When your hair is healthy it looks great and is easier to maintain. However, with all of the things we do to our hair daily, it is sometimes tough to avoid doing the things we know do not promote healthy hair. The trick is to adopt certain habits that you try to maintain MOST of the time in order to minimize the impact of those (inevitable) occasions when you subject your hair to styling abuse.
Are you ready to commit to healthier hair habits? If so, here are the top 10 things you can do to ensure a healthier mane. As you peruse this list, you may find that it is not always possible for you to strictly follow all ten items. That's cool. As long as you follow this list most of the time, you will see a difference in your hair!
1) Don't Over Shampoo
More and more hair experts now agree—there is absolutely no need to wash your hair every day. It just strips your hair of the natural oils it needs. How often should you wash? It depends on your hair texture and the condition of your hair. Here are some guidelines to follow...but remember everyone's hair is different so your ideal wash regimen may vary a bit.
Straight Hair: If you have straight hair that is not damaged then you can probably get away with shampooing every other day. This holds true even for fine hair.
Textured Hair (Wavy, Curly, Kinky): If your hair has any type of texture to it then you should shampoo even less often than those with straight hair. Why? Textured hair is just inherently dryer than straight hair. In fact, the more textured your hair is the more susceptible you are to problems with dryness. That said, you really only need to shampoo two or three times per week if you have wavy hair and only once or twice a week if your hair is curly. For those with very curly or kinky hair, you can get away with even less than that…every seven to ten days should suffice.
2) Use The Right Shampoo For Your Hair Texture
The type of shampoo you choose is the most important piece of your healthy hair care regimen. A shampoo too harsh for your hair type can cause dryness and frizz; a too mild formula can leave your hair dull and limp. How do make the right choice? Select a formula that states it is specifically designed for your hair type.
3) Always Deep Condition
I know that it is sometimes just tough to find time to deep condition your hair, but it is important for almost everyone to do since we all abuse our hair so much. Frequency of deep conditioning depends on your hair type and condition. If you have healthy straight hair, once per month should suffice. For those with textured hair, at least twice a month (or more depending on the health of your hair) is a good idea.
4) Never Towel Dry Hair
Do you typically rub your hair with a towel post shower to remove excess water from your hair? Well, as it turns out, that popular habit is not good for your hair at all. Why? The friction and rough towel fibers lift the hair cuticle, which can cause frizz, split ends and even breakage. Instead, gently pat your hair dry with a soft microfiber towel or an old T-shirt.
5) Don't Overuse Heat Appliances
When you can, take a break from using heat styling appliances. Normally, blow-drying your hair regularly after a shampoo is not a big culprit in creating damage. Instead, it is the overuse of those trusty flat irons or curling irons that cause damage with repeated use over time.
If you just can't cut down use of these styling tools, then at least try to turn the heat down, especially if you use a professional grade styling appliance which really heat up. To be absolutely safest, hair care pros recommend a setting below 300 degrees, especially if your hair is fine or damaged. For those with thicker textures, you can get away with a bit more heat—a setting of 350 degrees should safely get the job done.
6) Use Protection
Applying heat protectant before you subject your hair to heat is a good habit to adopt. Some heat protectants now even make the chore of blow drying your hair faster and easier. Also don't forget that the sun can also weaken hair and fade color. Use a UV protectant or make it a habit to wear a hat when you are outside for extended periods.
7) Go For Trims
This one is simple to do…get your hair trimmed regularly! Having your hair cut every six to eight weeks will keep your hair looking fresh and will prevent any split ends from traveling further up the hair shaft, which could cause frizz and more damage.
8) Avoid Wearing Hair Pulled Back Too Often
As much as you love your top knots, braids and ponys, it is important to note that you can actually damage your hair by wearing these styles too often, especially when your hair is pulled back very tightly. Excessive, constant pulling can cause breakage and even hair loss. To ease the pulling on your hair when you do wear your hair up (and save a strand or two when you take your hair down), just rub a tiny bit of leave-in conditioner on the inside of your elastic band!
9) Be Gentle When Hair is Wet
Your hair is very fragile when wet and therefore vulnerable to breakage and damage. Carefully use a fine-toothed comb instead of a brush when detangling. In addition, avoid tying hair back when it is still sopping wet. This pulling of wet hair causes it to stretch out significantly (up to a third of its length), leading to a higher risk for breakage. In addition, never go to bed with wet hair, despite how tempting it may be sometimes! The tossing and turning you do in your sleep can cause wet hair to break off.
10) Don't Overlap Chemical Processing
If you both chemically straighten and color-treat your hair, you must be careful not to schedule these two procedures too close together. Wait at least one week after the chemical treatment before applying permanent hair color. Not only is this healthiest for your hair, but it will also nicely fix any fading that may have occurred during the chemical process.
There you have it…your path to healthy, gorgeous hair!