Dry hair SOS!

Beat lack-lustre locks and dry skin this summer with our top tips

Got a niggling health dilemma? Let our expert put your mind at ease!

Nutritionist, author and TV health expert Amanda Hamilton reveals her tips for gorgeous summer hair and skin 

Q: ‘My dry skin and hair get worse in summer. What can I do?’

A: Your skin and hair are a reflection of what’s going on inside your body so, although summer is the tipping point as far as your situation is concerned, there are some fundamentals to consider first.

Your skin is your largest organ and helps the body eliminate a variety of toxins, and your hair reflects your body’s health status over the last six months. In other words, it’s time to treat the cause, not just the symptoms!

First up, the main diet rule for skin is one you’ve no doubt heard before. Too much sugar has an ageing effect on the skin. It links with collagen and elastin, making what’s known as ‘advanced glycation end products’ – this reduces the elasticity of the skin, making you look older.

So if you have a sweet tooth, get it under control. Improving the lustre of skin and hair is
all about quality nutrition – protein, micronutrients and essential fats.

Hair is primarily made up of a protein called keratin. Eating a good amount of lean protein food every day is essential to ensure your body produces keratin to build healthy, strong hair. A palm-size portion of protein is the perfect amount at mealtimes. Good sources of healthy lean protein include lean meats, such as turkey and chicken, low-fat dairy products, nuts and seeds, oily fish, pulses, legumes and lentils. Oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, also contains a sizeable dose of omega-3 fats, which can help combat dryness, too. A Mediterranean-style diet is also spot-on for hair and skin health, so if you are lucky enough to be there be sure to eat local.

Studies have also linked zinc and selenium deficiency with hair loss. We all need a small amount of these in our daily diets, but many people are deficient. So if you are prone to skin and hair problems, a supplement can really pay dividends.

Remember, too, that each hair goes through a period of growth followed by a rest phase, when the hair eventually falls out. Stressful events can push more hairs into the resting phase – this includes the stress caused by crash dieting, or a poor diet based on processed foods. So, if you are going on a bikini-body blitz, make sure it’s nutritious.

Lastly, make time this summer for relaxation. Activity that encourages breathing techniques, such as yoga, can help improve the condition of your skin and hair. And take care in the sun – wear sunscreen with the appropriate SPF and if you do burn, apply aloe vera and tea tree oil to soothe skin.

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