Style Hair Hair Care 11 Habits to Adopt for Seriously Healthy Hair The sooner you adopt these healthy hair habits, the better. By Samantha Zabell Samantha Zabell Samantha is a writer, runner, and avid plan-canceler living in Manhattan. In between Netflix binges, she’s working her calligraphy side hustle at @samzawrites. Real Simple's Editorial Guidelines Updated on October 22, 2022 Fact checked by Danielle Slauter Fact checked by Danielle Slauter Highlights: * Has worked as a fact checker for Real Simple since 2022 * Worked as a staff writer for Mochi Magazine * Currently runs and operates the United States blog for Student Beans Our Fact-Checking Process Share Tweet Pin Email There's much more to healthy hair than just using the right shampoo. Scores of factors affect how sleek, shiny, and strong your hair is. Sure, some of it's genetics—you have to work with the locks you got—but a lot depends on how well you care for those locks. From swapping shampoos every once in a while to scheduling regular hair cuts, here are the healthy habits to start right now. Getty Images Why You Should Never Use Expired Shampoo 01 of 11 Get Regular Haircuts altrendo images/Getty Images All of the experts agree: Avoiding the salon is counterproductive to growing out your hair. "The ends are drying and splitting, so you're not getting the length," explains Stephen Pullan, a trichologist (or hair specialist) at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic. Regular haircuts ensure minimal split ends or breakage. Pullan recommends a trim every six to eight weeks. 02 of 11 Go Natural as Often as You Can Asia Images/Getty Images Your hair needs a rest from everything it endures during the week. Lindsey Bordone, a dermatologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, recommends using the weekend to let your hair recuperate. If possible, let your hair air-dry, avoid heated styling products, and keep it out of a ponytail or tight headband to avoid unnecessary pulling on the hair shaft. In other words, sometimes you just have to let your hair chill. 03 of 11 Don't Ignore Your Scalp ONOKY - Fabrice LEROUGE/Getty Images If you're constantly scratching your head due to dryness and itchiness, and drugstore shampoos aren't helping, consult a doctor. "Don't ignore it," says Bordone. "A chronic itch traumatizes your scalp." According to the Cleveland Clinic, an itch could be problematic if you find it difficult to work or if itchy spots become sore. 04 of 11 Maintain a Healthy Diet Claudia Totir/Getty Images How does a balanced diet relate to healthy hair? "Protein is the building block of hair, because hair is keratinized protein," Pullan says. Like all your body parts, hair relies on protein from your diet. But hair is considered a non-essential tissue, so the body doesn't send protein to hair follicles first—it focuses on essential organs, like the heart or liver. That said, if you're eating enough, the body will be able to distribute protein everywhere it's needed. (Don't worry if you're a vegetarian—there are still ways to work protein into your diet.) Another crucial nutrient is iron. "It's an energy source and a mineral the hair needs," Pullan says. In fact, studies have shown iron deficiency has been linked to female patterned hair loss. 05 of 11 Avoid Hot Tools (or At Least Protect Your Hair From Them) Vladimir Sukhachev/Getty Images If you insist on blow-drying your hair every day, be smart: Don't concentrate the highest heat level on your hair for a long time. "Keep it moving on a cooler setting and lower velocity," Pullan says. "It takes a little bit longer, but the extra time will be beneficial." If you plan to curl or straighten your hair with a hot wand or iron, use a protective spray beforehand—that's Bumble and Bumble colorist Amelia Trammel's number one rule for clients. 06 of 11 Deep Condition Every Week Getty Images This is one healthy hair habit both dermatologists and hairstylists agree on: Incorporate a deep conditioner into your weekly hair care routine for extra hydration. 07 of 11 Wear Hats RomoloTavani/Getty Images "The sun oxidizes your hair and dries it out," Pullan says. So while a hat protects your face from the sun, it also protects your scalp from burning and hair from dehydrating. This is as good an excuse as any to treat yourself to a cute sun hat. RELATED: How to Get a Healthy Scalp, According to Experts 08 of 11 Don't Take Scalding Hot Showers Peter Dazeley/Getty Images Yes, it feels amazing to take a hot shower after a long day (especially in the winter), but scalding hot water doesn't benefit your hair. In fact, it dries it out and, for color clients, washes out the hair color faster than cold water. Bordone recommends a lukewarm shower, which is also better for your skin. 09 of 11 Stop Touching Your Hair All the Time Jerome Tisne/Getty Images Try to minimize "traction," which is tugging or pressure on the hair shaft. The biggest culprit here is putting your hair into a tight ponytail. "Constant mild pulling on the follicle will slowly traumatize the hair," Bordone says. In a few years, you might even notice a receding hairline. Twirling your hair or picking at split ends can be harmful, too, so do your best to leave your hair alone. 10 of 11 Don't Over-Brush RUNSTUDIO/Getty Images Brushing your hair is a healthy habit (and you can't show up to work with bedhead), but brushing more than once a day is another form of traction. In fact, excessive brushing "stretches the hair and breaks weak ends," says Holly Ivey, master stylist at Alibi Soho Salon. Brush once a day, and opt for a plastic brush. Bristle brushes are particularly tough on hair, according to Pullan. 11 of 11 Swap Products Seasonally Shana Novak/Getty Images While the idea that your hair can build up "resistance" to products is a myth, certain hair products are better for different times of the year. In the winter, shampoos and other products should be moisturizing and hydrating, says Bordone, but in the summer, switch to something lighter that won't weigh hair down in the heat and humidity. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Real Simple is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. Park SY, Na SY, Kim JH, Cho S, Lee JH. Iron plays a certain role in patterned hair loss. J Korean Med Sci. 2013 Jun;28(6):934-8. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2013.28.6.934.