Hair fall and damage can occur due to various reasons, such as genetics, hormones (such as hypothyroidism or during pregnancy), medications (cancer medication), dietary deficiencies, and other medical illnesses (stress or autoimmune diseases). If there is hair fall or hair damage associated with a nutritional deficiency of certain vitamins or minerals, hair growth supplements and several natural remedies can help in hair growth or regrowth, making hair longer and thicker. However, they do not produce results overnight, it usually takes a long time (1-5 years) to see results. Normally, hair grows only half an inch a month, so even after taking supplements, it would take 5-6 years for a new strand of hair to reach shoulder length from the scalp. However, there are several other changes in the hair that can be seen after a few months of following natural remedies and taking supplements. After a few months, the oil glands on the scalp get reactivated, which moisturizes and nourishes the scalp and hair. The hair starts to appear shinier, moisturized, and healthier. The hair may not be as brittle as it used to be, reducing hair breakage. One may consider consulting a dermatologist as well. A dermatologist can help diagnose the cause of hair fall, damage, and breaking, as well as suggest medication and/or specialized treatments.
5 Home remedies for long hair
1. Applying natural oils:
Several oils can help in hair growth, make hair thicker, and improve the texture of hair. They include
- Castor oil: Castor oil is rich in Vitamin E that improves hair health, hair growth, and thickens the hair. Applying castor oil evenly to the scalp and hair and washing it off after 30 to 60 minutes once or twice a week can help.
- Olive oil: Olive oil is rich in omega-3 acids, which promotes hair growth and makes the hair appear smooth and shiny. Applying olive oil evenly to the scalp and hair and washing it off after 30 to 60 minutes once or twice a week can help.
Both the oils may be mixed with other oils, such as coconut oil, and almond oil, and applied together.
2. Homemade hair masks:
Eggs are rich in protein essential for healthy hair. A hair mask may be made by beating one or two eggs, which may be applied on the scalp of damped hair and left on for 30 minutes. The mask can be washed off with shampoo. Bananas are rich in minerals that help in building collagen and make the hair thicker, stronger, and softer. A mask can be made by mashing a ripe banana with 2 tablespoons of olive oil (egg may be added to this mixture as well) and applied all over the scalp and hair. The mask can be washed off with shampoo after 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Trimming the hair regularly:
Having frayed, split ends make the hair appear thin and unhealthy, and prevent the hair from growing past a point. Cutting off a 0.8 to 1 inch of the hair every 10 to 12 days can prevent or get rid of split ends, helping the hair grow faster and appear healthy.
4. Hair growth nutrients:
Some important nutrients that should be a part of the diet or maybe taken as supplements to help in hair growth and improve hair texture include:
- Vitamin A helps form sebum, which is required to keep the scalp and skin conditioned and healthy. A decrease in sebum due to Vitamin A deficiency makes the scalp become dry, irritated, itchy, and flaky. It also causes the hair to become dry and brittle. Vitamin A is found in orange or yellow vegetables like carrots.
- Vitamin E nourishes the skin, nails, and hair and protects the skin and hair from sun damage. Vitamin E is rich in plant-based oils, seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
- Zinc can regulate the level of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in the body, a hormone that can cause hair loss. A decrease in zinc levels causes an increase in DHT, which can cause hair loss. Sesame seeds, nuts, eggs, and fish are rich in zinc.
- Iron is essential for hair growth. Low iron levels lead to anemia. Low iron levels affect the hair follicles and disrupt the growth cycle of the hair, leading to hair loss. Iron is present in good amounts in jaggery, lentils, red meat, spinach, and green vegetables.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps in the formation of collagen. Vitamin C also helps in iron absorption. Rich sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits like oranges, kiwis, and vegetables like sweet potato.
- Vitamin D is important for healthy hair follicle production, and this promotes hair growth. Vitamin D also helps reduce stress and depression. It is found in eggs, oily fishes, and mushrooms.
- Amino acids are essential for healthy hair growth. Amino acids help produce keratin that promotes hair growth, as well as nourishes and improves hair texture. Amino acids are present in protein-rich foods like dairy, meat, pulses, and eggs.
- Omega-3 fatty acids produce oils that keep the skin, nails, and scalp healthy and hydrated. Fish, avocado, and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin B and called Vitamin H or coenzyme R. Biotin improves nail and hair strength and texture.
Minoxidil is the only over the counter medication for hair loss approved by the United States Food and Drugs Administration, which can be used by both men and women. It won't rescue a receding hairline, but it can effectively stimulate hair growth, prevent hair fall, and thicken hair, which in turn will help in hair growth. It is available as Rogaine or Theroxidil in liquid and foam form, in strengths of 2% and 5%. Minoxidil is not a curative treatment. Minoxidil must be applied to the scalp every day. The hair fall resumes if minoxidil is discontinued, and the hair may also fall out faster than before.
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Almohanna HM, Ahmed AA, Tsatalis JP, et al. The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019;9(1):51-70. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6380979/
WebMD. What Is Minoxidil and How Can It Help Thinning Hair? https://www.webmd.com/beauty/qa/what-is-minoxidil-and-how-can-it-help-thinning-hair
Tantry T. How to Get Thicker Hair: 11 Incredible Tips. Flo. https://flo.health/menstrual-cycle/lifestyle/hygiene-and-beauty/how-to-get-thicker-hair