the herb, including his hair going back to black. Adaptogens are a group of herbs that not only all have wide reaching positive benefits including stress management and overall system balancing, they are also in that category because they are generally beneficial for all people without a great risk of harm. That said, they are also herbs to be taken in small doses over a long period of time, and as I’ve said before, keep in mind that herbs have fiber and adding them into your daily diet is something to be done with a light hand, else you might encounter digestive issues. Our bodies get used to the amount of fiber they generally have, and will get used to having more daily fiber, but it needs to be done slowly, especially in the case of Fo-ti. I’ll tell you how I take it below, after I introduce the other hair herb.
The Ayurvedic tradition gives us another herb known to reverse graying or at the very least, provide it with nutrients to increase its youthful thickness and luster. Amla is also an adaptogen with wide-ranging benefits, but specifically for hair, you can not only take it internally, you can also make a hair mask of the powdered Amla to invigorate your hair externally. It’s especially good on curls and texture, which is something I like to do when I henna my roots because it revitalizes the curl while henna can somewhat relax it. Internally, I take it by making a blend of Amla powder and Fo-ti powder and put a 1/2 teaspoon into my coffee in the morning and another 1/2 teaspoon in tea or coffee in the afternoon. I barely taste it and enjoy the earthiness, but if it bothers you, milk and/or a sweetener can be added, or throw it in a smoothie or mix it with juice. This is important: more does not make it work faster so start with just a 1/2 teaspoon and work up to two 1/2 teaspoons per day if you desire.
Working externally, a lot has been said about castor oil. If you want to fiddle with ingredients and concoct something more or less complicated, pinterest has you covered. If simple is more your style, put some castor oil in a dropper bottle and make your way around your head, rubbing it in gently, sleep with it and in the morning wash it out. Once or twice a week seems to be the recommended amount of doing this, with again, more not being better, but honestly I haven’t tried it yet because it also makes your hair grow faster and that’s not something I’m currently desiring.
If I were to use castor oil for thickness, the only thing I’d add into it is Rosemary essential oil. Rosemary is of course a stimulant oil so I wouldn’t add more than a drop in if I intended to sleep with it, but it’s the best known essential oil for stimulating hair growth. There are many ways to incorporate Rosemary into your hair routine, including Rosemary hydrosol which can just be sprayed on your hair (aim for the roots) or adding Rosemary essential oil to your (all natural) shampoo, conditioner, and gel or mousse. Rosemary boosts memory and helps with brain fog as well, so don’t be surprised if your brain gets a boost along with your hair. I actually start every day with diffusing Rosemary and Orange essential oils to wake my sons’ brains up for school (and my own brain too!) with happy stimulation.
As mentioned above, stress also plays a role in hair health just as it plays a role in overall health, so in the next post there will be more ways to combat stress and a little hint, you’ll be hearing more about adaptogens. In the meantime, why not make yourself some chakra oils and spend a few moments every day putting energy back into yourself. You deserve to be your healthiest self. Please share this with anyone you know who might be looking for some help with thinning and/or graying hair because we need to feel confident about taking action for our own best selves~ body, and mind, and to know we have options. I’ve read that November is men’s health month so especially pass this along to your favorite guys if it might be something that would interest them. The truth is, hair is important to how we feel, our self-esteem, and our self-concept, so let’s give it some love and care.