Making eye contact with a stranger on the subway is both a terrifying and instantly regrettable act. Usually both parties follow by quickly shifting their focus to anything, really. Although, an exception can be made when a fellow rider is offering beauty advice. That being said, on my list of places to receive a tip that fresh ginger root can do wonders in helping with hair regrowth, the MTA would unsurprisingly be at the bottom of my list.
To rewind a bit, let me first confirm that, based on personal experience, stress can indeed affect your entire body in some pretty surprising ways including your hair. If you’re like me and let it consume you, you’re left with a fairly large chunk of missing hair in the center of your head, directly where your middle part and bangs meet.
I became hyperaware of my hair loss after my longtime stylist referred to it as a “stress patch” during a coloring session. Although my ego was comforted by it not being labeled as a bald spot, it was the catalyst in assessing options that would aid in speeding along the growing process. After a battle with castor oil (its high density makes it hard to remove it from your hair in one wash) and weary of topical hair growth products like Rogaine (not to mention the potential cost), I was defeated and left my hair to its own devices.
Ginger, aside from being a delicious ingredient in beverages (ginger beer, ale, or tea anyone?), is a wunderkind spice that aids in treating a slew of health issues like digestion, nausea, and inflammation. Considering the aforementioned and that the subway kindred spirit had a full head of hair sans patches, rubbing ginger on the hairless spot of my head was risk-free, really.
“Ginger contains some circulatory agents. These help increase the blood flow through the scalp, which improves the growth of hair follicles,” explains Kat Marcus, stylist and co-owner of Palm Sunday Salon in Toronto. “Fresh ginger root contains magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and vitamins that make hair stronger, healthier, and shinier. It is also rich in fatty acids which help prevent the thinning of hair.”
So began my thrice-weekly ritual of cutting an inch-long piece off of a fresh root, peeling, grating, and rubbing it on the spot, then letting the ginger hang out there for approximately 30 minutes before washing it out. The tingling sensation acts as positive reinforcement that it really is working.
After about a month, the hairs sprouting on the patch are no longer a 5 o'clock shadow but now are at baby-hair length. It’s safe to say that if by chance I’m lucky enough to cross paths with my MTA hair guru again, I owe her a ginger beer, at least.
Erin Lukas is a Canadian writer living in New York. She's an expert at sheet-mask selfies and chances are if she has your number, you've probably received one.
Photo by ITG. Ever heard of chili pepper shampoo? It exists and claims hair growth over time.