Stimulating hair growth is a seemingly endless task. This can become especially challenging when using beauty products that actively damage your hair, pushing the goal of beautiful locks further away.
By gaining an understanding of your hair’s microbiome, you’ll know precisely what it needs to not only produce more hair but healthy strands at that.
What is a Microbiome?
Before you gain a functional understanding of your hair’s microbiome, you must first understand what a human’s microbiome is.
First, the Center for Ecogenetics & Environmental Health states that “humans are mostly microbes,” as we’re composed of over 100 trillion of these microscopic organisms, specifically:
Collectively, all these little creatures account for up to 5 lbs of the average person’s body weight! For the most part, they live in our digestive system to help human beings digest food. (Microbes also help build immunity, defend your body against harmful bacteria, and produce essential vitamins like B12, riboflavin, and K.)
Many diseases and symptoms of poor health are directly related to a compromised microbiome. For instance, people who suffer from diabetes, muscular dystrophy, and other chronic medical problems have dysfunctional microbiomes. Naturally, your hair can be affected by these organisms’ suboptimal health and functionality, too.
Concerning the hair particularly, scientists report that many chronic scalp disorders can be attributed to imbalances in hair follicles’ microbiomes. The risk changes depending on the follicle’s depth and microbe composition.
Still, these tiny portions of the human body are susceptible to infections and consequential inflammation. See the details below to find out why.
A Hair Follicle’s Microbiome
The top portion of a hair follicle – known as the infundibulum – is exposed to many microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, and even mites.
Fortunately, this area is packed with protective components like antigens (combinations or proteins, peptides, and/polysaccharides that initiate immune responses) to defend against infections and similar issues. Still, portions of the hair follicle’s size and proportions influence the extent of protection it has against harmful microorganisms and related diseases.
This upper portion needs to communicate with the follicle’s lower half for healthy functioning. Yet, the bottom portion typically contains lower concentrations of immune cells and may even contain immunosuppressive complexes.
Interestingly, though, this part of the follicle is “immunoprivileged” (IP), meaning it still maintains security against unwanted immune responses. However, when the IP mechanisms fail, your hair follicle is at a greater risk of developing chronic scalp diseases, such as alopecia and dandruff.
Fortunately, you don’t have to just sit back and accept this fate for your hair. There are steps you can take to stabilize your hair’s microbiome and encourage it to stimulate growth.
Balancing Your Scalp’s Microbiome
Let’s first look at an example of dandruff to establish an idea of how to nourish your scalp and achieve a healthy microbiome. Several studies on the scalp’s microbiome have discovered a connection between dandruff and an imbalance in bacteria and fungi populations.
The bacterial species of the most concern included:
- Propionibacterium acnes: Normally present on healthy scalps.
- Staphylococcus epidermidis: Most often found on scalps with dandruff.
- Malassezia species: Nondescript species are strongly associated with dandruff.
The researchers tested 70 women with healthy scalps and 70 with dandruff. Upon analyzing samples from their participants, they learned that the former had significantly lower fungal diversity than the latter.
Plus, one specific bacteria (Malassezia globosa) showed up in higher concentrations on healthy heads than dandruff scalps. Another species (M. restricta) occurred in larger numbers on dandruff scalps. So, what does this all mean?
Ultimately, the microbiome composition determines the efficiency with which nutrients are moved across the scalp. For example, the differences affected how well the scalp could break down amino acids, specifically:
- Histidine: Improves the hair strands’ tensile strength.
- Cysteine: May play an important role in the hair’s growth rate and is part of beta-keratin, the main protein in hair, skin, and nails.
- Methionine: Crucial to the synthesis of keratin, making it an essential component to hair growth.
This and other critical pathways are directly related to vitamins, their cofactors, and amino acids, including:
- Vitamin B6
- Many more
With all this in mind, you must do your part to enrich your microbiome and these pathways to maintain a healthy scalp. One that you can directly manage is the biotin pathway.
Enriching the Biotin Pathway
All mammals, including humans, cannot synthesize biotin on their own. We must acquire this through external sources.
Once your scalp microbiome obtains biotin, it can fulfill its essential role in glycolysis (breakdown of glucose for energy), synthesizing fatty acids, metabolizing amino acids, and generally nourishing the scalp. Scientists also state that biotin is vital in producing keratin.
Fortunately, one of the key natural ingredients in Collective Labs’ hair products is biotin. As it works alongside other botanical ingredients, any of our items below will help enrich your hair’s microbiome and strengthen your hair’s health:
Strengthening the Pathways for Hair Structure
The scientists also found that nicotinate and nicotinamide are critical in producing vitamin B3, a crucial component in hair thickness and scalp health maintenance. Other pathways that influence the optimality of your hair’s health and structure include:
- Vitamin B6 and B12: Used in the treatment of dermatological conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis.
- Lysine: Restores scalp condition and fights hair loss.
Like biotin, researchers concluded that giving your scalp the opportunity to uptake these vitamins and nutrients can contribute to “maintaining a healthy scalp state.”
Stimulating Growth by Balancing Your Microbiome
Now that you understand the ins and outs of your scalp’s microbiome, you can apply that to your daily hair care routine. Hair maintenance has never been as simple as washing your locks now and then.
Instead, it is a responsibility that involves supporting your scalp’s ability to maintain itself and the present microbes that transport vitamins and nutrients.
With Collective Labs’ support, you can enrich these microbe networks and nutrient pathways to strengthen your strands, produce more keratin, boost your scalp’s health, and ultimately, stimulate hair growth.