I've always had a ton of hair. Even when I was born, six weeks premature and just shy of two pounds, I had a fuzzy little bird's head of hair. As I got older, I cultivated thick, waist-length hair that became my trademark, save for 5th grade when I chopped it off in a poshy tribute to Victoria Adams-turned-Beckham, and again in my 20s after a bad breakup.
I take care of my hair by washing it infrequently (more than twice a week dries it out), rubbing the ends with coconut oil, and eating foods that support its health. So what is the perfect combo for unbreakable strands? Protein, iron and zinc.
“Since hair is made of protein, the more you eat it the more it will grow,” says beauty nutritionist Paula Simpson. Here's a handful of my favorite foods for fuller hair.
Pepitas, aka pumpkin seeds, are the full monty of hair growth. According to Simpson, these seeds are full of zinc, magnesium, calcium, iron and sulfur -- the last of which is an important building block for your hair. They also contain the amino acid cucurbitin, which promotes faster hair growth. I like to roast them and add them to salads or snack on them by the handful.
Lentils. My health-conscious parents were feeding me these legumes in my high-chair. Perhaps they are responsible for all of that hair? Lentils contain an abundance of biotin, also known as B7, which helps to regulate healthy hair and nails. (Biotin is one of the rockstar ingredients in prenatal vitamins.)
Kidney beans. Similar to lentils, these beans have a ton of biotin, as well as protein, iron, and zinc. I add kidney beans to soups and chilli, or mash them up to make kidney bean burgers. They taste better than they sound, I swear.
Walnuts. These brain-shaped nuts are great for scalp health, according to Simpson. The essential fats promote strong strands, and vitamin E makes the hair (and skin) softer and more supple.
Spinach. I don't mean to get all “eat your greens” on you, but spinach is a nutritional goldmine, with more calcium and iron per ounce than dairy milk. Spinach also has an abundance of beta carotene and vitamin C, which help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating. Mmm, scalp oils.
Apple cider vinegar. While you can consume apple cider vinegar for health support (it's great for your lymphatic system), using it as a rinse once a week is a good DIY way to get rid of scuzzy scalp build-up and, according to Simpson, promote hair growth. It also works as a detangler, and closes your hair cuticles, making your hair super shiny AND protecting it from damage. The smell is strong, but worth it. After shampooing, I rinse with the vinegar, let it sit while I shave my legs or whatever, and then rinse. It makes my hair so silky I don't usually follow up with conditioner.