Though the pandemic has forced us to change how we live, the one silver lining of quarantine is all that extra time we've been given to slap on that neglected tub of hair mask or to try stepping back from heat tools and repair those strands.
Meanwhile, the beauty team has been dutifully investigating everything from why air drying could be bad for your strands to the real reason you might be losing your hair while on lockdown, and have even compiled a comprehensive guide to getting longer, thicker hair.
But the latest advice goes beyond keratin and scalp scrubs—in fact, it lies in your refrigerator. And if the quarantine currently has you upping the snack-attacks, this one will be music to your ears.
Snacking is, like, really good for your strands
Why? Expert Anabel Kingsley, trichologist at Philip Kinglsey has the answer:
"Snacking is very important for hair. Energy to your follicles drops four hours after eating."
In short, within four hours of any meal, nutrients stop being carried to your hair —so, if you want to up your hair health, a consistent supply of snacks, rather than three distinct large meals, might be your answer.
"As hair is a non-essential tissue, it’s the last part of our body to benefit from what we eat and the first to suffer when our diet is lacking. A balanced diet containing all essential food groups is therefore essential" says Anabel.
Before you stock up on Oreos, check out her recommended snacks:
"My favorites are kale and quinoa crackers, rice cakes topped with smoked salmon, pears, popcorn, tortilla chips with guacamole, and honey oat granola bars."
Sanctioned chips and dips and flapjacks? I'm all for it.
Best food for hair growth
Fitting with the classic advice that breakfast's the most important meal of the day, Anabel emphasizes the importance of a hearty, nutritious breakfast and lunch.
"Breakfast and lunch are the most important meals of the day for your hair, as it’s when energy requirements are at their highest. The perfect breakfast: Smashed avocado on toast with two poached eggs and a side of fresh berries. The perfect lunch: A mixed salad with salmon and new potatoes and a side of fruit."
Which nutrients are best for hair overall?
Anabel says that if she were to choose just three food groups to focus on for healthy hair, she would pick protein, foods rich in iron, and complex carbohydrates. Here's her breakdown:
"Your hair is made of protein, and protein-rich foods help to ensure strands are strong. Great examples are eggs, fish, lean meat, and low-fat cottage cheese. For vegans/vegetarians, almonds, quinoa, and tofu are good options. In terms of how much protein you should eat—add around a palm-sized portion to your breakfast and lunch."
"Hair cells are the second fastest-growing cells the body produces, meaning they require a steady supply of energy to grow. Complex carbohydrates provide a slow and sustained release of energy. Brown rice, whole-wheat toast, and porridge are excellent choices."
"Ferritin (stored iron) helps to keep hair in the anagen (growth) phase. The best sources of iron are red meats, like steak and liver, so try to eat one of these around twice a week. If you do not eat red meat, or already have low iron levels, take an iron supplement.
So there you have it—indulging in breakfast, second breakfast, a hearty luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper and beyond is going to do wonders—provided, of course, you're eating foods that deliver nutrients that are useful and essential.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.