How to Have Healthy Hair?

We all love to have beautiful, strong and shiny hair. However, sometimes our hair starts to show signs of weakness. It becomes dull, dry and lifeless and sometimes it even starts to shred excessively. When the hair loss starts to be visible, we all start to worry.

Hair problems are often down to nutritional deficiencies. This is especially true in the case of people who follow vegetarian and vegan diets. They do need to pay special attention to create a balanced diet for themselves. Otherwise, they may become deficient in certain important nutrients, primarily vitamins, proteins, minerals and fats. The nutritional deficiencies can rapidly start to show and the first signs concern the health of the all so precious hair.

Hair Health from BBC Good Food
BBC Good Food
Let’s take a look at these important nutrients that we absolutely must consume in other to preserve or restore our hair health.

  1. Protein: Protein deficiency is very common among vegetarians and even more among vegans. It is challenging to consume enough protein from plant-based sources as mostly protein is found in meat and fish. However, we must find appropriate, plant-based protein sources, as it is the building block of our hair as well as of our essential organs. If we are protein deficient, our bodies utilize whatever protein we consume to tissue growth in essential organs. The body will always prioritize these organs, therefore our hair will suffer first. Therefore, consuming some protein is not enough. We have to consume enough for our hair to glow. The best plant-based protein sources include quinoa, seitan, tofu, soy, tempeh beans, lentils, nuts, chick peas and white beans. Milk, cheese, dairy products and eggs also contain plenty of protein.
  2. Iron: Iron is a very important mineral and deficiency leads to anemia, which can cause hair loss by disrupting the nutrient supply to hair follicles and the hair growth cycle. Unfortunately, iron is found mostly in animal products, especially in red meat. Nevertheless, there are plant-based sources, including lentils, spinach, broccoli, okra, kale, salad greens, watercress, beets, dried apricots, figs, prunes, soy beans, pulses and almonds. However, the iron from plants is not as easily absorbed by the body as iron from meat, therefore these foods need to be consumed in large quantities to avoid iron deficiency. In case you have very low levels of iron, a good quality supplement may help to overcome your deficiency.
  3. Vitamin C: While Vitamin C is generally important for the human body, it has a particular role to help our hair glow. It helps the absorption of iron and boosts the production of collagen, a protein made up of amino-acids, which is the major component of hair. Vitamin C can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, broccoli, kiwi, oranges, strawberries, guava, red pepper, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts and cantaloupe.
  4. Omega-3: Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for our scalp and hair, because they keep them hydrated. Unfortunately, omega-3 fatty acids are primarily found in fish including salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel, the consumption of which is not in line with most vegetarian diets. In case you want to avoid eating fish, you need to consume flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocados, walnuts, soybeans and leafy greens to maintain your strong and lustrous hair.
  5. Vitamin A: Vitamin A is necessary for our bodies to make sebum, an oily and waxy substance that lubricates and waterproofs our skin and hair. If our bodies do not produce enough sebum, we might find our scalp itchy. Also, our hair may become dry. In order to help our bodies produce sufficient amount of sebum, we should eat liver. However, that is not an option for vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin A from plant-based sources can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy vegetables, squash, dried apricots, cantaloupe, red peppers and mango.
  6. Zinc and Selenium: The consumption of zinc and selenium is important for maintaining a healthy scalp and preventing hair loss. Seafood and eggs generally contain ample amount of these minerals. Plant-based sources include spinach, pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, beans, mushrooms, Brazil nuts, whole-wheat bread, sunflower seeds and whole grains.
  7. Vitamin E: Sufficient intake of Vitamin E can help us avoid sun damage to our hair and skin. Nuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, tomatoes, Swiss chard, avocado, asparagus, mustard greens, kale, papaya and kiwi are all excellent plant-based sources of Vitamin E.
  8. Biotin: Biotin is a B complex vitamin, which can help grow healthier and stronger hair, skin and nails by improving the keratin infrastructure, which is a basic protein that makes up hair, skin and nails. Biotin deficiency is fortunately very rare, but when it occurs it may show signs of brittle hair and nails. If you eat eggs, milk, Swiss chard, carrot, nuts, strawberries, raspberries, onion, avocado, cauliflower and cucumber you probably don’t need to fear biotin deficiency.
  9. Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is a complex vitamin that our bodies need for healthy hair growth by supporting the formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to hair strands. If hair strands do not receive sufficient amount of oxygen, the hair cannot grow in a healthy manner. Unfortunately, B12 vitamin is only found in meat, seafood, eggs and dairy. Vegetarians may consider eating eggs and dairy to consume sufficient amount of Vitamin B12. Vegans may consume soy milk and cereals fortified with B12. Also, they may benefit from taking a supplement to maintain healthy hair.

hair health, pinterest, Pinterest
Let’s include these foods in our diets and maintain our shiny, beautiful and strong hair!

Poison in Perfume

Fragrance is Everywhere

Fragrance can be found in most personal care and household products. It is used abundantly in perfume and in every single type of skincare, personal care and cleaning product ranging from hairspray to dishwashing liquid. These fragrances tend to be created via synthetic and chemical methods (barring genuine organic and natural products that use either no fragrance or only pure essential oils for scent).

Chemically derived scents are cheap and are very easy to produce. They motivate us to buy the products, as we all respond well to attractive scenting. That’s why the personal care industry uses an overwhelming amount of synthetic fragrance with one single objective in mind: to boost sales.

The problem here is that thousands of chemically-created ingredients end up in these products, which we absorb via our skin or through inhalation. These may be either known irritants or allergens, or have unknown potential side effects.

Matt Mands, Flickr

Trade Secrets and Insufficient Regulation

Fragrance is a special type of ingredient, which perfumiers and other personal care manufacturers are not always required to disclose. Ingredients may be protected from disclosure as they qualify as “trade secrets”. Therefore, hundreds of chemicals can be disguised as “fragrance”, “perfume”, “linalool” and “limonene”. The International Fragrance Association (IFRA), which has over 100 members manufacturing perfume & fragrance all around the world, keeps lobbying for the protection of the formulas of perfumes and scented products, under the proviso of “trade secrets”.

As a consequence of the lobby activity from organisations like the IFRA and manufacturers, there is no federal regulation regarding the disclosure of the ingredients used to create scents of cosmetics, personal care and household cleaning products in the United States. The European Union is somewhat stricter in regulating the use of fragrances. It restricts the use of nitromusks and other synthetics. It requires manufacturers to use warnings on products if their scenting formula contains any of 26 known and commonly used allergens.

Research Shows…

Scientific research has been conducted on several occasions on perfumes and fragrances, by independent organisations. Their results tend to be alarming.

Most recently the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics – a non-profit organisation – completed an analysis of 17 popular perfumes, including well-known brand names. The research found that a range of chemical ingredients is included in these top-selling perfumes, without such being listed on labels. Further, several ingredients were found to have the potential to trigger allergic reactions and cause hormone disruption.

The research found alarming results, including the identification of ten sensitizing chemicals associated with allergic reactions like asthma, wheezing, headaches and contact dermatitis.  As well as four hormone-disrupting ingredients linked to sperm damage, thyroid disruption and cancer, in the analysed perfumes.

The alarming results of the research conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics implies that thousands of other fragrances may contain the same or similar harmful ingredients, without any listing on their labels. Products ranging from perfume and body spray to hair spray, dyes, air fresheners, scented candles, shampoos, soaps, perfumes and cleaning products can all contain such items.

What to Do?

Given that regulations do not require manufacturers to list many of the potentially harmful chemicals used in these products, it is a prudent idea to ditch cosmetics, personal care and household cleaning products that are synthetic. However, that’s easier to say than to do, as we are all swamped with chemically-manufactured products. To help you filter down your synthetic products, here are a few tips that you may wish to consider:

  • Get rid of your synthetic perfumes. Opt for natural brands using pure essential oils extracted via a cold pressing process, without the use of solvents.
  • Choose genuinely natural or organic skincare and personal care products with no scent, whenever possible.
  • Go for natural, ecologically friendly and home-made cleaning methods.
  • Choose natural beeswax candles instead of commercial, fragranced candles to scent your home.

Sinister Synthetics in Your Beauty Products

A surprising number of skincare products are loaded with chemicals. Manufacturers use them for various reasons. Some of them are very cheap, which helps profitability. Others are used to extend shelf life and make the product “attractive” in terms of color and scent. Low price, durability, pleasant look and feel are attractive qualities. However, the ingredients creating these qualities can actually be harmful and damaging to your health.

Let’s see which chemicals often used in skincare products should be avoided. I’ve assembled a short list that contains the most troubling synthetics that should be avoided in your skincare purchases. Before you drop a personal care item into your shopping basket, take a closer look at the ingredient list of the product. If you see the following ingredients, don’t bother buying the product, however lovely it looks and smells.

skincare shopping


Parabens. The paraben group contains various types, the mostly widely used ones of which are Methylparabens, Propylparabens, Ilsoparabens, Ethylparabens and Butylparabens. (Fortunately you only need to read this article, not read it out to someone!) They are widely used as preservatives in personal care products. Some scientific studies have found that parabens may be carcinogenic and may be linked to breast cancer. Although the matter has been recommended for further, large-scale scientific research before parabens are classified as toxic, in my opinion, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid them. Unfortunately, parabens are found in many commercial products including shampoos, shower gels, cleansers, moisturizers, shaving gels, lubricants, tanning products, make-up and toothpaste, amongst others. Check what you buy and go for paraben-free products just to be on the safe side.

Phthalates. Phthalates are toxic substances that may damage the liver, lungs, kidneys and the reproductive system. They can be found in a wide range of products commonly used in every household. They are used in various personal care products too, including deodorants, perfume, aftershave, shampoos, hair products and lotions. Phthalates support the products’ absorption into the skin, help lubrication and serve as viscosity control and gelling agents, amongst others. If you see phthalates on the label of a personal care product, give serious consideration to not buy it. You may see the terms Diethyl Phthalate or DEP, Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP and Benzylbutyl Phthalate or BzBP on cosmetics, too.

Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfate. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are cleansing and foaming agents found in shampoos, body wash products and soaps, as well as general household detergents. They may cause skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, inflammation, rashes and hair loss. Sometimes companies try to disguise their presence in their “natural” products with terms such “coconut oil” or “palm oil” or similar, due to the fact that SLS is derived from these oils. Still, they are known irritants and may be carcinogenic. SLS is known to be mutagen, which means that it may change DNA. It is thought to be particularly harmful for babies and infants as it may damage the development of their eyes and immune systems.

Diayolidinyl Urea and Imidayolidinyl Urea. These chemicals are widely used preservatives and are known to cause allergies and skin irritations. If you see either the above names or the commercial name “Germal” of this substance and its variations on a label of any skincare product, you should consider not buy it. You may find them in many personal care products including shampoos, bubble baths, hair conditioners, detergents and even in baby wipes.

Synthetic fragrances and artificial colors. Synthetic fragrances are petrochemicals that mimic natural aroma. Such fragrances tend to be stronger than what can be achieved when using only natural ingredients in a product. These are included in personal care products to stimulate the consumer’s senses and to have a psychological effect. The scent that make you think of a product as fresh and natural may be coming from a very unnatural source. The same is true to artificial colors. They are synthetic and their aim is to make a product attractive and visually appealing to the customer. They may however be carcinogenic. Fragrances may be created with many ingredients, which remain unlisted on skincare labels. If you see “fragrance” on a skincare label, it may mean basically anything. Synthetic colors may be labeled as FD&C or D&C, plus a number. Be cautious of both artificial fragrances and colors and go for fragrance and coloring-free natural alternatives. They may be white and scentless, but they will be good for you.

In addition, synthetics like Petrolatum in lip balms, Propylene Glycol in liquid foundations, sprays, mists and deodorants, lotions, shampoos, conditioners and lipsticks, PVP/VA Copolymer in hairsprays, Stearalkonium Chloride in creams and hair conditioners and Triethanolamine (TEA) in creams, ointments, hair products and shampoos should particularly be avoid. They are known irritants, allergens and may also be toxic.

If you see the above-mentioned synthetic ingredients or anything that is not listed here but looks and sounds like a chemical substance on the label of any personal care product, I would recommend that you consider not buying it. There are safer, natural and organic alternatives on the market. They may be pricier, do not smell like a meadow and do not have a vibrant color. However, they will be gentle on your skin and won’t allow toxins into your body.

Why Its Worth Choosing Natural Skincare

Personal care, in particular skincare, is hot topic of our age. As we want to look good, fresh and youthful, thousands of skincare companies promise we will get the desired look if we choose to buy their products. Advertisements bombard us through every possible channel to buy the hot, new products of the season, which will definitely make our skin look glorious. We respond to the powerful marketing campaigns of the personal care industry because we want to be well-groomed and we want to have radiant, beautiful skin.



The US-based Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) non-representative survey showed that, the average consumer uses 9 personal care products in any day. Women are the most keen personal care product users, as 25% of all respondents to the survey claimed to use 15 such products every day. Widely used personal care products include shampoo, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, hair conditioner, lip balm, sunscreen, body lotion, shaving products and make-up, according to the EWG.

Personal care products and harmful chemicals
Most personal and skincare products contain loads of chemicals and synthetic ingredients. The EWG claims that personal care products contain as much as 10,500 different chemicals. Some of these are carcinogens and toxins, which are dangerous to human health. Some of them have as yet unknown impacts on human health.

Governments tend to regulate the personal care industry to a varying degree. For example, the European Union banned 1,372 synthetic ingredients recently. However, other governments do not follow Europe’s lead, due either to extensive lobby power on the part of the personal care industry or due to sheer negligence. This means that in many jurisdictions, harmful chemicals end up in personal care products absolutely legally.

Why does the industry use the harmful chemicals?
First of all, using chemicals is cheap. In light of the volume of personal care products we use every day products must be affordable. Secondly, products must have a long shelf life given how far they must travel to get to the end-consumer. Chemicals ensure that products don’t go off quickly, minimizing potential losses for the industry. Thirdly, chemicals can create attractive colours and scents that we tend to respond well. Fragrance, in particular, is widely used. Our buying decisions massively depend on our senses. We love evocative aromas and a satisfying look & feel. Both of which can be achieved fairly easily by using chemicals.

So, chemicals ensure that our personal care products are affordable, remain ‘fresh’ for a long time and stimulate our senses.  However, all these attractive qualities may come at a price.

What are the harmful effects of chemicals in skincare products?
The known harmful consequences of chemicals in personal care products include some very serious conditions. Certain chemicals used in such products may cause:

–       Premature aging of the skin

–       Skin reactions, allergies, sensitivity, irritation, pore clogging

–       Weakening of the protein and cellular structure

–       Hormone disruption

–       Changing of genetic material

–       Decreasing fertility

–       Birth defects

–       Cancer

–       Defects of the central nervous system

So what should we do to avoid the harmful chemicals in skincare products?
There are an increasing number of personal care and skincare products that avoid synthetic ingredients. These products tend to use natural or organic ingredients. They tend to be scent and fragrance-free and free of colouring. The price may be a bit higher than the average supermarket product and the shelf-life tends to be shorter. However, a truly natural product will be pure, gentle on the skin and will not endanger human health.

Aroma Therapy


If you are keen on going natural, beware that certain companies try to fool the health-conscious buyers by putting ungrounded claims on the packaging of their products. Using the word “natural” on a fancy packaging may not correspond to the contents of any given product. So, it is best to look at the label before you make a purchase.

If you see any of the following on a skincare label, it would be prudent to steer clear of the product:

–       Parabens

–       Phtalates

–       Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40)

–       DEA (Diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)

–       DMDM Hydantion & Urea (Imidazolidinyl)

–       FD&C Color Pigments

–       Fragrances

–       Mineral Oils

–       Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)

–       Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol

–       Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)

–       Triclosan

If the label suggests any further materials that you might hear about at a chemistry class, do not risk using it. There are perfectly safe, pure and natural alternatives available, which are definitely better for your health and more gentle on your skin.

Our sister-blog, will cover skincare related topics extensively. If you are interested take a look.  Also, share your thoughts on skincare safety in the comments below.