As we age, changes in our hair can be unnerving. Hormone fluctuations dry out our scalps, interrupt hair growth cycles, and shrink our follicles. Most of our attention is delegated to caring for our split ends or dryness.
However, to grow thick, strong strands it is essential to dive deeper to address your hair problems from the inside out. Healthy hair follicles and a thriving scalp will improve the texture and appearance of your tresses. Read on to learn how to fortify hair follicles in your middle age.
What is a Hair Follicle?
Hair follicles are small, pocket-like holes in our skin, and to no surprise—they grow hair. The average human has roughly 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp. They are tunnel-shaped structures in the outer layer of the skin. The root of the hair is composed of protein cells and is enriched by blood from blood vessels.
As cells are created, the hair grows out of the skin and reaches the surface. The sebaceous glands on the scalp produce oil, which nourishes each strand. The rate at which your hair grows is affected by your age, hair type, and overall health.
Tips to Fortify Follicles in Middle Age
Exfoliate Your Scalp
Your scalp’s skin cells are constantly dying and replacing themselves. When they die, they’re supposed to shed and new ones should grow to replace the old ones; however, as you age the dead skin cells do not shed fast enough. Dead skin cells’s accumulation on your scalp will result in a lot of flakes falling off.
Additionally, oil, dirt, sweat, and bulky hair products can leave residue behind that builds up on your scalp. The process of exfoliation refers to lifting away dead skin cells and buildup by either a chemical or naturally-sourced product. Scalp exfoliation will slough off the gunk to make way for fresh skin and hair follicles to grow healthy, strong hair. Other benefits of scalp exfoliation include increased blood circulation and a balanced pH.
Give Yourself a Scalp Massage
The integrity of the scalp is crucial to the health of your hair. A scalp massage is known to enlarge the capillaries, thus boosting blood flow. Research shows that massaging your scalp can expand follicle cells, increasing the thickness of individual strands.
Scalp massages help by improving blood flow to your hair follicle, which nourishes strands to support faster and thicker growth. A healthy blood flow helps the hair stay in the anagen growing phase for a longer period of time. To give yourself a scalp massage, use your fingers to rub your scalp in circular motions.
Turn Down the Heat
To protect your follicles, don’t overuse your hot tools. The heat from straighteners, blowdryers, and curling wands causes moisture loss and damages your ends. Heat opens up the hair cuticle, which is responsible for sealing in moisture. Hot showers and hot tools will dry out your scalp and strip away natural oils that protect your strands. The natural scalp oils protect our follicles. The golden standard when it comes to protecting your scalp is luke-warm or cool water.
If you use hot tools, always use a high-quality heat protectant. The hot tool’s temperature can vary depending on your hair type and texture, but the safest range is from 200 to 350 degrees. You should be able to smooth or curl your hair once at the temperature you have selected. It’s important to know that dryness can be increased by running over a section many times at a lower temperature environment. Additionally, when blow drying keep the dryer at least 6 inches away from your head.
Shield Yourself from the Sun
The sun is not friendly to our scalp. Your protective oils and cellular structure are damaged when your scalp is sunburned. UV rays may trigger the production of the compound, superoxide, that may cause hair follicles to switch from the growth phase to the shedding phase, which may increase the chances of hair loss. Excessive sun damage may also lead to dry, weak and brittle hair. Protect yourself from excessive sun exposure by wearing a hat or using an umbrella.
Take Your Vitamins!
There is power in a healthy diet supplemented with vitamins to fortify your follicles. Including essential vitamins into your diet will provide your hair follicles the necessary nutrients to build stronger and thicker hair.
- Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, broccoli, spinach, milk, and yogurt
- Vitamin B complex: poultry, liver, seafood, avocados, nuts and seeds, and dairy products
- Vitamin C: citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, and blackcurrants
- Vitamin D: fatty fish, red meat, and fortified foods like milk, and orange juice
- Vitamin E: sunflower seeds, almonds, collard greens, red bell peppers, and avocados
- Iron: oysters, clams, eggs, red meat, cashews, and beans
- Zinc: oysters, beef, eggs, and legumes