Aloe Vera for Hair Loss

AloeVeraForHairLoss

If you read the blog, you’ll know by now that I’m prone to putting a lot of obscure things on my head (unless they contain chemicals, that is!). Recently I stopped using powders with water (too messy) in favour of Khadi and Morrocco Method shampoos. I only wash my hair once a week, so you can imagine how long my shampoos last! I often add Aloe Vera, coffee or Rhassoul to the Khadi shampoo to make it more potent.

In between using these ready-made poos, I like to make my own (much less messy) shampoo which works wonders for my hair and scalp. It’s easy, no fuss and cheap.

Aloe vera is said to have cleansing and purifying properties for the scalp whilst maintaining healthy, shiny hair. It’s supposed to help strengthen the strands themselves whilst soothing the follicles at the root, which can also help with hair loss. After hearing glowingly positive reviews about fresh aloe vera online, I was determined to give it a go. I’ve heard equally good things about honey, so I thought why not combine the two? They’re both gloopy and shampoo-like, plus some people had already used them together with decent results. Cheap runny honey in a squeezy bottle will do – apparently using raw wild honey causes build-up of beeswax (no thanks!)

I am currently growing my aloe vera (it’s only a baby so I can’t cut it – and don’t want to!) so I bought fresh, pure organic aloe vera gel online (it’s relatively cheap and you don’t need a lot). Mine came in a sachet so get a clean jar or pot to decant it into.

To make the honey shampoo, simply squeeze equal amounts of each into the palm of your hand. You don’t need a lot – about the size of a 50p coin each. Then mix them with your finger and slop it all over your head, getting right onto the scalp and all over the roots. Don’t worry about the ends so much – my ends are never dirty now I don’t use chemicals and wash only once a week – but if yours feel a little heavy then add some more down there and massage it in.

I leave this on a bit like a mask sometimes for 5 or 10 minutes pre-shower or while I’m in the bath – or rinse straight away. Each time my hair is soft, shiny and clean – and it stays that way for the duration of the week.

You can see from this BTS that my hair is growing a lot thicker and longer – I’m positive that the no-washing no-chemicals policy is working wonders. Have you tried aloe vera for hair loss??

Black and White Author shoot 597 (2) Black and White Author shoot 531

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Hair Loss – What NOT to do

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There are so many articles on what to do when your hair starts falling out – what products to use, what to eat, how to style it. From experience these can be a little bit mind-boggling and of course everybody has different hair types, different types of hair loss and therefore widely varying opinions on products and methodology. Here’s my run down of the top ten things NOT to do when your hair starts falling out:

  1. Don’t panic

This one comes under the category ‘easier said than done’ – I know. Stress and anxiety is a massive cause of hair loss – at best it exacerbates existing hair loss. It’s difficult not to be distraught when you start losing your hair and start obsessing over each lost strand, staring longingly at everyone else’s hair and feeling generally crap and upset. Our hair is often our comfort blanket , our crowning glory – your hair (or lack of it) can make a huge difference to how you look and ultimately, how you feel. I know that. Try your best to distract yourself from what is going on with your hair. Make a plan of action and feel assured knowing you’re doing everything you can to help your hair.

  1. Don’t overbrush

Brushing your hair can be therapeutic and distracting; yet it can also become an obsessive ritual of seeing how much you have left and how much comes out when you do brush it. Some hair loss advice calls for regular brushing but experts say it is possible to over-brush your hair, and especially where hair loss is concerned over-vigorous brushing will only cause more harm than good. Use a natural bristle brush to distribute your hair’s oils evenly and minimise breakage. The same goes for washing – try not to overwash your hair even if it gets greasy and even if you are using a hair loss shampoo. This strips the oils and increases exposure to chemical nasties which do not do your scalp or hair any good. Using your hair loss shampoo twice a day won’t make any difference to your growth compared to if you were using it every other day – but it may damage your hair and have the reverse effect instead.

  1. Don’t go buying expensive shampoos

Sadly, there’s lots of people who’d like to cash in on your hair loss because they know how upset and vulnerable you are, and that most (me included!) are desperate to try anything, no matter what the cost, to get their hair back as quickly as possible. Please don’t be drawn in by anything which appears ‘too good to be true’. Equally, don’t go buying every single hair loss shampoo and product out there. They all work differently, they are different for different people, and their efficacy also depends on what sort of hair loss you have. Read reviews (you can read my post on Hair Loss Shampoos here) and make a decision on what is best for you. Give it a good month or two to see if it is working; you won’t see results in days or even a week or so no matter what anybody says. If it still isn’t working, try something new. I’ve made this mistake before and the best thing I did was eventually to buy one shampoo and conditioner and stick to that regime for over a month – that’s when I saw amazing results. Equally, I’ve tried shampoos, given them a month or two, and realised they are not working, kicked them to the curb and tried something new. Perseverance is the only way to be sure of what works and what doesn’t.

  1. You don’t have to cut it all off

When my hair fell out after my eating disorder, my hairdresser categorically told me to cut it all off. The best solution, she said, was to cut it all down to at least shoulder length and keep cutting it until it reached the length of my baby hair. That way, it could all grow at the same rate. 14 years old and recovering from an eating disorder, I was desperately clinging on to the hair I still had left. Losing it had been a shocking additional blow a few months into my recovery. There was no way I was going to cut it off.

My hair admittedly looked awful for at least a year. I lost mine from underneath, so stringy strands hung over bald patches which were gradually filled with lots of wispy baby hairs. As they grew they formed a fringe on my forehead and a fluffy ‘do beneath my old hair around the rest of my head. It wasn’t the best look, but it allowed me to keep my hair and eventually 3 years later my hair looked incredible. For a year or so I’d worn clip in extensions which helped me to feel more confident and forget about the state of my hair, and one day, I realised my hair was exactly the same without them. The baby hair had matured and was long and thick and as a whole it looked fabulous.

Since then, I’ve found some hairstyles and a few techniques you can use to help ‘mask’ hair loss whilst you are – of course temporary extensions, wigs and hair pieces are also handy. You can read about them here.

Of course if you’re brave enough to have it all cut to one length then this is good for hair health and growth and will ensure even regrowth – it is completely your decision. But know that if, like me, you are very attached to your hair, you can hold onto it!

  1. Don’t leave it unchecked medically

Hair loss is becoming more common in women especially due to the increased stress and pressure in our lives. Therefore it’s easy to put it down to stress or hormones. But there are other medical causes of hair loss which should be noted and it’s important to be vigilant for in case your hair loss is caused by an underlying health problem. If your hair loss is persistent, make an appointment with your doctor just to be sure there’s nothing else going on. They may even refer you to a trichologist for help with your hair loss.

  1. Don’t overstyle it

We all love our hairdryers, curlers, straighteners, rollers – but it goes without saying, these are NOT good for your hair, especially when it is in a weakened state. I made a conscious decision to stop using the hairdryer (unless it was an emergency – you know we all have those) and I rarely use straighteners or curlers but these were vetoed too. It may well be torture but it is worth it to help your hair to recover and alleviate the anguish that comes with seeing clumps of hair all over the floor after styling. There are lots of nifty tutorials on Pinterest for creating curls (and other hair styles) with no heat and little pulling or breakage on the hair, so if you are naturally curly embrace them and take a look online for inspiration.

  1. Don’t use tight bobbles and clips

Bobbles are the worst thing for your hair. Even ones without the metal clip which can snag hairs pull on your scalp and hair follicles and can accelerate hair loss. I only wear clips or loose slides when my hair is falling out and if I really want a bobble in I use a trick Iwas shown on a shoot by my lovely best friend and renowned hairdresser Mark – attach two bobby pins one either side of your bobble – scrape your hair into a pony then slide one clip through the centre close to the scalp. Wrap the other around a few times till it’s tight then slide the other bobby pin through the centre of your pony. Home-made bungee! So much less damaging for your hair and 0-expense, 0-hassle.

  1. Don’t forget to eat (and drink) for your hair

A few of you won’t like this one and will be sick of hearing it but honestly, good skin and hair health comes from the inside. What happens on the outside of our bodies in often an indication of what’s going on inside, so if your hair is falling out, it indicates a problem whether that’s mental, physical or perhaps a deficiency somewhere. If you’re not at the stage where you feel ready to address your diet then that is understandable, however without a good diet, your hair will struggle massively to recover. The real you will care more about your hair than what an eating disorder cares about, so concentrate on that and try really hard to follow that desire rather than any other false ideals that will be in your head. I really wish I had known what to eat to help my hair all those years ago – I was recovering and I’d have eaten anything to stop it from falling out. You can read my post on food for hair here.

  1. Don’t use harsh chemicals on your hair

Most commercial shampoos, whatever they claim to do, will be full of chemicals which are less than healthy for your hair. The ‘worst’ of these is sodium laureth sulfate, which is what makes shampoos and shower gels lather nicely. Experts say it strips the scalp of natural oils and can also leave hair brittle and dry. Once you know this, you’ll know that finding a shampoo without this in it is very difficult.

  1. Don’t feel alone, embarrassed or suffer in silence

More women than you realise will be suffering from hair loss but will not have told anybody about it out of shame or embarrassment. So many will be covering it up on a daily basis and feeling bad about it alone. Don’t feel like you are alone in this – take a look online and you’ll find lots of friendly women ready to discuss hair loss with you; forums where you can share what works and what doesn’t. And of course, you have this blog J

 

Hair loss is an awful thing to experience but at least now you know what NOT to do and can concentrate on getting your hair, and yourself, back to the best health possible.

Any tips I’ve missed here? Share them!

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Tough Cookie is a blog for support and inspiration during recovery from Anorexia. Eating disorder recovery can be tough – but so are you!

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Castor Oil – Hair Loss Saviour

castor oil

You may have read some of my posts about hair loss – something which affects many women for a number of reasons additional to anxiety and eating disorders. Whatever the case, hair loss can result in a severe lack of confidence and cripplingly low self-esteem.

Recently I started losing my hair for the third time. Obviously I was devastated, and became more and more panicky the longer it continued. Patches started to show and my long hair began to hang thinly in limp strings. I cut about 4 inches off it to create the illusion of thickness and improve the sad-looking appearance of it.

About a month ago I also started using Alpecin caffeine shampoo and a Wella SP serum I first used when I was 14 which has always been really effective. There’s been a small improvement with these, but nothing remarkable, nothing which stopped me scraping it into a tiny ponytail with despair each day.

I love Pinterest, and I was searching it for hair loss solutions. I came across a myriad of posts about Castor Oil and its hair thickening properties, and decided to try it. I read that the darker Castor Oil was more potent than its lighter counterparts – Amla had also been cited as a hair-loving ingredient, so I opted for the pure Jamaican Mango and Lime Black Castor Oil with Amla.

Castor Oil promotes hair health and prevents breakage by swelling the hair root to make it look thicker. It also has antibacterial properties which help to heal and cleanse the scalp. The oil is really thick and I was a little nervous about slathering it all over my head – my hair is very straight and fine anyway so getting oil out of it has always been a bit of a challenge. Desperate, however, I did so with gusto and left it on for a few hours while I went to the gym.

When I washed the oil out, my hair didn’t feel weighed down or greasy. I hoped it was all out and blow dried it upside down as normal.

I have never seen volume like that with any expensive hair product I have ever used before! My hair just looked like it used to, thick and swishy yet not at all weighed down by the oil. I felt so happy and confident; my comfort blanket was back. Of course, by the next day it was looking flat and dreary again. However after using the Alpecin every wash and doing a Castor Oil treatment once every week I have seen a huge amount of growth at the base of my scalp. So many little baby hairs growing in thick clumps around my hairline, and a lot less falling around the house.

I’d definitely recommend trying Castor Oil if you’re struggling with hair loss. I’ve used it in conjunction with Alpecin; so this may also be an option for double-growth. Coupled with my tips in my other hair loss posts, hopefully you should see some progress!

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