The normal “life span” of a single hair strand is two to seven years, growing an average of six inches a year.
Many factors affect the health of your hair, including genetics, diet, pollution, medications, hair products, hair styling, and age.
Hair health starts with eating a balanced, healthy diet filled with foods containing key nutrients such as vitamin A, B vitamins (especially biotin), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, protein, zinc, iron, and essential fatty acids.
Other hair care tips include gentle grooming techniques (avoiding hot water and heat styling) and using the right hair care products.
Do you dream of having shiny, thick, beautiful hair? Most people do! While genetics play a key role in luscious locks, plenty of other factors come into play regarding hair health, from diet, pollution, and medications to hair products, styling, and age.
Comprised primarily of protein, one hair strand has a typical “life span” of two to seven years, growing an average of six inches a year.1 How you treat your hair during its short life can go a long way in how it looks and feels. Treat it poorly and you might end up with dull, brittle hair. For instance, excessive chemical treatment, bad grooming habits, and environmental exposure changes your hair texture and can even result in hair breakage.2 But pamper your hair with TLC and you’ll be rewarded with healthy locks.
If you’re wondering how to have healthy hair, follow these hair care tips from dermatologists and other health and beauty experts.
How Can I Get Healthy Hair Naturally?
Sure, you probably have the occasional bad hair day. But when it comes to healthy hair (and a healthy scalp), you can do a lot to improve your mane. Follow these healthy hair tips to strengthen your hair, promote growth, and improve luster.
Eat a healthy diet. To help maintain healthy, natural hair, make sure you eat a balanced, healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, and legumes. (See specific nutrients to look for in the next section, especially biotin.)
Shampoo according to your hair type. If your hair is oily, wash it more frequently, perhaps daily. If it’s drier (or chemically treated), consider washing less frequently. When shampooing, concentrate on the scalp, since washing only your hair can create dull, dry flyaway hair. And, as you age, your scalp produces less oil, so you may need to shampoo less often. If you notice flakes in your hair (which can lead to dandruff and other scalp issues), that means you might need to shampoo more frequently.3 Also, because wet hair damages more easily than dry hair, consider using a dry shampoo. It will give you the clean feeling you crave with less breakage.
Dial down the water temperature. While a nice hot shower feels relaxing, it’s very drying to your hair (and your skin). High water temperatures strip the essential oils from your skin (including your scalp), resulting in drier, duller hair that’s more likely to frizz and break. Instead of hot water, shampoo with lukewarm water.4
Use the right hair care products. When buying shampoo, choose products specifically formulated for your hair type, whether that’s normal, oily, or dry. Also, if you chemically treat your hair (such as coloring, perming, or straightening), then you should use shampoos and conditioners specifically designed for that treatment process.1
Don’t forget the conditioner! While shampoo removes dirt, oil, and styling products, conditioner helps restore your hair. Use conditioner to moisturize your hair, leaving it soft, hydrated, and low in static.2 Some conditioners can also protect against the damaging effects of harmful UV rays from the sun.3
Pamper your head. When it comes to healthier hair, don’t forget your scalp! Give yourself a scalp massage each week by massing in a treatment oil to clean hair follicles and prevent inflammation and blockage.5 While you can buy products exclusively designed for scalp treatments and deep conditioners, you can also take the DIY approach. For a quick hair mask, gently massage a small amount of coconut oil into your hair and scalp, leave it on while you shower, then shampoo as usual. For an overnight treatment, massage a bit of coconut oil into your scalp and shampoo your hair in the morning.6
Take a break from the heat. If you use heat styling tools every day (think blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons) you might want to reduce the frequency to once or twice a week. This will help hair bounce back from the damage these tools cause. When you do use heat styling, apply a heat protectant product to your hair before styling, which will add a protective coating and moisture to your hair.1 You can also let your hair air dry for a while to reduce the time you’ll need to spend using a hair dryer.
As mentioned earlier, how to keep your hair healthy starts with what you eat. While an overall healthy diet will do wonders for maintaining healthy hair, there are some key nutrients that help maintain both hair and scalp health. They include vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, protein, zinc, iron, and essential fatty acids. Biotin, in particular, plays an important role in supporting healthy hair, skin, and nails, including supporting cellular processes involved in the formation of hair follicles and skin cells.7
Foods rich in these key nutrients that promote hair health include avocadoes, berries, eggs, berries, fatty fish, red meat, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, soybeans, dark leafy greens, whole grains, and fortified cereal. If you're not getting a surplus of these nutrient foods then you may want to consider adding Biotin gummies to your routine.
While genetics play an important role in the health of your hair, other factors contribute, too, including age, diet, pollution, medications, hair products, and hair styling.
Whether you’re trying to promote healthy hair growth, reduce hairshedding and breakage, or just improve hair sheen, you can do a lot to make your hair look better. Healthy hair tips include eating nutritious diet, shampooing according to hair type, using the right hair care products, and reducing your use of heat styling.
Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information.
Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.
Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.