A lot of people are walking around with dry, damaged hair — but they have no idea. Or, they have a clue but haven’t considered a remedy besides shaving it all off. (That’s only an effective remedy if they intend to keep it shaved.) This hair is brittle, frayed, and parched, and the follicle is likely on life support, too, malnourished and unable to grow firm, full, and shiny (aka healthy) hair.
Hair can become damaged for many reasons, most often due to a combination of variables. These include things like smoking, sleeplessness, consuming alcohol and sugary foods, dehydration, poor hygiene, dandruff, environmental elements (like air pollution), lack of protein and vitamins, and more. Even dyeing the hair or using a blow dryer too excessively can significantly hinder your hair’s health.
If you want a restart on everything, then follow the below tips. (In addition to kicking all your vices, like not sleeping enough, or binge drinking, or smoking.) In 90 days’ time, we can promise a significant change to the hair that’s growing from the follicle, which will set you up for healthier, firmer, shinier, fuller hair after a few more months.
Establish a hydration-focused care regimen
This is easy: Get twice as much conditioner as you do shampoo, but you can’t buy just any kind of that duo. Look for shampoos that express their hydrating powers, that they leave hair moisturized in addition to clean. They’re likely the ones that swap out sulfates and other drying agents, and are also plugged full of nutrients (almost like a conditioner). Use this shampoo one every second or third day. Yep — that’s the limit. Exceptions can be made if you find that the extra-washed hair stays more voluminous — but therein lies the problem. There’s often more volume when hair is parched. And there are other ways to achieve that effect while keeping it healthy.
Next, follow every wash with a conditioner, and then condition once on the days between shampoos, too. This will flush much of the excess oil, gunk, and product from the scalp and hair, but we’ll address those matters later in this roundup. Secondly, by shampooing less, your scalp will slowly train itself to produce less oil anyhow, since you’re no longer stripping it over moisture on the daily. By doing this, you’ll enjoy naturally nourished, soft, and vibrant hair.
Never combine your shampoo and conditioner — always use the conditioner last or on its own. Its job is to fill your hairs full of vitamins and nutrients that keep it soft but strong. Don’t skimp on this product — nor on the shampoo — because the cheaper the product, usually the more damaging and drying it is.
Introduce thickening products (unless your hair is already thick)
Here’s a cheat code to having healthier hair: Sometimes, it’s all in how things appear. We’re not suggesting any shortcuts, nor are we suggesting any products that will compromise your hair’s health. But, if you use styling products that naturally bind to the hair and give it a thicker appearance (conditioners and shampoos exist for this, too), then you can make your hair seem fuller, thicker, and stronger instantly. The key, though, is to find water-soluble products that will simply rinse out on their own (requiring no shampoo). Many stylers are made this way now, but it never hurts to ask. And yes, the rest of our tips will address more permanent solutions and habits to build.
Prioritize scalp health
Your hair’s health is directly tied to that of your scalp. After all, that’s where each follicle resides. It’s kind of like expecting to grow healthy crops from dried, poisoned soil: You’ve got to address the dirt if you want the plants to grow properly. This includes preventing (or eliminating) flakes and dandruff, as well as toning the scalp in order to produce less (or more) oil, depending on which is needed. The scalp can easily become irritated, playing host to bacterial or fungal outbreaks, and it’s especially sensitive to the elements—the hot sun (not to mention sunburn), excessively hot water, and bone-dry winters can all compromise the scalp and in turn each of the hairs that spring from it.
Some proactive ways to stay atop of your scalp care include: Periodically swapping in a dandruff shampoo for your usual one — perhaps twice a month — or using a scalp-focused duo; using a scalp-toning serum (with ingredients like charcoal or tea-tree oil) as needed; using a scalp scrub once a week to lift any excess flakes and simultaneously tone the skin — doing so also massages the scalp to stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles, and in turn, strengthen and fortify each one.
Try hair masks or leave-in conditioners
Hair masks and leave-in conditioners are essentially the same thing, in that you apply them to freshly washed hair and they juice up each strand with an extra dose of nutrients. Masks you rinse out, and leave-in conditioners you… leave in. These treatments can be done once a week before bed. Oh, and to that note, it’s always good to shower before bed if you want to prioritize healthy hair. You can do a quick rinse in the morning to wake up and get your face clean and all that, but the main shower should be before bed, to thoroughly wash away the grime and pollution you’ve accumulated all day, and to maximize the benefits from treatments. There’s far less threat awaiting your hair while you sleep, so a simple rinse in the morning is sufficient — you can often even skip the conditioner.
These hair treatments, however, only make sense for medium or longer styles.
Consider hair loss remedies, as well as vitamin-rich supplements
This is only something to consider if your hair woes stem from thinning or excessive fall. Talk to your dermatologist about the ways that certain products, pills, and potions may help your hair grow thicker, fuller, and denser. Often times, you can restore any hair lost from the crown (that is, excluding recession) if you act within a year or two. This varies for all men. Your doctor can also address potential health risks associated with medicines.
Once you start, you may notice results in as little as three months, though you may also notice that some hair falls out when you begin use. That’s because it’s re-starting its growth cycle, just as the dormant follicles are getting stronger and generating new hair cycles as well. You may notice sprouts in those first few months, and by 6 months, you should notice significant extra coverage, assuming you’re a prime candidate for these remedies.
Some companies approach hair loss from within, by selling proprietary supplements focused on hair strength and endurance. You can also simplify that by ensuring you eat plenty of protein and ingest enough biotin, but these well-regarded companies (like Nutrafol and Viviscal) have armies or fans who swear by the results.
Explore either hims or Keeps if you want to skip the in-office appointment. Their board-certified dermatologists will assess your concerns over the web, provide proper advice and warnings, and will check in to gauge your response and progress.
Change your habits
We’ll cut right to the chase: The vices are exactly that. Smoking, drinking, partying, drug use, poorly resting, eating sugary and processed foods, and even ingesting excessive caffeine — it’s all bad for your hair. It’s bad for your skin, including your scalp, and it’s bad for the rest of your body too. Staying hydrated and eating nutritious, of-this-earth foods are surefire ways to have healthy hair and healthy everything. Magnify the results by staying physically active and getting quality rest, 7-8 hours nightly. Make a change now, and you’ll notice a unilateral boost to your reflection within a few weeks — and imagine how good it’ll be in three months’ time.