All of us want beautiful hair, skin, and nails. Shiny hair, smooth skin, and strong nails represent youth and vitality. There are many supplements on the market that promise fast and effective results. In addition to supplements, what else can you do to keep your hair, skin, and nails healthy? Luckily, there are many things we can do every day to promote the growth and strengthening of our hair, skin, and nails. In this article, we will explore various options to keep your hair, skin, and nails looking young and healthy.
Supplements for hair, skin, and nails commonly contain nutrients such as antioxidants vitamin A, C, and E, Coenzyme Q10, biotin, manganese, selenium, and fatty acids. Deficiencies in these nutrients are uncommon, but if present, can cause a wide range of hair, skin, and nail changes. For example, not enough vitamins A and E can lead to rough and scaly patches on the skin, while a biotin deficiency can cause eczema and hair loss. Though uncommon, deficiencies can happen. Long-term antibiotic use or anti-seizure drugs can lead to biotin deficiencies. Hyper- or hypothyroidism can cause hair loss and dry hair. Iron-deficiency anemia, a relatively common condition in women, can lead to brittle nails.
One mistake people make when supplementing for their hair, skin, and nails is consuming too much of one vitamin or taking unnecessary supplements. Our bodies function in an intricate balance of nutrients, and when you take an excess of one vitamin, it may lead to the depletion of another. Your body is also usually very good at getting rid of whatever it doesn’t need, meaning you will be peeing out expensive vitamins and minerals. Often, a multivitamin that provides 100 percent of your daily essential vitamins and minerals is recommended. Make sure to do your research when choosing a supplement, and make sure it contains good quality ingredients from a trusted source.
2. Eat Well
A well-balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, and good quality protein is essential for overall health. A healthy diet can also do wonders for your hair, skin, and nails. Ideally, get about 20 percent of your daily caloric intake from protein (especially lean protein such as fish, poultry, beans, and legumes), 20-30 percent from healthy fats (such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados), and 45-50 percent from carbohydrates (fruits and veggies count here!).
Essential nutrients for skin health include vitamins A, C, E, and D as well as zinc, selenium, and copper. Your hair is made primarily of protein, so eating enough protein is necessary to keep your hair healthy. Protein is also essential for skin growth and repair. Healthy fats, such as avocados and cold-water fatty fish, provide hydration for your hair, skin, and nails. Foods that have been shown to be essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails include salmon (vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids), eggs (biotin), leafy greens, sweet potato, nuts, avocado, oats, tomatoes, berries (antioxidants), dark chocolate, red and yellow bell peppers.
Clearly, there are many amazing foods you can eat to promote your health, but what about the foods you want to avoid? One big one is inflammatory foods. When you consume inflammatory foods, an inflammation cascade is triggered in the body, which can manifest as skin disorders. While some allergies can lead to obvious reactions, such as a breakout of a rash or hives, more subtle allergies may present as chronic skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or even skin aging. Dairy and wheat are common inflammatory foods, and maybe worth minimizing or avoiding to see how your skin reacts.
One important thing to note about nutrition and the health of your hair, skin, and nails is the risk of dieting. Low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diets can sometimes lead to the thinning and breaking of hair strands. When deprived of nutrients, your body will direct the energy from the calories you are eating to vital organs and tissues in the body. You may not have enough energy to support functions such as hair growth when you are on a restricted diet.
3. Be Gentle with Your Hair
Hair dye can be extremely damaging to hair. Semi-Permanent hair dye is less damaging than permanent, and there are many more natural options out there today. Try to limit your use of blow dryers, flat irons, and even hairstyles such as tight ponytails.
4. Don’t Bite Your Nails
Nail-biting is very common and often a coping mechanism for stress. If you bite your nails, keep them trimmed short. You may try a clear, bitter-tasting nail polish to deter you from biting.
5. Keep Your Skin Moisturized
Dry skin is irritating and doesn’t look great. You may want to wear cotton-lined gloves while washing the dishes and make sure to moisturize your hands daily and use a moisturizing soap. Ensure you also moisturize your entire body regularly, and try to take shorter, luke-warm showers to protect your skin’s natural oils. If you have a humidifier, keep the air in your space between 30 and 50 percent humidity. Smoking is damaging to your skin, so if you smoke, start to work at quitting.
6. Protect Yourself From the Sun
Prolonged exposure to the UV rays from the sun can cause premature wrinkling, skin sagging, dark spots, and skin coarsening. Limit your time in the sun and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 SPF daily.
7. Drink Enough Water
Hydration is key for healthy hair, skin, and nails. Chronic dehydration can lead to dry, itchy skin, and even signs of aging. Consume enough water every day, and if you find this challenging, try adding lemon or infuse your water with fruit and herbs. Remember, if you live in a hot climate and/or exercise, you need even more water.
8. Manage Your Stress
Last but certainly not least is the effect of stress on your skin and hair. Think about when your skin breaks out- is it usually during a stressful period? Stress can trigger inflammation in the body, leading to inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. Chronic stress can even age the skin faster and increase your risk of skin cancer. Stress has also been linked to countless other conditions and diseases. Find what works for you in order to better manage your stress. Some ideas include mindfulness, mediation, yoga, exercise, sports, art, music, dance, time with friends and family, time in nature, and spending time with animals.
We hope this article provided you with new information and inspiration to make some dietary and lifestyle changes not only for your hair, skin, and nails but for your overall health.
Podcast: Ep1 Intro/Basic Anatomy of Skin, Hair, and Nails; Learn Derm Podcast
Podcast: Skin, Hair & Nail Health; The Medical Medium Podcast