Everybody has certain habits when it comes to their lifestyle, and these are likely to be a mix of healthy and unhealthy.
If you have been struggling with your hair lately, this could be down to your hair habits, but, fortunately, many of these are easy to change.
Here are 7 healthy hair habits that you can immediately incorporate into your life for healthier and happier hair.
Use Minimal Heat
Heat styling can be addictive, whether this may be blow drying, curling, straightening or anything else. Not only are these tools so easy and convenient to use, but they provide consistent and high-quality results, with many people turning to heated hair styling tools on a daily basis.
Why is that bad?
Because the high heat emitted from heated styling tools draws moisture out of your hair, leaving it dry and fragile. This is the case for just about every heat styling tool out there.
Do you frequently use heated styling tools?
If so, cutting back on this is something that your hair will definitely thank you for. Try to limit your use of your blow dryer to about three to five times a week, while using your flat iron or curling iron no more than twice a week, since they tend to be the biggest culprits of heat damage.
When you do decide to use heated styling tools, there are several steps you can take to minimize the damage caused:
- Use a tool with an adjustable temperature setting – this enables you to reduce the heat to suit your hair type and texture. For example, fine and thin hair would require much less heat than thick and curly hair
- Never use heated tools on wet or damp hair – you need to wait for around half an hour after your hair has dried before using heated styling tools. The damp leaves your hair cuticles open, meaning that your hair tools will end up causing even more damage to your hair structure and texture
- Apply a heat protectant product before styling – these coat your hair to provide an extra layer of protection between each strand and the heat. Sprays are great, but there are also creams available that last for up to four days
- Be quick – don’t focus the heat onto your hair for too long, as this only intensifies the damage
Regular Deep Conditioning
Many people simply don’t understand the importance of deep conditioning, believing that if they already use a regular conditioner, that will be enough.
However, failing to deep condition your locks is one of the biggest hair mistakes you’re making…
Because a deep conditioner contains a high concentration of powerful ingredients with a low molecular weight, meaning that they can easily be absorbed by your hair shaft. While a regular conditioner is designed to soften the hair after washing, while also reducing tangles and adding oils back into the hair, a deep conditioner focuses on repairing damage and rehabilitating troubled hair.
How often should you be using a deep conditioner on your hair?
Ideally, every week, and the conditioner will usually need to be left in your hair for around 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the exact product you choose.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Your diet has such a direct effect on so many different parts of your body, and your hair is one of these.
In order for your hair to truly be healthy, your diet needs to be too.
Of course, there are certain nutrients that are especially beneficial for hair health, making it worth including more of the following foods into your diet:
- Protein – a lack of protein will result in dry and brittle strands. Chicken, fish, turkey and eggs are great sources of protein, as are nuts and legumes
- Iron – iron is extremely important for the hair, and is responsible for providing the follicles with nutrients. Red meat and fish are good iron sources, as are lentils, spinach and other leafy greens
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – your body can’t make these itself, making them important for you to consume enough omega-3s in your diet. Oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel and salmon, are fantastic for this, and so are pumpkin seeds, walnuts and avocados
- Vitamin A – this is required for your skin to produce sebum, leaving you with dry hair and an itchy scalp without it. Orange and yellow colored vegetables are the best ways to provide your body with this vitamin, as they contain the beta carotene needed for the body to produce vitamin A
- Biotin – also known as vitamin B7, a biotin deficiency results in brittle strands and hair loss. Try consuming more egg yolk, liver, whole grains and soy
- Zinc and Selenium – both of these minerals are key for healthy hair, because without them you would experience dryness, flakiness and hair loss. Both minerals can be found in fortified foods, as well as whole grains, beef, eggs and oysters
Go for Regular Haircuts
Regular haircuts may seem like an unnecessary luxury, especially if your hair doesn’t look as though it needs a trim, but regular cuts are actually quite important when it comes to the health of your hair.
To begin with, they do away with any split ends you may have, which then reduces the amount of split ends you subsequently experience. Removing all of these wispy, crispy ends also has the effect of making your hair appear thicker and so much healthier.
The added bonus of a regular cut is that it helps to polish up your style and length, keeping your hair looking beautifully well-maintained.
How often should you be booking yourself in for a haircut?
This depends on your hair’s length and style…
If you have short hair and want to maintain a distinct style, such as a pixie cut or a crop, you will need a trim every four to six weeks.
For medium-length hair, a trim every six to eight weeks should do, while those with longer hair can get away with a trim every ten weeks or so.
Look After Your Scalp
The scalp is often a neglected part of hair care, but a healthy scalp gives you a much higher chance of enjoying healthy hair, making your scalp a part of your body well worth paying attention to.
There are a few points to consider when it comes to scalp health:
Your scalp produces sebum, an oil that keeps your hair moisturized. In order to retain this sebum, you need to avoid harsh, stripping shampoos, and make sure that you aren’t washing your hair too often.
Products that contain jojoba oil, along with other oils, can help to nourish your scalp and add moisture back in, especially since jojoba oil mimics the structure of the sebum that the scalp naturally produces.
2) pH Level
Your scalps pH level should be between four and five, as this enables it to retain moisture while also preventing bacterial growth and making your hair less susceptible to tangles.
However, hair products usually end up disrupting the scalp’s pH level, so you need to make sure that the products you use mimic the pH of your scalp. Stay away from harsh shampoos and other highly alkali products.
Everything from oil and dead skin cells to dirt and hair product residue build up on the scalp, irritating it and leading to a number of different problems.
A clarifying shampoo will help you to cleanse your scalp without stripping it of its moisture, and exfoliating can also help with this. Try to stay away from any hair products that contain mineral oils or silicones, as both of these are known for clogging up the pores on the scalp.
Just like all other parts of your skin, your scalp needs a steady flow of blood for oxygen and nutrients, and a strong circulation enhances this.
Scalp massages are fantastic for boosting circulation, as is yoga and general stretching.
By taking care of all of these different aspects of your scalp, you will be able to keep the skin here healthy, which will then help to improve the health of your hair.
Be Gentle with Wet Hair
Wet hair is so much more fragile and delicate than dry hair, making it highly prone to breakage and damage.
This means that you need to be extremely careful when handling wet hair.
From the way in which you shampoo your hair to the technique you use when blow drying damp hair, make sure that you never tug or pull at your tresses too much, as this will only cause them to break.
Brushing your hair while it is wet is a big no no, but gentle combing should be fine. Make sure that you use a wide-toothed comb, starting at the ends of your hair and working your way up, as this will ensure that you don’t pull at your hair too much when encountering tangles.
It goes without saying that you should avoid tight hairstyles when your hair is wet, as these are guaranteed to result in breakages. Stay away from elastic or rubber bands, and leave your hair loose to speed up its drying time.
Know How Often to Wash Your Hair
As mentioned earlier, shampoo strips your hair of its natural oils and proteins, which can leave it dry and weak.
However, over-washing is an increasingly common problem when it comes to hair care, meaning that many aren’t experiencing the healthy head of hair that they otherwise could be.
How often should you be washing your hair?
This depends on your hair type:
- Thick, coarse or curly hair – you can probably go three or four days between washes, which is important since your hair will naturally be dry. Make sure that you choose a shampoo that contains hydrating ingredients
- Fine hair – your hair type is prone to oiliness, due to the speed at which the oils produced by your scalp can travel down your hair shaft. You will likely need to wash your hair every two days, so make sure that you use a gentle shampoo
- Colored hair – wash your hair every three days or so, as this will prevent your color from fading too fast. Make sure that your shampoo doesn’t contain any sulfates, which strip away the color, as well as silicones, which leave behind a residue that dulls the vibrancy of your hair color
Need a new shampoo?
As mentioned above, sulfates are best avoided when it comes to shampoos. This may mean that your shampoo won’t lather up as much, but rest assured that it is still thoroughly cleaning your hair.
Other ingredients to avoid include:
- Parabens – these are preservatives that the skin ends up absorbing, after which the parabens mimic the estrogen in the body, leading to an increased growth of breast cancer cells in women
- Formaldehyde – a preservative that is a known carcinogen
- Dimethicone – makes your hair look shiny, but also weighs it down, quickly making it limp and greasy, while preventing nutrients and moisture from entering into the hair shaft
- Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA) – both ingredients work similarly to blend together oil-soluble and water-soluble ingredients, but have shown to cause cancer in animals in the lab tests carried out so far
- Sodium Chloride – otherwise known as salt, this is a common thickening agent but can cause the scalp to become dry and itchy
If you just can’t seem to get your hair looking completely healthy…
It could be down to some unhealthy hair habits that you have.
Fortunately, it is not too late to make a change. Try adopting all of the habits mentioned above, and it won’t be long before you notice significant improvements in the health of your hair.