If your hair is just not growing fast enough, or if you find it's falling out too quickly, don't always just blame it on your shampoo (although good-quality, toxic-free hair cleansing methods DO really help!).
There are many factors that will affect how strong and even how fast your hair grows: Your diet, stress level, type of water (hard or soft), hormones, activity level, age, and even type of hair you have.
Diet - Have you ever seen what cancer does to a person's skin and hair? Skin takes on a lighter, thinner, more "grey" tone, and hair becomes brittle, drier, and falls out easier. It's unfortunate, but it happens because the body becomes weaker, is not properly feeding itself what it needs to produce healthy cells since the body is fighting a huge disease, and does not have the energy to focus on skin and hair. Yes, illness and disease affects hair growth.
You feed your body and your body will feed your cells. The health of your cells will determine whether grow healthy skin and scalp, and thus healthy hair. An unhealthy diet will challenge healthy cell growth, which affects hair cuticle, follicles, and thus its growth. Diets filled with fast-foods and bad oils, pastries and sugars, not enough water, and too many chemicals and antibiotics will produce slow-growing hair.
On the other hand, diets complemented by lots of leafy greens, good oils and fats, plenty of water and chemical-free lifestyles, will promote healthy cell growth = healthier hair. Bottom line is, what put in your body makes a huge difference on your skin and hair.
Stress level - Life has become too fast-paced! Young families are faced with juggling the raising of children, with working full-time jobs and making money, looking after the responsibilities and duties of having a home, while keeping a relationship strong.
Electronics take their toll on our lives and challenge our relationships, stamina, time, and sleep. Fast-food diets - since we don't have the time to cook our way through these busy lives - drain us further of strength and the ability to cope.
Adults are balancing raising grown children and aging parents.
Seniors have never been as isolated as they are today.
Kids are struggling more and more with anxiety and depression.
Our stressful lives take a toll on our health – how would you ever possibly expect to grow healthy skin and hair this way? Are you KIDDING??
A story of hair 'crop circles':
When I met my husband, he was running a very busy business, while going through a nasty divorce. He began developing these perfectly round, bald spots on his head, about the size of a dollar coin. The family doctor immediately prescribed a steroid-based cream (yech!) and a return to his practice if he didn't see results within two weeks (this is what doctors are best at, as we all know... "Don't know what it is, but here's a prescription to try").
Of course, the cream didn't work.
Some time later, a visit to our naturopath suggested the bald spots were stress-related. Within a couple of weeks – and after going through the suggested supplements and stress-relieving exercises – hair began to grow back on the funky bald spots... and it was completely white hair nonetheless! Why? Because the body was in SHOCK. The body's a wonderful thing... (by the way, this white hair eventually turned back to its natural colour).
Of course I'm not suggesting that stress is what causes white hair, but stress will do amazing things to the body, and everyone will react differently to it. For some, it will be constipation, or diarrhea. Or insomnia. Or digestive issues that will cause skin to develop Eczema, or nails to become brittle, or children to develop ear infections and sore throats. For some, even heart attacks.
Hormones - I find that at certain times of month (you know what I mean...) I have to adjust my hair cleansing method and frequency. Stress and hormones are very tied together like little buddies holding hands. Some women find they will notoriously get their period when they're traveling on vacation, even through it wasn't their time of month. Some women suffering through anxiety or depression will skip a period altogether. And some of us know what happens to our hair when we're pregnant, right? Yep... it falls out, sometimes in CHUNKS! Scary stuff...
It happens, and it makes sense, because stress will affect your hormones.
Activity level - Naturally, those who live more active lifestyles will sweat more, and will want to wash more often. But in time you will learn that sweat is not your enemy, and it doesn't mean you need to wash your scalp every time you work out or go for a run.
Sweat is so important, it's your one of the ways your body detoxifies - along with going to the bathroom - but it's not a dirty thing you need to wash off daily. Sometimes a simple water rinse in the shower is all you need. You need to adjust your mentality and forget about needing fluffy, sweet-smelling, squeaking clean hair all the time. As you detoxify your scalp from years of chemical build-up, and especially through following a cleaner diet, your sweat will not be as sticky and stinky, it will slide off your scalp and the rest of your body with just water. Trust me on that one – I've been there!
Type of hair - Our hair is made up from a concoction of family DNA. Some of us have coarse, thick hair, some of us have curly and frizzy hair, while others have thin, straight hair that easily detangles and looks naturally shiny. The one thing many of us women have in common is that we all want someone else's hair! We straighten it, colour it, blow-dry it, curl it... We beat it up and are so mean to it! But the nice thing about hair is that it will grow back (at least for most of us!).
The type of hair you have will respond to the type of wash you use. It's a matter of trial and error. Some people find that after detoxifying the scalp off years of silicone-covered hair strands, they are fine with simply washing hair with water (this is my husband's case... which I'm so jealous over! Can you imagine, water-only washing? LOVE IT!). Other people need to use a different method to get rid of frizz on humid days. My daughter is a teenager, and she needs to wash her hair twice per week, as hormones make it look overly-greasy, very often. It's just different for each of us.
Type of water - There are a few variants, but for the most part we can classify water by two types: Hard or soft. Hard water is that which either comes directly from a lake or pump, or if you have Well water. My mother lives up north, and her water is pumped from deep within the rockbed underneath her house - she has hard water. One of my sisters also lives up north, and her water comes from a well, she has hard water as well. We live in the suburbs and have municipally-treated water. Our water is soft (it has gone through a treatment plant, softened with chemicals, chlorine, all that yummy stuff).
Hard water will make hair more difficult to cleanse with using natural products like our No Poo Hair Cleanser, and you'll need something stronger, like our Powder Hair Cleanser, which contains a bit of surfactant (hair washing stuff... although natural!).
The science of it: pH levels - Everything you wash with, will have a different pH level. It will either be Acidic or Alkaline. Add your hard or soft water to it and the pH level will change completely. So it's important to determine the type of water you have and work with it, rather than fight it and get frustrated. pH level is a whole different gamut, we explore that in our next article, here!
Commercial, synthetic-filled shampoos - If you're still buying your shampoo at the local drug store or supermarket, STOP IT. Stop it now. You're killing your hair follicles dude!
These cheap shampoos (and notice how I said 'cheap' not 'inexpensive') are made with ingredients that clog your pores and form a coating on your hair and follicles... Sure, your hair may be shiny and soft, but over time it will thin out, become brittle, and fall out. Put it this way: Have you ever seen a woman from a tribe with hair fall? Or altogether bald? Nope...
Hair product - All that goopy stuff you're buying at the drug store and putting on your hair to make it curl better, straighten more, less frizzy, poof out, and "protect it" from blow-drying and curling, is actually weighing down your lovely locks. IT'S TRUU! And it's not all it's said to be. Skip it, or if you really need something because your hair is truu-ly natural and yet not how you want it to be, then BUY SOMETHING NATURAL. Even a lovely hair serum will fix most of your hair issues, and it's natural. (hey I know, try our hair serum!)
When I started my hair journey and I went "no poo", I couldn't believe how fast my hair started to grow... I noticed an INCH of growth per month! This way, it became much easier to slowly trim off the stuff I had burned off over time, and end up with soft, shiny, beautiful hair.
(Read my No Poo blog post to learn more about this method)
And if you look after your body, it will look after your hair – and skin, and health... It's worth it!