5 free and easy ways to improve hair health

photo of brushing hair
Engin Akyurt/Creative Commons

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Most of us aspire to have healthy looking, luscious locks, but not all of us want to shell out money for products with hefty price tags. As someone with very fine hair who has traumatized it with hair dye, bleach and the hot wrath of a curling iron, my journey toward improving the health of my hair has been a long one. Here are a few simple changes I’ve learned along the way that you can easily implement into your daily routine to show your hair some love. Best of all, these changes don’t require you to pull out your wallet!

Don’t sleep with your hair wet

As someone who prefers to shower at night, I used to commit the grave sin of going to bed with my hair wet all the time. Sleeping with wet hair leaves it more prone to breakage and damage since hair is at its weakest point when wet. Throughout the night, as you toss and turn in your sleep, the friction of your wet hair against the fabric of the pillow case will cause it to snap more easily, thereby exacerbating the problem of split ends. To prevent this from happening, try washing your hair earlier in the evening to allow it time to air dry, or use a blow dryer on low heat and a strengthening heat protectant to dry your hair before bed.

Don’t overwash your hair

There’s this misconception that it’s necessary to wash your hair every day to maintain good hygiene and not turn into a ball of grease, but washing your hair every day can actually be pretty taxing to the scalp. Shampoos are designed to strip out all the oils, dirt and grit that accumulate in your hair, but when used too frequently, they can overly deplete its natural oils. Without these natural oils, your hair loses its lustrous shine and will look more dull and lifeless. By excessively washing your hair, you also overdry your scalp, leading to dandruff. This sets the course for a viscous feedback loop: The more you strip your scalp of oils, the more oil it will produce to compensate. Try prolonging the length of time between each hair wash and retraining your scalp to produce a normal level of oil if you suffer from this problem.

Let your hair down!

Though it’s usually more convenient to have our hair tied back in a tight ponytail or bun, hairstyles that pull on our scalp too hard for long periods of time can be hard for our hair to bear. Such stress on our strands may even lead to traction alopecia, which is balding around the forehead area. Be more gentle with your hair by letting it down as often as you can, or opting for loose braids or a loose low ponytail whenever you need your hair out of the way. Even better, try using claw clips as a gentler alternative to elastic hair ties, which involve less tugging at the hair follicles.

Brush your hair, but not too often

Brushing your hair on a regular basis can be helpful in distributing the natural oils from your roots all the way down to the ends of your hair, keeping your whole mane nourished and strengthened and preventing the appearance of a greasy scalp. It also helps with the process of natural shedding, thereby reducing the buildup of dead hair follicles. However, as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Overbrushing can weaken the hair and lead to hair loss if you’re constantly tugging through your hair with a comb. Try to brush your hair two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. When you brush your hair, be slow and gentle to avoid traumatizing your hair follicles.

Move your hair out of the way of your backpack

As college students, most of us carry around some type of backpack or bag pretty often. If you have shoulder-length hair or longer, chances are your hair gets caught underneath your backpack. The friction of your hair against the strap of the bag as it’s being pulled when you walk damages the hair cuticle, thereby leading to thinner hair and more split ends. So next time you proceed to sling on your bag, be mindful to move your hair out of the way!

We at the Clog hope these simple hair care tips will get you on your way to happier and healthier hair without having to break the bank!

Contact Madeleine Lorie at [email protected].