For many health-conscious women, hair care remains the final frontier. It’s the one area where many of us will try anything—whether it contains parabens or not—to tame frizz, banish dandruff, or plump up limp hair. Since we believe your hair deserves the same natural attention as the rest of your body, we asked three experts to create a holistic plan for common hair problems. Our plan includes everything from nutritional boosts and herbal supplements to better ways to shampoo and brush.
PROBLEM: thinning hair
1. EAT MORE PROTEIN. “Hair is made out of protein,” says Philip Kingsley, a trichologist in London. “So make sure you eat lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or cottage cheese at meals.”
2. BE GENTLE! Thinning hair is exacerbated by tight braids, hard brushing, or pulling too hard when blow-drying, explains Kingsley.
3. GET A CHECKUP. Too much free testosterone can lead to hair loss, says naturopathic physician Laurie Steelsmith, N.D., the Hawaii-based author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health (Three Rivers Press, 2005). Eating more soy can decrease levels of testosterone. Hair loss can be connected to a thyroid problem, too, so talk to your doctor if you’re also experiencing dry skin, weight gain, and fatigue.
PROBLEM: frizzy hair; flaking scalp
1. DYE AND BLOW-DRY LESS. Color and heat damage the hair follicle and dry out your hair.
2. SHAMPOO LESS OFTEN. “Shampoo strips the scalp of natural oils that help hydrate and protect the hair,” says New York City hairstylist John Masters, owner of the John Masters Salon.
3. EAT OILY FOODS AND GOOD FATS. Eating salmon, sardines, and mackerel increases your internal oil, leading to nourished hair, says Kingsley. Eating healthy fats like olive and flaxseed oils and walnuts will help boost oil production at your scalp, he explains.
PROBLEM: oily scalp, dandruff
1. WASH DAILY. Shampoo every day to help combat a greasy head.
2. GET YOUR OMEGA-3S. Healthy oils help regulate oil production, says Steelsmith. Zinc (found in oysters, beef, pork, and chicken legs) is known to ease an oily scalp.
3. TAME YOUR TUMMY. Dandruff is connected to an unhealthy digestive system (overgrowth of yeast or bacteria, for example), explains Steelsmith. To balance any overgrowth, take a probiotic supplement and eat garlic and oregano, which help kill bad yeast.