1. Shampoo your hair as infrequently as possible to maximize hair growth.
Shampoos work by removing moisture and oils away from the scalp. If used too often they can be irritating to the scalp and cause inflammation, especially if a conditioner is not used afterwards.
Manufacturer recommendations that shampooing daily might not be the best. Try shampooing as little as often, 3-4 times per week to minimize dryness and irritation of the scalp.
2. Avoid shampoos containing Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal drug. Interestingly one study found that using a ketoconazole shampoo along with traditional hair loss treatments (either finasteride or minoxidil) produced better results compared than using minoxidil alone, finasteride alone, or minoxidil and finasteride together.
Caffeine is a relatively new agent in terms of hair loss. In an in-vitro study of scalp samples testosterone was found to inhibit hair growth. This inhibition did not happen when testosterone was combined with caffeine.
Sulfate, or more specifically, sodium lauryl sulfate, is a detergent added to many shampoos to increase the amount of suds a shampoo makes. It is a strong ionic detergent which tends to dry out the scalp. Used excessively it can cause inflammation and irritation which worsens hair loss.
3. Condition your hair after every time you shampoo
Shampoos work by removing moisture and oils away from the scalp. If shampoo is used too often they can be irritating to the scalp and cause inflammation, especially if a conditioner is not used afterwards.
Use a quality conditioner after every time you shower. Many are infused with oils such as argan, coconut, or jojoba to help protect scalp and hair. Jojoba oil best mimics human oil (sebum).
4. Take some time out in the shower to massage your conditioner into your scalp.
Poor scalp circulation hinders hair growth. Blood flow to the hair follicles is important for hair growth. That is how the over-the-counter hair loss treatment minoxidil works, by dilating blood vessels in the scalp. Manual scalp massages are the best way to increase blood flow to the scalp. Manual manipulation gets fluids moving and promotes circulation.
Tight caps and hairdos may actually cut off circulation to the scalp and cause something called traction alopecia (hair loss due to traction on the hair).
While hanging upside-down may increase blood flow to the head and scalp, it has not been clinically studied or proven for hair loss.
5. Make sure you're getting more than 500 mcg of biotin per day.
Biotin is a vitamin cofactor that is essential for hair growth. The daily value is currently set to 30 mcg by the FDA. Dermatologists recommend a dose of 500 mcg a day for people who wish to take biotin for hair growth.
Avoid eating raw egg whites which contain a protein called avidin that prevents your body from absorbing biotin. Eating excessive amounts of raw egg whites will cause biotin deficiency and poor hair growth. Cooking neutralizes the avidin protein but not biotin so you can eat cooked eggs to get biotin. Here are some common sources of biotin and how much they have:
A cooked egg contains 25 mcg of biotin so you would need to eat 20 eggs to get 500 mcg.
3oz of cooked beef or pork liver contains up to 35 mcg biotin. To get 500 mcg you would need about 43 oz. Unfortunately beef and livers are also very high in vitamin A so you can overdose on vitamin A.
Supplements usually provide 5000 mcg biotin per serving
6. Don't take too much vitamin A
Vitamin A is essential for skin and eye health. Taking too little can cause eyesight problems. However, taking too much can actually cause hair loss. If you look at vitamin A on the nutrition facts label you will see it labeled in terms of International Units (IU).
The problem is that various forms of vitamin A have different potencies. The NIH has come up with something called Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) to standardize the amount of vitamin A you should take in a day. The upper daily limit in adults is 3,000 mcg RAEs in both males and females.
Here are some common sources of vitamin A and how much they have.
- Half a cup of raw carrots contains about 459 RAEs or 184% of your daily value.
- 3 oz of beef liver gives you 6,582 RAEs which is well above the 3,000 RAE upper limit!
- Supplements usually provide 10,000 IUs in the form of beta-carotene which is about 1500 RAEs.
For more details visit the NIH website: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
7. Eat 1 medium sized orange per day
Vitamin C is essential for maintaining healthy skin. It is utilized by collagen cross-linking enzymes that bundle the collagen found in skin to strengthen skin. A deficiency causes poor skin elasticity and bleeding gums.
While orange juice has vitamin C from the fruits themselves and is usually fortified with more Vitamin C, it also has a lot of sugar.
Eating 1 whole orange is better. A medium sized orange has about 70mg of vitamin C. The NIH recommends that adult men consume 90 mg of vitamin C a day and 75mg in non-pregnant and non-breastfeeding women
8. Use iodinated table salt to make sure you're getting enough iodine
Iodine is essential for thyroid health. It is utilized by the thyroid gland to create T3/T4 thyroid hormone. Without enough iodine the thyroid gland enlarges and forms a goiter. Poor hair growth results because a lack of iodine causes hypothyroidism. Fortunately goiter is rare nowadays because table salt has iodine added to it. Sea salt does not.
9. Drink Filtered water for the best hair growth
Tap water is rich in copper because of the copper pipes used in plumbing. Unfortunately the body’s relationship with zinc and copper are antagonistic. Increased copper intake causes decreased zinc levels.
Zinc is important for hair growth because it is a vital mineral in many enzymes involved in cellular growth and replication. Zinc deficiency causes hair loss. Therefore it is better to drink filtered or bottled water as they have less copper. The recommended daily value of zinc is 8mg per day for women and 11mg for men.
10. Don't overdo the biotin
B vitamins are essential to the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, all of which are involved in the production of hair. B vitamins are water-soluble so it is very difficult to overdose as the excess is passed through in urine.
However, taking excessive amounts of biotin (above 10,000 mcg/day) may cause acne and higher doses (above 5,000 mcg/day) can throw off blood tests ordered by your doctor so be sure to tell him or her if you are taking higher doses of biotin.
11. Take a comprehensive hair supplement.
Vitamin deficiencies or excesses: What you eat affects the growth and strength of your hair. Vitamin C is important for collagen production and iron absorption. Insufficient vitamin C can lead to dry, damaged hair. Biotin is another important vitamin for hair growth because it strengthens the structure of the hair shafts. Vitamins that have antioxidant activity also protect hair from damage from harmful UV rays and harsh chemicals found in many hair products. Vitamin E helps support hair growth by promoting circulation so that hair follicles receive the oxygen and nutrients they need. Be careful though, taking too many vitamins such as vitamin A can cause hair loss. If you are taking a hair supplement make sure that it was formulated by a knowledgeable professional.