healthy hair guide

Hair – it’s every woman’s best accessory…when it behaves, that is. At its best, it’s silky smooth, perfectly coifed, or softly curled. At its worst, it’s frizzy, dry and – well, pretty much a total nightmare. Though we all wish a simple shout of “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair” could magically produce a flowing, luscious mane of our own, the modern day realities of stress, heat styling and hair coloring can result in locks that aren’t exactly princess-worthy. When nightly hair treatments are out of the question (we choose sleep, thankyouverymuch!) and monthly trims fall low on our ever-expanding To-Do lists, our hair can often be left lifeless and dull. Lucky for you, we’re sharing some advice to revive your locks and restore them to their former glory – and all while taking into account your jam-packed schedule. Ready? Here we go…

1. Eat the right foods

Just like eating certain foods can improve your skin, choosing foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, iron and protein can lead to healthier hair and a happier scalp.

  • Since about 3% of your hair shaft is made up of omega-3 fatty acids, they’re vital to keeping your scalp hydrated; find them in foods like salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts and almonds.
  • Iron helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, which helps your hair grow.  Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and Swiss chard are full of iron as well as beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamin C – all of which contribute to hair health.
  • Your hair is made of protein, so a lack of it can lead to hair loss. Add it to your diet with lean meats and eggs, which also happen to be a great source of hair-boosting minerals and vitamins like zinc, selenium, sulfur, iron and biotin.
  • When all else fails, take a biotin supplement daily. This b-complex vitamin often called “hair food” because it aids cell growth – some women swear it helps their hair grow faster!

 

2. Use the right tools (and avoid others)

Ask any hair expert what type of brush to use to tame your mane and they’ll all say the same thing: a natural boar bristle brush. NYC-based editorial hairstylist Nathan Rosenkranz prefers this type of brush because “the bristles help to distribute product and natural oils throughout the entire length of the hair.” Save time in your hair routine by investing in a brush that will do half the work for you. (Quick Tip: For those of you with coarse, thick hair, find a brush with a mix of nylon and natural bristles – natural bristles alone can be too weak for tangles).

According to celebrity hairstylist Ruth Roche, “Today, the most dangerous [tool] is the flat iron or curling iron that is too hot. There’s no cure for burnt hair!” To prevent a “just fried” look, always use the lowest heat setting on your styling tools and protect your strands with a heat protecting spray like Kérastase Ciment Thermique before you style.

Rosenkranz offers another solution – why not ditch the hot tools altogether and try a slightly disheveled “model-off-duty” hairstyle? To achieve this, “part hair where desired and put in twists moving away from the face. Dry with a diffuser [then] flip your head over and shake out. Use a spray like Alterna Bamboo Anti-Humidity spray for hold.” We’re fans of Garnier Fructis Curl Shaping Spray Gel for touchable, scrunch-able waves.

 

3. Ditch the daily shampoo

For coarse or curly hair, Rosenkranz recommends only shampooing once or twice a week. According to him, “this allows the natural oils to really do their job keeping the hair soft and shiny.” For most other hair types, he recommends shampooing every two to three days. Roche agrees, saying, “With all the great dry shampoos out there, we don’t always need to shampoo [everyday].” To freshen up between shampooing, choose an oil-absorbing dry shampoo like Redken Powder Refresh 01 or Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo.

 

4. Loosen up (your pony, that is)

If you’re noticing breakage in your locks, avoid hairstyles like tight ponies or French braids; the excessive pulling can damage your hair and promote breakage. If you need to get your hair out of your face, try a fabric tie like ones from Emi-Jay instead of the traditional elastic – not only will it not leave the dreaded “ponytail crease” after you take it out, but it’s much gentler on your hair.

 

5. Nourish and repair

We get it – you don’t have time to apply a hair mask, put on a shower cap and blow hot air onto your strands for half an hour every week. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other things you can do to repair your strands. Use a leave-in conditioner like Kèrastase Nectar Thermique, Sacha Juan Leave In Conditioner, or Pureology Essential Repair Instant Repair after showering to boost moisture and nourish your locks.

 

Do you have any healthy hair secrets? Share with us in the comments below!

Photo: Thinkstock