Healthy Habits, Healthy Hair

Many years ago, during college, I chopped 10+ inches and donated it to Locks of Love, anticipating that I would “grow it out, donate it…grow it out, donate it…” Yet, it never grew that long ever again. I desperately needed to improve my hair health in order for it to grow.

However, in the years that followed, my hair was every color from bleach blonde to auburn, to “box color black.” Yes, it was called “black” and came from a box. Scary stuff. While I am not a stylist, have never been to beauty school, and have learned only by experience and my own research, I’ve shared some insight at to what finally worked for me and has helped grow my hair. My hair is finally healthier than it has been in a long time and is almost as long as it was during my college days!

Avoid Flat Irons, Blow Dryers, and Heat

Continuous use of hot irons and blow dryers will cause the ends of your hair to dry out and become brittle. This will cause the ends of your hair to split, with no way of repair other than being cut off. To reduce the damage to your hair, towel dry until it is just damp, not dripping wet, then blow try after treating it with a heat-protectant product. Better yet, let it air dry and use a moisturizing product.  I’m also a big fan of dry shampoo between washes!

Sleep With Your Hair Down

To improve hair health, it is best to sleep with your hair down because having it in a ponytail can result in damage and breakage caused by the pulling and tautness of the elastic band.

Brush Hair When Dry, Comb Hair When Wet

Wet hair is much more fragile and susceptible to damage than dry hair. Fine toothed combs and brushes forces the hair and stretches it, usually causing it to break off when placed under too much stress. The best way to maintain hair health is to detangle with a wide-toothed comb.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Here is a list of healthy foods that will provide the nutrients you need to grow healthy hair.  I’ve also used a keratin supplement to make up for what I don’t get in my diet.

  • Walnuts. These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Walnuts also have copper, a mineral that helps keep your natural hair color rich and lustrous.
  • Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A.
  • Eggs. A great source of protein, eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron. Iron is especially important, because it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles.
  • Spinach. The iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.
  • Lentils. Tiny but mighty, these legumes are teeming with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, making it a great staple for vegetarian, vegans, and meat eaters.
  • Greek yogurt. Cruise the dairy aisle for low-fat options such as Greek yogurt, which is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5, and vitamin D.
  • Oranges. Exotic super fruits may come and go but when it comes to vitamin C, C is critical for circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.
  • Protein. Because hair is nearly all protein, foods rich in protein are literally giving you the building blocks for hair. For a delicious way to increase your protein intake, try my No Bake Collagen Cookies.

Schedule a Trim Every 6-8 Weeks

While I have not followed through with this one as much as I would like, it is very important to keep the split ends to a minimum. If you cannot afford to go to a full service salon this frequently, do what I do and visit Great Clips or Super Cuts for “maintenance” trims and visit the salon every few months for a more stylized cut.

With time and attention, your hair will become stronger and more resilient.  I once read (probably in a 90s issue of Allure), that you should treat your hair like delicate lace.  If you wan’t it to look amazing, you have to treat it like it already is.