A beautiful head of hair can be your crowning glory. But for a lot of us – that crown is not so glorious. In fact, it’s downright thin, brittle, dry, and damaged.
So, if you’re looking to restore shine, strength, and thickness to your hair, follow these six golden rules of haircare. (Your tresses will look good-to-go again in no time!)
Use Products the Right Way
Keeping hair clean is a cornerstone of great hair care.
You know how oil builds up on your face when you don’t wash it? The same thing happens to your scalp. And if too much oil gathers on the scalp–it can lead to dandruff. Perhaps more discouragingly, an excess of oil can block hair follicles and lead to inflammation that may cause hair loss. That’s definitely a motivator to shampoo!
Cleansing the hair also removes product buildup and residue that can weigh hair down and give it a dull appearance. So the first step to bouncy, shiny hair? Shampooing!
And when you use shampoo, concentrate on the scalp, where the oil lives. If you shampoo too far down the shaft, it may dry out your hair and contribute to pesky flyaways.
Proper hair care also includes proper conditioning, so after you shampoo, be sure to restore some moisture! After rinsing out your shampoo, apply conditioner. Concentrate on the ends, where damage is most likely to show up, and leave the conditioner on for several minutes. Rinse with cool water – this will help seal in the moisture and leave some conditioner on the hair. Leaving a bit of conditioner on your hair may seem odd, but it works as an excellent protectant for any heat styling that may follow.
And, if you’re truly committed to great hair care and the lustrous locks that can result, give yourself a weekly deep conditioning treatment.
Style With Heat the Smart Way
Blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons: We all know that heat styling tools can wreak havoc on hair, leaving it brittle and lifeless. But beauty calls. And there are ways to combat and prevent unnecessary damage from heat styling.
Here are some tips:
- To reduce the amount of time spent with a hot hair dryer pointed at your head, blot your hair with a towel after the shower. Don’t rub, as this can exacerbate frizz. Then, take some paper towels and blot again. You’ll be shocked at how much excess moisture you can soak up this way, and your blowout time will be cut in half.
- Before blowing dry, curling, or straightening, your hair, be sure to use a protective spray. Mist in small sections – about three sprays per section. And don’t forget to spray underneath if you have lots of layers. Heat protection sprays are useless if you’re not reaching all the hair! It’s best to get a spray that protects up to 450 degrees.
- When drying, keep your hair dryer on a cooler setting and a lower velocity. The same goes for straightening and curling. It’ll take a bit more time to get the look that you want, but your follicles will thank you in the long run.
Treat Your Scalp With Love
A healthy scalp is elemental to good hair care. Here are a few ways to give it the attention it deserves:
- Massage Your Scalp
You know that wonderful feeling you get at the salon when your stylist massages your scalp? Not only is it incredibly relaxing, it’s incredible for your hair’s health. A study done in 2016 showed that regular scalp massages may increase hair thickness.1 So, take an extra couple minutes in the shower to show your scalp some TLC.
- Wear A Hat
We spend a lot of energy protecting our faces from sun damage, but sometimes we forget to keep our hair in mind. Time in the sun can oxidize and dehydrate your hair and burn your scalp. So, if you’re serious about good hair care, put on a hat! Your hair will thank you.
Give Your Hair a Break
You know how you need a weekend to recover from the work week? Well, your hair needs one too. Care for your hair by giving it a break for a couple days each week. Instead of blow-drying, let it air-dry. Avoid excessive use of styling products like gel and mousse. And try not to use curling irons or straighteners too much.
And while it’s nice to have your tresses out of the way, it’s important to give hair a rest from ponytails, braids, and chignons. These tight hairstyles cause “traction” – tugging or pulling – on your hair. If used too much, these hairstyles can traumatize the hair and contribute to hair loss.2
Feed Your Hair a Healthy Diet
We all know that what we put in our bodies plays a significant role in how well our bodies work. With a nutrient-rich diet, our systems operate more smoothly, giving us the health and energy we need to live a full life.
And if your body is getting the nutrients it needs, you may see it reflected in a clear complexion and – you guessed it – healthy hair.
So, what nutrients help us on the road to good hair care?
The most basic building block of hair is a protein called “keratin.” But here’s the deal: Hair is a nonessential protein – we don’t necessarily need it to live. So whatever protein you consume will first be distributed to essential organs, like the heart and liver. And if you’re not eating enough protein, your body will ration it to these vital organs, and that protein may never reach your hair follicles at all.
Good sources of protein include meat, nuts, lentils, beans, and fish.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Rich with lipids, omega-3 fatty acids strengthen hair, boost shine, and help increase hair thickness. Fatty acids also help fight inflammation, which can inhibit hair growth.
Good sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids include walnuts, fatty fish (like tuna and salmon), soybeans, and spinach.
Studies have shown that people who suffer from alopecia often have significantly lower than average concentrations of zinc in their bodies.3 It’s possible that supplementing your diet with zinc may slow down hair loss and stimulate hair recovery and regrowth.
Good sources of zinc include beef, kidney beans, shrimp, and pumpkin seeds.
Oxidative stress – the body’s attempt to balance out free radicals – increases with age. Free radicals scavenge the body, damaging cells, protein, and DNA. They also contribute to the aging of hair.4,5
Eating foods high in antioxidants can help alleviate oxidative stress and help slow down the aging process.
Good sources of antioxidants include kidney beans, artichokes, pecans, dark chocolate, and blackberries.
Heavy workload? Car keep breaking down? Feeling down in the dumps? Unfortunately, it turns out that the skin and hair are especially sensitive to acute or chronic psychological stress.6
In fact, a study shows that women who experience high levels of stress are 11 times more likely to experience hair loss.7 It almost seems to add insult to injury, doesn’t it?
You see, your hair has a three-step life cycle: anagen, catagen, and telogen. The final phase, telogen, is when hair follicles rest and eventually shed themselves from the scalp. But psychological stressors can push hair into this stage prematurely, resulting in a higher than normal shedding of hair called “telogen effluvium.” And it can show.
So, do what you can to take steps to manage stress and promote good hair care. Here are some ideas:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Practice meditation or deep breathing
- Find someone safe to decompress with
- Be kind to yourself – this is especially important if you are feeling self-conscious about your hair
You’re On Your Way
Your hair may not have you feeling like a king or queen these days. But with wise use of styling tools and products – combined with good self-care – you just might find your hair regaining its former glory.