There is adequate research to show that probiotic use can improve various aspects of hair quality such as thickness, shininess, color, smoothness, and strength. Probiotics have also shown to solve a variety of hair-related problems including alopecia, dandruffs, and graying.
Going through old family photo albums is fun…But you will be surprised to know how many times the question of “what happened to your hair” comes up. FYI, I have been asked that question and it always takes me by surprise, and I have to also ask myself that question. Well, the eventual fate of your hair, and your current hair game are most-likely be determined by genes. Not to worry though, if you never won that genetic lottery, there is a trillion-dollar cosmetics industry that thrives because of people like you who are looking to even these genetic scores. So this article is mostly for those people who hate the question of “what happened to your hair”. This being the Probiotic Lifestyle, we will explore the research on how probiotics affect your hair game.
Originally, I had purposed to do research on the connection between probiotics and both hair and skin. However, these topics will now be covered independently. I am such a probiotic head to the point that my significant other and her sister were having a conversation about hair. Her sister complained that the quality of her hair was declining at an alarming rate. Me and my big probiotic mouth felt compelled to interject with a suggestion: “maybe you are not eating right?”. I regretted that statement the moment it left my mouth, because part of the reason I started a blog was because I wanted to get out of the business of giving unsolicited advice.
People hate unsolicited advice…and to some extent, they hate people like me because they feel like we are such “know-it-alls”. Now, most of you are here because you searched for this specific topic, and I would rather have it like that… no more giving unsolicited advice. And if it is good for you, I have a donate button at the end.
After taking a few moments to think, she replied “you know what, I am always eating on the go…so you might be on to something”. I was really relieved, but I also noticed that prior to my statement, she had no idea that her feeding habits could be connected to the shine in her hair. Now my big probiotic mouth will lead her to think about what she is eating every time she stands in the mirror in the morning. So, she owes me…no?
I will do the same for you, by the end of this article!
Okay, there are more probiotic skin-centric supplements than there are hair-centric supplements. However, one of the biggest (allow me to call it scam for lack of a better word) scams on the internet is the one that convinces you there are pills you can take to grow back your hair. Also serves as clickbait. The fact that there are so many powerful balding millionaires and billionaires, and many more others who dye their hair on a weekly basis is enough to convince me that there are no pills that can grow your back or turn it back to black. Forget my 2-year-probiotic subscription, these dudes would be on the lifetime hair-pill plan.
Hair seems to be equally important to people irrespective of their cultural or racial affiliations, even for us Black men. We want you to believe we want the bald look but deep down what we crave is that Trevor Noah or Jay Z afro look…. That thing rocks!
Why This Matters
Well, I have wasted enough of your time with stories, but let us get back to business. This article will be of particular importance to three groups of people.
- Group one, is people who are fighting to regain the integrity of their hair after a traumatic health turn such as undergoing chemotherapy. Sometimes your hair takes a sharp turn for the worst and it serves as the earliest warning something is wrong with your health.
- Group two is everyone who is age 35 or anywhere adjacent to this age. Usually, this is where most people, especially men start losing the plan in regard to their hair. If you have a chance of winning this war, you need to start it in your 30s. Most of the people I know who are in their 50s gave up that war a long time ago, but in their 30s is where they should have fought it!
- Group three is people who are on the offense. If hair is really important to your life (I am thinking models or people who want to run for President of the United States someday…hey, bald presidents are quite rare) and you need that beautiful mullet of jet black or perfect blond for a little bit longer than most people, you need to get ahead of the game and be ready for those unforgiving 40s and 50s. After all, the best defense is a well-orchestrated offense.
Hair and Probiotics
Just like your skin, the quality of your hair is set to decline as you age. However, you will still find 60-year-olds with good hair and 28-year-olds with some quite unfortunate hair. Probiotics come into the equation because they tend to balance out things and pull you towards the more positive side of the spectrum. Research on probiotics is still young, but we still have a good place to start.
Here are top five ways in which probiotics benefit your hair
1. Probiotics Will Help with Your Alopecia
There are many forms of alopecia, but the one that is most-likely to be influenced by probiotics is alopecia areata. This form of alopecia is mostly linked to autoimmune reactions, which are right up the alley of problems that result from gut microbiota imbalances. Therefore, the reason why your hair falls off is because the hair follicles are collapsing at a faster rate than usual. The manifestation of these collapsing hair follicles could be a result of various factors including your genes, environmental factors, and your skin microbiome.
Okay, here is how your alopecia might be connected to probiotics. In a past study, the composition of an individual’s skin microbiome appeared to be connected to the manifestation of alopecia. Therefore, people with higher levels of pathogenic skin microbiota in their hair follicles were more likely to experience a pro-inflammatory state that was connected to alopecia. Overall, having the right balance of skin microbiome could slow down or delay your manifestation of alopecia areata.
Most of the probiotics that you take are supposed to find their use as part of your beneficial gut microbiota. An imbalance of this gut microbiota could lead to gut dysbiosis, which might in turn be related to irregular development of hair follicle-supporting cells. Gut dysbiosis might eventually lead to hair loss. There is research that shows a clear link between gut dysbiosis and gut microbiota imbalances.
Now that you know alopecia can be solved through probiotics, I can guess your next question: Is there evidence of people whose hair grew back after they took probiotics? Yes, there has been incidences of people recording significant improvement in their alopecia areata. Nevertheless, it is important to note that there is scarce research for the connections between this condition and probiotics. In most cases, researchers are studying different things but they end up recognising the benefits of probiotics on alopecia.
In one incident, a man who was being treated for diarrhea using implantation of FMT recorded new hair growth. There is also another case involving other patients who were undergoing FMT to balance out their gut microbiota, but ended up recording notable improvements in their alopecia areata.
In this landmark research from 2013, probiotic use in mammals was found to lead to “robust hair growth”. Yet another study sought to investigate whether probiotic-rich foods (kimchi and Cheonggukjang) had an impact on androgenetic alopecia. The researchers found that hair count and thickness increased significantly for people who used probiotic products. Overall, the researchers found that kimchi and cheonggukjang probiotic products had the potential to reverse hair loss incidences. These results were based on a hypothesis that probiotic supplements had beneficial impacts on serum lipid profiles. Therefore, these products could be beneficial to those presenting alopecia and they can also improve the flow of blood to the scalp.
So there you have it, if the circumstances are right and the science favors you, you can slow down alopecia or even reverse some of its elements using probiotic supplementation.
2. Probiotics Will Help You Have Shiny Hair
Probiotics have the potential to make your hair shiny because they help you get rid of bad bacteria in your scalp thereby allowing the strengthening of cuticles and the effective production of natural oils. The connection between probiotics and shiny hair was proven in a study that involved mice as subjects. The mice achieved shinier hair in about seven days after being put on probiotics. The study also found that female mammals showed a form of probiotic-induced hyperacidity that resulted in shiny hair.
I am part of the people who lost the shine in their hair, so I am always coming up with convenient explanations such as “I changed the soap”, “I changed barbers” “I am growing old”…and all manner or ridiculousness. Deep down I know where I lost the plot, but I doubt anyone would believe me when I tell them “stomach problems can lead to your hair and skin looking all ashy. So, I will stick to my excuses.
We should back up a little bit and find out what makes your hair shiny in the first place. The shiny appearance in your hair comes from the same place as the glow in your skin, natural oils being secreted from the pores and follicles in your skin. This is why people with straight hair tend to have shinier hair than those with the curly type. Having a good balance of proteins in your hair also contributes to its shiny appearance.
Probiotics step in to help you achieve shiny hair because they help your body digest proteins better and they also stimulate your overall metabolism. Consequently, probiotic supplementation will help you get rid of the toxins that might prevent your scalp from producing the necessary natural oils. Probiotics might also help you with the right gut bacteria that is necessary for effective breakdown of proteins into amino acids. These amino acids are part of the building blocks for your hair and nails. Your body’s inability to absorb vitamins and minerals might also be contributing to your hair losing its shine. A well-balanced gut bacteria environment significantly improves the rate of nutrient absorption.
3. Probiotics Will Improve the Thickness of Your Hair
Probiotics might allow you to achieve the right gut microbiota balance, which will in turn have a positive impact on epithelia functions that lead to thicker hair. This hypothesis was proven in a study that found that “Eating probiotic yogurt triggered epithelial follicular anagen-phase shift with sebocytogenesis resulting in thick lustrous fur due to a bacteria-triggered interleukin-10-dependent mechanism” (Source).
When it comes to hair thickness, the aim is to have thicker strands as a result of having the right support right from the follicles. The diameter of the follicle might shrink depending on your overall health, but its size is difficult to increase beyond its natural limits. Therefore, this section applies to people who are losing the natural thickness of their hair. If you are genetically born with thin skin, it is unlikely that probiotics will make it thicker. Notably, the study cited above showed that mice that were fed probiotic yoghurt recorded an increase in the thickness of dermis. If these results can be replicated in human mammals, it means you can increase the thickness of your mane too.
I really struggled with finding research on probiotics and hair thickness, so it is up to us to test this hypothesis for ourselves. This is my second month on probiotics so, I should be ready with some good data in six months or so. At the end of this article I will share some of my experiences in the Takeaway section.
In the meantime, there is this 2021 study that used mice as subjects to investigate the connection between Lactobacillus paracasei HY7015 and hair growth. The results of this study showed that probiotic supplements led to an increase in the epidermal layer thickness of hair in mice.
4. Probiotics will Help You Deal with Hair Dandruff
Taking probiotics will help you balance your skin microbiome and subsequently get rid of the excess yeast in your scalp that often becomes dandruff. Probiotics for reducing dandruff can be taken both orally or applied topically to the skin.
I like it when I cover topics that most people will understand. Dandruff is a problem for almost everyone with a skin microbiome imbalance. In fact, researchers estimate that the problem of dandruff affects about half of the adult population. Personally, I will know I am out of woods when I will stay for more than six months without developing dandruff. You see, I suffer from psoriasis and if I slip just a little bit with my strict no-sugar diet or probiotic intake, the hair dandruff is enough to remind me to come back to my Probiotic Lifestyle.
Dandruffs are such a bother and I remember seeing President Trump dusting off a dandruff from the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. So, if a president can get dandruffs, who is Probiotic Dan?
These things also require you to scratch your head a lot and this requires technique especially for ladies who do not wish to mess their hair styles. Anyway, we all agree that you will never get that perfect hair game when dandruffs are messing up your presidential meet and greet.
So how can probiotics help you ditch your anti-dandruff shampoo for good? Well, first probiotics have an antifungal element to them. Probiotics work by hampering the growth of pathogenic fungal elements whether they are found on the skin or in the gut. This hypothesis was proven in a study that found that the active metabolites from probiotic isolates were able to subdue the growth of dandruff-causing pathogens, Malassezia furfur.
Like I mentioned earlier, we do not have to look so far for the connection between probiotics and dandruff eradication. There is more than enough evidence to show that if your skin and gut microbiomes are well-balanced, chances are you will not have recurring dandruff problems. Personally, I have witnessed the connection between dandruffs and microbiota imbalance first hand.
5. Probiotics Will Help you Deal with Premature Greying of Hair
Probiotics can help deal with the problem of premature greying of hair because they improve gut health, which in turn promotes the production of both Vitamin B and biotin. These two elements have a positive impact on greying of hair. Probiotics also improve digestion and improve the intake of important minerals in the prevention of grey hair such as zinc, copper, and B Vitamins.
The issue of grey hair hits home for me because, in the last five years I have had a serious invasion of these silver menaces. Come to think of it, it corresponds with the advent of my leaky gut condition. However, many other people in their 30s and early 40s are also dealing with the problem of grey hair, and I often use this as a comforting factor. In the past, people used to start their grey hair experiences in their 50s.
One of the weird things about my grey hair invasion is that just like my dandruff problems, the population of the white ones is never constant. Sometimes, they will just appear as if they are declining only for them to make a super comeback. Both my paternal and maternal grandads were silver heads so I always blame genetics for my greying, but let us see how this lifestyle thing this goes.
While I was researching for this topic, I noticed that scientific research on this one is quite scarce. However, there is no shortage of results on “products” that can help your hair shine, increase, or even stop breaking. This is the tragedy of today’s internet…too many people trying to sell you things and very few giving you the information that you actually need.
If your gut health is quite suppressed, you will most likely have some of the problems we have covered above. On the other hand, I doubt that anyone ever bought probiotic supplements so that their hair can shine like that of the mice above. Mostly, having your hair on fleek is often an added advantage of being in perfect health in terms of nutrient absorption and overall metabolism.
This is why I choose to approach probiotics as a lifestyle. Honestly, I did not even know that my graying could be associated with my gut health until recently. The benefits of eating the right probiotics foods and taking supplements when necessary tend to extend to things that you never even thought about. I am only a few months into this lifestyle, and the dandruffs are almost completely gone. I have not been paying attention to the greys and I have had to put the laptop down and go to the mirror and check. Well, I did not want to succumb to confirmation bias, but when I asked a critique of mine to tell me how my precious grays are doing, she suggested that I wait until my next haircut to know for sure. Don’t worry, I will update you.
Keep it probiotic!