In this period our hair can be very stressed. Going back to work or school after the holidays, the increase in sun exposure, anxiety, stress but also a possible Covid 19 infection can cause premature graying and hair loss. So let's see what to do to deal with these threats to the health and beauty of our hair.
Hair and oxidative stress
Pollution, stress, sun rays, an unbalanced diet, cigarette smoking, a lack of vitamins and minerals and inflammation can put a strain on our hair, causing an increase in free radicals. The consequences? For example, more abundant hair loss but also, according to studies, premature graying of hair (Kumar et al, Int J Trichology, 2018). In these cases, it is important to try to have a healthy life, with moderate physical activity and a varied and balanced diet, to stop smoking and avoid an excess of alcohol. Then, it is also essential to ensure all the necessary nutrients and avoid deficiencies of these. For example, it has been observed that a deficiency of vitamin B12, contained in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, shellfish, milk and derivatives and in nori seaweed, but also of copper, contained in seafood, oil seeds and nuts, cocoa and chocolate, and iron, found in legumes, meat, almonds, cocoa, Brussels sprouts and seafood, can promote premature graying of hair. In case of vitamin and mineral deficiency but also great stress it has been observed that, once the cause is eliminated, the hair can return to its natural color (Kumar et al, Int J Trichology, 2018). Then, to counteract the premature graying of the hair and their fall, it may be useful to resort to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant treatments, based on vitamin C, E, green tea but also rosemary, which stimulates microcirculation and counteracts the damage of free radicals, promoting hair growth (Kumar et al, Int J Trichology, 2018 - Panahi et al, Skimmed, 2015). For example, you can make a hair and scalp mask like this. In a small bowl, pour two tablespoons of coconut oil, one of jojoba and 3-4 drops of rosemary essential oil. One more idea? Also add half a teaspoon of powdered ginseng extract. In fact, ginseng is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, useful for countering free radical damage and regenerating hair (Park et al, Pharmaceutics, 2021). Apply on the scalp and then on the lengths, leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with shampoo.
Hair and Long Covid
In about 80% of people who have been infected with the new coronavirus, even after recovery and for several weeks or months some symptoms related to inflammation caused by the virus persist or appear. Hair loss is one of these symptoms. This is a condition known as telogen effluvium, which is a temporary hair loss and is expected to subside and disappear as inflammation levels decrease (Ohyama et al, J Dermatol, 2022). However, it is possible to act with small interventions to speed up the recovery phase. For example, a healthy and varied diet, rich in fruit, especially citrus fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish, capable of providing healthy fats, vitamins A, B, C, D and E and minerals such as zinc and iron have been shown to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation and counteract hair loss. For the same reason it is important to reduce red and processed meats, refined foods and sugars in order not to increase inflammation levels (Popescu et al, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol., 2022). On the basis of studies, it then emerged that the intake of marine hydrolyzed collagen-based supplements made it possible to reduce hair thinning and stimulate the growth of new hair (Popescu et al, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol., 2022). Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant shampoos and lotions have also proved useful as well as topical applications on the scalp of sandalwood essential oil, never pure but always diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil (Jimenez et al, J Cosmet Dermatol , 2021).