Hair becomes coarser, sparser, and grayer with passing years. But dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, says these science-backed tricks keep locks lush.
Nosh walnuts to boost shine.
“Shine is determined by the cuticle of the hair, which is made up of plates of keratin that sit like shingles on a roof,” says Dr. Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “As production of this cuticle weakens with age, hair can appear dull and coarse.”
The fix: a daily handful of walnuts, which are packed with omega-3s, a fatty acid proven to power keratin synthesis in the scalp, spurring follicles to produce smooth strands. “Omega-3s ensure hair follicles have what they need,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Giggle away grays.
“By the age of 50, about 50 percent of women will be 50 percent gray,” reveals Dr. Zeichner. And it’s no old wives’ tale that stress is a major factor. Indeed, Harvard researchers just proved that stress wreaks havoc on pigment-producing cells in follicles, blocking them from creating hair color. Curious as it sounds, though, you can literally laugh away grays. That’s because even a minute of hilarity boosts oxygen intake and triggers your brain to release a flood of feel-good endorphins that tamp down stress for hours. In addition, one study found that simply anticipating something funny — like the punch line to a good joke — reduced the stress hormone cortisol by 39 percent.
Rub on peppermint to thicken.
All-natural peppermint oil actually performs better than dermatologists’ gold-standard treatment minoxidil at helping follicles produce longer, thicker hair, finds recent research. The reason it works magic, says Dr. Zeichner: “Peppermint oil blocks the production of DHT, the hormone associated with hair thinning.”
To do: Mix 1 drop of peppermint essential oil in 1⁄4 cup of water and spritz onto the scalp daily.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.