Chill out, zone out, don’t tear your hair out.
As in any invested relationship, there are good days and there are bad days, and there are days when you feel like you shouldn’t even bother at all. When it comes to hair, a.k.a. arguably one of our longest relationships ever (why hello there, bleached ends from four years ago), we follow the same pattern: Sometimes, despite our best efforts, it just doesn’t go, or look, as planned. A lot of extraneous factors can contribute to otherwise healthy hair looking damaged and strung out—too much styling, not enough TLC, what have you—and the best you can do is cut your losses (and those bleached ends) and focus on what you can change.
And in this case, that means our habits. No biggie: just tiny, daily tweaks you can incorporate into your lifestyle that won’t jar you out of your 20-minute morning routine, or have you booking hair appointments you can’t afford. After all, it’s the little things that count towards a more long-lasting change—you didn’t accrue all those split ends overnight, you know—and with steps in the right direction, you’ll be flaunting gorgeous tresses in no time. Read on to learn more about how you can achieve healthy hair:
Healthy Hair Hacks (That Work In Life, Too*)
1. Change direction.
And by that, we mean how you wash your hair: Shampoo from the root down, because oil is concentrated on our scalps, and condition from the ends up, because it’s the tips of hair that need most attention. Knowing where to focus products helps optimize their effectiveness and keeps you from using more than necessary (and saves you time in the shower as well!).
2. Be a bad (-ish) girl.
If you can tolerate not washing daily, do so. Every other day is a good compromise during the hotter months, and if you can’t really stand not rinsing off your head in the shower, pick up a co-washing routine—the key is to create as less friction as possible on an already-fragile hair strand.
3. Think for two.
If you shampoo, always follow up with conditioner—one should not exist without the other (except for cleansing conditioners, and in which case, see above). Water swells up the strand, allowing the sulfates and other surfactants in most shampoos to help clean hair of residue and oil. Conditioner, like a good damage control PR agent, then seals down the damage and smoothens everything over. Tag team!
4. Unwind weekly.
With a deep conditioning hair mask, in the tub, preferably with some wine/hot cocoa/your favorite book/while petting your cat. You’ll help save your strands this way, not to mention get better in tune with your hair needs. At least 10 minutes of indulging with an extra-restorative treatment that helps reset you from the week’s styling sins can work wonders on the health of your hair (and mind).
5. Friction breeds trouble.
As in life, so with hair. So let it go: Trade that hair tie for a gentler, fabric-covered kind (or ditch it completely—bobby pins to the rescue!), and change up that rough cotton pillowcase for a tress-friendly silk version—your face will thank you too. As for brushes, it’s boar-bristled all the way, as they distribute oils from your scalp to your ends the best we’ve seen so far, no dice. For a budget-friendly take, shop around for mix-bristled versions, or at least look for gentler brushes with bendable teeth.
6. Stay cool.
It’s always the coolest heads that win, literally—when you rinse off your conditioner and during your blowdry session. Utilize your shower’s cold water and your dryer’s Cool Shot button to help seal down your cuticles, prevent fraying and to promote a pretty, shiny finish.
7. Streamline your stuff.
For healthy hair, invest in a smaller microfiber towel specifically for drying. Yes, those bigger, comfier ones you use to dry off your entire body can feel 10 times snugglier, but they sure can tug on your head, especially when worn turban-style, and can cause breakage, hair fall and unnecessary scalp tension.
8. Take your vitamins.
Replenish vital hair-supporting nutrients that may be lacking from your diet with some supplements. Special vitamins, minerals, proteins and supplements such as biotin, can help maintain hair growth.
9. Don’t stress, get enough sleep, eat right.
Because doing the opposite can cause our stress hormones to spike, which can lead to hair loss, as well as a general hatred of life and its perks. Rose-colored glasses are your friend, and match perfectly with that new pink hue you’re rocking.
10. And when in doubt, cut it out of your life.
Those toxic products, harsh chemicals, anything that doesn’t serve you at your highest and best, those super damaged last five inches that won’t ever, ever behave, no matter how much you’ve spoiled them with love and conditioner (although we can talk about that). All other times, you’ve tried your hand-to-heart best, and sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. So let it go, cut it out, cut it off. Great news: The lob is in.
Looking for more healthy hair tips? Check out these surefire healthy hair tips.