To doctors and healthcare experts, collagen is a naturally abundant protein substance found in our bones, skin, muscles, and tendons. It glues the human body together, giving it structure and strength. To wellness and beauty enthusiasts worldwide, it’s the gateway to smooth skin and stronger limbs. However, as more benefits of the substance keep coming to light, research has responded to one of the most frequently asked questions in self-care science: does collagen help in healthy hair growth? Lucky for us, the answer is yes!
Let’s find out exactly how collagen affects your hair, what its benefits are, and how you can use it to make your hair stronger, thicker, and more lustrous than ever.
Table of Contents:
- How does aging affect our hair?
- Does collagen help hair growth and improve quality?
- Which are the best collagen stimulants for your hair?
How does aging affect our hair?
Every cell in the body has a life cycle, and the same holds for every strand of hair. As we grow older, the hair life cycle begins to shorten. Aging effectively slows down the pace at which older, more delicate hair gets replaced with new, healthy strands. Each strand is composed of keratin, which contributes to the structural build-up of hair. As natural protein production weakens with age, it causes hair follicles to shrink, resulting in hair thinning, weakening, and loss. So, what role does collagen play in this? And more importantly…
Does collagen help hair growth and improve quality?
To generate keratin, your body uses amino acids. Collagen is known to be rich in amino acids. Therefore, if you consume collagen (either if by taking collagen supplements or getting it through the foods you're eating), your body breaks it down into valuable amino acids that are in turn used to create new proteins that go on to become a part of your body’s makeup. One of these proteins is keratin. Proline, the chief amino acid needed for keratin production, is yet another substance that makes up collagen. Thus, collagen helps synthesize amino acids to supplement keratin after production slows down with age.
The benefits of collagen for hair aren’t limited to hair growth, though that is the crown jewel (pun intended). Here are some other ways in which collagen contributes to the overall health of your hair:
1. It breathes new life into hair follicles.
Just as your body produces substances to keep itself healthy, it is also the source of chemicals that inflict damage. In the context of hair, your body develops compounds known as free radicals as a reaction to stress, pollution, smoking, poor diet, alcohol, and many other environmental factors. A large amount of free radicals harms protein production, damages the hair follicles and leads to hair loss.
This damaged caused by free radicals is in addition to aging, which already weakens the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Your hair follicles are heavily impacted in the process, thus directly affecting the health of each strand.
One way to fight this damage is with antioxidants. Collagen, primarily when obtained from fish, has shown remarkable antioxidant powers in several studies. While research on how this collagen impacts different follicles is yet to be completed, it’s clear that antioxidants make up a portion of the protein substance.
2. It increases the overall strand strength.
Collagen is good for the dermis - your skin’s middle layer containing the roots of the hair. It pairs up with the body’s hyaluronic acid components to moisturize, support, and effectively rebuild the dermis structure as well as the surroundings of follicles. Reduced collagen is the reason for hair loss and hair thinning with age, but nourishing your body with a supplement can rejuvenate the dermis, leading to stronger, healthier, and more hydrated hair.
3. It can slow the fading of natural hair color.
The same way your hair derives its strength and quality from protein, it gets its natural color from a pigment we all know as melanin. Aging also reduces melanin production, causing hair to grey. Free radicals can bring this about sooner than usual, but the antioxidant properties of collagen can reverse that effect or at least slow down the temporal disintegration of melanin. So you can retain your gorgeous color for longer by supplementing the production of collagen in your body.
Now you know the benefits of collagen for hair, and what you can do to improve the quality of your hair. But how do you take advantage of these benefits? There are multiple ways to do so! From diets and supplements to topical applications, you can choose a pathway for collagen stimulation that suits your body best.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s body responds the same way to oral supplements due to differences in diet and lifestyle. Topical alternatives like oils and shampoos explicitly designed for this purpose are healthy for the hair and easier to use.
Which are the best collagen stimulants for your hair?
Regardless of your age, it’s essential to care for the health of your hair as consistently as possible. This in and of itself will help stimulate normal collagen production. Since washing and oiling are part of your daily routine, this is the easiest way to restore your follicle strength and protect your lustrous locks from damage. Of course, the caveat is that the chemicals found in many shampoos can only make things worse over time. The solution is to use products that are gentle instead of harsh, kind as opposed to chemical-heavy. Here are our favorite recommendations:
- 10-in-1 Hair Oil is the go-to hair restoration therapy for dry and damaged hair, ideal for those who like the feel of non-sticky, non-greasy, and non-synthetic hair care.
It contains bhringraj extract, known for preventing hair loss and promoting hair growth, blended with grapeseed and safflower oils that replenish your hair’s natural shine. Vitamin E and tea tree essential oil work together to stimulate natural collagen production, leading to stronger roots and less breakage. The product is also suitable for people with dry scalps and thin, brittle hair.
- The Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo by WOW Skin Science is sulfate-free and made with 100% pure, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and other natural ingredients, such as sweet almond oil and nettle leaf extract.
Each ingredient works both individually and in sync to detoxify your hair and scalp by clearing buildup caused by pollutants, therefore indirectly paving the way for natural collagen production. The natural ingredients also contain anti-inflammatory properties that soothe and nourish the scalp. You can also use this shampoo to control frizzy hair, restore natural shine, keep dandruff in check, and boost hair strength.
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