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Four common hair problems... and how to fix them

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Beautiful, lustrous hair is at the top of many women's wish lists, and if you've already got it, then good for you! Your hair is likely to be a source of envy for those around you, but more than that, having gorgeous hair is a confidence-booster like no other. If you're finding the road to great hair is a bit tough to navigate, however, then chances are you need to take a closer look at what may be preventing your hair from looking its best. Here are four of the most common hair problems, along with advice on how to fix them and get that fabulous hair you've been chasing. Oily hair is caused by the over-secretion of sebum (the hair's natural oil) from the sebaceous glands in the scalp, and while it's often a hereditary problem, that doesn't mean it can't be fixed. Minimising the fats in your diet, refraining from touching your hair too often, cutting back on styling products and using a non-silicone-based shampoo will go a long way towards getting rid of the oil slick.

Another thing to remember is to not wash your hair too frequently: while it may be tempting to shampoo every day, this will only worsen the problem, as your scalp will likely overcompensate for the removal of its natural oils by producing even more sebum. Put it up on the second day instead, cover it with a scarf, hat or hairline-covering headband, or try a dry shampoo which will soak up the excess moisture at the roots without drying out the lengths of your hair. Ahhh, dandruff. Don't you just love it? (Um, not really, no.) If you've already tried a medicated shampoo and it hasn't worked for you, then it's possible that your diet is deficient in certain nutrients: specifically, zinc and/or Vitamin C. While you can easily take a supplement of these in tablet form, you're far better off eating foods that are rich in these nutrients instead, as they are absorbed more efficiently by the body than tablets are.

There are a number of topical treatments you can try as well - some women swear by lemon juice as a scalp massage treatment for dandruff, while others claim coconut oil works best for them. Making sure you use warm water rather than super-hot in the shower will also help, as will using sulfate-free products, but if the dandruff is still there after you've given it all you've got then it's time to get yourself to your GP who can prescribe something stronger than what you could get over-the-counter, and can (hopefully) discover the root cause of the problem.

Problem Three: Slow-growing hair.

Your hair's growth rate is largely hereditary, but it can still be given a boost by optimising your diet and lifestyle. Eating foods that are rich in iron and protein will help, as will taking a vitamin supplement such as biotin, zinc, or the more expensive (but, in my experience, very effective) Hair Formula 37. Doing a weekly scalp massage and getting plenty of exercise should also increase your hair's growth rate, as the boost in blood circulation will stimulate the hair follicles in your scalp, resulting in faster growth.

Keep in mind, however, that some medications can also negatively affect your hair's growth rate, as will illness and severe stress. Getting healthy is the ultimate fast track to good hair growth, so chances are you already know which part of your life needs attention - deal with that issue, and the growth rate of your hair will likely increase as an added bonus.
Problem Four: Dull hair.

If high shine seems an impossible goal to you, then your hair care routine may be to blame. Too much heat styling, too much bleaching and dyeing, and too many products built one on top of the other will all result in lacklustre locks. It could also indicate deficiencies in your diet: minerals like zinc, iron and silica are all essential for shiny hair, so if you're not getting enough of these then your hair will suffer for it.

An improvement to your diet (the usual - more leafy greens and less processed foods) should see an improvement to your hair's shine factor, but if that doesn't work, then it's possible that you have an underactive thyroid gland - once again, something that can only be diagnosed and prescribed for by your doctor. You should never feel embarrassed about seeing a medical professional for something that you consider to be merely cosmetic, because often, the problems that relate to your hair are symptomatic of something more serious happening within your body.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, I hope that it's given you an insight into what may be causing your own hair dilemma! Hair is, and always has been, reflective of your inner health, so if something is lacking there then it will be taken out on your crowning glory. As with most health issues, you can treat the symptoms, but the best way of eliminating any hair-related problem is to transform yourself into the healthiest person you can be.

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