Sea kelp for hair loss: Does it really prevent it?

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  • Waiting for your hair to grow a few more precious inches is about as exciting as watching paint dry. No wonder peddling hair growth oils is big business these days. Sea kelp, in particular, crops up a lot as a hero ingredient.

    But do these products actually work?

    For aesthetic doctor Dr Barbara Sturm, the question should be, ‘how healthy is your scalp?’ if you want to improve hair growth.

    ‘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.’

    ‘Like the rest of your skin, it needs to stay balanced otherwise pores get clogged and the hair cycle gets disrupted. 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.’

    To that end, Sturm’s new Scalp Serum contains a combination of hyaluronic acid, papaya and algin to restore the scalp’s moisture balance, coupled with the anti-irritation properties of purslane.

    Dr Barbara Sturm Scalp Serum, £80

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    Using a scalp scrub or clarifying shampoo can also buff away those dead skin cells that aggravate pores.

    Drunk Elephant T.L.C Happi Scalp Scrub, £30, Space NK

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    As for sea kelp?

    ‘It’s an old wives tale. Sea kelp does not directly promote hair growth, ‘ says Sally-Ann Tarver, a consultant trichologist from The Cotswold Trichology Centre & Theradome.

    Seemingly the fact that sea kelp contains iodine lies at the root of the rumours.

    ‘Iodine is said to aid normal thyroid function, which  is often related to hair thinning,’ explains Vincent Allenby, creative director at Trevor Sorbie, Manchester.

    However, before you jump the gun, be aware that there are concerns about iodine and its potentially high levels of toxic heavy metals. So as with any supplements, you should consult your doctor before taking sea kelp and get an expert assessment of what is causing your hair loss.

    Using shampoos and conditioners containing sea kelp, however, has its advantages if you have weak, damaged strands.

    Sea kelp is thought to strengthen hair and prevent breakage thanks to a wealth of minerals and vitamins –  A, C, D and E, to name but a few.

    Bumble and bumble Seaweed Conditioner, £24.50, John Lewis

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    Also worth noting: replacing ‘real shampoo’ with dry shampoo for more than three days in a row can lead to an itchy, irritated scalp. This can also affect hair growth.

    ‘Repeatedly scratching can weaken hair, causing it to shed more than normal,’says Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kingsley.

    You’ve been warned.

    If you’re experiencing hair loss after pregnancy, this information might help you.

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