How we take care of our hair can impact not only its appearance but also its health. Here are some tips for healthier hair, regardless of your hair type.
1. Know your hair type.
To ensure you are taking proper care of your tresses, it is important to first know your hair type.
There are 4 main hair type categories; straight, wavy, curly, kinky and coiled.
Every type of hair has different needs. Treat your hair in accordance with your hair type. Look for quality products that are designed for your type and be sure to follow the instructions on how to use them.
2. Have a healthy body.
– Don’t smoke: The toxins in cigarettes damage the hair follicles and inhibit hair growth. Smoking also causes premature graying and hair loss. (1)
– Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet is important for maintaining overall health, and it can also help promote healthy hair. Protein and calorie malnutrition are two of the most common causes of hair health problems. Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Include protein-rich foods, such as lean meats, eggs, and beans, in your diet. (2)
– Drink plenty of water: Water helps to hydrate the scalp and hair, which can prevent dryness and breakage. Aim to drink eight glasses of water each day. If you have trouble drinking that much water, try adding some fruits or vegetables to your water to make it more flavorful.
– Biotin (also known as vitamin B7): Biotin deficiency is uncommon because it is found in many foods. However, low levels of biotin can lead to hair loss. Good sources of biotin include nuts, legumes, whole grains, unpolished rice, and egg yolk. (3)
– Get regular exercise. Exercise is important for overall health, and it can also help improve circulation to the scalp. This can promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.
– Limit your alcohol and caffeine intake: Too much alcohol or caffeine can dehydrate the body, which can then cause dryness and breakage of the hair. If you do drink alcohol or caffeine, be sure to drink plenty of water to help offset the dehydrating effects.
3. Be gentle with your hair.
Avoid over-washing your hair: Over-washing hair can damage it by stripping away its natural oils, which can lead to dryness and breakage. Shampooing too often can also cause the scalp to produce more oil as it tries to compensate for the lack of natural oils. This can lead to a cycle of over-washing and excessive oil production, which can further damage the hair.
– People with oily hair can wash it every day or every other day. You can also use dry shampoo on days when you don’t wash your hair to help absorb excess oil.
– People with dry hair should only wash it 2-3 times per week.
When shampooing, be gentle and avoid scrubbing the scalp too hard.
Condition regularly: Conditioning your hair helps to replace the natural oils that are lost during shampooing. Be sure to condition your hair every time you shampoo, and use a deep conditioner at least once a week. Consider using a natural oil, such as coconut oil, to help moisturize the scalp.
Do a hot oil treatment: Hot oil treatments help to lubricate the hair and scalp and can prevent damage. You can buy hot oil treatments at most beauty supply stores, or you can make your own at home.
Choose the right brush: Use a natural-bristle brush on dry hair to avoid damaging the hair. Be sure to clean your brushes regularly to avoid build-up of products and dirt, which can damage the hair. Avoid using synthetic brushes on wet hair, as they can cause breakage.
Do not brush, use a comb when your hair is wet: Wet hair is more fragile than dry hair, so it’s more likely to break if you brush it. When combing wet hair, use a wide-toothed comb to avoid damaging the hair. Start from the bottom and work your way up, being careful not to tug too hard on the hair.
Avoid tightly pulled hairstyles: Hairstyles that pull on the hair too tightly can damage the hair follicles and lead to hair loss.
4. Take care of your hair and scalp.
Protect your hair from the sun: UV radiation can cause the cuticles around the shaft of the hair to peel away, and it can also lead to protein loss, which makes the hair more vulnerable to further damage. (4)
If you’re spending time outdoors, there are some things you can do to protect your hair from the sun’s damaging effects.
- Wear a scarf or wide-brimmed hat to shade your hair.
- If you’re going to be in the sun for a long period of time, carry an umbrella with you to provide additional protection
- The best time to be in the sun is early in the morning or late in the day when the sun’s rays are not as strong.
- Use an SPF product on your hair to help protect it from the sun’s rays.
Get a trim regularly: Getting your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks can help prevent split ends and breakage.
Wash your hair regularly: Be sure to shampoo regularly to remove dirt, oil, and product build-up from the scalp. Massage your scalp regularly with a gentle, circular motion to improve circulation.
Rinse hair with cold water: Washing your hair with cold water can help seal the cuticle, which can prevent damage and make your hair look shinier.
Pay attention to the products you use on your hair: Avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals, such as sulfates, parabens, and formaldehyde. These chemicals can cause dryness, breakage, and scalp irritation.
Choose products that are labeled “organic” or “natural” to help avoid these harsh chemicals.
5. Limit heat styling and chemical treatments.
Reduce use of heat styling tools: Avoid using heat stylers every day. If you must use them, try to limit it to once a week or less.
Lower the temperature: When using heat styling tools, be sure to use the lowest temperature setting that will still get the job done. Start with the lowest setting and increase it if needed.
Use a heat protectant: a heat protectant product can help to protect your hair from damage when using heat styling tools by creating a barrier between your hair and the heat.
Let your hair air dry whenever possible: air drying your hair is the best way to prevent damage from heat styling.
Don’t over-process your hair: Processing hair includes any activity that changes the structure of the hair, such as bleaching, coloring, straightening, and curling. Over-processing hair can damage it and lead to breakage, give your hair a break between treatments.
Opt for natural styles: There are many ways to style your hair without using heat or chemicals. Try styles that require little or no processing, such as braids, buns, and ponytails.
Invest in high-quality tools: If you do use heat styling tools, be sure to invest in high-quality tools that won’t damage your hair. Look for ionic or ceramic hair dryers, curling irons, and flat irons. These tools help to reduce heat damage by creating negative ions that cancel out the positive ions in the hair.
Ionic and ceramic tools are also easier on the hair because they distribute heat more evenly, which helps to prevent hot spots that can damage the hair.
Avoid using dyes: Chemicals in the dye change the structure of the hair, making it more susceptible to breakage. Ammonia lifts the cuticles, which can lead to dry and brittle strands. Peroxide breaks down the natural hair pigment, causing further damage. (5)
- Don’t color your whole head of hair each time you dye. Just do the roots as they will grow out anyway.
- Choose a shade that is close to your natural hair color. The more drastic the change, the more damaging it will be.
- If you color your hair, be sure to use a gentle, low-ammonia formula.
- Look for “ semi-permanent” or “demi-permanent” hair color. These products contain no ammonia or peroxide and are less likely to cause damage than a permanent color.
- It’s not possible to lighten or bleach hair without causing some damage. If you must lighten your hair, visit a professional stylist.
6. Seek professional help.
If you’re struggling to improve the health of your hair, seek out professional help from a dermatologist or other hair care specialist.
You may also want to learn about keratin hair treatments that smooth and add shine to frizzy hair.