Wouldn’t it be amazing to never have a bad hair day again? That might sound like a fantasy, but by learning how to keep your locks healthy, you’ll have hair that looks great. “The most important thing men and women can do to have healthier hair is to pay attention and listen to it,” says Nathan Rosenkranz, Alterna Global House of Experts. “If your hair is not reacting how you want it to, it is telling you to try something different.” And hitting the gym regularly may require you to wash and style your hair more often, which can take a toll on your strands. That means we need to give our hair a little extra TLC. Stick to these strategies and you’ll see a difference.
Suds up the right amount
“The most common mistake people make when it comes to hair is washing it too much,” Rosenkranz says. “Everyone’s hair is different, so how often you wash it depends on your hair type and lifestyle.” Dry, coarse hair should be cleansed once or twice a week to allow the natural oils to help moisturize. Those with healthy, natural hair can shampoo more often, about three to four times per week. If you go to the gym daily and your hair gets sweaty, Rosenkranz suggests you “water wash” your hair: scrub like normal, but without shampoo. This will still remove the salty sweat from your hair and scalp.
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Shampoo the right way
Another blunder is not using enough water when you suds up, so wet hair thoroughly. “When you’re cleaning your hair, you usually want to clean your scalp where the sebum resides,” explains Eric Spengler, Senior Vice President of Research and Development at LivingProof. “That’s the area that’s dirty. Focus on your scalp and pull the shampoo down your hair. Doing so puts the least amount of stress on your hair.” Get an easy shine boost by rinsing shampoo out with cool water — it helps flatten the cuticle for a glossy finish.
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Get regular trims
Stave off split ends by seeing your stylist regularly. “The frequency of haircuts depends on your style,” Rosenkranz says. “The shorter your hair, the more often you will need to visit the salon for a cut. Men can go once a week to once a month. For women, it ranges from six to 10 weeks.”
Do damage control
Bad news for ladies: hot tools are a major threat, but a product designed to protect from heat helps. “The best way to minimize styling damage is to make sure your tools are at the right temperature,” Rosenkranz says. “Just because your iron goes to 400 degrees doesn’t mean you need to set the temp to 400. Even on coarse thick hair, 300 degrees is more than enough.” Let hair air dry for as long as you can before putting a dryer to it, and use the lowest setting possible.
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Pay no mind to Marcia Brady — too much brushing is bad news. Brush only when you have to, and when strands are dry. The best hairbrushes have boar bristles, since they help distribute natural oils. “The ideal way to brush, especially for long hair, is to start at the ends and gradually work your way up to the roots, brushing all the way through each time,” Rosenkranz advises.
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Keep hair hydrated
Parched hair isn’t pretty hair. “The key to a healthy scalp is making sure it has the proper moisture balance through oils or treatments,” says Rosenkranz. Help strands stay moisturized by conditioning every time you shampoo, especially those with long locks. Hair oils are a trend to get behind, since these multitaskers do everything from serving as a lubricant to help detangle, a sealant to keep the cuticle down and a protectant from heat. Plus, they’re packed with fatty acids, which help hair grow healthier and faster. To apply, put a drop of oil in your hands, rub them together and rake it through evenly. Start at your ends and work your way up, avoiding the scalp.
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Know your type
Yes, those labels on products really do matter, and using ones designed specifically for your hair type counts in a big way. Whether your have fine hair or curls, look for the label that matches your strands with everything from shampoo and conditioner to styling products. Those with dry, coarse hair should look for moisturizing formulas. To extend your hue, stick to picks for color-treated locks.
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Chew on this
A balanced diet is a must for a shiny mane. Protein makes up 90 percent of your hair, which is why a protein-rich diet isn’t just good for your workout. And that explains why crash diets can cause weaker, thinner strands. “Dietary changes can have a profound impact on hair health,” says Carlos K. Wesley, M.D., a hair restoration specialist in New York. “Ample consumption of protein and iron (a co-factor in the hair growth process) is essential for hair health.” Load up on greens, spinach, beans and legumes, as they’re packed with iron and nutrients that are crucial for healthy hair.
Pop a pill
If you’re concerned your diet isn’t hitting all the marks, cover your bases by taking a daily multivitamin, as hair needs a constant source of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. Another option: “A simple, safe supplement that can help strengthen hair is biotin,” says Dr. Wesley. “Taking at least 5000mcg of biotin daily can help increase the rate of growth of hair and nails and lead to better hair structure. This will help prevent damage.”
Nail dry shampoo
Contrary to common belief, the purpose of dry shampoo isn’t to deliver volume or texture — it’s to clean your hair. It’s perfect for when you don’t have time to wash your hair after a workout, but finding the right formula can be a challenge. “The powder-based formulas soak up oil, but that powder doesn’t go anywhere,” says Spengler. “You’re left with a residue you can see and feel — and enough fragrance to give you a headache.” To dry shampoo correctly, Spengler suggests starting by shaking the canister well. Hold it six to 10 inches away from dry hair, then apply section by section in a sweeping motion to dirty or oily areas. Wait 30 seconds for powders to activate and cleanse, then remove them by massaging with your fingers or brushing. Apply more if needed, but make sure to shake the can again.
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