Sure, you look at, style, and twirl your hair each day, but how much do you really know about it? Curious for more scientific info about that stuff on our heads we tapped trichologist (aka hair and scalp specialist) Philip Kingsley to fill us in on everything from scalp health to what to expect from aging hair.
1. Hair Is Low On The Body’s List of Priorities
“Hair is not a vital organ or tissue, and this means your body will never prioritize its nutritional needs,” says Kingsley, who says this is the biggest challenge to hair growth. It also means it’s up to us to make sure our strands get the nutrients they need. Kingsley says, “Your hair cells need a balanced diet of proteins, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals to function at their best.” Look to protein-rich salmon (also full of hair-boosting omega-3s) and complex carbs like sweet potatoes and brown rice.
2. Aging Hair Is Different
Have you ever noticed that grey hairs seem to have a different texture than the rest of your hair? It’s not your imagination, says Kingsley. “Grey hair seems coarser because oil glands produce less sebum [the oily substance that keeps hair and skin supple] when you’re older, which results in drier and more roughly-textured hair.” Shampoos and conditioners that are specially formulated for aging hair help compensate for this lack of oil, without weighing strands down.
3. Hair Growth Averages at Half an Inch Per Month
And grows faster in the summer than in the winter, says Kingsley. Which makes the case for growing out your bangs during the sweltering months!
4. Hair Follicles Are Extremely Sensitive
Hair follicle buds live deep in the epidermis, making the nerves around them extremely sensitive: “The nerves and muscles surrounding your follicles give your hair its tactile properties, allowing you to feel the slightest movement,” say Kingsley. A drop in body temperature and threatened feelings causes these muscles to contract, creating the “goosebumps” effect.
5. Take Your Vitamin B
While Kingsley says most people will start to sprout a few grey hairs before they turn 30, vitamin deficiencies (like genetics) can speed up the aging process. Since studies say that a vitamin B deficiency (caused by stress and a poor diet) can lead to premature whiteness of the hair, consider adding a supplement to your day-to-day regimen.
6. Hair Loss Is Normal
On average, we lose about 100 hairs per day; so don’t worry about that ring on the bottom of your shower drain. And it grows back quickly: “Your hair is comprised of the second fastest-growing cells in your body—intestinal cells being the first,” says Dr. Kingsley. But since significant hair loss can denote a nutritional deficiency, be sure to visit a doctor if you have any doubts.
7. “Grey” Hair is Actually White Hair
“’Grey’ isn’t actually a hair pigment in itself,” says Kingsley. “It’s a color caused by a combination of normally pigmented hairs interspersed with white ones.” Once all of your hair follicles have completely lost their pigment, your hair will appear white. Health tip: White hair lacks the same sun protection as pigmented hair, so be sure to cover up with a hat.