Our hair tells our story. How it's styled—in braids, pixie, bangs, or layered long—can define our personal style and aesthetic. The health of it, on the other hand, can show more than that. A poor diet, lifestyle changes, lack of exercise, hormone shifts, too much product, or heat styling can age our hair. Even more, hair loss and thinning can come from a variety of lifestyle shifts.
"Genetics, stress, and medication all play a significant role in thinning hair, but there are other factors that contribute to our loss of volume and we can actually control them ourselves," says Chelsea Scott, haircare expert and founder of TRUHAIR. "Your shampoo routine can directly affect how much shine and volume your hair has or doesn't have. Hot tools used too frequently and without protection can break the hair and cause thinning. Brushing your hair too rough, not eating enough hair-loving foods—they're all contributors to loss of volume."
So what can you do to keep your hair healthy? Here are some ideas below.
1. Eat for Hair Health
Almost every ailment and concern from our toes to our scalp can be traced down to our diet. When determining the best foods for hair growth and health, it is important to know what vitamins to not skimp out on. Foods high in vitamin C, E, D, biotin, and zinc are all key players in hair growth. "A healthy diet is often overlooked as a key part of haircare. Cutting protein out of your daily diet, without taking supplements, will have a toll on your long-term hair health.
"Healthy fats such as avocados give your hair elasticity," suggests Emily Cable, a stylist at Nine Zero One Salon. Make a snack of hard-boiled eggs, bananas, and sweet potato fries, which both contain high levels of biotin, also known as B3, which is crucial in promoting the thickness and health of our hair, Scott recommends. And remember, healthy fats in oils, nuts, and fatty fish make a difference.
2. When in Doubt, Take Supplements
Maintaining healthy hair takes both an internal and external approach. Greens such as iron-packed spinach and vitamin E- rich avocados are a must. When a morning smoothie doesn't seem doable, reach for these phytonutrient capsules, which contain spirulina, chlorella, spinach, and reishi for an instant dose of antioxidants that do exactly what they claim. "I formulated these for a client years ago who suffered from alopecia—she needed a mixture of greens and plant nutrients as well as MSM to provide the building blocks for healthy hair growth," Margo Marrone, the founder of The Organic Pharmacy shares.
While you might not be tempted to massage your hair with yogurt, you might reconsider the fridge staple, as it cleanses the scalp, clears dead skin cells, and helps hair follicle growth. The probiotics in yogurt actually may help prevent hair loss by providing nourishment to the hair follicles and their surrounding blood vessels, making for healthier and shinier hair. Probiotic supplements restore the composition of the gut microbiome and preserve collagen and elastin fibers that keep strands healthy and full of life.
Remember, it's best to check with your doctor or a healthcare professional first before you start a new supplement. They can give you recommendations based on your personal health history.
3. Upgrade Your Bathroom and Nighttime Essentials
The first thing that hair stylist Sarah Klein recommends to her clients is to get a shower filter. "This helps filter out any minerals that deposit on the hair and cause dryness, damage, and color-fading."
Another great simple replacement? "Use a microfiber towel to get out excess water and prevent breakage and roughing the cuticle caused from typical bath towels," Klein says.
And another game-changer? Silk scrunchies. These satin sleep scrunchies are designed for daily use but are especially crucial at preventing breakage or discomfort when you sleep. Smooth satin keeps your hair in place, so you can wake up to frizz-free hair.
Ever since I tried the Monpure scrunchies, I could swear my hair took on another life. My waves are more defined, shiny and full, and it's all by changing one simple item in my dresser.
And a silk pillowcase is something you might want to invest in, too. Since satin doesn't absorb moisture and keeps skin hydrated, it's just as beneficial for hair, as it helps decrease bedhead and split ends.
4. Get the Right Balancing Shampoo and Conditioner Duo
Over-shampooing (and yes, under-shampooing) can wreak havoc on hair, so it's essential to find out when you need to wash your hair and what schedule works best for you. That being said, a gentle shampoo allows you to not fear if washing every day is part of your routine. When people tend to avoid washing daily, it may be because their shampoo contains too many harmful additions that most definitely result in stripping its oils and protective barriers.
Trying a gentle shampoo, like this one from The Organic Pharmacy, gets all the benefit from a deep clean, without irritating the scalp and causing accelerated hair loss.
"I always ensure clients are using a balanced shampoo and conditioner. When choosing the right hair care products, be sure to read the ingredients. While everyone's hair is different, we all benefit from a routine that promotes moisture retention and keratin," Cable advises.
Her favorites are Olaplex's and Milbon's shampoos and conditioners—they're great options for keratin-based products. "Keratin is a protein that bonds ends and strengthens hairs that may have weakened as a result of over-processing, aging, and poor diet," she shares.
Packed with antioxidants and vitamins, this conditioner from Peter Thomas Roth credits biotin B-7 complex and vitamins C, E, and pro-vitamin B5 for leaving hair clean, nourished, healthy-looking, and head-turning.
5. Protect Against Heat and UV Damage
The key to protect is to prep, prep, prep. Especially if styling tools are in your everyday arsenal, you must invest in a leave-in conditioner and heat protectant, which will keep the hair moisturized and protected from UV, the same way as with your skin. The Magic Mist by In Common is a multi-functional leave-in detangler to use on wet hair that hydrates and seals the cuticle to repair damage and eliminates frizz.
When working with already dry hair, Oribe's newly launched soft lacquer serves as a protectant that also doubles as a finishing spray. Whether used as a polishing topcoat or sealed in before hot irons, the high gloss spray delivers.
Believe it or not, not all tools are created the same. Enter Sultra. The professional-quality hair tools combine infrared and ionic technology that promotes healing of the hair and scalp while strengthening and hydrating strands from within.
Multifunctional, this straightening iron can create curls, waves, and sky-high volume at the root. Powerful enough for everyday styling and ultra-light for travel, it keeps hair shiny, frizz-free. It even has scalp benefits as it removes excess buildup to promote healthy hair growth.
UV damage can seriously affect the luster of your strands as well as the longevity of your color, so it's important to use antioxidant-rich products. This conditioner from Grown Alchemist contains marula oil that helps protect the hair from UV damage, while noticeably locking in moisture and leaving hair looking silky, soft, and shiny.
6. Put Extra Effort Into Scalp Care
Maintaining scalp health is key to great-looking hair, and your scalp deserves as much attention as your skin. After all, oil, dirt, and styling products tend to build up, and disrupt proper growth, causing an itchy scalp and dandruff. To avoid brittle hair or dandruff, keep the scalp hydrated and supple with a light but potent topical hair and scalp supplement from Virtue.
Combined with this hair density serum, a gua sha will gently stimulate microcirculation to promote new hair growth, massage the scalp for increased product absorption, and release tension and tightness for overall relaxation.
This Sachajuan Scalp Treatment saved me in my time of despair when I noticed dandruff forming in a rush. Rosemary oil, menthol, salicylic acid, and ginger extract soothed irritation and redness of my scalp and kept dandruff from forming.
7. Like an Athlete, Take Recovery Seriously
Things happen, like impromptu visits to the wrong colorist or dried-out hair from sun damage, but there's always room for repair and recovery. Leave-in treatments like this balm can significantly help in preventing damage and breakage. Unlike traditional heat protectors that just put a barrier between your strands and the heat, this unique treatment infuses 21 kinds of amino acids and seven kinds of proteins to hair, helping to restore the brittle damage and protecting it.
Nourish your hair root from root to tip, inside out with this treatment. It's formulated with 20 nutrient-dense Indian herbs, oils, and flowers.