A few years ago, I was very sick for a number of reasons that mostly centered on the health of my blood. It was a time of major transition in my life, so I’m sure the constant stress didn’t help either.
As a result — and much to my chagrin — I began to lose my hair. While a healthy person usually loses about 50 to 100 strands of hair per day according to the American Academy of Dermatology, I was losing hair by the clump and the loss was becoming increasingly obvious.
A few years after those horrible months, I had begun to heal but my hair hadn’t yet returned to its original lion’s mane and probably never would.
As I sat in the chair of a family friend who'd been cutting my hair since I was 8, she ran her fingers along my scalp and dropped a sympathetic bomb: “Your hair does seem a lot thinner, sweetie.”
I held my breath. A flood of familiar emotions welled up in my stomach.
Vain as it may seem, a significant portion of my identity was tied to my hair, something I didn’t realize until I began to lose it. Yes, this is traditional femininity in action, but I'd just turned 18 and had been blessed with thick, gorgeous hair my whole life. Thinning hair wasn't something I'd chosen, and that made it all the more difficult for a semi-control freak to find peace with her clogged shower drain.
On the other hand, it could have been much, much worse. In fact, it is a lot worse for some people. If I could do it all over, I'd hope I could have dealt with the situation more mindfully. Hell, maybe I should have even shaved my entire head in an effort to practice impermanence.
But hindsight is 20/20, no?
My hair has finally stopped falling out at the alarming rate it used to, even though I’m still working on the blood-health thing (that’s a lifelong process). My hair and I continue to have a weird relationship, though. To this day, almost four years later, I still have an inner millisecond meltdown when I go to tuck my hair behind my ears and a piece falls out.
Whether your hairline is receding, the overall thickness is dwindling, or you just want it to grow back faster after you shaved it off to tattoo Gaia on the left side of your head, here are a few things I’ve been doing to treat my hair like the survivor it is:
- I use a boar-bristle brush to help the good oils from my scalp travel down to the ends of my hair. (Pro tip: If you’re shopping for a brush, try to find one that doesn't use endangered wood and that shears the bristles humanely from farm-raised animals.)
- I don’t use synthetic hair products nor do I wash my hair as often. There are a billion reasons this works and about a billion more articles on how, but the long and short of it is that washing too often with harsh chemicals strips your hair of its healthy, natural oils.
- I rub diluted rosemary oil on my scalp once a day. It helps to stimulate hair follicles, getting the blood flowing to the thinning edges. And it smells good, so that’s a plus. (Peppermint works the same way.)
While there are a lot of very effective, natural remedies to help maintain healthy hair, the above have worked the best for me throughout the years. Pair these practices with stellar nutrition and I’m willing to bet you’ll see a difference, too.
Oh, and one more thing: Last summer, at a music festival a complete stranger walked up to me and told me I have beautiful hair. She might have been on drugs. She also might not have been on drugs. But the fact that my hair looked healthy enough for her to walk on over and say that made my confidence swell not with vanity but gratitude.
So many people have the luscious locks that I know I’ll never have again, but I'm beginning to make peace with my own hair through loss and through life, and for that I am grateful.
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