Don’t you just love your hair? We bet you spend a significant amount of time caring for it, styling it, even playing with it. It is an essential “accessory”, one that adds good looks to an already good face. Cliché as it sounds, it is our “crowning glory.”
But your hair matters much more than you think, in more ways than just aesthetics.
Is it really that important?
Observe how your physical appearance affects your mood and confidence. Those good and bad hair days were not just made-up marketing ploys to get you to buy products. They are real and can affect how you go about your day. Social insecurity, self-criticism, or self-consciousness, your hair plays a huge deal on your psychology. And naturally, you would feel good if you look good. Studies can back this up.
But more than just our psyche, this mass composition of keratin and dead skin cells (yes, those are what your hair is made up of) that litter your head and body are our first line of defense against debris and the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
The hair on your head protects your scalp against excessive heat. It does this by circulating air around the scalp and keep ambient temperature away. As for the hair on your body, they act as a natural insulator by trapping body heat, keeping it close to your skin, so you will not suffer a sudden drop in body temperature.
Furthermore, your hair has the uncanny ability to retain concentrations of heavy chemicals (about ten times better than blood and urine, in fact) like lead, mercury, and arsenic. This is why hair can be utilized in detecting such substances in the body during testing. They also stimulate your neurons, which provides you a sense of orientation and equilibrium in your body. Pretty neat, eh?
Now we have covered its significance in terms of appearance and biology, let us take a quick trip back to school and see how hair has played the starring role in various societal communities worldwide.
Society and how hair is an extension of ourselves
All of us have heard many stories throughout history, religion, tradition (and even fairytales) of how people looked or presented themselves and why. Here are some ways one’s hair has played a significant role over the course of time:
- Religious Vows and Practice: Christian priests once shaved the crowns of their heads as a way of casting vanity aside and honoring their vow of chastity, the same way Buddhist monks shave their heads and beards to symbolize detachment from material possessions. In contrast, for Sikhs, it is their tradition to keep hair uncut as a symbol of strength, holiness, and acceptance of a simple life.
- Status and Culture: In Ancient Egypt, Pharaohs had to wear a wig to denote his status, and their sons to wear theirs in a bun on the right side of their heads. Some cultures even believe that hair is an extension of one’s soul. Even when cut, the spirit supposedly lives on in the strands hence the use of hair in amulets, rain charms, and medicinal treatments.
- Femininity and Freedom: Lady Godiva, a key figure in the 13th century, rode through the streets of Coventry naked, covered only by her long hair – an iconic symbolism of beauty and civic freedom. In other belief systems though, long hair symbolized submission to God and man. Hence, many feminists and modernist, liberal women wear their hair short in an act of defiance.
- History and Cause: During the civil war, women (who were not allowed to battle) disguised themselves as male soldiers by cutting off their hair. They were eventually imprisoned upon discovery. And in the 1950s, female Chinese soldiers and communists donned the “Liberation Hairdo”, a short bob cut just below the ears, as a symbol of women taking control over their own lives.
- Identity and Branding: Our hair says a considerable deal about who we are. Society has always associated hair with youthfulness and beauty for women, and masculinity and virility for men. From the color, texture, volume, and preferred hairstyle, all these underscore our beliefs, esteem, and motives. It is every bit of a personal (or public) statement then as it is now, no matter our gender.
You know what else your hair represents? Your health.
The connection between hair and health
Yes, there is a relation between the two. In fact, your hair is an effective indicator of your state of health. Here are some things your hair may be trying to tell you:
- Hair Loss: Excessive shedding could indicate a serious health condition such as nutritional deficiencies or underlying medical issues. Be sure to get in touch with your healthcare provider if you feel your hair loss is extreme.
- Dry Hair: For hair that is dry all-year-round might mean you lack in healthy fats. Improve the quality of your diet by including some of those fats such as avocados, olive oil, and salmon.
- Dull Hair: No, it is not just a matter of touch-ups with your colorist. Get more omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseeds, chia seeds, and nuts.
- Brittle Hair: Your hair should not sound scrunchy at all. Increase your zinc and iron intake to help improve your hair’s structure. Get these from supplements or adding beef, pumpkin seeds, and lentils to your diet.
- Dry Scalp: Got that itch to scratch? Does your scalp flake when you do? You need more omega-3s and omegas-6s then. Eat more flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, fish, or take fish oil supplements.
- Thinning Hair: When your hair becomes thin throughout, it is a sign you need more protein. Not getting enough may lead to more hair loss.
- Premature Graying: While genetics play a part in this, it could also mean a copper deficiency. You could try adding more mushrooms, sesame seeds, and seaweeds to counter this.
Now that you are aware of the connection, this is what you need to do…
Take care of yourself
Achieving excellent overall health with strong, shiny hair to match does not happen overnight. It takes commitment to an entirely holistic lifestyle. It may take a little getting used to for some, but this healthier shift should be a bit easier with these simplified tips:
- Eat Right: Whatever we ingest manifests externally in some way or other. That is why your diet is essential. Eat a balance of the recommended food groups (like protein, grains, fruits, and vegetables) as these are rich in vitamins and minerals vital in our daily functioning. You will see the tremendous effect it has on your hair, too!
- Keep It Natural: Stick to all-natural skin and beauty products as much as possible. The chemical variants are just too harmful and can cause lasting damage to our skin. This includes your hair. Have a go at our science-backed, vegan Bio-Pixilin routine series, available for both men and women.
- Be happy: We are not trying to be cheesy here. Stress is one of the major culprits of many illnesses. One such impactful effect of a stress-related illness: hair loss. So, get some exercise, a bit of sunshine, and do the things you love. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Everything we do matters. Every action has a corresponding consequence. Your hair is no different. How you choose to care for it, style it, and maintain it says a lot about you.
So, who do you want to be? How would you like to present yourself? You decide.