The key to a shiny, voluminous ‘do has less to do with expensive products and stylists than it does day-to-day maintenance—It’s what’s underneath the dry shampoo and Oribe Maximista that counts. You’d be surprised at how much good the right brush, eating habits, and a couple drops of mustard seed oil can do. Read on for seven secrets to luscious, flowing locks that’ll put Lady Godiva’s to shame.
1. Stay trim. Determined to grow out your locks? It may seem counterintuitive, but for healthy hair, you’ve got to snip away half an inch every six to eight weeks. Ten, if we’re being really generous. Regular trims do away with split ends that prevent hair growth before they can elongate and cause more damage.
2. Eat smart. The health of your hair is a reflection of what you put in your body. Your strands, scalp, and hair follicles thrive on protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and biotin, while vitamins E, A, C and B and minerals like zinc and iron keep strands strong and abundant. To this end, snack on a balanced diet of salmon, oysters, walnuts, sweet potatoes, eggs, spinach, lentils, Greek yogurt, blueberries, and poultry, and other yummy nutrient-rich foods.
3. Brush correctly. Do you watch so much hair twirl down the drain, you’re amazed you don’t leave the shower bald? Not to fear, it’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands a day. Don’t let it deter you from brushing, a key component of hair hygiene. Devote some time each morning to sweeping dust, dirt, and dandruff out of your hair. If you choose to groom post-shower, invest in a wide-tooth comb. When it comes to choosing a brush, opt for natural, or at the very least ball-tipped, bristles.
4. Save the dryer for special occasions. Flat ironing and blow-drying locks in preparation for complicated, polished updos causes “temporary changes to the hydrogen bonds that hold hair together,” making hair look dull and, over time, leading to permanent damage, according to Paradi Mirmirani, MD., a staff dermatologist at the Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, California. We know, it’s a lot to ask during the winter. If a shower is the only way to get yourself out of bed in the morning, towel off vigorously and leave yourself some natural drying time.
5. Laissez-hair. Keep ponytails and braids loose or limit the time you bind your hair in tight styles. Be sure to set your hair free at night. Ponytails and braids, especially tight ones, can cause hair to break and damage roots, states Mirmirani.
6. Swim like a fish? Prevent chlorine damage by rinsing hair before entering a pool, wearing a swim cap, and coating on some pH-balancing conditioner. By pre-saturating your mane with water or providing a protective barrier between your strands and the chlorine, you’ll minimize chemical absorption.
7. Oil it up. Once or twice a week, depending on your hair type, naturally repair dry ends by applying coconut oil directly to the damaged hair. For a more intense treatment, coat your hair with the product, then let it sit for an hour under a shower cap. The hydrating mask will transform your tresses. Other great moisturizing hair and scalp masks use nutrient-rich ingredients like avocado, egg, aloe vera, argan oil, mustard seed oil, and more.