From turning down the heat in your shower to leaving your hair untied at night, we spoke to the experts about their latest secrets to keep hair looking its shiny, full best
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Healthy hair is on most of our beauty wish lists (who doesn't want a thick, shiny mane?). From washing it in rice water to air drying it, there’s not much we haven’t tried in pursuit of healthy hair. What do the experts do?
We spoke to trichologists, nutritionists and stylists, about how they help their clients achieve and keep their hair in the best shape of its life.
1. Bin your plastic comb
We should always be doing our hair with a natural bristle brush. “Never use plastic combs or brushes on wet hair,” says London salon Hari's creative director, Craig Taylor. “They will tear and rip the hair, causing potential damage and hair breakage.
“Natural bristles are the kindest you can use, making the hair its smoothest and shiniest,” he continues. “Use only natural bristle brushes to brush through wet hair, be it just wet, have conditioner on or styling products, it will help distribute hair products more evenly and kindly through the hair.”
2. Wash your hair more gently
We’re all guilty of vigorously rubbing at our hair in the shower when we're in a rush, but try to calm down your lathering. “When the hair is wet it loses its elasticity and becomes stretchy and breaks,” says Anita Rice, co-founder of sustainable London salon Buller and Rice. “While washing coloured or damaged hair I suggest massaging the product into the hair in a loose circular motion in the direction of the water flowing.” This avoids upsetting the cuticle and rough up the hair.
3. Take care of your scalp
More and more scalp products are landing and Craig Taylor is keen to bestow the benefits. “Don't underestimate how important scalp health is,” he says. “A healthy scalp will help promote healthy follicles allowing pores to breathe and produce good natural oils, required to keep your hair in good condition.”
“Washing and rinsing your hair and scalp is good for removing dead skin and debris, leaving the skin clean with pores that can breathe. When brushing your hair (with a natural bristle brush) the stimulation on the scalp increases the blood flow, which helps supply blood to the follicle helping to promote healthy hair growth.”
MORE GLOSS: 7 reasons you've got a dry itchy scalp - and what to do about it
4. Don’t tie your hair up wet
Another hair sin we're guilty of when we're in a rush. “This will cause stress to the hair where the tie is. Use a hair clip instead which will be less tight and stressful to the hair,” says Craig.
5. Throw away your hairdryer nozzle
Not what you want to hear when you’ve spent upwards of £200 on a hairdryer, but this is what stylist Michael Van Clarke advises. “If you’re trying to grow your hair, throw away your nozzle, keep a one-inch distance from the hair when you're drying it and stop drying once a section is dry,” he says. “Your nozzle unnecessarily concentrates heat and can lead to excessive damage."
6. Detangle while you’re shampooing
Many of us wait until we’ve doused our hair in conditioner to start the detaining process, but beginning earlier could be key to happier hair. “The detangling process should begin with shampoo,” confirms Kien Hoang, Oribe’s principal educator of content and training. “Oribe’s new Run-Through Detangling Shampoo, launching soon, works on all hair types to prevent knots before they begin, which is key to maintaining healthy hair.”
MORE GLOSS: 5 surprising things that could be making your hair tangle - and what can help
7. Switch out your hair mask
We’ve known for years to use a hair mask regularly to keep locks lovely, but Yolanda Cooper, founder of vegan haircare brand We Are Paradoxx explains it’s not all about masks. “My ultimate hair health advice would be to switch up your hair mask with a scalp scrub,” she says. “Instead of applying a mask every week, make it every two weeks and use a scalp scrub in between. Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp and making time in your routine for both is essential. While a reparative hair mask will condition and nourish the hair strands, a natural scalp scrub will remove impurities and product build up from the scalp; stimulating follicles and encouraging healthy hair growth.”
8. Use haircare as directed
We often think we know best when it comes to our hair – we’ve all been guilty of leaving a mask on longer than instructed, but this could actually cause damage as Renee Gadar, global artistic director for texture at Aveda explains. “Too much of a good thing is an actual thing. It sounds small but ‘using as directed’ will go a long way!
“It’s as simple as don’t use the product as they’re not meant to be used. Use a ‘leave in’ conditioner that states that hey - ‘you can leave me in’ rather than leaving a normal one in. By ignoring the usage instructions you can end up drying your hair out further and not reaping the full benefits of what it was formulated to do."
9. Rinse with cold water to make your hair shiny and protect your colour
You might love a hot, steamy shower but it's not so good for your hair. “When washing hair with hot water, your hair’s cuticle is opened, allowing your colour to wash out quicker while shampooing and conditioning,” says Craig. “To prevent seeing all of your colour go down the drain, try shampooing with slightly warm water and then rinse with cold water after conditioning. The warm water will allow the shampoo and conditioner to penetrate and cleanse, while the cold water will help seal in the moisture from your conditioner while preventing colour from fading by sealing the hair’s cuticle.”
Hairdresser Adam Reed says, 'should I rinse my hair in cold water?' is one of the questions he is asked most. His answer is an outright yes, not just for the shine but for the cold water therapy mental health benefits.“It is brilliant for the scalp. It is brilliant for headcare. It is also brilliant to get shine in your hair.” Adam's new 'headcare' range Arkive is as much about the mental health benefits of a good hair ritual, as the condition of the hair itself.
10. Treat yourself to a scalp massage
The stress-melting head massage part of having a haircut is unbeatable, but it’s good for healthy hair as well as making you feel chilled and is something to add to your home routine too. “Start- massaging your scalp nightly on dry hair to build a healthier foundation to grow the best quality hair,” says Michael Shaun Corby, global creative director for Living Proof. “Massaging creates microcirculation and helps deliver nutrients to the follicle. It can also ease the tension your scalp holds so a regular scalp massage is good for the hair and to relax.
11. Take a hair quiz
Much more fun than it sounds, Kerastase have a tool to help you find the perfect routine for your hair needs. You fill in a quiz that asks you about your natural hair type and texture, the condition of your scalp and what you use to style your hair and at the end you’ve given a personalised routine bespoke to you
12. Clean your hairbrush
We're meticulous when it comes to washing our makeup brushes , but the same can't be said for our hairbrushes.
“Remember to clean your hairbrush once every few months to get rid of invisible residue from styling products and dust that will make hair look dull,” says Annabel. “Use a comb to remove hair left in the hairbrush, saturate them in water, mix two tablespoons of baking soda and two cups of warm water into a spray bottle and spritz onto the prongs and wipe clean with a damp cloth.”
13. Leave your hair down at night
Many of us tie our hair back at night to keep it from tangling but Michael Shaun Corby cautions against this. "Stop putting your hair up and allow your follicles to relax instead of being tugged on by that elastic all night. Constant pulling can lead to traction alopecia (hair loss on hairline or crown) so if you need to put your hair up when going to bed, try and do it gently in a loose bun using silk ties or other soft hair ties to avoid breakage as well.”
14. Add oil to your hair mask
After a simple way to make your hair mask work harder? “Add your favourite hair oil to your hair mask for added benefits,” suggests Paul Edmonds.
Haircare for healthy hair
15. Use an overnight treatment
What could be easier than applying an overnight hair-nourisher and waking up in the AM with good-as-new hair? “Lots of clients are experiencing frizz now due to the change in weather,” says Paul Edmonds, salon owner and She Uemura Art of Hair ambassador. “To get extra help in fighting frizz, go for an overnight treatment. They’re a great way to help you smooth hair with minimum effort. Try Kérastase Nutritive 8Hr Magic Night Serum , £30.15 or Shu Uemura Art of Hair Overnight Serum , £33.65. They help to nourish overnight with no need wash out in the morning.”
16. Try multi-masking
Just like our skin benefits from different masks on different areas, our hair works the same. “Multi masking and layering masks is my secret tip for healthy hair,” says Paul Edmonds. “You could add a different mask on the roots to the ends such as Shu Uemura Art of Hair Muroto Volume, £44.75, on the roots as it is lightweight and hydrating but will not leave any heaviness and on the more damaged ends use Shu Uemura Art of Hair Ultimate Reset Mask , £39.45, for a brilliant voluminous lustrous effect on the hair.”
17. Use bond repair hair care
Swap out your normal haircare for a bond repairing set of products. Redken's three-step routine , £54.85, consisting of shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatment promises intense conditioning, reduced breakage and longer-lasting colour - the trifecta when it comes to haircare.
In trials, it delivered 56 per cent breakage reduction, 230-degree heat protection and made split ends look 78 per cent reduced. It does this by protecting weak bonds in the hair making it more resilient and bouncy. GTG’s digital writer Melanie put it to the test. “Normally it's impossible to get a comb through my hair until its drenched in conditioner but I can run a comb through my lengths when only the shampoo is on it - a surefire sign of how nourishing it is. Following with the two next steps left my hair soft, shiny and smooth."
18. Use a blonde-preserving oil
We all know about purple shampoo for making the most of blonde hair, but L’Oreal just launched a purple brassiness-banishing oil. L'Oreal Elvive Colour Protect Purple Anti-Brassiness Hair Oil , £6.49, is a leave-in product to neutralise yellow tones even when you don’t have time to wash your hair, keeping brassiness at bay in between washes. “This is a great subtle neutraliser between washes,” says stylist Nicky Lazou. “I love that it’s a leave-in rather than a purple shampoo and I like the run it through the hair as a finisher to keep colour looking fresh. It stops the hair feeling dry and heavy and instead is softer and healthier.”
19. Buy a shower head filter
Boring, but it will make all the difference. “It will filter out minerals that damage your hair especially in areas of hard water,” says Dominic Roach, creative director at Butchers Salon in London. Junior doctor and skincare expert Dr Kemi Fabusiwa recommends the Hello Klean shower filter , £60. "My skin had become hypersensitive and my hair limp and lifeless. The shower filter removes the minerals from my water and my skin has never looked back," she told us.
20. Use a hydrating hair tool
We all know heat stylist isn't great for hair, but there are ways to minimise damage if you can’t step away from the straighteners. For example, Bio Ionic 3-In-One Styling Iron , £119, infuses hydration into the hair while you style, ensuring strands stay smooth, hydrated and frizz-free. Plus it works as a flat iron, a curling iron and wand all in one
21. Do a metal detox
If you find that your hair breaks a lot during or after a colour treatment, it could because of excess metal inside the hair fibre, specifically copper. Copper is found in water (it gets there through pipe erosion), so it builds up in your hair with every wash. When it meets the ingredient in hair colouring treatments that activates the dye it makes strands vulnerable to breakage during colour treatments, lightening and balayage
L'Oréal Professionnel identified and developed the ingredient glicoamine, an active agent that targets copper particles, which they’ve put into their L’Oreal Professionnel Metal Detox Shampoo and Masque , £21.25 each. They neutralise the copper deposits to stop your hair from becoming weak and porous, which it’s prone to post-colour treatments.
For extra protection, you can have the Metal Detox Pre-treatment before your colour service in salon.
What to eat for healthy hair
22. Keep your iron levels up
Iron deficiency can result in hair loss, says nutrition expert Jessica Sepel, founder of supplements company of JS Health. “If you are vegan, vegetarian or are experiencing hair loss it is always worth checking in with your doctor to see where your iron levels are at. For me personally, I eat a mix of plant and animal sources of iron to help keep my iron levels within range. “
Registered nutritionist Hannah Alderson advises eating liver, red lentils, beans, red meat, dried apricots and spinach to top up your iron levels.
23. Keep an eye on your thyroid
It's important to take care of your thyroid health as this can have an impact on hair growth and strength, says Jessica Sepel. “If you are experiencing hair loss and are displaying symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, hair thinning, dry skin or brain fog it may be worth checking in with a doctor to explore this further.”
24. Be wary of over-supplementing
When supplements promise long, strong hair it can be tempting to take a handful each day but this can do more harm than good. “Excessive intakes of nutritional supplements may actually cause hair loss and are not recommended in the absence of a proven deficiency,” says Hannah Alderson. “If you're looking to get healthy hair, your best bet for luscious locks is to avoid physical heat damage where possible and stick to a well-varied iron and protein-rich diet to avoid nutrient deficiency.”
MORE GLOSS: The best hair supplements and vitamins
25. Remember to snack
You don’t need to tell us twice! “The energy to form hair cells diminishes four hours after eating a meal, so snack between meals to boost energy levels,” says trichologist Anabel Kingsley.
“While hair is incredibly important to us psychologically, physiologically our body could not care less. Any nutrients ingested from what we eat first go to essential systems, with hair (a non-essential tissue) receiving whatever is leftover. To help ensure you are in-taking adequate nutrients for hair growth, eat at least 120g of protein at breakfast and lunch, then the best energy-producing between-meal snacks for hair are complex carbohydrates such as quinoa and potatoes.”
26. Manage your stress levels
We all know that stress can wreak havoc on our skin , but the same goes for our hair. “Emotional and physical stress can result in hair thinning due to hair loss,” says Jessica Sepel. “To help manage my stress levels, I try to take time out each day to breathe deeply and rest my body and mind. Some days this is a yoga class or a swim in the ocean, whereas other days when I am time poor. Therefore, on those days it can be as simple as putting my legs up against the wall for ten minutes whilst practising deep-belly breathing.”
Clinic treatments to try for healthy hair
If you’ve followed all the healthy hair tips and still feel you need a boost in the mane department, it could be worth going to see an expert for advice on tweakments for healthy hair.
27. Stem cell therapy for healthy hair
Stem cell therapy helps with dry, dull, thinning hair, receding hairlines and hair loss. It’s a one-off treatment that uses your own body’s stem cells to regenerate the scalp and the cycle of the hair follicle to helps pause hair loss, encourage hair thickening and stimulate new hair growth. “It involves harvesting stem cells from the scalp or fat tissue from the abdomen, which are re-injected in the areas needing treatment and in time prompt naturally-occurring hair growth,” explains Dr Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director at Vie Aesthetics in London and Rayleigh, where the treatment is offered. Before the harvested the doctor will use a local anaesthetic injection to numb the area so there should be minimal pain.
28. PRP therapy for hair loss
Platelet-rich-plasma therapy (PRP) has been around since the 70s and works by taking blood from your arm, whizzing it up in a tube to harvest the platelet-rich plasma, then re-injecting it into your scalp. “This kickstarts the promotion of new hair growth, even with follicles that had previously been inactive,” says Dr Liakas. “PRP is been known as a good treatment for healthy hair growth and thickening of the hair and can be boosted by combining it with micro-needling and mesotherapy, by adding and injecting a cocktail of vitamins, nutrients to feed and replenish the scalp and to boost hair growth,” he continues.
29. Carboxytherapy for hair growth
Carboxytherapy involves sending controlled blasts of carbon dioxide to areas of concern on your scalp through small injections, which triggers your body to pump oxygen to the area to increase blood circulation. This supplies the area with vitamins and nutrients, all necessary for the growth of naturally healthy hair.
30. LED Light Therapy for hair growth
We know the many benefits of LED for our skin, but our hair can reap the rewards too, according to Dr Liakas. “LED Light Therapy has been shown to improve the quality of your hair and replenish hair growth,” he says. “The light rays emitted by the LED energise and stimulate the scalp, triggering the process to build new proteins and regenerative cells. It can help boost the hair’s overall health and thickness.” LED is a pain-free option if needles worry you.
31. IV drips for healthy hair
It’s common to see celebs such as Maya Jama hooked up to vitamin drips for a nutrient boost and according to Dr Sophie Shotter, these can work for our hair too. “So many of us carry various nutrient deficiencies and there are so many micronutrients that we can optimise to help hair growth. We can give a blend of B vitamins, biotin, magnesium, calcium, potassium and amino acids. Vitamin D, if someone is deficient, can also be very helpful. The result is shinier, healthier hair growth.
From £200 at Illuminate Skin Clinic
31. Botulinum toxin for healthy hair
We all know that botulinum toxin can improve wrinkles in the face, but it can also be great for optimising hair health. “In clinic I use botulinum toxin a lot to help reduce scalp sweating,” says Dr Sophie. “This helps hair to look bouncier and helps people to wash their hair less often (which is good for the hair). From my own experience, I would also say botulinum toxin boosts hair growth, although we don’t yet have clinical studies that prove this.”
From £195 at Illuminate Skin Clinic
MORE GLOSS: Why knowing your hair type is key to having healthy hair