Hair follicles play a big role in the health of your hair. If they’re in good shape, you’re more likely to have a head full of glossy, luxurious locks. If your hair follicles are damaged, however, you may struggle with thin, weak, or brittle hair. You may even experience some hair loss.
But there are steps you can take to repair damaged hair follicles to help encourage a healthy scalp and healthy hair growth.
Hair Follicles: The Foundation of Hair
A good house is built on a secure foundation. And the same goes for hair. To grow healthy, shiny tresses, your hair needs a strong foundation. Without it, you’re likely to experience weak hair that’s prone to breakage and falling out.
Now, your hair follicle is what provides the foundation of your hair. But what, exactly, is the hair follicle?
Well, it’s a tube-shaped sheath just below the surface of the scalp, and it contains the root of your hair.
This sheath is made up of an abundance of cells and connective tissue. The purpose of these cells is to provide nutrients and oxygen that promote healthy hair growth.1
Your hair’s health is heavily influenced by the health of your hair follicles. Damaged hair follicles aren’t able to provide adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrition necessary for hair growth. This can negatively affect your hair health, potentially resulting in:
- Hair thinning
- Hair loss
- Scalp irritation
- Brittle, weak hair
- Dry scalp2
Repairing The Damage
So, you have damaged hair follicles. Does that mean the hope of a thick, luxurious mane is a lost cause? Not at all. There are steps you can take to begin rehabilitation and get back on the road to healthy hair growth.
Here’s a guide to help you get started:
Avoid Tight Hairstyles
There’s something to be said for no-fuss hairstyles. Ponytails, chignons, weaves, cornrows, and tight braids can all cut down on day-to-day styling time.
But unfortunately, these hairstyles can also disrupt your hair’s growth cycle. This cycle consists of three phases:
Anagen: This is the phase in which your hair actively grows.
Catagen: In this stage, your hair transitions out of the active growth phase and into the resting phase.
Telogen: During telogen, your hair begins to release from the follicle and will eventually fall out.
Scientists have studied the hair of women who routinely use tight hairstyles. They found that an unusually high percentage of the hair follicles of these women were in the catagen or telogen phase.
In other words, a high percentage of hair was resting or falling out.
The result? Thinning hair and bald patches. It seemed that these tight hairstyles were having a negative effect on the hair cycle, resulting in damage and increased hair loss.3
So, one of the best things you can do to reverse damage is to opt for looser hairstyles that don’t tug on the hair.
Reduce Sun Exposure
It’s common knowledge that the sun’s UV rays can irritate the skin, cause premature aging, and even lead to the development of serious health problems.
And it turns out that UV rays don’t play well with your hair follicles, either. A study has shown that UV rays can disrupt the normal hair growth cycle, leading to temporary hair loss.4
So, if you’re going to spend any time in the sun, be sure to cover your head with a hat or scarf to protect your hair.
Clear Up Clogged Hair Follicles
You’ve probably experienced acne breakouts on your face at some point in your life. These breakouts are caused by clogged hair follicles and can result in whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples.5
But clogged hair follicles don’t just show up on the face – they can show up on the scalp, as well.
This condition is known as scalp folliculitis, which literally means “irritation of the scalp follicles.”
Two factors that contribute to folliculitis are:
- An increase in oil production6
- Bacteria and fungus7
But with a little mindfulness, you can work to clear up clogged hair follicles. Here’s a three-step approach:
First, be sure to shampoo often. Shampooing will wash away excess oil, ensuring that it doesn’t build up on the scalp and settle into pores.
Second, avoid foods that cause an increase in oil production. Milk and sugar are both potential culprits.8,9 Try cutting these out of your diet to see if symptoms improve.
Third, try using eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils. Both of these oils have properties that work fight off bacteria or fungus.10 By keeping bacteria and fungus in check, you’ll cut down on scalp irritation.
And you definitely want to keep your scalp irritation-free. Research suggests that irritated hair follicles can actually lead to hair loss.11
Add These Nutrients Into Your Diet
What you eat plays a profound role in the health of your body – and your hair is no exception.
Try adding these hair-nourishing foods into your diet:
→ Protein: A diet low in protein may result in weakened hair follicles.12 For optimum hair health, be sure to get adequate amounts of protein. Try chicken, turkey, eggs, lentils, and beans to up your daily protein intake.
→ Zinc: This mineral plays an important role in hair health and growth. Some good sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, lean red meat, oysters, and other shellfish.
→ Green Tea: Green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate. This (very difficult to pronounce) antioxidant helps promote hair follicle health.13
Healthier Hair Follicles Mean Healthier Hair
Your hair follicles are the foundation of your hair. When they become damaged, it can really show. Dull, brittle hair – along with hair loss – are all signs that you’re hair is in need of some intervention.
To get your hair back in tip-top shape, avoid tight hairstyles and sun exposure, clear up clogged hair follicles, and incorporate nutrients into your diet. You’ll be growing full and lustrous hair in no time!