“How do I get thicker hair?” It’s a question that’s on the minds (and the heads) of many men and women, every day. But if your locks are looking lean or otherwise lackluster, it helps to understand what exactly your hair is made of and what it needs to stay healthy and strong.
What is Hair Made of?
First, a clarification: When people talk about wanting or having “thick hair,” they’re actually referring to hair density, or the number
of hairs, not the thickness of each individual hair. So if you want thick hair, you should really
be asking yourself, “How do I get stronger hair?”
The average person has 100,000 individual hairs, each of which is made up of the root, hair shaft and tip of the hair. The hair shaft contains three layers: the medulla, the cortex and the cuticle. Looking for the secret to long, thick hair? The health and function of each of these layers is the key to maintaining the health of your hair, and in turn, keeping more of that hair on your head!
The medulla is the innermost layer of the hair and is also the softest and most fragile. The cortex is the thickest, middle layer. Composed of keratin protein, it’s where hair’s strength lies. The cortex is also what we can credit for our hair’s pigment, as this layer contains the melanin that contributes to hair color.
Although the cortex is what gives our hair strength, the outer layer, or cuticle, is absolutely crucial for strong, healthy hair. The cuticle is made up of protein-rich scales that look much like the scales on a fish. The cuticle’s main job is to protect the integrity of the inner cortex and to do this, its “scales” need to lie flat, locking in nutrition and moisture while keeping out pollution, damaging chemicals and toxins. A smooth cuticle helps to ensure smooth, shiny and healthy hair.
Why does all of this matter? Over time, due to heat styling, chemical and color treatments and environmental toxins, in addition to incorrectly balanced hair products, the scales on your hair’s cuticle can become brittle, ruffled and compromised, resulting in lifted scales that no longer lie flat. This, in turn compromises hair’s health, as well as diminishes shine and strength. If you want to know how to strengthen hair, you need to learn how to nourish, protect and maintain its proper structure.
Foods for Stronger Hair
While external factors such as styling products and habits play a large role in our hair health, internal nutrition builds the foundation for overall hair health and optimal hair growth.
A diet rich in leafy greens and antioxidant rich fruits support the body cellular functions, which, in turn, work to support skin and hair’s building blocks. Since the hair’s structure is primarily made up of protein, incorporating nutrient-dense protein as well as essential fatty acids into your diet can also support hair health. (Recipe alert: this Mediterranean Salmon Salad offers both leafy greens and lean protein!)
Other foods for hair growth
and strength include biotin
-rich sweet potatoes, iron-plentiful lentils, selenium-providing Brazil nuts and vitamin-C-rich citrus fruits, to name a few.
How to Protect Hair from Damage
Now that you know what hair is made of and which foods can contribute to its overall health, you should also take steps to protect it against external and environmental damage. Here are a few practical tips:
- Hide from the sun: Wearing a hat or using products that incorporate protective ingredients helps to keep strands from incurring oxidative damage from the sun.
- Stay away from heat: Avoiding heat styling as much as possible is always a good idea! Heat saps moisture from hair and can leave it brittle and broken. When you do use heat styling methods and tools, such as hair dryers, flat irons and curling wands, always protect hair from heat damage by using a special heat protectant product.
- Get a little help from healthy oils: Incorporating a nourishing oil into your hair regimen aids in replenishing moisture, infusing protein and essential fatty acids that support healthy hair while softening, smoothing and reducing frizz. (Hello, hair repair.) Most oils, such as argan, marula or castor, can be used daily on hair’s ends or on the entire hair shaft and scalp as a deep treatment prior to shampooing.
How to Pick the Right Hair Care Products
You can also avoid unnecessary damage and protect hair’s strength by picking the right products. Stick to ingredients and formulas that nourish precious strands, and stay away from certain chemicals that can do more harm than good.
Using pH balanced hair care formulas that work to seal the hair cuticle is extremely important as this helps to boost hair’s shine and manageability while minimizing moisture and nutrient loss that can occur when the hair cuticle becomes depleted and ruffled.
Did you know? ACURE’s
pH balanced hair care formulas effectively seal the hair cuticle, supporting healthy, shiny hair with increased manageability and reduced breakage, frizz and brittleness.
Ingredients to avoid
Another factor that is important to consider when selecting hair care products are that many products introduce chemical ingredients that can act as “band-aids” for common hair issues. Such ingredients include silicones (dimethicone, trimethicone, etc.) and PEGs; they’re used to create the illusion of emollience and shine. But this is only a temporary fix that makes hair feel smooth, but can lead to long-term damage and possibly contribute to hair breakage and loss.
Did you know?
formulas are free of silicones, in addition to being free of parabens, sulfates, petroleum, mineral oil, paraffin and animal products.
Not only are ACURE’s hair care formulas pH balanced and free of potentially harmful chemicals, but they also incorporate natural, plant-derived oils and extracts to support optimal hair health, leaving hair soft, shiny and smooth.
- Argan oil is naturally high in protein, essential fatty acids and vitamin E and is found abundantly in ACURE formulas. The naturally occurring protein and essential fatty acids work to support hair’s strength while infusing moisture and boosting shine.
- Sea buckthorn and marula oil, in addition to cocoa butter, are just a few of the other nutritious ingredients you will find in ACURE hair care formulas. These nourishing oils, in combination with plant extracts such as quinoa (high in protein and works to boost volume) and sunflower extract (helps prevent color fade and combat oxidative damage) work to replenish hair and support optimal hair health.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of what hair is made of, which foods support hair health, how to protect hair and how to pick the right products, you’re ready for a lifetime of good hair days. Shine on!