Interview with THERESE FERRARI Nutritionist and hair nutrition specialist

  


Hair beauty comes from the inside

There are three main areas that determine the quality of hair: nutrition; DNA; hormonal dysfunctions

While there is nothing one can do on DNA and hormonal state, there is certainly a lot to improve by acting on everyday nutrition. 

To eat correctly helps obviously being in good health but as a consequence, it will help beauty as well. 

In order to nourish the hair and have correct hair nutrition it is important to have a healthy and varied nutrition: it’s a work on the long term that pays tremendously well. 

 

Why nutrition is so important for the hair / how it works

Hair is BUILT from the body – it is something that continues to grow / needs to be constantly built – like nails for instance – and so it needs nutrients to live. But our nutrition is often lacking something and when there are deficiencies, the body will always prioritize essential organs over hair. Hence it’s extremely frequent to be missing some essential nutrients for the hair, which is not a priority in terms of “dispatching” nutrients for body functioning. 

So there is a big difference between “BEAUTIFYING” the hair from the outside and “BUILDING” the hair from the inside. 

 

Important nutrients for a good quality of hair

It’s important to keep in mind that hair is made of proteins; hence it’s important to have a protein rich diet.  On the other hand, very often we lack protein in our diet – despite the rise of protein-rich diets. 

For a healthy diet, we need to eat 0.80gr of protein per kilo of weight. Knowing that in 100gr of meat there are approximately 20gr of protein, it takes quite some meat + dairy to get to the amount we need per day! (And so to be able to nourish the hair properly)

To be noticed also that the body doesn’t stock protein (as it does with fat for instance) so one constantly needs to supply and restock them. And off course, protein will go first to nourish the heart and muscles.

Apart from protein, the most important nutrients the hair needs to keep a good quality are what’s normally called “micronutrition” – and in particular: 

Vitamin B1, B6; Magnesium; Zinc

These nutrients are very often contained in highly nourishing products like pulses or starch. So it’s very frequent for women to be missing some of them – particularly for women who keep an eye on their weight. 

 

Nutrition supplements: 

Since about 10 years nutrition supplements have developed largely. 

Before that, doctors used to recommend injections of B1, B6, B12, Biotin vitamins that would help against hair loss during specific moments of life (menopause, after a pregnancy) 

Today’s supplements are more complete, they go beyond the obvious B-vitamins to offer a more complete micronutrient intake, calibrated to what the hair needs. 

Nevertheless, these are usually taken for a relatively short period of time and – because the body doesn’t stock these nutrients – their effect is limited. They don’t help to transform and improve the hair in the long term. Only a correct and healthy diet would do so but it’s obviously a bigger constraint. 

Also, nutritionists are a bit skeptical about supplements because they might be negative for the body if mixed and overdosed.

 

Nutrition & Hydration

Hydration is also key for a good quality of hair. Only when the body is well hydrated, the hair bulb will have enough hydration to dispatch to the whole hair. 

Hair is a little like a plant! It needs to be regularly hydrated from the roots to flourish. Sometimes – when the hair is too damaged, only by cutting it you will have a more flourishing hair back. 

 

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest enemies for the hair. Our lifestyle and stress accumulation will have a negative impact on the hair: 

The body, in order to defend itself against the stress, will use more magnesium than usual and therefore will have less of it available for nourishing the hair. 

It’s important to do physical activity regularly because it’s a way to relax and reduce stress, and so to save essential nutrients for the body and for the hair. 

 

External aggressions

Most common external aggressions include:  

• Pollution; 
• sun; 
• wind; 
• cold; 
• pesticides

Pollution and sun are considered more dangerous today than in the past. 

Pollution acts both on the bulb – blocking hair nutrition to circulate freely to the hair – and on the length, hair is made like protein sloughs and pollution fix on them.  

People know that they are more present and more aggressive than in the past. They see the results on the skin and sometimes make the link with the hair. Nevertheless, there are no specific actions, remedies used for the hair to fight against pollution; it’s still at early stage. 

Some behaviors also have a negative impact. Actions on the hair: 

• Too hot hair drying; 
• too tight hair style like always having a ponytail; 
• coloring; 

Lifestyle: 

• medicines – traces will be found in the hair; 
• smoking
• Alcohol

Both smoking and alcohol modify blood micro-circulation: it’s a dysfunction that activates micro-circulation on some parts and dehydrate others and impact the minerals transported in the blood smallest vessels.  (That’s why alcohol often colors cheeks – it hydrates some parts of the skin and dehydrates others. Both skin and hair depend on micro-circulation for delivering nutrients).

 

People perception of hair and hair nutrition

1. Beautiful hair

There is a general shift towards considering good quality of hair the gold standard for hair. Before, beautiful hair used to be about hair style, while today beautiful hair is much more strongly associated with good quality of hair. 


2. Perception of aggressions and hair problems

People are more aware of all the aggressions that the hair faces on a daily basis, particularly external aggressions but also lifestyle and stress. They see the results on their body and on the hair. 

Probably linked to that, there is a general perception that more people have hair problems and hair loss right now vs in the past. 

This is particularly true for women: they seem to be more affected than before. Hair loss used to be a men problem while today it’s more gender neutral. This is also due to the fact that women have lifestyles vs before; while men’s lifestyles haven’t evolved to the same speed. 


3. Holistic vision of hair & body

There is a new understanding of the fact that the body and the hair are tightly linked and therefore everything has to be treated as a whole, in a more holistic way. 

People are generally more conscious of the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and eating healthy and they know the entire body (and the hair) will benefit from it. Only a few years ago, people were still looking for the “miracle” ingredient that could make their hair silkier, softer, and more beautiful. Now they are conscious that their lifestyle will have a much bigger impact on the hair than a single ingredient. 


4. Naturalness vs scientific evidence

So naturalness is very important – going back to natural products, oils, traditional remedies, etc.  – but scientific credibility is not outdone, on the contrary. 

Holistic wellbeing is not necessarily linked only to naturalness: there is a more generalized use of the internet to actively search for scientific knowledge; more people want to be in control of their body, use different apps for body monitoring and look for information to make sure they make the right choices and make sure they know what they are doing to their body. 


5. Sources and references for good quality hair

There is generally the feeling that people look at people (or celebs) with good quality hair as reference. Nutritionists can be a good source of information for hair quality, but there is probably a stronger link with dermatologists (a stronger link hair – skin); and naturally a lot is about press and internet search.

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