How to keep your hair healthy

Susannah Hickling

Winter can take its toll on our hair, but with spring just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to focus on our follicles

Brush up on brushing

Brush your hair often to loosen hairs that are near the end of their seven-year life and encourage new ones to take their place. Always brush gently. A wide-tooth comb will help untangle hair, while a brush with dense bristle—such as boar hair—helps spread natural oils along the hairs. Brush the last few inches first, then gradually move up, always brushing downwards.

 

Wash and go

According to research from Head & Shoulders, the optimal frequency for hair washing is three days. And if you take care when you’re shampooing your hair, you’ll promote better hair growth and even arrest hair loss. Use warm, not hot, water and shampoo from the nape, applying it to the hairline before washing the hair on top of your head. Massage your scalp three times to push nutrients into the hair bulb and unclog your follicles. Always rinse thoroughly after shampooing and conditioning, and finish with a cold-water rinse. This will tighten pores in your scalp, firm up hair fibres, reduce limpness and increase sheen.

 

Home and dry

Heat from hair dryers, straighteners and curling tongs can permanently damage your hair, leaving it frizzy and brittle. It may also affect your scalp and cause dandruff. Gently pat your locks with a towel after washing—don’t wring or twist hair—and use a lower heat setting on your hair dryer.

 

Tied up

Don’t tie your hair back tightly too often or for too long. And don’t sleep with any accessories in your hair. You can end up with tension damage and headaches. Ponytails that are too tight might even cause hair loss.

 

Shades of grey

Grey hair quickly looks duller and dirtier than hair with colour, and it gets drier too. But if you use a light-blue shampoo, you’ll avoid that ageing yellow tinge.

 

Dye another day

To keep your tresses healthy, allow at least four weeks between single-process colour treatments and at least eight weeks between low- or highlight treatments.

 

Doctor, doctor

Dandruff is common, but if you’ve had a red, flaky, itchy scalp for a month and anti-dandruff shampoo hasn’t helped, it could be time to make an appointment with your GP. You might have a skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis or the adult equivalent of cradle cap.

 

Food for thought

We’ve talked a lot about how to treat your hair from the outside, but your diet can also have a big impact on your crowning glory. To keep it strong and shiny, make sure you eat foods containing essential fatty acids, such as mackerel, salmon and walnuts, along with protein-rich Greek yogurt, spinach and kale, which are packed with vitamins A and C. Iron-fortified cereals guard against hair loss, chicken or turkey help hair stay thick, eggs promote growth and orange fruit and veg, such as sweet potato, mango and carrots keep your locks luscious.