Does the “Greenhouse Effect” Really Increase Hair Growth?

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

What is the “Greenhouse Effect” (GHE) Method?  In short, it involves sleeping with a shower cap over your hair (or just wearing one for a long period of time) in order to encourage a steamy, warm environment – hence the name “greenhouse effect” – that increases hair growth.  This method was popularized by Mika and Juvaun, and is, what I would call, the new “growth bandwagon.”
But wait … isn’t this just another name for the “Baggy” Method? No.  The “Baggy” Method focuses on helping the hair retain moisture and thus length; it also requires the use of a moisturizer and/or conditioner prior to “baggying”.  In contrast, the GHE Method focuses on growth from the scalp, and only natural oils or butters may be applied to the hair prior to putting on a shower cap.

So now you are probably asking: Does this GHE Method actually increase hair growth?  Well, given the many testimonies from relaxed and natural ladies, it appears to do so … but does it actually work?  Let us take a closer look at some of the claims people have made about the GHE method:

1. Increased sebum production “nourishes the hair and helps it grow”
Sebum, as many of you probably know by now, is a substance that is secreted from the skin for the purpose of lubricating the skin and hair.  The sebum that comes from the scalp can be thought of as a “natural oil treatment,” if you will.

So, how does this relate to the GHE method?  After period of wearing a shower cap, the heat from the head produces a warm environment under the cap.  When the cap is worn for hours at a time, the scalp may begin to produce more sweat and sebum.  Now, sebum can help with length retention and alleviating a dry scalp, but can it help with actual growth from the follicles?  I doubt it can.  (Check out this interesting study on vellus hair growth and sebum excretion: Blume U, Ferracin J, Verschoore M, Czernielewski JM, Schaefer H. “Physiology of the vellus hair follicle: hair growth and sebum excretion.” British Journal of Dermatology, 1991 Jan: 124 (1): pp. 21-28.)

2. The heat increases blood circulation in the scalp, thus increasing hair growth
The application of heat to the back, leg, or other part of the body can stimulate blood flow to that particular region.  (That is just the physiology of the human body.)  Thus, the heat that is produced with the GHE Method may help to stimulate blood flow to the scalp.  Our blood carries vital nutrients to various parts of the body, so it would make sense that more nutrients might be reaching the follicles of the scalp with the GHE Method.  With increased nutrients follows optimal hair growth?  Possibly.
3. It helps to retain more moisture, which “boosts hair growth”
In addition to heat production there is condensation (that is, water vapor transforming into liquid water) in the shower-cap environment.  Because our natural hair loves moisture, the GHE method can be good for replenishing and retaining moisture.  That in turn can help with length retention, but what about hair growth?  I have not found any information that supports a relationship between moisture and hair growth from the follicle.

4. The sweat and steam detoxify the scalp
As mentioned earlier, the warm environment created with the GHE method can induce sweating.  However, the main purpose of sweat is to regulate the body’s temperature (by cooling the body upon evaporation); sweat does not “detoxify” the body.  We have organs within our body – liver, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys – that take care of that task.  Additionally, sweat is primarily water with just a small amount of elements and minerals (none of which are toxic), such as iron, calcium, and sodium.  That being said, the GHE Method more than likely cannot detoxify the scalp.

So, after examining each of these claims, does the GHE Method really help the hair grow?  Well, it is possible given a stimulation of blood flow to the scalp induced by the heat formed from wearing a shower cap for a prolonged period.  However, you might really not know until you try it for yourself!  You can read more about the method here.

Ladies, have you tried the GHE Method?  What has been your experience?

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