It’s about more than your shampoo—a lot of different factors affect how sleek and shiny your hair really is.
They get regular haircuts.
All of the experts agree—avoiding the salon is counterproductive to growing out your hair. “The ends are drying and splitting, so you’re not getting the length,” explains Stephen Pullan, trichologist (or hair specialist) at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic. Regular trims ensure minimal split ends or breakage, and Pullan recommends a trim every six to eight weeks. (Are you surprised? Here are a few more hair myths you should stop believing.)
They go natural as often as they can.
Your hair needs a rest from everything it endures during the week. Lindsey Bordone, a dermatologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, recommends using the weekend to let your hair recuperate. Let your hair air dry if possible, avoid heated styling products, and keep it out of a ponytail or tight headband to avoid any unnecessary pulling on the hair shaft.
They take care of their scalps, too.
If you’re consistently scratching your head, and drugstore shampoos aren’t helping, consult a doctor. “Don’t ignore it,” says Bordone. “A chronic itch traumatizes your scalp.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, an itch could be problematic if you find it difficult to work or itchy spots are sore.
They eat healthy and get a lot of protein.
“Protein is the building block of hair, because hair is keratinized protein,” says Pullan. Hair is considered a non-essential tissue, so the body doesn’t send protein to hair follicles first—it focuses on essential organs, like the heart or liver—but if you’re eating enough, the body will be able to distribute protein everywhere it’s needed. Another nutrient you need? Iron. “It’s an energy source for the hair,” says Pullan. “It’s a mineral that the hair needs.” In fact, iron deficiency has been linked to female patterned hair loss.
Don’t worry if you’re a vegetarian—you can still work protein into your diet.
They avoid hot tools—or at least protect their hair from them.
If you insist on blow-drying your hair every day, be smart: Don’t concentrate the highest level on your hair for a long time. “Keep it moving on a cooler setting and lower velocity,” says Pullan. “It takes a little bit longer but a little more care and time will be beneficial.”
If you plan to curl or straighten, be sure to use a protective spray beforehand—that’s colorist Amelia Trammel’s number one rule for clients she sees at Bumble and Bumble’s salon in New York city.
They deep condition every week.
This is the beauty tip that both dermatologists and hairstylists agree on—you should incorporate a deep conditioner into your weekly hair care routine for extra hydration. Need a new product? Here are our favorite deep-conditioning masks for every hair type.
They wear hats.
“The sun oxidizes your hair and dries it out,” says Pullan. So while a hat protects your face from the sun, it also protects your scalp from burning and hair from dehydrating.
They don’t take scalding hot showers.
Yes, it feels great to take a hot shower after a long day, but that water doesn’t do great things for your hair—it dries it out and, for color clients, washes out the hair color faster than cold water. While a cold shower might not sound ideal, Bordone recommends lukewarm instead—as a bonus, it’s also better for your skin.
They keep their hands out of their hair.
You want to minimize “traction”—any sort of tugging or pressure on the hair shaft. One of the biggest causes of unnecessary traction is constantly putting your hair into a tight ponytail. “Constant mild pulling on the follicle will slowly traumatize the hair,” says Bordone. In a few years, you might even notice a receding hairline. Twirling your hair or picking at split ends isn’t good either—to play it safe, leave your hair alone during the day.
They brush the right way.
Brushing your hair is a good thing—you can’t show up at the office with bedhead—but brushing more than once a day is another form of traction that Bordone warns against. In fact, excess brushing “stretches the hair and will break weak ends,” says Holly Ivey, master stylist at Alibi Soho Salon. Brush once a day, and opt for a plastic brush. Bristle brushes are particularly tough on hair, says Pullan.