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Skip breakfast, lose your hair: The truth about diet and beauty
You might be planning on growing out your hair, but before you start, there are a few things you should know, says Cheri McMaster, senior scientist for Procter & Gamble. First, the bad news: not all of us are genetically programmed to grow long hair. "Each of us has a different anagen, or active hair growth phase," explains McMaster. "For most of us, that cycle lasts 1,000 days, or just under three years, before the hair goes into a resting stage and falls out." But for the lucky ones, like Paltrow and Hall of Famer Jane Seymour, that period of active growth can last up to six or seven years.
Diet detour Changes to your eating habits will influence your hair’s growth potential. "Dieting leads to excessive shedding," says Greg Wlodarczyk, a certified trichologist in Mississauga, Ont. "Six out of 10 women I see at my clinic have this problem. They skip breakfast, nibble on some fruit for lunch and start
working out intensively. Within 10 days, they’re finding hairs clogging the shower drain." By upping levels of vitamin B, zinc and protein in the diet, shedding will slow down within two to four weeks. Supplements can help, but often they’re not enough to prevent excessive hair loss.
Handle with care Hold on to those precious strands. Start by adopting gentler grooming habits and look for products that:
Build strength Hairs that break off early in the growth cycle through aggressive brushing and heat styling can become a cosmetic liability, turning ragged and sticking out every which way. Lines such as Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control and Breakage Defense reduce the number of broken hairs, claiming 90 percent less breakage in one month. The combination of cationic surfactants and dimethicones offers a protective coating, helping fly-aways blend into hair and promoting new hair growth.
Deep-condition hair Washing your hair on a daily basis can be damaging, so conditioning every time you wash is essential, says Prema Garraway, co-owner of Salon Daniel & Spa in Toronto. She recommends using a light conditioner after every shampoo and a weekly deep-conditioning treatment. "Most masks work in 10 to 15 minutes," she says. "If they’re left on any longer, they stop working." To help the product penetrate, wrap your head with a warm towel fresh from the dryer.
Enhance shine With today’s products, brushing your hair 100 strokes every night isn’t necessary, says McMaster. Comb a shine-enhancing serum or glaze through wet, well-conditioned hair to bond the cuticle and intensify its reflective quality.
Seal split ends In addition to getting a trim every four to six weeks, using a serum will help smooth split ends. "It bonds the cuticle, so you won’t notice the split ends," says Garraway. "You can’t get a better finish." Squeeze a small amount onto your fingertips and pull it through the ends when the hair is dry. This helps seal the open ends and stops the cuticle from unravelling any further. It also blocks moisture in the air from seeping into your hair and causing frizz.
Photo courtesy of Marcio Madeira