A lifetime of wear and tear can leave your hair flat, lifeless and dull. We asked Tony Masciangelo, editorial stylist for Nexxus Salon Hair Care, for tips on how to bring your hair back from the dead and keep it healthy, shiny and damage-free.
1. Eat well
Just like healthy skin, healthy hair begins on the inside with what you eat and drink.
"Diet definitely affects the health of your hair," says Masciangelo. "The more balanced your diet is, the more efficiently your body will perform – and those benefits are directly evidenced in the health of your hair."
Shiny, strong hair and speedier growth are benefits you can look forward to when eating foods full of antioxidants, such as blueberries, tomatoes and broccoli, as well as fish oils and protein. "Hair is pure protein and needs to be replenished, so a diet rich in protein will boost (the health of your) hair."
Upping your intake of vitamins B and D will also benefit your hair, says Masciangelo, who has noticed increased hair growth and extra-luminous locks on some of his clients who take supplements.
2. Look for specific ingredients tailored to your hair type
"Healthy hair is maintained with the products you use," explains Masciangelo, who advises clients to start their hair-care regimen with a shampoo and conditioner containing ingredients that promote healthy hair.
Check the labels for shea butter, coconut oil and keratin, which help strengthen locks, as well as panthenol for moisture and gelatin and vitamin B12 to repair and protect split ends.
It's also important to use products formulated specifically for your hair type. If you have curly hair, look for products that contain humectants (moisturizing ingredients) such as glycerol to reduce frizz and define curls. If your goal is to plump up fine hair, hunt for volumizing and lifting ingredients such as niacin and wheat protein.
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3. Be gentle
Ripping out hair elastics, brushing wet hair and being too harsh when detangling knots can all lead to damage and broken ends – literally splitting hairs.
"Always comb through tangles in the shower with conditioner and a wide-tooth comb," advises Masciangelo. "Combing or brushing out tangles or snags when semidry or after drying will guarantee breakage."
Taking the few extra minutes in the shower will pay off with healthy, sleeker-looking hair.
4. Don't overheat
There are more professional hair tools on the market now than ever before. But too much of a good thing (read: hot tools) can wreak havoc on our locks. According to Masciangelo, heat is one of the worst things to expose your hair to.
"Keep your hair dryer at least five to 10 inches away from your hair to avoid extra damage, and purchase a flatiron with temperature control," he says.
If you're just touching up your style, use your flatiron on a lower temperature (approximately 160ºC) and only on the necessary sections. (Just the ends, for example, if you're pulling your hair into a high ponytail.)
Don't forget to always prep your hair with a heat-protecting product prior to styling – about a quarter-size amount for medium-length hair should do – and focus on the ends, which usually need the most damage protection.
5. Try a treatment
Think of hair treatments as facials for your hair – something you should do to repair damage and look your best.
"Use a treatment once a month," says Masciangelo. "This process will allow the hair to replenish some of the nutrients lost to styling and environmental damage."
Hair treatments help mend damaged hair and can be used regularly as a preventative measure against further damage. Masciangelo recommends Nexxus ProMend Leave-In Treatment Crème, which repairs up to 94 per cent of split ends.
6. Get trimmed
It's true, getting your hair trimmed will make your hair healthier. "Regular trims help control split ends and keep your style looking fresh all the time," explains Masciangelo, who suggests getting a trim every six to eight weeks.
Got curly hair? You can go less often – about three or four times a year should suffice. If you're in the process of growing your hair out, going for a cut even a few times a year can seem like torture, but Masciangelo notes that the less often you go, the more noticeable the trim will be.
Eating well and using the right products will get you on the path to shiny, beautiful hair in no time. Once you maintain your hair with gentle styling, limit your use of hot tools, and get the appropriate treatments and trims, your new healthy locks will be looking great and singing your praises instead of signalling SOS.
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