everything I've learned about growing, maintaining, styling, and loving long hair

4 major hair killers

(written by Karen M. Shelton of HairBoutique.com)
     I have always loved the book [Don’t Shoot Yourself In The Foot] and as I was reading it again for about the 100th time I realized that many people who write to me at HairBoutique.com who want to have success with their hair, are their own worst enemies.  Hmmmm.  So what do they do that specifically trips them up?
Poor Physical Conditioning – Lackluster Hair
     Not only is poor physical conditioning and health a major reason behind heart disease and major medical bills, it causes chronic fatigue, low energy, and other problems.  How does this relate to hair?  It has been proven that hair benefits greatly from exercise and good circulation.  Hair is a barometer of overall physical health.  Think about it, if your body is not being well taken care of, what does your hair and skin look like?
     Developing good physical conditioning doesn’t mean that you have to join a health club and work out hours every day.  It just means to pay attention to your body and get some exercise for at least 20-30 minutes at least 3 times a week.  More is better of course.
     I am the original couch potato.  My daily exercise used to consist of moving from my PC to the coffee machine and back.  Did my hair suffer?  Yes, definitely.  I discovered some years ago that when I don’t exercise, my hair starts to look drab and it seems to "act up."  When I walk at least 30 minutes on my treadmill (next to my PC of course) at least 3 times a week, my hair improves significantly.  The added physical circulation is definitely a big bonus for healthy hair and skin.
     If you are on a tight budget, forget the treadmill and go to the nearest mall and walk briskly for several minutes.  Or park your car as far from your destination as possible.  I have a ding phobia and always park my car in the biggest and most remote corner I can find.  Not only does this save my car from door dings, it forces me to walk and get that circulation going.
     The best hair care products and best stylists in the world can not help your hair if you don’t exercise and take care of your physical health.  So go lace up your walking shoes, pop in a great CD or tape and let that energy flow.
Erratic Sleep Patterns – Accelerated Hair Loss & Brittle Hair
     I am world famous for running on about 2-3 hours of sleep at night and sending out massive e-mails at 3 am.  Yes, I have lots of excuses.  Besides HairBoutique.com, I am in charge of a fast growing software company.  Yikes.  There is always 100 things on my "to do" list.  So I always try to "catch up" in the wee hours of the night.  Is this a great idea?  Not really.  Our bodies are still human and not bionic.  We can’t just plug into a wall somewhere and zap 8 hours of rest into our body parts.  It would be cool if that were possible, but it’s not.
     Last year I started to have lots of problems with my hair starting to fall out.  It turned out that besides not exercising, I was also not sleeping much and my thyroid was on strike.  While my fabulous doctor got my thyroid balanced, he told me that not sleeping was making everything worse.  So I started sleeping more and sure enough, my body and hair improved.  Although we don’t all need the same amount of sleep, most of us need between 6 and 8 hours of sleep each day.  The more regular your sleep schedule, the better.
     While I have not worked up to a regular 6 hours every night, I have learned to take regular 1-2 hour naps when I get tired.  It helps a lot and my hair loves naps.  Some people benefit from naps, some don’t.  The key is to get in touch with your own personal sleep requirements and then work at meeting them.  If you have problems sleeping for whatever reason, take the time to address the causes.  Luckily my problem is that I just don’t want to take the time to sleep.  Besides helping your body to refuel and regenerate, sleep reduces stress levels, helps you relax, and is a great hair tonic.
Eating An Unbalanced Diet – Hair That Won’t Grow
     I used to think that the basic food groups were all grouped around C.  Cookies, candy, and chips were my staples.  My hair and skin were the victims.  Unfortunately my skin has a strong tendency to break out if I indulge in the C foods too often.  Good hair, skin, teeth, and over-all health is directly tied to eating well balanced meals.  So many people write to me that they have noticed a definite improvement in their hair after taking vitamins.  When I quiz them, they often tell me of a history of poor dietary habits, which explains why the vitamins help them.  Our bodies crave vitamins and minerals.  When we don’t provide these goodies to our bodies, many things suffer.  Often our hair and skin are obvious victims.  A poor diet will also prevent us from having the optimal energy to be successful in other areas of our life.
     I have tried just about every food and dietary plan invented.  I have found that my personal best eating plan is closely tied to the Zone way of eating.  Yes, I still love C foods, but I work hard to limit those foods to every once in a while.  I have found that a healthy breakfast is one of the best things I can do for my day and my hair.
     Self-knowledge is great power.  Understanding what foods drive your body best is a key to great success in all areas.  Many people do well on lots of small meals while others do well on 2 or 3.  Some people find their optimal physical success on a high carbohydrate plan while others do better with higher protein levels.  Try eating a couple of different dietary programs to find the one that works best for you.  It is essential that your body and your hair receive a good balanced diet.
     Yes, hair vitamins do work.  This is because they actually supplement the vitamins and minerals that our bodies and hair require for optimal growth and condition.  Hair vitamins alone are not the perfect solution.  Eating well for your body type in combination with vitamins and minerals will be the real winning combination.
Excessive Caffeine, Nicotine – Hair Robbers
     When it comes to hair and skin, I am totally against smoking because of the known damages that it can do.  Smoking has been conclusively proven to prematurely harden blood vessels, restricting blood flow and damaging cappilaries.  This definitely will harm healthy hair patterns.  Smoking has been proven to accelerate the incidence of hair loss and the accumulation of gray hair.
     Caffeine is also not blameless.  Excessive caffeine use can do all kinds of damage and has been proven to be a culprit in all sorts of hair and skin related problems.  I love caffeine, but limit my Starbucks to 1 latte per day.  Again, I notice a difference in my hair. 
     Whether you smoke or not, or consume lots of caffeine is a personal choice.  Everyone is entitled to do what works for them.  However, these substances are proven hair killers.  What is the point of spending a fortune on having gorgeous hair to throw it away with habits that block you from your goal?  This is something that everyone has to decide for themselves.
     If you have been struggling to grow gorgeous, thicker, longer, or healthier hair without noticeable results, maybe you are sabataging your own potential for great hair by not addressing the four major hair killers that I have addressed above.  There are several causes for hair problems from overuse of chemicals (bleach, perms, straighteners), hot hair tools (dryers, curlers, irons) to poor product selection that may rob the natural oils from your hair.  Some physical problems like major disease or prescription drug therapies can cause hair difficulties.  However, if the basic building blocks for great hair are not met through good physical exercise, enough sleep and relaxation, a good diet, and good health habits, your hair may never achieve the levels of beauty that you wish to attain.  If you are deficient in any of the 4 areas, try making some changes and see what happens.  Your hair will love you for it!

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