Antioxidants are a popular buzzword when it comes to talking about your post-yoga green juice, or even your vitamin C serum for your face, but can antioxidants help out in the hair department as well?
Below, we will cover just what an antioxidant is, why your hair and scalp may potentially benefit from more exposure to antioxidants, what studies have been done looking into antioxidants for hair, and cover if antioxidants can help with hair loss concerns.
According to the National Institutes of Health, antioxidants are natural or manmade substances that may delay or prevent certain types of cell damage.
How do they manage to stave off cell damage you ask? Well, that has to do with free radicals. Free radicals are a fancy way of describing molecules that have unpaired electrons. And, since molecules do not like having unpaired electrons, they decide to go about taking an electron from other things, including important parts of your cells -- leading to damage over time. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals before they can go about wreaking havoc trying to pair those electrons.
Free radicals don’t only come from things that you would expect to be damaging like UV light, pollution, or cigarette smoking, they are also natural by-products of normal healthy living, like turning the food you eat into energy, or exercising to keep your body strong.
Basically, you can’t eliminate free radical production, but you can try to reduce the amount of them around by avoiding certain unhealthy activities, or upping your antioxidant intake to neutralize some of them.
Popular antioxidants that you may come across include Vitamin E, Vitamin C, carotenoids (like beta-carotene), selenium, lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. These can be found in a variety of foods, especially brightly colored fruits and vegetables, or even in supplement form. (Although, food sources are generally preferred if you have a choice.)
Your hair comes into contact with free radicals too, just like other parts of your body. And, these free radicals can cause damage to both your growing strands as well as your scalp.
For example, studies show that oxidative damage from UV light on the hair can lead to protein and lipid degradation, reductions in shine and color, and negative consequences on the mechanical properties of the hair fibers.
That same study also demonstrated that by pretreating hair with antioxidant-rich substances like artichoke and rice extract before the UV exposure, the hair fibers showed improved mechanical properties, improved shine and color, and less protein and lipid degradation as compared to the untreated hair fibers.
One study looked into the effects of taking an oral antioxidant and fatty acid supplement for women that were experiencing stage 1 female pattern hair loss. 120 Italian women were randomized into either the treatment supplement group (80 women) or the placebo control group (40 women). The treatment supplement consisted of a mix of fish oil, blackcurrant seed oil, vitamin E, vitamin C, and lycopene. At 3 and 6 months, the hair was reviewed via photographs and self-assessments. The supplementation group showed higher rates of increased hair density, fewer hairs in the telogen (resting) stage and more hairs in the anagen (growth) stage, a significant increase in hair density and thickness, and less reported hair loss as compared to the control group.
Since most cases of hair loss are due to androgenetic alopecia, which stems from a genetic and hormonal cause, it is unlikely that just adding antioxidants to your oral and topical routine can completely stave off hereditary hair loss.
However, if you are struggling with hair thinning, from any cause, it makes sense to try and keep the hair that you do currently have as strong, healthy, thick, and undamaged as possible. This is where an antioxidant regimen may help out.
Adding in more antioxidants to your diet, through supplementation (if okayed by your doctor), or topically to your scalp and hair may be a good way to help keep your current strands strong and healthy. However, antioxidants are unlikely to undo or stop hair loss from genetic causes like male pattern and female pattern hair loss.
If you are looking for ways to help slow the rate of shedding and hair loss from male and female pattern hair loss, medications like Minoxidil or DHT blockers may be able to help.
At Strut, we offer a range of oral and topical hair loss medications that may be able to stop or slow the progression of patterned hair loss. We utilize prescription-strength ingredients like Finasteride, Dutasteride, Minoxidil, Spironolactone, Tretinoin, and Biotin in our customized compounds to deliver treatments that fit your current hair, your goals, and your personal preferences.
If you are interested in seeing if a prescription hair loss regimen is a good addition to your routine (maybe also along with some additional antioxidants), you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today.
If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication can be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.