As a stylist, I am usually the first to notice when something is “off” with my clients. Any time there is a change in the hair or skin, I always want to know why.

From my experience, there is usually an answer. Sometimes it comes down to increased levels of stress, change in diet, hormone imbalances, illness and the like. As the body tries to deal with these new (or ongoing) internal issues, energy and nutrients are sent to areas in the body most in need of repair or attention. As a result, the hair and skin get put on the backburner, which is why they are the first to show signs of illness or imbalances in the body.

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2008, Dr. Mehmet Oz of the Dr. Oz Show stated, “Your outer beauty often reflects your inner health and that’s especially true when it comes to hair.” Dr. Oz also pointed out that we have a natural ability to size up the health of a potential life partner and mate within seconds of meeting them, by the condition of their hair and skin– “Before you could draw someone’s blood or look at their DNA or get an X-ray, we could—in a quarter of a second—look at each other and say, ‘I want you to have my child.” Here are a few signs to look for when gauging your health based on the appearance of your hair and skin, and some of the underlying causes in order to look for treatment.

Hair loss

Often caused by hormone imbalances or disorders. Very common in those with thyroid and adrenal problems. I recommend finding a reputable naturopath who can diagnose any hormonal imbalances. Also, give your hair a boost by massaging your scalp for several minutes a day. You can also use a mix of 1-2 drops essential oil mixed with 1oz coconut oil, for increased circulation and healing properties. Massage into scalp for 3-5 minutes and shampoo out.

Dry, brittle hair

Vitamin B deficiency (particularly B7, also known as biotin), lack of protein in the diet, not enough good fats in the diet, omega 3 deficiency. Often seen in individuals eating a vegan/vegetarian diet high in grains.
For beautiful, shiny hair, increase biotin intake (along with getting plenty of healthy fats and protein) in your diet. Foods high in biotin include: Swiss chard, raw egg yolk, liver, Saskatoon berries, leafy green vegetables, and peanuts. The essential oil treatment is also great for dry and brittle hair.

Dry, flaky scalp

Omega 3 deficiency, lack of good fats in the diet, dehydration, Biotin deficiency (vitamin B7).”A lack of biotin has been known to cause dermatitis—swollen, itchy or extremely dry skin.”-Dr. Oz.
For a healthy scalp, make sure to eat plenty of good fats, along with increasing biotin and staying hydrated. Great sources of healthy fats include: avocados, salmon, coconut oil, fermented cod liver oil, nuts and seeds.

Redness or irritation of the skin or scalp

Most common in individuals with digestive disorders, food allergies, and chemical sensitivities. Can also be caused by beauty products containing synthetic fragrances, silicones or other chemically derived ingredients.
If you suspect that you are allergic to a specific food, eliminate that food for 2-6 weeks, and then slowly add it back into your diet. Pay close attention to how your body feels when adding that food back in. If you react negatively to it, cut it out of your diet for good. Also, switch out those beauty products for a healthier alternative, free from synthetics. Many times I see scalp issues that are caused by the chemicals in beauty products. Once these products are removed from the beauty routine, we often see the scalp and hair return to a healthy, balanced state.

All too often the hair and skin are overlooked as indicators for what may be going on inside the body. So, the next time you notice a change in your appearance, don’t be afraid to look to your hair and skin for answers. You might be surprised by what you find.