Hair is made out of proteins or filaments, most notably keratin, and is produced from follicles within human skin. Hair serves many functions and purposes for human beings. It is a defining characteristic that sets mammals apart from other classes of animals. The skin on the human body is covered in follicles, minus a few small areas of glabrous skin (skin without hair follicles). The word, hair, actually refers to more than many people would think. It refers to what is found, both, above as well as below our skin. The follicle is what can be found underneath the skin and is where hair growth starts. It is known as a bulb when it is pulled from the skin as with tweezing and other hair removal methods. Follicles are classified as organs found beneath the dermis and contain many stem cells, which serve several purposes. Not only do these stem cells regrow hair after it has been removed, but they also serve to regenerate skin after a wound. That fact makes it easy to understand how important our hair, especially the follicle, is to life here on earth. As much as many people seek to temporarily or permanently remove hair from the body, these follicles are critical to wound healing and regeneration of tissues after an injury to the dermis. The shaft is what we humans most often think of when we think of hair. This is the hard, filamentous protein that extends out from each follicle and is what we see as hair. There are three sections of the hair that extends above the surface of the skin. The outermost layer is known as the cuticle. This area of the hair shaft resembles shingles on a roof and is made up of layers of thin and flat cells that overlap each other making the resemblance to a roof. Just below this layer is the cortex. This section of the hair shaft contains keratin bundles and is thought to aid in the health and strength of hair. Inside these two layers can be found the medulla. This area is the open and disorganized center of the fibers of the shaft.
Hair is a very important biomaterial for humans and many other mammals. It serves many more purposes than most of us would think, especially in a day and age when so many of us focus heavily on hair removal from many large areas of the body. However, one area that most of us want more of it, though, is on our head. There are a number of things we can do to help keep the hair on our scalp stronger and healthier and to help it to grow and remain thick and strong. Many of these are simple and easy things we can do right at home to help keep the proteins strong that make up our hair and support the health of the hair follicles. Here is a list of ten things we can do to help keep our hair long and strong:
- Eat a healthy and well balanced diet – This is one of the most important things we can do on a daily basis to help with hair health. Getting the proper amount of protein in our diet is extremely vital to having strong hair. Some other important vitamins and minerals for hair are vitamins A, B, C, and E, zinc, iron, magnesium, copper, and selenium. You can find all of these vitamins in various supplements as well as in most multivitamins.
- Castor oil – This oil can help to keep hair and follicles strong simply by applying it as a mask before washing. Castor oil contains essential nutrients that strengthen hair and keep it moisturized such as omega-9 fatty acids as well as other essential fatty acids. It is also very rich in vitamin E. Many people choose to add various essential oils to the castor oil, as well. Some essential oils that are thought to aid in hair growth are lavender, rosemary, and peppermint.
- Scalp massage – Massaging the scalp helps to increase blood flow to this area of the dermis, which, in turn, stimulates the follicles and helps hair to grow. Often times, people will include an oil or conditioner during these massages to help with moisture and hydration.
- Flipping head upside down – Similar to massage, this is thought to help hair grow by increasing blood flow to the scalp.
- Minimize stress – As most of us know, stress can be one of the worst conditions in maintaining overall health. Stress is thought to lead to hair loss, so stay stress free or at least keep stress as minimal as possible to keep those strands healthy!
- Egg mask – This kind of home remedy is believed to help deliver protein, zinc, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and sulfur to the hair and scalp. Simply whip an egg and add various ingredients such as olive oil, grape seed oil, lavender oil, mayonnaise, or avocado to the mix and apply as a mask before washing.
- Herbal rinses – Many people like to used and herb infused rinse after washing and conditioning hair to help with hair growth and strength. Simply add herbs to hot water as with a tea then rinse after showering. Some popular herbs used for this purpose include rosemary, horsetail, nettle, catnip, sage and burdock. These can also simply be added to your shampoo or conditioner.
- Dietary Supplements – Many individuals swear by supplements for hair growth. Some favorites include biotin, folic acid, fish oil, flaxseed oil, kelp, evening primrose oil, and B vitamins.
- Aloe vera – Same as with the masks listed above, simply apply aloe very to the hair as a mask before washing and conditioning.
- Stay aware of medical conditions – There are a variety of skin disorders and other disorders that can affect hair growth and strength. If you are having trouble keeping hair full and strong, you may want to talk to your doctor about any other symptoms you may be having to ensure that you are not suffering with an underlying disorder that can affect hair growth as well as overall health.