If you give your hair regular trims, use nourishing shampoo, and brush your hair (but not too much! ), you can have healthier hair.
Even though we struggle to maintain our health from head to toe, many of us neglect our hair, which is positioned at the very top of our bodies. But there are good reasons to want to keep your hair healthy. The owner of the J. Walker Salon Group in New Jersey and hairstylist Jessica Walker contend that “our hair is our crown” and is one of the first things that people notice about us. “Our hair determines so much of our confidence and how we feel on the inside and out,” the speaker says.
Having healthy hair is essential for sustaining other areas of good health in addition to assisting with self-esteem. Board-certified dermatologist Debra Wattenberg, MD, from New York City, asserts that “our hair protects us from the cold, insulates our head, and provides some cushioning against impact.” Furthermore, your hair may reveal information about your general health. For instance, a sudden loss of hair could be a sign of an inflammatory disease or excessive stress.
Board-certified dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology Angela Lamb from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City says, “Your hair can be an extension of your cleanliness and can also reveal vitamin inadequacies and things going on inside.” Untreated chronic skin conditions such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and alopecia, according to Lamb, can result in itching, irritation, and unhealthful hair and scalp. Simply put, maintaining healthy hair is crucial for many reasons other than just wanting to look good.
Learn here how to maintain your hair in the best possible condition so that it remains wholesome and vibrant.
What Is Hair, Exactly?
A significant protein found in hair, known as keratin, is a thin strand or filament. The inside shaft of hair also contains some lipids, which are fats. A cuticle, which is composed of dead cells and covers each strand of hair, helps to protect it.
Why is Proper Hair Care Important?
In addition to boosting your confidence, hair has health benefits. When it’s cold outside, your hair keeps you warm, and when it’s hot outside, it helps wick away sweat. Additionally, it helps cushion your fall and could shield your head from the light.
Speaking of the scalp, it also has a significant impact on your health. As a quick refresher, the scalp is made up of soft tissue and serves as both a place for hair to grow (hi, hair follicles!) and a barrier against outside intruders that could infect you.
Sebum, the oil that the scalp secretes, has antibacterial properties and helps shield the skin from the sun.
However, Dr. Wattenberg points out that oils can also result in odor and infection; for this reason, you should maintain appropriate hair cleanliness!
What Does Healthy Hair Look Like?
There are numerous indications of healthy hair, just as there are many different kinds. According to Lamb, “healthy hair” is hair that is growing to its full potential and is free of breakage and split ends. So, for instance, if you have curly hair, it might not be “shiny,” but as long as you do not experience excessive loss or breakage during washes, Lamb continues, your hair is healthy.
Although they might not apply to all hair types, these are some of the primary indications of healthy hair, according to the experts consulted. “We must be careful not to define hair health in terms of certain cultural norms,” warns Lamb.
- displays little breaking and little shedding.
- does not tear when brushed and is free of dandruff
- mirrors light
- has shine and gloss
- includes moisture
Signs Your Hair May Be In Poor Health
Similar to how you can presumably sense when your hair is healthy, you can probably sense when anything is wrong. For instance, your hair may feel extremely dry, or you may be losing more hair than usual.
According to celebrity hair colorist and founder of the TO112 beauty and lifestyle brand Luis Pacheco, there are universal signs of healthy hair, but the degree of these signs varies depending on the type of hair. For example, naturally dehydrated hair types, such as kinky and curly hair or completely gray hair, are prone to dryness; however, if it begins to split or feel brittle, Pacheco advises that you investigate the problem.
Find out the symptoms of damaged hair here, although they may differ based on your hair type:
- It has brittle hair.
- When brushed or combed through, a lot of hair is eliminated.
- Hair flakes out in large clumps.
- You can clearly see your scalp, or you have noticeable bald areas.
- At midshaft, the strands split.
- The hair is dull and lacks gloss.
- The ends of it are divided.
- It is difficult to untangle.
- It’s more dry than usual.
- Guidelines for Hair Care: Dos and Don’ts
While different hair types necessitate various approaches to maintenance, one universal truth remains: it’s critical to give your hair some tender loving care. Find out what to do and what not to do to maintain the health of your hair here.
Avoid over-processing your hair.
Regardless of the color, texture, or genetics of the hair, overprocessing is harmful, according to Wattenberg. Background: Bleaching your hair or using relaxers or hair dye inappropriately can cause overprocessing. According to Wattenberg, overprocessing causes disulfide bonds to dissolve, which in turn causes hair to fall out. The chemical links that hold the proteins in your hair together and give them strength are called disulfide bonds.
For instance, one study discovered that overly bleaching or dyeing your hair might weaken the protein, disrupt the cuticle layer, and result in lipid loss.
- Therefore, the majority of professionals advise avoiding bleach and delaying color touch-ups (in the winter, they suggest waiting as long as 8 to 10 weeks).
- Choose Shampoo and Conditioner that are Specifically Designed for Your Hair Type.
- If you browse the hair care section of your local retailer, you will most likely find products for every hair type (and every hair issue). They’re not just a gimmick, as it turns out. According to
- Wattenberg, “These goods are quite specialized and can make a world of difference.” Do you have an oily or dry scalp? Do you color your hair? Have you got dandruff? She advises you to choose the
- shampoo and conditioner that are specifically formulated for you. For instance, the American
- Academy of Dermatology suggests that individuals with dandruff use a shampoo that has been particularly developed to help treat and control it.
Is there any way to overprocess? Frequently use hot styling tools and your hair dryer. According to Wattenberg, blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons can burn your hair and scalp as well as cause your hair to break and go bald.
The surface of the hair got more damaged as the temperature of the hair dryer increased, according to previous studies that examined the consequences of using hair dryers at different temperatures. In order to minimize damage, the study’s authors advise using a hair dryer at the lowest setting at a distance of 15 centimeters. Additionally, move the gadget continuously rather than remaining still for extended periods of time.
Sun protection for your hair and scalp.
Do you ever think about your scalp and hair? The majority of us are concerned with completely covering our skin from head to toe with sunscreen. You should! In the sun, color-treated hair can change hues, but the scalp can also get damaged, claims Wattenberg. Even though some of the UV radiation that might cause cancer is blocked by hair, having bald spots or spots of it in your hair does not increase your level of protection. correct up-arrow The response? “Wearing a hat or applying an SPF sunscreen suited for the scalp” is advised by Wattenberg. Be mindful that exposure to the sun might cause damage to your actual hair, possibly weakening the cuticle and hair fiber in addition to discoloring it.
Keep the conditioner on.
If your schedule is hectic, you could rush through your showers, but it’s a good idea to make sure you condition your hair after every shampoo. Because conditioner enhances gloss, strengthens hair, and even lessens static electricity, it can enhance the appearance of damaged hair. proper up-arrow So, on nice hair days, a little conditioner is worthwhile. Wattenberg advises leaving the conditioner on for the recommended amount of time. Observe the instructions on the bottle.
Maintain a shampooing and conditioning regimen based on the characteristics of your particular hair. According to Lamb, styling techniques vary greatly depending on the type of hair and the intended style. For instance, if you have dreadlocks, you can frequently wash, condition, and preserve them every day, but if your hair is straighter, this styling technique won’t result in healthy hair, says Lamb. “In general, though, you should wash and condition your hair as often as your style and hair type require. A daily, weekly, or monthly basis is possible.
Don’t swim with your hair unprotected.
Even though swimming is a terrific form of exercise, spending a lot of time in the pool is bad for your hair. Chemicals in the pool might dry out and aggravate your hair, according to Wattenberg.
She suggests donning a helmet or applying conditioner before diving in. To ensure that your hair absorbs chlorine-free water rather than the o ensure that your hair absorbs chlorine-free water rather than chemically-filled water, it is also a good idea to wet your hair with fresh water before conditioning it. Even better, invest in some swimming-specific shampoo and conditioner to help replenish any moisture that may have been lost from your hair.
Avoid vigorously brushing your hair.
Even though you might be tempted to remove every last knot, brushing your hair too frequently might harm it, especially if you use all of your strength.
Brush as carefully as possible to avoid damage. Although you should ask your stylist whether there is a specific brush that is appropriate for your hair type, the ideal brush to use is one with wide teeth and smooth prongs.
If you have long hair, hold the bottom section in place as you gently run the brush through the ends. Then, raise your hand and keep brushing beneath it.
Do your own research before purchasing products.
Hair care treatments generally contain a shockingly long list of components, not all of which are, to put it mildly, healthy.
Although additional research is required to determine whether hair dye alone increases the risk of breast cancer, one study found a potential link between breast cancer and personal use of hair dye (i.e., items purchased over the counter).
According to the study, white women who used permanent hair dye once or more throughout a 12-month period had a 9 percent higher risk of breast cancer than those who didn’t. A 45 percent higher risk was present for black women who used permanent hair dye once or more per month as compared to non-users. There were 46,709 participants in the study.
The authors suggest that the ingredients in hair dye may contribute to the emergence of breast cancer. Before you purchase any hair product, it is wise to conduct some research to help keep your hair (and body) healthy. proper up-arrow
However, a different, longer, and larger study found no link between hair dye and the risk of cancer.
The American Cancer Society cautions that there are conflicting research findings.
Check out websites like the Environmental Working Group, which has a database of better-for-you hair care products created without the most harmful chemicals, and ask your hairstylist what is in the hair dye they use. But keep in mind that the Environmental Working Group holds radical views on various health issues, according to some experts.
Don’t skip a haircut for too long.
It’s not simply to keep you as a frequent customer that your hair stylist recommends you go in for a haircut every few months. Regular haircuts prevent damage from the ends up since split ends weaken the hair and expose it to moisture loss and tangling, according to Pacheco. Walker advises getting a trim every six to eight weeks to avoid injury.
The same is true for those who want to grow their hair out. “If you’re trying to grow your hair, you might think about skipping a trim, but reshaping and trimming your hair on a regular basis keeps it looking strong and healthy, rather than brittle and thin, while it grows,” Walker adds.
Consider using silk sheets.
Silk pillowcases are popular right now, and with good reason. All hair types should think about using a silk pillowcase, advises Pacheco, to avoid rubbing the cuticle while you sleep. He continues, “This is especially helpful for frizz-prone, curly, kinky, and fragile hair types.”
Keep braids, cornrows, and weaves from becoming too tight.
Your hair is probably being destroyed if it stings when it is pulled tightly. If your stylist tugs on your hair too tightly, make sure to speak up and ask them to redo it. Repeated use of cornrows and tight braids can harm follicles permanently, possibly preventing future hair growth.
Do consult a specialist for relaxants.
If you decide to use a relaxant, exercise caution. Going to a professional is a smart choice since they can make sure the product is applied safely. Also, don’t rush the time between touch-ups. Make sure that only new hair receives the relaxer (not the hair that has already undergone relaxation) and that you visit no more frequently than every two to three months.
You might wish to completely avoid chemicals if you start to notice that your hair is splitting or thinning after treatments. proper up-arrow Any type of hair can become stressed by excessive heat or chemical treatments, according to Lamb.
Supplements and foods for healthy hair.
Did you know that the quality of your hair can be significantly impacted by the foods you consume? In order to maintain healthy hair, it’s important to eat a balanced diet. According to Wattenberg, if your body is unwell, your hair may be the first indicator. On the other hand, crash or yo-yo eating, anemia, and hormonal imbalances can all have an impact on hair development, texture, length, and gloss, according to Wattenberg.
You don’t absolutely need to take supplements, even though vitamins, proteins, fatty acids, and minerals are all necessary for maintaining healthy hair. If you consume a diet that is well-balanced, you can typically absorb these in sufficient amounts through your food, according to Wattenberg.
According to Wattenberg, the following vitamins and nutrients are essential for healthy hair:
Iron sZinc sBiotin
wholesome fats (like omega-3 fatty acids)
Salmon, a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, is one of Wattenberg’s favorite foods. “Eggs are an excellent source of protein and biotin,” added the other person. Because protein makes up a large portion of your hair, it is a necessary nutrient for hair growth. Meanwhile, good fats keep your hair hydrated and in top condition.
What other meals are powerful for hair? Eat plenty of spinach, bell peppers, and citrus fruits for vitamin C, which is essential for the production of collagen, advises Wattenberg. proper up arrow: “And for iron, boost your supper with steak, spinach, lentils, and chickpeas.” It is necessary for the health and growth of hair.
You might want to discuss supplementing with your doctor if you don’t eat a balanced diet or are worried that you aren’t receiving enough of these vitamins. According to Wattenberg, in addition to taking each supplement separately, you may also purchase a single pill that has all of these nutrients and is intended only for hair. You may have seen these advertised on Instagram or in your neighborhood pharmacy.
It’s important to keep in mind that supplements can interact with each other and aren’t subject to the same FDA oversight as traditional pharmaceuticals. In particular, supplements can be marketed and sold without first receiving approval. Studies on the topic of whether taking biotin supplements will promote hair development are unclear, despite what you may have heard in product advertising to the contrary. proper up-arrow Therefore, it’s crucial to consult your doctor before using supplements.
Possible Causes of Hair Loss: When to Visit a Doctor
Do you notice that you are losing a lot of hair lately? Be aware that some hair loss is normal before you start to worry. According to Wattenberg, about 100 hairs are lost daily on average at some hair loss is normal before you start to worry. According to Wattenberg, about 100 hairs are lost daily on average.
However, hair loss does occur and may be either temporary or permanent.
Several medical disorders, including thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, anemia, anorexia, vitamin deficiencies, stress, and viruses—yes, COVID may cause hair loss, according to Wattenberg—are among the causes of thinning hair. Particular nutrient deficiencies, such as those in vitamins C and D, iron, riboflavin, and biotin, as well as excess vitamin A, may be linked to hair loss. proper up-arrow Walker, who has worked in the beauty and wellness sector for about 25 years, claims that stress and anxiety are the main causes of hair loss.
Age may also contribute to hair loss.
Regarding COVID-19, hair loss can occur after a fever, typically two to three months after an illness, which explains why some COVID-19 patients have reported experiencing hair loss symptoms. Thankfully, this hair loss is usually only transient; six to nine months later, the hair usually regrows.
According to Wattenberg, hair loss can also be brought on by fad diets, weight loss, overprocessing your hair, hormonal imbalances, trauma, and even genetics. Finally, some medications can cause hair loss, so talk to your doctor about them, suggests Wattenberg. Examples of drugs that can result in hair loss include lithium, beta-blockers, warfarin, heparin, amphetamines, and chemotherapy drugs.
Additionally, black women need to be aware that they might be more susceptible to traction alopecia, a type of hair loss. This condition can be brought on by tight hairstyles like cornrows or braids that pull on the hair’s roots, as well as by heat and chemicals.
Therefore, when should you schedule a medical appointment? Lamb, a black man, advises people to visit a doctor if they have circular patches of hair loss, pain or itching in the scalp, or a sudden rise in hair in their combs, brushes, floors, or drains. Before beginning any form of treatment, you should also visit a doctor.