While promoting her new movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, Michelle Williams admitted she was going to grow out her infamous pixie cut locks, “I think I’m ready. It’s on its way slowly but surely. Her hairstylist, Chris McMillan, explained how he keeps Michelle looking gorgeous while she grows out her hair. “It’s getting long,” he said. “It’s growing out. We’re just cutting the underneath. It’s called an undercut haircut. That underneath hair is kept short and the top is growing longer so you can really see the extreme difference between the two. That is one way of growing a short pixie haircut out,” McMillan said. “You cut the underneath layers and keep the top longer.”
It is easy to get frustrated and discourage when attempting to grow out your hair. Our society tends to be driven by instant gratification and growing out your hair can take months or even years…. enter hair extensions. The problem with hair extensions though, is they cause even more damage and prolong the growing out process. Many women even experience traction alopecia caused by the excess weight and pulling of the extensions.
The first thing you need to know is what influences healthy hair growth. There are many factors which influence healthy hair growth; these encompass a whole range of medical, emotional and lifestyle conditions which can prevent the body from effectively absorbing the essential nutrients it needs to support healthy hair.
- AGE– With aging nearly everyone has some hair loss with aging. The rate of hair growth begins to slow as we age. Hair strands become smaller and have less pigment. So the thick, coarse hair of a young adult eventually becomes thin, fine, light-colored hair. Many hair follicles stop producing new hairs.
- STRESS– Believe it or not, the cliché about stress leading to hair problems is actually true. In extreme stress, the adrenal gland goes into overdrive, and the resultant increase in adrenaline sometimes leads to a consequent increase in the production of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which, without enough estrogen to counterbalance it, can lead to hair not being as healthy as it should be. For some people being stressed can seriously affect the condition of their hair and it can turn into a vicious circle: Stress affects the hair cycle and the impact of this can cause more stress for the sufferer. It can be difficult to pinpoint a specific stress episode as the reason hair becomes unhealthy but it is often acute and chronic stress that will bring on conditions such as telogen effuvium (hair shedding).
- MEDICATION– In some instances medicine may have side effects which impact on healthy hair growth; they include cholesterol lowering agents, ulcer healing agents, anti-diabetic drugs, blood pressure medication and birth control pills.
- POOR DIET– A diet rich in protein, vitamins and minerals is essential for healthy hair and hair growth. A diet low in protein is often the reason someone will experience hair loss, as a poor diet affects new growth. The hair follicle is a nonessential tissue and, therefore, one of the last tissues to receive nutritional substances, therefore any long-term deficiencies may lead to premature hair loss.
- HORMONAL CHANGES– Hormonal changes associated with menopause can affect the healthy hair growth cycle. While this menopausal side effect is relatively rare, it has been known to occur in some cases. Other hormonal changes in the body– notably thyroid issues and hormonal responses to changes in the autoimmune system have been known to affect hair thinning and loss in some women. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can experience problems with their hair due to a hormone imbalance and increased sensitivity to the male hormones we all have.
- POST PREGNANCY– While a beautiful and natural process, it is nonetheless a stressful process on the body. Consequently, it’s common for post-partum hair thinning or even bald patches to occur as the bodies’ hormone levels normalize. This is usually a temporary condition, however, and should reverse itself soon. If hair health is still an issue a few months after the pregnancy is over, chances are that the hair condition is attributed to something other than the pregnancy.
- SMOKING– Smoking affects healthy hair growth. Cigarette smoking has been shown to cause poor circulation, which can affect the amount of blood flow available to the hair follicles of the scalp.
- OVER-STYLING– Aerosol sprays, hair dyes, hair irons, and curlers might seem to be essential to hair beauty in the short term, but do keep in mind that excessive use of any of these items may result in damaging hair in the long run. Women who find their healthy hair is being affected may also want to consider what they’re putting into their hair and scalp on a daily basis and consider other nutritional supplements and cosmetic methods.
Now that we have identified the problem, lets talk about the solutions. “There are non-prescription products available over the counter to help stimulate healthy hair growth,” says Dr Ken Williams, a hair restoration physician at OC Hair Restoration Center in Irvine, CA., ” I like to recommend a nutritional supplement called Viviscal, and always my favorite is Rogaine 5% foam to the scalp twice a day.” For his patients that wish to be more pro-active with treatment Dr Williams offers Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and Low Level Laser Therapy to stimulate healthy hair growth.