Those head-turning Barbie-esque women and men walking among us with voluminous, shiny locks have us stumped — what does it take to have a nice head of hair? With so many products out there claiming to smooth, straighten, de-frizz and deep-moisturize hair in just one or two uses, it can be easy to rely on a quick fix. But if you’re dealing with thin, dry, unmanageable hair and can’t seem to find a resolution, you might want to adopt some of these everyday habits.
1. They use a heat protectant
These days, owning a hair straightener and curling iron is like owning a toothbrush and floss — they’re essential grooming tools. Even if you only use them sparingly, you should still be using something to protect your strands. “Heat protectants help keep your hair protected and reduce the amount of damage caused by heat styling,” Calvin Louis, hairstylist and founder of ManeFrame in Los Angeles, said in an interview with The Cheat Sheet.
Nowadays, heat protectants come in many forms ranging from sprays and oils to serums and creams. The trick is to find one that will protect your hair with heat up to 400 degrees or more, Louis said.
2. They eat a healthy diet
You already know how important it is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet on the reg, but you might not have realized how beneficial it is for your hair. Those with stunning, long locks have a secret when it comes to their daily grub — it’s eating a protein- and nutrient-packed diet. “A diet lacking in protein leads to dry, brittle strands,” Vanessa Ungaro, hairstylist and co-owner of Lauren and Vanessa salon in New York City, told us. To prevent this, load up on eggs, salmon, meat, nuts, and yogurt, which all contain high amounts of protein.
And don’t skimp on water, either. “Water is essential in removing toxins from the body,” Louis said. “Not only is this great for hair growth but it’s great for overall health.” So drink up!
3. They often take supplements
Vitamin and mineral supplements help more than just your internal organs — they also boost the health of your skin, hair, nails, and more! “Taking supplements such as vitamin C, biotin, Vitamin B3, and Vitamin A will help with hair growth and maintaining a healthy scalp,” Louis said.
Before heading to your local drugstore, it’s a smart idea to speak with your doctor to go over which vitamins and nutrients will be most beneficial. He or she can also recommend certain brands and advise you on how much and when to take the supplements.
4. They wash their hair regularly
Don’t be fooled by the advice that washing your hair less is better. While washing it too often — as in, more than once a day — can cause dryness and lackluster texture, three days without lathering up should be the limit. “The pores on your scalp can get clogged causing various skin conditions such as dandruff and excess sebum,” Ungaro said. “If you have gone a long time without cleansing, shampoo twice. The first one will remove any residue sitting on top of your hair strands (i.e. dry shampoo) and the second shampoo will really lather and wash away impurities.” Next, she suggested conditioning and being extra careful to rinse well so there’s no product left on your hair to cause grease before your next wash.
5. They invest in quality shampoo
It might be tempting to save on drugstore or even dollar store shampoos and conditioners. But, if you spend any time in a colorist’s or stylist’s chair, it’s smart to not skimp on this purchase. “I tell all my clients that if they have to choose between splurging on a shampoo or conditioner, splurge on the shampoo,” said Louis. “Your shampoo does all the dirty work — it opens your cuticles, emulsifies your scalp, and captures excess oils and product buildup.” Also, if you color-treat your hair, shampoo takes on the job of keeping the color molecules from falling out of the hair shaft.
On the other hand, conditioner is used to seal the hairs cuticle locking in the nutrients and keeping out pollutants to make it easier for you to comb. “Conditioners are pretty much all the same and you might as well choose one you like based on the smell and how it helps with the manageability of combing out your locks,” Louis said.
6. They brush their hair daily
If your hair is longer than your chin, you probably already brush it at least once or twice a day, but Ungaro pointed out that it’s also essential to brush before you shower. “We lose about 100 hairs a day, which get trapped between our locks and cause tangles that turn into knots you have to fight in the shower,” she explained. “But brushing your hair before stepping into the shower can significantly help eliminate all of the shedding you’d normally see when you rinse your hair with conditioner.”
She also recommends using a mason pearson brush, which is made of natural boar bristles mixed with nylon. “The nylon will get through any tangles and the boar bristles will distribute the natural oil from your scalp down to the ends of your hair, giving it shine and moisture.” This type of brush won’t ruin your blow-dry style, either.
7. They do Keratin treatments
Keratin is a protein that’s naturally found in hair, skin, and nails. When your hair is damaged, from over-processing it or using styling tools, it means your keratin levels are depleted. But thanks to modern technology, keratin can be put back into the hair strands in a process known as keratin treatments.
This hair-smoothing technique works by applying a liquid version of keratin to the hair, blow drying it, and then flat ironing it straight into position. “Keratin treatments reduce frizz and lessen blowdry time to half, which means less heat on your hair,” explained Ungaro. “Some women even dare to air dry their hair after keratin treatments because of the no-frizz factor, which also means no heat damage at all!”
8. They get a trim every 2 to 3 months
If you want strong, lustrous locks, turns out you have to trim them pretty often! It might not be true that your hair grows back faster, but it certainly grows back healthier. “By getting regular hair cuts, you’re preventing any split ends from starting and allowing the hair strand to stay healthy and grow longer,” said Ungaro. Although your hair grows from the scalp, split ends start from the bottom when you neglect a good trim. This means regular trims will minimize split ends and also help your hair keep its style and shape. It’s also recommended for women growing out their hair.
9. They give themselves scalp massages
Just like you’d treat yourself to a massage when you’re on vacation or simply feeling achy, your scalp deserves the same TLC. “Stimulating the scalp not only feels amazing, but it also gets the blood flowing and allows your hair follicles to receive nutrients to grow healthy,” Louis said. If you can’t afford to splurge on a massage at a salon, simply DIY. Just rub your fingers through your scalp in circular motions for a few minutes.
10. They coat their strands with oils
It turns out, oils aren’t just for cooking. They’re also excellent for your hair, providing long-lasting moisture throughout the day. One of the most popular is argan oil, which comes from a tiny nut that’s loaded with vitamins A and E, omega-6 fatty acids, and linoleic acid. Other oils that are great for the hair include olive, coconut, and jojoba.