“Ugly is a field without grass, a plant without leaves, or a head without hair.”
Ovid, The Silent Woman
Did you know that by the age of 60, about 66% of men are bald? Going bald is usually regarded as a sign of age, loss of looks and contributes to a negative body image. American men are currently spending about $1 billion a year on products and pills which may or may not help with the problem. One research study shows that simply plucking out the remaining hair may actually help. Now that is much cheaper!
In one study, about 60% of Spanish men interviewed were worried that future baldness would affect their self-esteem.
“If my skull were made of glass, I wouldn’t want you to see my thoughts, so I’d fear going bald.”–Jarod Kintz
If you are going bald, there may be hereditary factors involved. Or it may simply be a result of medication you’re taking, problems with your thyroid, chemotherapy or some immune disorder.
“Many aspects of our lifestyle — from what we eat to how we style our hair — affect the strength of hair fibers.” — Alan Baumann, MD, hair transplant surgeon.
Very often, though, people get into bad routines which can aggravate hair loss and increase their chances of going bald. It is estimated that people lose up to 100 hairs a day. Very often, more severe loss is due to poor hair hygiene and simply bad habits.
Here are seven bad habits that will contribute to losing your hair — and end up looking like me!
1. Choosing the wrong shampoo
The type of baldness which is called androgenetic alopecia was always associated with men, yet women suffer from it too. The enemy here is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which comes from the male testosterone hormone and is known to damage hair follicles. Women also have testosterone, albeit in much smaller quantities. But when that testosterone starts converting to DHT, it does their hair just as much damage.
Make sure that your shampoo has ketoconazole, which is an anti-fungal agent. It acts by reducing the levels of testosterone and DHT and that helps the hair follicles stay healthy. Belgian men who used this ingredient (1%) in their shampoo a few times a week for six months reduced their hair loss by 17%.
2. Taking hot showers
Did you know that hot water can dehydrate your hair as well as your skin?
The problem here is that all the hair’s protective oils are being washed away. In addition, the pores in your scalp go into panic mode and that can damage your hair roots. A warm shower is much healthier. After shampooing, rinsing hair with the coolest possible water also helps.
3. Drying your hair too roughly
Experts warn that if you brush your hair in the shower and then follow that with vigorous towel drying, you are asking for trouble. A much better method is to reduce the after shower brushing by doing it before you jump in the shower. Afterwards, pat dry with a soft towel. (Too much blow-drying is also damaging.)
4. Eating unhealthy stuff
We mentioned the testosterone and DHT link above, which is enemy number one. This DHT is often fortified by eating an abundance of fried food. If you eat lots of sugary snacks, this also boosts the testosterone — and that just means more DHT.
Increase your consumption of mustard greens, spinach, rosemary, green tea, peas, eggs, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and sesame seeds. All these foods are rich in Vitamin B, iron, zinc and protein which can help you keep your hair healthy. Just remember that your hair is mostly made up of protein so you should aim to get about 46 a grams day — about 30% of your total calories.
5. Taking the wrong birth control pills
Lots of women are sensitive to androgen, which is contained in many birth control pills and causes them to lose hair. If you are not sure, take pills which are low in androgen so there is no risk to your beautiful hair. (You can always have a test to see if you have an androgen sensitivity.)
6. Getting too much sun
Exposure to the sun has great potential to harm your hair. Apparently, the hair cuticle (the outer layer which is crucial for its protection) can get weakened, making it more brittle and possibly resulting in hair loss.
The best solution: Always wear a hat, preferably one which has built-in sun protection.
7. Indulging nervous habits
Last but not least, be careful regarding all those nervous habits which can ruin a good head of hair over time. I am thinking here of constantly pulling or twirling your hair, rubbing your scalp, head scratching and so on. Pulling your hair tightly into various shapes and styles does not help at all as the hair follicles (the cells and tissues around the hair root) can become scarred.
There are many medical, genetic and environmental factors involved in hair loss, which can only be altered with difficulty and/or expense. But changing the above habits hardly costs a penny — and you might even save on your electricity bill by cutting down on hot showers and blow-drying your hair!
“I bet the reason people are afraid of going bald is because it makes them think of the end of life. I mean, when your hair starts to thin, it must feel as if your life is being worn away … as if you’ve taken a giant step in the direction of death, the last Big Consumption.”– Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Featured photo credit: Kyle Sloss and Leila Sloss the Bald ppl/Jess Sloss via flickr.com