Tips For Keeping Your Hair Healthy At Home
Maintaining your mane at home seems simple enough. By now, you’ve heeded the advice to lather with shampoo and rinse (no need to repeat). You’ve probably learned that, unless you have super-oily hair, washing every day isn’t necessary. But, what about the products and lifestyle changes you can use and implement to improve your hair’s health? Here, we caught up with a top dermatologist, hairstylist, hair colorist, and dietician to talk about what you can do to achieve your healthiest hair ever — no salon visit required.
Summer = Your Most Robust Hair
The first thing to know is that we enjoy our most robust head of hair from late spring through the fall, according to New York City-based board certified dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, due to the natural shedding cycle. This time of the year “is when our hair follicle sets the clock back,” she says. What that means is that hair shedding decreases in the summer months. “It appears to be evolutionary and could be the body's attempt to protect the scalp from UV damage and burns,” Dr. Fusco notes. But the slowdown is short lived. Hair resumes its normal shedding cycle in autumn.
Dietary Recommendations for Healthy Hair
As we explored in our guide to common causes of hair loss in women and men, diet and nutrition are crucial to hair health. Given the shedding cycle described above, Dr. Fusco advises against yoyo dieting or fasting during the summer. “Lack of protein or caloric restriction could lead to lots of shedding several weeks later — and that means autumn,” she explains. “So, combined with the fall shed, it could get scary.”
Dietician Keri Glassman says that ensuring adequate nutrient intake and preventing vitamin deficiencies through a healthy diet is step one in addressing hair concerns and health from the inside out. “B vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin, B6, and B12 are responsible for strengthening hair follicles and increasing circulation to the skin,” Glassman says.
Foods Rich in B Vitamins:
- Brown Rice
- Green leafy vegetables
Minerals like zinc, selenium, and iron, meanwhile, assist the body in repairing damaged hair and strengthening hair follicles, Glassman shares.
Foods Rich in Zinc, Selenium, & Iron:
- Red Meat
- Whole Grains
Protein and omega-3 fatty acids are important for hair strength and shine. “You’ll find these in lots of foods,” Glassman explains.
Foods Rich in Protein & Omega-3:
In an unexpected twist, Glassman says food can also help deal with hair concerns from the outside in. “Eggs, apple cider vinegar, avocado oil, and coconut oil all make for amazing DIY hair treatments that help protect your locks and support scalp health for healthy hair growth,” she shares.
If your diet and nutrition is not optimal, vitamin and supplements may be needed to boost the hair, skin, and nails. While you should always consult with your doctor before adding a supplement to your regimen, the market is ripe with choices beyond biotin. If you prefer gummies to capsules, try SugarBearHair Vitamins. They taste delicious and feature biotin, folic acid, and vitamin D. Suzanne Somers’ brand Restore Life has a supplement called Hair, Skin & Nail Renew, which provides essential nutrients like biotin, collagen peptides, and a keratin complex to support growth.
“Many women get increased shedding approximately up to four months after starting, stopping, or changing their oral contraceptive,” Dr. Fusco cautions. Assuming it makes sense for you and is okayed by your doctor, she suggests avoiding any switches in the fall. “The change could result in shedding, and you wouldn't want that shed added to the seasonal shed,” she notes.
Hair Care Recommendations for Healthy Hair
Needless to say, air drying is the healthiest option for styling hair. And it’s likely an easier proposition during the summer. To coax curls and waves into a more deliberate style without the drying aspect of salt-infused formulas, try Drybar Seashore Spritzer Salt-Free Wave Spray or R+Co Dreamhouse Cold Pressed Watermelon Wave Spray.
Use the Right Hair Ties
Scott Fabian, a hairstylist at Sally Hershberger Nomad, says using tight rubber bands adds a lot of tension to the hair (let’s not forget that a taut ponytail was the cause of Kourtney Kardashian’s hair loss). Some textures, such as fine hair, can’t handle it. “Try using hair pins or even a clip,” he advises. When hair is wet, it stretches out. When it dries, it shrinks. That change can cause hair to snap, he explains. Try using a fabric-covered scrunchie, like the Slip Pure Silk Scrunchies or anything you have leftover from the ‘90s, which are gentle on wet or dry hair.
Wear a Mask (The Other Kind)
Not to be confused with COVID-19 face coverings, topical hair masks can bring dull, dry, and damaged strands back to life. But not all hair masks are created equal. Fabian says it’s important to make sure that it will actually penetrate the cuticle. “Getting help from a professional is a good idea, so you know exactly what will work best for you,” he explains. The Davines Renaissance Mask is a good choice for damaged hair.
Don’t Forget About Your Scalp
We’ve already deemed scalp care to be the new skincare, and scalp scrubs can be a great way to keep the skin on the top of your head healthy and clear, says Dana Ionato, a colorist at Sally Hershberger Nomad. Scrub your scalp once or twice a month “to open up your pores, so your hair can grow out healthier and stronger,” she explains.
Just be careful that it doesn’t pull your color. “Don’t use a salt scrub if you have single-process, gray coverage,” Ionato says. Good scalp scrub candidates are those who get balayage highlights, she adds — and anyone who hasn’t had their color done in a while because of social distancing can go for it, too. A non-salt scrub to try: Drunk Elephant TLC Happi Scalp Scrub, which is color-safe and exfoliates with an AHA and BHA blend that targets dead skin cells and product buildup.
A scrub isn’t the only way to keep your scalp in tip-top shape. A topical leave-on treatment or a pre-cleanse oil can both have a rejuvenating impact. Bosley Healthy Hair & Scalp Follicle Energizer helps inhibit the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone that plays a role in hair loss. Ionato recommends L’Huile de Leonor Greyl as a pre-shampoo treatment for dry or damaged hair. You can also apply it before heading to the pool or beach for extra UVA/UVB protection.