The other day, I was asked to outline my typical hair care regimen. I'm not sure if I can call it a regimen, but here is a roundup of the products that I go back to whenever I get testing fatigue. I should point out that my hair is naturally wavy, fine (in that each strand is fine, but there are a fair number of them so the overall effect is quite thick) and chemically colored. Also, some of my product choices are dictated by the fact that the wrong ingredients can prompt a bout of rosacea or eczema on my neck (for that reason, I don't use Moltebene's Clay Este Pack even though I loved what it did to my hair).

Overall, the products I am using do make my hair look and feel nice. More importantly, my hair seems to have stopped thinning - a conclusion I come to because there is much less hair in the shower drain or on my hairbrush these days.

For a long time, I used emu oil as a once a week scalp rub. I'm sure it didn't do any harm but I am less certain that it did any good. The bottle ran out the other day and I don't feel inclined to renew it. I do, however, enthusiastically use Kronos Phyx Overnight Repair Mask ($105) as my weekly heavy gun. One of its key ingredients is hexapeptide-11. Studies have shown that this can signal genes responsible for collagen production and it can upregulate the androgen receptor in the way that testosterone can, suggesting that it can help with hair regrowth. Pearl powder is another intriguing ingredient for a hair care product. The thing that makes pearls pearly is called conchilion. As documented in the Journal of Cell Biology in 2006, conchilion acts like the protein keratin (which is found in skin, bones and hair).

When it comes to shampoo, I tend to alternate between NutraLift Shampoo ($19.89) (available in the new TIA shop) and Earthly Delights Tropical Rain ($15.99). I have to admit that they couldn't be more different. Nutra-Lift is a complex concoction of ingredients that promote hair growth. It is the first shampoo I've seen with astaxanthin, found naturally in salmon and is associated with hair growth because it contains 5-alpha-reductase. There is also vitamin C, as deficiencies can cause hair to be dry and brittle (and, in extreme cases, fall out), and turmeric, in which the key compound in is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory that may be able to control inflammation in the cells around the hair follicle. Tropical Rain, on the other hand, has a mere handful of botanicals such as horsetail, which is rich (10%) in silica, a trace mineral that is essential for healthy hair.

I tend to go with Nutra-Lift for a conditioner, which is just such a good price at $10.99 and, like the shampoo, has great ingredients and nothing nasty to worry about. I alternate it with Aubrey's conditioner for colored hair. Aubrey has included an amino acid, cysteine. Containing sulfur that naturally occurs in the body, it’s the product of the splitting of proteins of the  amino acid methionine (also listed in the ingredients). A deficiency in cysteine has been shown to significantly slow down the growth of both skin & hair, and thus many believe it to be an essential anti-aging ingredient for healthy skin, hair, bones, and connective tissue.

My styling gel of choice is the marvelous John Masters Organics Sweet Orange Silk Protein Styling Gel ($17). This is the first non-chemical gel that I've come across that actually works. Scrunched on dry hair it gives me hold for most of the day, it is invisible and brushes out. Finally, I still dab some Folligen ($17.99) to my widow's peak three times a week and it is still the best value hair growth aid that I have found yet.