If you want healthy hair, start by learning the right (and wrong) way to treat your strands. That means cutting back on heat styling, limiting your bleach appointments, and getting regular trims. Adopting these good-for-you habits in your 20s means you’ll be set for life. Here is your go-to guide to getting the best hair of your life.
1. Know that every day can be a good hair day.
On days when your hair isn’t cooperating (they happen to everyone), it’s not the end of the world. Sometimes you just have to accept that your hair has a mind of its own—so go with it. Your strands are totally unique. And there’s always tomorrow…
2. Minimize breakage by sleeping on a silk pillowcase.
There are many things that can cause breakage, from elastics with metal clasps to a too-tight ponytail. But you can also snap your strands if you’re a wild sleeper. The friction between your hair and the cotton pillowcase can cause frizz to flare up. Outfit your bed in a silk pillowcase or rock a silk scarf at night to minimize the wear-and-tear on your hair while you snooze.
3. Use conditioner for every damn thing.
Conditioner is something that you should use every time you wash to restore moisture to your strands. If you have fine hair, try the reverse shampoo method, where you use conditioner first then suds up with a cleansing product. But you can also use conditioner as a leave-in, a daily styling product, and even shaving cream.
4. Avoid shampooing your hair every day.
Shampoo is meant to clean your scalp and hair, but the sulfates in some formulas (that’s what makes the bubbles) can dry out hair. Instead stretch the days between cleansing by using dry shampoo on fine hair types. Or if you have curly hair, reach for a cleansing conditioner in between clarifying washes.
5. And remember to clean your hot tools on the regular.
You know that black gunk that builds up on the edge of the flatiron plates? That’s product and oil from your hair (yuck!). You can clean it off with a damp towel. And don’t forget to open up the back of your blowdryer every so often to get rid of dust and lint in the vent. A clogged filter can add minutes to your dry time.
6. Don’t wear the same style for too many days in a row.
Wearing the same style day after day can actually have negative effects on your hair. Love a sleek ponytail or a low bun? Switch it up every now and then to avoid pulling at your hairline constantly. Too-tight styles can actually cause hair loss or traction alopecia, which is gradual thinning caused by too much force on the hair.
7. Finish your wash routine with a cool blast to lock in color and moisture.
Once you’ve shampooed and conditioned your hair with lukewarm water (anything too hot can actually dry out your strands), complete your shower with a blast of cool water. This frigid rinse helps close the hair cuticle, giving strands a smoother look. Plus, it helps maintain moisture and seal in your hair color if you’ve got a dye job.
8. Extend your daily sunscreen habit to your hair and scalp.
Your hair doesn’t protect your scalp from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Make sure to put SPF along your hairline and in your part to defend against sun damage. You can also spritz your strands with a sun-shielding formula to keep your hair color vibrant and strands moisturized.
9. Figure out a post-workout hair routine that works for you.
Your hair can suffer from constant shampooing, so limiting post-workout showers is ideal. Try a couple of different ways to refresh sweaty roots after a long sweat session. Use dry shampoo if you don’t have time to rinse. And if you really need a wash, use the locker room conditioner to cleanse hair without stripping your strands.
10. Take care of your scalp just as much as the hair that grows out of it.
A healthy scalp is essential to hair growth. If you’re dealing with dandruff, speak to your dermatologist about ways to remedy your itchy, flaky scalp. Some quick tips: Shampoo every day with a formula that has zinc pyrithione. And use a product that has salicylic acid in the ingredient list to exfoliate flakes away.