Hair and beauty products are big business in the western world, and we Brits spend a fortune on primping and preening. Yet many of the hot oils, deep conditioning treatments and shampoos that promise healthy, shiny, gorgeous salon style are going to waste because when it comes to your hair, it's all about what's on the inside.
The truth is that it is the living follicles just beneath the scalp that are the key to a glossy mane worthy of a red carpet appearance. And your diet plays an essential role in keeping those follicles happy and healthy, so start your journey to a beautiful barnet with these nutritional tips.
Get your omega-3s
If you haven't already wised up to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, perhaps the thought of shiny hair will give you that final push. Your body needs these mysterious health-givers to grow hair, and keep your scalp and hair hydrated, while the protein and vitamin D found in oily fish, the most famous source of omega-3s, will strengthen your locks from within. So get cooking that salmon, mackerel or herring (or avocado, pumpkin seeds and walnuts if you're not a fish fan) and reap the rewards.
An eggsellent idea
Aside from being good for you in general, eggs are outstanding when it comes to improving the appearance of lacklustre hair. An astonishing 97 per cent of hair is protein, and as a rich source of that very thing, an egg is more than just a great way to start the day. If that wasn't enough, they contain the key minerals zinc, a lack of which can lead to hair loss and a dry, flaky scalp, selenium, sulfur, and iron, a little wonder that helps cells carry oxygen straight to those follicles.
Vitamins for vitality
Many of us crave those bouncing tresses we've seen on the celebs, and to get that particular look you'll need plenty of vitamins. B vitamins, particularly B6 and B12, found in eggs, salmon, bananas, and spinach, strengthen the 'cuticle' or outer layer of the hair, while good old vitamin C (think kiwis and blueberries) is essential for proper circulation in the scalp region, ensuring the blood vessels that feed those follicles are healthy. Too little of the latter and you're setting yourself up for split ends and breakages.
The veggie option
Just as protein is a must for healthy hair, carbohydrates like whole grains provide the energy that makes everything work efficiently, and when your body feels good, your hair will show it. And for those of you who prefer to avoid meat, lentils and beans will give you the protein, iron, zinc and biotin (an ingredient you'll often spot in hair products) to give that all-important boost to your hair.
As well as knowing what's good for your hair, it's worth knowing what isn't. Those last-minute beach body starvation diets, for example, might make you lose weight, at least temporarily, but with all those nutrients lacking, your body will direct those that are present to take on the more important jobs, such as looking after your vital organs. So by the time you hit the beach, your flat stomach just might be over shadowed by those lank locks.
On the other hand, if you're eating well and still not showing the benefits on top, your hormones could be to blame. While female hormones ensure a thick, glossy mane, male hormones, which are often produced at higher levels when you're stressed, have the reverse effect.
However, it's important to remember that your fabulous new shiny locks won't happen overnight. The longest strands of that shoulder length hair could be up to two years old, so it'll be at least three months before you see any serious benefits.