Your Hair Questions, Answered!

There’s a lot more than just good hair care products when it comes to achieving the lush locks of your dreams. Here we are answering your burning hair questions, from what foods are helpful to which ingredients to avoid in your shampoo. Read on to dive into the world of hair science!

How does diet have such an effect on the scalp and therefore hair? How does it all work?

Healthy looking hair is a sign of good overall general health and hair care lifestyle practices. Most healthy people have adequate nutrients in their diet, however nutritional deficiencies are often reflected in changes to the scalp and body hair. Malnutrition, illness, alcoholism and older age can cause hair change to colour, weaken or be lost.  

The cells in the hair follicle have a high turnover. Depriving oneself of calories or a deficiency in protein, minerals, essential fatty acids and vitamins may lead to structural abnormalities, pigmentation changes and hair loss. 

The human scalp contains an estimate of 100,000 hair follicles. 90% of these are in what’s called the anagen phase, when your hair is growing and this requires proteins, vitamins and minerals to produce healthy hair. 

So, as you can see, having the right nutrients in your diet is essential for scalp and hair health!

When it comes to hair thickness and growth, which foods should you avoid eating and why?

I always prefer to focus on what foods to include rather than exclude. It’s worth noting that there aren't a few set foods to avoid as it all depends on the diet as a whole. However, there are certainly a few food groups that it couldn’t hurt to limit when it comes to optimising hair growth. 

A diet rich in simple sugars may contribute to abnormal sugar levels and spike insulin levels. Insulin can have an impact on the blood vessels that nourish the scalp, which can contribute to hair loss. I recommend aiming to limit highly refined sources of sugar, such as  foods like sodas, candy, refined chocolate, packaged foods, plus white breads and pastas. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes have them, but they ideally wouldn’t be a feature of your diet for healthy hair!

How does fruit benefit the hair’s thickness and general health?

Vitamins absolutely have an impact on the state of the hair. Vitamin C, A and B vitamins specifically. An inadequate supply of vitamin C in the diet influences the hair shaft. Vitamin C also increases the absorption of non-haem iron (from plant sources). Fruits and vegetables are some of the highest sources of Vitamin C and other antioxidants that support hair. 

Which fruits are the best to eat for healthy hair and why?

Fruits such as strawberries, kiwi fruit and citrus fruit are some of the richest sources of Vitamin C to support healthy hair. 

How do vegetables benefit the hair’s thickness and general health?

Vegetables are rich in nutrients such as iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium and polyphenols that may support general hair health. Zinc for example, plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fats and can influence hair follicles and hair growth. Deficiency may cause brittle hair and hair fall. Iron deficiency has also been linked to hair loss as hemoglobin supplies energy to hair cells. Polyphenols are compounds found in plant foods such as vegetables and are packed with antioxidants. They can influence blood vessels and nourish the hair. 

Which vegetables are best for prime hair health and why?

It’s tough to just pick a couple as all vegetables are rich in the essential nutrients required for prime hair health. Veggies I love for hair health include dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kale, silverbeet, rocket) for their plant-based iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin content, tomato and capsicum as they are rich in vitamin C.

What other foods help towards making the scalp and hair thick and healthy and why? 

Foods such as eggs, salmon, seaweed, dairy foods and iodised salt are all rich in iodine. Iodine is a mineral that can support the function of our thyroid gland. Decreased or elevated thyroid hormone levels are associated with alterations in the human skin and hair structure as well as function. 

What ingredients should we be checking the labels of our hair care for?

Just as what we eat is important for hair health, so are the products we use on our hair and the ingredients in them.

Ingredients we love to see in hair care:

  • Water
  • Natural essential oils
  • Fruit extracts
  • Flower extracts
  • Jojoba Oils
  • Vitamins

Ingredients to avoid in your hair care:

  • Parabens
  • Triclosan
  • Synthetic colours and dyes
  • Formaldehyde
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEGs)
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Phthalates
  • Dimethicone
  • Triethanolamine
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Para-phenylenediamine (PDD)
  • Benzene
  • Alcohol

What can taking supplements do to help scalp and hair health? How do they work?

Specific supplements have been traditionally used to improve hair growth as hair loss is a common issue that may be improved with vitamin and mineral supplementation. They are important for normal cell growth and function and may contribute to hair loss if deficient. Alopecia areata is a common type of hair loss that occurs when the immune system attacks the hair follicle. Some studies have linked alopecia with low vitamin D levels and an area for potential supplementation. 

Fucoidan (extracted from brown seaweed), rich in iodine, is known to promote growth factors that are connected with the hair cycle. Research has found that the characteristics help stimulate the production of growth factors that play a role in tissue regeneration. In one study, it was found that a supplement containing seaweed extracts helped to prevent hair loss and promote scalp health. You’ll find this in our Hair + Energy formula.

What are the key things to remember about your diet in order to maintain hair thickness and growth? Should we be thinking about even the tiny things like what oils we cook our food in and how much water we drink (for example)?

It’s always about looking at your diet as a whole, but yes there are foods we use everyday that we may not even realise might be having an impact on the health of our hair. Specifically, a deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-6 and omega-3’s) may lead to hair changes including a loss of scalp hair, eyebrows and lightening of hair. So it’s important to focus on those omega-3 rich foods such as fish, eggs, walnuts, chia seeds and flax seeds. The predominant oil we want to be cooking with everyday is extra virgin olive oil as it’s rich in plant polyphenols (antioxidants). 



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