Nothing is more uncomfortable or screams “worn out” than dry skin and hair. Sometimes, despite how hard we might try, it feels like nothing will quench the thirst evident in our cells.
It could be genetic, it could be environmental; either way, don’t despair! We got you. Take a stroll with us and find out what exactly causes dry hair and skin, and how we can give our bodies the tools it needs to repair them.
Reasons for Dry Skin & Hair
There are a multitude of reasons why your hair or skin are dry. Genetics play a factor as they always do, but there may be other things you’re doing that unknowingly add to the struggle.
Skin irritants can come from fragranced products, certain soaps which zap your moisture, even the temperature of your shower. Air temperature changes can also affect our skin particularly – do you ever get chapped lips from being in and out of A/C all day? There’s a reason.
Sun exposure can age and dry out both hair and skin. Sunscreen is a must for skin, as we have very little in the way of natural barriers to prevent intensely damaging UV rays wreaking havoc. It’s no secret that excessive sun exposure can lead to anything from minor issues like burns or irritation, through to cancer. Make sure you check what’s in your sunscreen though too, because like with many personal care products, they don’t always divulge exactly what’s inside.
When it comes to hair specifically, temperature is a big factor in dryness – air, water we wash with, blow-drying, heat styling. We have a habit of using chemicals to wash it, chemicals to colour it and heat to sizzle it into shape: what’s the answer? Well, if you’re attached to your routine, try to feed your skin and hair the best possible nutrients you can, to minimize these effects.
It’s a great place to start.
8 Foods to Relieve Dry Skin & Hair
The key nutrients you need to look for to relieve dry skin and hair include vitamin E, selenium, essential fatty acids (like omega-3 and 6) and beta-carotenes. Dryness is usually caused by lack of hydration, the sun or environmental stressors, so these are the combative nutrients to avoid problems. Packed full of antioxidants to protect us, there are endless other health benefits to these foods too, so adding them to your diet is win-win!
1) Walnuts: full of essential fatty acids our bodies do not produce, more so than many other nuts particularly in omega-3 and 6. It’s omega-3 we are often lacking, and walnuts contain a good balance between the two to regulate their benefits. Walnuts also contain zinc, which is great for fighting inflammation, healing wounds and hair growth, along with some protein, vitamin E and selenium.
2) Sunflower Seeds: another great example of a strong family of foods – the nuts and seeds. Packed full of vitamin E, selenium, zinc and protein, these offer a great nutrient balance to benefit the skin.
3) Fatty Fish: full of omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish is great for both our skin and hair. Having been linked to increased hair thickness and growth, omega-3 happens to be effective with skin inflammation as well. Containing vitamin E and zinc, these fish are ideal sources of antioxidants and minerals required for fresh, renewed and hydrated skin.
4) Avocado: full of healthy fats and vitamin E, avocados are also a great source of nutrients for both skin and hair. Benefits are similar to fatty fish.
5) Sweet Potato: packed full of beta-carotene which the body transforms into vitamin A, studies have suggested that this vitamin aids the production of sebum which helps hair growth. Beta-carotene also offers you a natural sunblock, giving your skin the tools it needs to naturally protect itself from harmful rays (although don’t put your cream away entirely!)
6) Bell Peppers: peppers are a great source of vitamin C which aids in collagen production and cell renewal.
7) Broccoli & Spinach: Broccoli is packed full of micronutrients, including lutein, which protects your skin from oxidative stress which causes dryness. It also contains sulforaphane which has been linked to anti-cancer results, and is protective against the sun and potentially collagen levels. Spinach is also rich with micronutrients including vitamin A which is great at keeping the scalp moisturized and healthy, and iron which is essential in hair growth – lacking iron has been linked to hair loss, so stock up on iron-rich foods!
8) Green tea: green tea is packed full of good stuff from healthy bioactive compounds like polyphenols which can reduce inflammation and fight cancer, catechins which prevent cell damage, and a little caffeine which, when consumed in moderation, can aid brain function by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter which can negatively affect concentration of dopamine and norepinephrine (the good stuff!) Green tea is also an excellent source of powerful antioxidants so perhaps consider swapping out one of your daily coffees for a green tea boost?
What Else Can I Do?
Other than the foods you eat, consider exploring natural products to ease your dry skin or hair. Oils can be a great way to ensure moisture is locked in, so add them when your skin or hair is still a little damp. Camellia oil is an excellent option, packed full of Omega-6 and -9, it’s no secret that it happens to be our favourite! An age-old secret to youthful skin.
There are some pretty funky home remedy ideas out there but it’s best to do your research first and talk to your hairstylist or dermatologist. Like with anything else on our bodies, we will all react to and need different things, so it’s best to get help for your unique circumstances than risk using something that will irritate your problem further – even if it is natural.
Take the time out to get to know your body, what it needs and how best to protect it. The environment can be rough on our bodies sometimes, so it’s a good idea to give it all the natural armor we can.