Whether you’re looking to try the ‘no-poo’ shampoo method or you want to know if onion juice really helps your hair grow, Certified Trichologist Chelcey Salinger is here to answer some of your most asked your hair questions.

Q: Is drinking lots of water good for the hair?

A: To the extent that drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is good for your general health, it’s also good for your hair. However, drinking lots of water doesn’t actually moisturize your hair because its moisture content is determined by the humidity level in the atmosphere, not by how much you drink.

Q: I’ve hit menopause and have noticed a reduction in my hair quality and quantity. Is there anything I can do to improve it?

A: Estrogens are good for the hair and when estrogen levels decrease at menopause, male hormones like testosterone (which women also produce in small amounts) exert more relative influence – and that can have a detrimental effect on the hair in those who are genetically susceptible. It might be worth considering increasing your natural sources of estrogens from foods such as soy, tofu, linseeds and sesame seeds, and taking supplements like red clover and dong quai. If your hair is thinning particularly in the front or top areas, it would be helpful to see a trichologist for a professional diagnosis. Vitamin D is an excellent general supplement for the hair, as well as antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E.

Q: Is it good to brush my hair a lot?

A: Actually, quite the opposite – it’s best to comb or brush your hair as little as possible. When you brush or comb your hair a lot, over time it damages or fractures the cuticle (the outside protective layer of the hair) and can also cause static and frizziness.

Q: What do conditioners really do?

A: There are two main types of conditioners. Conditioning rinses coat and smooth the cuticle, creating a good sheen and reducing static caused by friction between your comb and hair. Conditioning rinses normally have a pH of about 5.5, which is ideal for the hair.

Protein conditioners, on the other hand, penetrate into the hair itself to form cross-links that help to strengthen the hair.

Q: What is ‘no-poo’ and does it work?

A: ‘No poo’ means using ‘no shampoo’ cleansing methods and has nothing to do with going to the toilet! While popular with some, personally I am against ‘no poo’ cleansing because I don’t feel it cleanses the scalp and hair enough. If you don’t properly cleanse the scalp to remove the oil and dirt, you can develop an itchy scalp and potentially other problems.

Q: How do I get rid of dandruff?

A: Dandruff is usually associated with a yeast known as malassezia, which proliferates when you have an oily scalp. To keep dandruff under control, you need to shampoo daily and use a medicated shampoo once or twice a week. Your diet is also very important and should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and no refined sugars.

Q: Why do birth control pills cause hair loss?

A: Birth control pills normally contain an estrogen and a progestin (a synthetic progesterone). Estrogens are good for the hair but some progestins, like levonorgestrel and norethisterone, have a ‘male’ hormonal effect which can be detrimental if you have inherited female pattern hair loss. However, there are different types of birth control pills and some can be good for the hair as well.

Q: Does rubbing onion juice into the scalp help hair growth?

A: Onion juice is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory so can benefit hair growth when you have issues with inflammation and oxidation. However, rubbing onion juice into the scalp or hair does not increase the hair’s strength, and any benefits from increased blood circulation to the scalp will be insignificant. Besides, who wants to smell like an onion?

Q: Is it OK to color my hair at home?

A: If you are referring to permanent color, then I always suggest going to a hairdresser because permanently coloring the hair is a complicated process and there is a lot that can go wrong. Do yourself a favor and reduce your chances of hair and scalp damage by going to a professional.

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