Nobody enjoys waiting for their hair to grow. Even just a couple of extra inches seems to take forever. But do hair growth oils even work? Or are they just a ploy for us to dish out more money on beauty products with very little scientific evidence surrounding their mane-lengthening abilities?
According to Dr Barbara Sturm, if you want to grow your hair faster, you need to focus on scalp health.
“What you have to remember is that your scalp has the same environment as your face,” says Sturm. “It has hair follicles, dead skin cells and suffers from sensitivity or oiliness.”
She continues, “Using a serum that creates a healthy environment and improves the condition of the scalp plays a vital part in the production of healthy, strong hair.”
And one of those scalp-strengthening ingredients is seaweed. Yep, that green stringy stuff that comes in your Asian salad takeouts. It’s awesome for your mane!
Seaweed isn’t just delicious, it’s also an abundant source of minerals like calcium, and essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, all vital in promoting healthy follicles and stimulating hair growth. What’s more, seaweed is rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A, B, C, and E – another quality that makes it amazing for your mane.
Certain seaweeds like nori are also high in protein. Others, such as sea kelp, are rich in iodine, potassium, copper, and zinc.
Your hair, just like your skin, drinks in fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, which is why you need to make sure you use only the best products on your hair. Also, opt for high-performing ingredients like seaweed which help the hair grow stronger and longer.
“The intake of seaweed helps to promote scalp hydration, which improves the condition of dry hair,” says Urban Retreat trichologist Ricardo Vila Nova. “The Seaweed can also increase hair mineralisation, which leads to thicker hair.”
Our recommendation: Truly’s Super Plant Bundle: Shampoo & Conditioner. This duo is packed with neroli, provitamin B5, and red seaweed to nourish, hydrate, and rebuild your locks. It’s everything you need to grow a strong and healthy head of hair. Plus, it’s 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
In a study with the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, researchers investigated the effect of Grateloupia elliptica on hair loss. Grateloupia elliptica is a seaweed native to Korea which shows great promise in preventing hair loss.
The study noted: “When immortalized rat cells were treated with extract of G. elliptica, the proliferation of dermal papilla cells significantly increased.”
“In addition, the G. elliptica extract significantly inhibited the activity of 5α-reductase, which converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a main cause of androgenetic alopecia.”
Another recent study discovered that seaweed is a safe and natural source of iodine, an essential mineral which prevents shedding and promotes hair growth.
Besides treating hair loss, experts say seaweed can also address damaged locks.
“Seaweed helps restore a youthful shine to damaged hair while protecting it from styling stress, color fading and frizz,” says Lydia Sarfati of Repêchage – who’s been researching the effects of seaweed for over three decades. “Select seaweed plants with 18 amino acids, are known to act as building blocks of protein in the body, help restore damaged strands and chemically treated hair, while 12 vitamins and 42 trace elements and minerals infuse hair with a dramatic, youthful luster that lasts.”
There are many different types of seaweed that are well worth trying – for your own enjoyment and for your tresses, of course. Let’s take a look through them.
If you’re a sushi fan, you’ve eaten nori numerous times before. It’s the seaweed used to make sushi rolls.
Also known as red seaweed, dulse is brimming with antioxidants that bulk up the hair, making it appear thicker. It also mimics hormones that stimulate hair growth.
Considered the most common seaweed found in the ocean, sea kelp is perfect for a hot seaweed bath. Does this type of seaweed promote hair growth? According to trichologist Sally-Anne Tarver, “It’s an old wives tale. Sea kelp does not directly promote hair growth.”
Wakame is a lesser known seaweed derivative. Deep green, this seaweed type tastes best when sprinkled in soups, stir fries, or stews.
This is the black stringy looking seaweed which needs to be soaked prior to using it for cooking. It will also double in size when cooked.
SEAWEED BENEFITS THE SKIN,TOO
Marine-derived ingredients like seaweed are also beneficial for the skin, offering photo-protection as well as treating atopic dermatitis and skin infections. Some say it can also serve as a skin whitening agent.
“Brown algae complex is used in facial serums, eye creams, night creams and is a very potent, concentrated antioxidant,” Facialist Caroline Hitchcock underlines. “It is definitely an ingredient that I would look for when purchasing an anti-ageing product.” Us too Caroline, us too!
“It helps to prevent damage to amino acids and protects the cell’s membranes,” she adds. “Because it reinforces the cell membranes it in turn protects against free radical attacks, which accelerate ageing. The extract can also ‘re-organize’ the cell membrane structure to reverse cell damage and restore them to their healthy state.”
AND THE HEALTH
Besides putting it in your hair and on your skin, make sure you’re consuming plenty of it too. Seaweed is rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids which are extremely beneficial for your health. Research shows that seaweed offers potent anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
Don’t worry if you don’t like the taste. You can opt for seaweed supplements instead.
Seaweed, whether eaten or applied topically, offers a plethora of benefits. If you suffer from hair loss or simply want to speed up your hair growth journey, make sure you add seaweed into your haircare routine. It’s a natural, effective, and vegan alternative to the myriad of hair growth oils out there. And at least with seaweed, we know it works.