Will skipping breakfast lead to hair loss? 6 common hair care mistakes we all make
It’s all about depriving your hair of nutrients. Mind how often you brush and how tight you tie your locks, too, says a trichologist.
Hair loss is an issue that affects both men and women, and a problem that can be very difficult to solve.
Unlike having damaged hair or greying hair – which can be improved with haircare products and concealed with hair dye – hair that is lost sometimes will not grow back, even with professional treatment.
Before we continue, it is important to clarify that actual hair loss occurs at the roots. “Thinning hair that is a result of breakage at the hair shaft is not the same, as it does not change the amount of hair that grows from a person’s scalp,” noted trichologist Leonica Kei, who is also the owner of Leonica K Trichology.
“Hair loss occurs when the follicles are weakened and, most of the time, it has got a lot to do with internal health issues, which can be anything from hormonal imbalance, stress and nutritional deficiencies to genetic predisposition,” she said.
But there are also instances in which your hairstyling, haircare or personal habits can cause it to happen.
Here, she explains how small things like not knowing how to properly use conditioner can cause hair fall, and she reveals how hair loss can be affected by factors we didn’t expect.
MISTAKE 1: NOT SHAMPOOING OFTEN ENOUGH
Trying the “no ’poo” method after hearing about its much-touted (though unproven) benefits? Well, not shampooing your hair for long periods of time or replacing your shampoo with natural alternatives may not be such a good idea, especially in our hot and humid weather.
“Shampoo helps cleanse the scalp of sebum and toxins. If you do not wash away the sebum on the scalp, it can accumulate around hair follicles and clog them. Accumulated sebum will corrode the sheath around the hair root, which is doing the all-important job of anchoring each hair strand to the scalp. Washing your hair and scalp too infrequently can also lead to itching and inflammation of the scalp, which may in turn lead to hair fall as well,” said Kei.
How often should we wash our hair then? It really depends on one’s unique scalp and hair condition. You’ll likely need to shampoo more often if you have an oily scalp or when the weather is hot.
If you are trying to cut down on shampooing only because your hair is dry, perhaps you should look at treatment products for the hair, instead of withholding the proper cleansing your scalp needs. On that note, take note that dry shampoo is meant to be used as a temporary fix and not as a replacement for actual shampoo.
MISTAKE 2: PUTTING CONDITIONER ON HAIR ROOTS
If you didn’t know yet, conditioner should only be applied on the hair shaft and not on the scalp or near the hair roots. Conditioner is meant for moisturising and detangling your hair and shouldn’t be treated as a “moisturiser” for the scalp, which some folks with dandruff may tend to do.
Even if you rinse the conditioner off, it will leave residue on your scalp. Kei explained that doing so will not directly cause hair loss, but it will bring about scalp irritation, which may lead to the shedding of hair. If you are facing scalp issues, use a proper scalp-treatment product instead.
MISTAKE 3: BRUSHING TOO MUCH
Giving your locks a hundred strokes with the hairbrush every night might actually damage hair. Kei said that hair-brushing shouldn’t be done beyond what’s necessary for hairstyling, as the action of brushing can cause breakage, especially in dry, curly or permed hair.
But, apart from that, brushing too much can also cause scalp abrasion and irritation, particularly if the wrong brush or a poor-quality one is used. You’ve probably read or heard that it is good to brush your scalp regularly to boost blood circulation and hair growth. Kei, however, said there are other better ways to achieve scalp stimulation than brushing, as overdoing it tends to bring about hair breakage and may lead to hair loss as well.
MISTAKE 4: USING THE WRONG TYPE OF SCALP PRODUCTS
Scalp care is a product category that has seen exponential growth of late. But do we really need to add things like a scalp exfoliant or serum to our haircare routine?
According to Kei, these are not essential, but there’s nothing to stop you from trying them out. At the same time, you need to exercise care in picking suitable ones with gentle formulations that are unlikely to cause scalp irritation, which may lead to hair loss.
“Products designed for the scalp, particularly leave-in serums or tonics, should leave your scalp feeling clean and light. Beware of those that leave any residue or cause your scalp to itch or feel sensitive,” she advised.
MISTAKE 5: TYING YOUR HAIR TOO TIGHTLY
Pulling your hair into a tight ponytail or updo – and wearing such hairstyles too frequently – results in mechanical trauma that will weaken the hair roots.
“Traction alopecia is a hair-loss condition caused by the constant pulling of hair. In fact, many ballerinas and professional dancers, who constantly have to tie their hair up tightly when practising or performing, experience this. In extreme cases, some even start to have a receding hairline even though they are still very young,” shared Kei.
For the rest of us, this situation can be avoided. Find hair accessories and ties that can help you keep an updo without adding strain on the scalp. When tying a ponytail, keeping it lower on the back of your head will also help reduce the pull on the hair along the front hairline, too.
MISTAKE 6: SKIPPING BREAKFAST
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, according to Kei, it is true in terms of its application to hair health. “Your hair is the first to suffer and last to benefit from any changes within your body. So what this means is that your body will only channel nutrients to your hair when there are excess nutrients left after they have been supplied to other parts of the body,” she explained.
“When you skip breakfast and are active in the morning, your body is drawing from its remaining reserve of nutrients from the last meal you had yesterday. This means that your hair is unlikely to be ‘given’ much of them because the reserve has yet to be replenished. In the long run, your hair will be deprived of nutrients and it will likely become weak and not as thick as it should be,” she said.
Weakened hair is a contributing factor to hair loss, and that is why you should make it a point to have that morning meal if you’d like to keep your hair healthy. On that note, Kei also pointed out that hair loss could be due to nutritional deficiencies – most commonly in vitamin D and iron, which are essential to hair-growth processes within the scalp. In other words, eating healthfully will benefit you not just on the inside but outside as well.