Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/28/2022
Your hair is one of the first things people will notice when they meet you, making it important to invest a little bit of time and effort into its appearance.
While many people associate the term “hair care” with exotic-sounding products and expensive treatments, the reality is that taking care of your hair can be an easy, inexpensive process once you’re familiar with what to do -- and more importantly, what not to do.
From washing your hair the right way to using safe, science-based medication to stop thinning and hair loss, a few simple habits can help you to keep your hair looking luscious, healthy and full of life.
We’ve covered 18 of these tips, techniques and habits below to help you support the growth of healthy hair, all while avoiding hair loss, an itchy scalp, hair damage and other common issues that can take a toll on the way your hair looks and feels.
We’ve also discussed a few common mistakes that can set back your progress, as well as the best ways to avoid them as part of a proper hair care routine.
If you’ve ever searched for information about how frequently you should wash your hair, you’ve probably seen headlines telling you to wash “every other day,” “twice a week” or along a similar set, consistent schedule.
While these tips are generally okay, the best way to wash your hair is by taking note of your hair type, then adjusting your routine based on its needs.
Not everyone’s scalp is equally oily, nor is every head of hair equally thick, dry or resilient. While some people have naturally straight, thin hair, others might have curly hair, frizzy hair or textured hair that requires extra attention.
Our guide to working out your hair type explains how you can identify the type of hair you have, then tailor your shampoo schedule and hair product selection based on its needs.
By tailoring your hair care schedule to your hair type, you can avoid overwashing your hair and stripping away too much naturally-occurring oil, or washing it too infrequently and allowing your hair and scalp to become greasy and unclean -- a topic we’ve discussed more below.
Shampoo is designed to clean away oil, dirt, dust and other unwanted substances that can build up on your skin and in your hair over time.
Whenever you wash your hair with shampoo, you remove sebum -- a natural oil that’s produced by your sebaceous glands -- that helps to lubricate and protect your skin.
Sebum is important for maintaining your skin’s barrier function. However, when too much sebum builds up on your scalp, it can increase your risk of acne breakouts and cause your hair to smell and feel unclean.
Because sebum is secreted from your scalp, not your hair itself, it’s important to focus mostly on your scalp and hair roots when you apply shampoo. As you wash, gently massage the shampoo into your scalp instead of focusing the application of shampoo to the entire length of your hair.
This can help to wash away any excess oil and other unwanted substances that may affect your hair’s appearance, scent and texture, all without making your hair become overly dry or dull.
While washing your hair on a frequent basis is a good thing regardless of your hair type, it’s best to wash your hair with shampoo frequently if you have naturally oily, greasy hair that quickly gets thick and tangled when it’s left alone.
You can check your hair’s oiliness with your fingers. Try running a finger along the length of your hair (without any product in it, of course). If it feels overly oily, it’s generally a good indicator that it’s time to wash your hair with shampoo.
If you have a naturally oily scalp and hair, you might need to shampoo your hair on a daily basis to keep it looking, feeling and smelling fresh.
Some shampoos, particularly inexpensive, basic shampoos that are sold in many supermarkets and drugstores, are formulated using harsh ingredients that can strip away moisture and irritate your skin.
Although some rumors about shampoo ingredients aren’t very accurate -- for example, there is no evidence that sulfates in shampoo cause cancer -- there’s some scientific research showing that certain sulfates may cause contact dermatitis and hair protein damage.
If you have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated, try to avoid washing with shampoos that contain these ingredients. Instead, search for a gentle shampoo that’s designed to control oil levels and keep your hair clean without drying out your skin.
Sulfate-free shampoos, which usually feel less bubbly than conventional shampoos, are a good alternative, especially if you have a dry scalp that’s prone to irritation from harsh ingredients.
Contrary to popular belief, conditioner isn’t just an optional extra for your hair. When you apply the best conditioner for men to your hair, you enhance your hair’s physical strength, provide it with protection against damage from UV radiation and limit the buildup of static electricity.
These effects all increase your hair’s general resilience, helping you to maintain healthier hair and avoid the perpetual bad hair days that can occur when your hair is weak and brittle.
In addition to strengthening your hair, conditioner also offers aesthetic benefits. A good quality conditioner can make your hair feel smoother, increase its shine and give it a fuller, thicker and more impressive appearance.
Make sure to use conditioner every time you wash your hair. For best results, fully wash away any shampoo you’ve applied to your hair and scalp, then -- while you still have wet hair -- apply your preferred conditioner.
When using conditioner, focus on applying it to the tips of your hair, where its effects are usually needed the most.
Whether you’re getting a little older and feel the need to cover up your gray hairs or simply color your hair for a different look, there’s nothing wrong with artificially coloring your hair.
However, color-treated hair requires some additional care, starting with the type of products you use in the shower.
If you color your hair, you’ll get the best results by choosing a shampoo and conditioner that are specifically designed for color-treated hair.
These products are often formulated to improve your color retention and keep your hair strong, shiny and smooth without drying it out.
Chemically treated hair is often dryer than naturally colored hair. This means that you may need to wash your hair slightly less frequently than you did before changing its color.
Since both hair dyes and hair types can vary significantly, you might need some time to work out the right shampoo, conditioner and general hair care routine for your hair’s natural type and your choice of color.
While drying your hair with a towel is quick and convenient, it may irritate your scalp and pull on your hair, especially if you use a firm technique.
Similarly, using a blow dryer can expose your hair to excessive heat, which could weaken it and result in damaged hair that breaks easily.
While it’s okay to towel dry your hair if you’re in a hurry, it’s better to let your hair dry naturally by wrapping it up in a towel to absorb moisture, then letting it dry naturally through exposure to the air.
If you prefer to take a more active role in drying your hair, it’s also alright to gently pat your hair dry with your towel.
If you use a blow dryer, make sure to choose the lowest heat setting, then hold the hair dryer as far from your scalp as possible. This will limit any heat-related damage and help you maintain a healthy scalp and hair follicles.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to brush or comb your hair hundreds of times a day to keep it healthy.
In fact, research into the effects of brushing largely shows that using a brush or comb can cause damage to your hair and increase breakage.
In short, brushing generally isn’t a good thing for your hair. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, there are certain things that you can do to make brushing your hair a less harmful process.
The first is to brush gently using a wide-toothed comb. The second is to avoid pulling or tugging on your hair when you brush it.
Finally, only ever brush or comb your hair when you need to style it (for example, as you apply a styling product). Aside from styling, there’s no real need to brush your hair frequently, especially not on a once or twice-daily basis like some videos and blog posts might claim.
Although male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men, other conditions may also cause you to shed hair.
This type of hair shedding can also be triggered by certain medications, including retinoids and beta-blockers.
Unlike male pattern baldness, telogen effluvium hair loss typically isn’t permanent. However, it’s often severe, resulting in diffuse hair loss that makes your hair look thinner for several months at a time.
If you’ve noticed your hair starting to shed after a stressful event, an illness, surgery or starting a new medication, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know. To check for this type of hair loss, they may perform a hair pull test -- an in-office test that involves tugging on your hair.
If appropriate, your healthcare provider may suggest medications or changes to your habits and lifestyle that you can use to prevent this form of shedding and keep your hair healthy.
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Just like the rest of your body, your hair follicles depend on a consistent supply of vital nutrients in order to function properly. These include a variety of vitamins and minerals, from vitamin B12 and biotin to zinc and iron.
The good news is that you can generally consume these nutrients without having to worry about using endless tablets, powders and capsules simply by eating a balanced diet.
To promote healthy hair growth, try to focus on eating a diet built around nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits, green vegetables, lean protein sources and complex carbohydrates.
Not only does a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients support thicker-looking hair -- it’s also a great thing for your heart health, body composition and general wellbeing.
Concerned you might not be getting enough vitamins to support optimal hair health? Our Biotin Gummy Vitamins make hitting your recommended daily intake easy by putting the vitamins you need for optimal hair growth in a single supplement.
If you have long hair that you wear in cornrows, dreadlocks or a ponytail, consider wearing it a little looser than you normally would.
While pulling your hair back tightly might not seem like a big deal, it can contribute to a form of hair loss called traction alopecia.
Unlike male pattern baldness, traction alopecia isn’t caused by hormones. Instead, it’s caused by the continuous pulling force that’s placed on your hair roots by certain hairstyles and styling products.
This pulling force could also come from strong hold styling products, such as hair gel, wax and spray. As such, if you style your hair using these products, it’s best to stick to options that don’t hold it in place too firmly or put too much pressure on your hair from roots to tip.
We’ve talked more about this form of hair loss, as well as the steps that you can take to stop it from developing, in our guide to traction alopecia treatment.
If you live in a sunny area, you may have noticed that your hair gets lighter in color towards the end of summer.
This is a byproduct of UV exposure. When you spend time in direct sunlight, the same UV rays that damage your skin and cause you to develop a tan also have an impact on your hair’s color, structure and integrity.
Long-term exposure to UV radiation from sunlight can gradually damage the cuticle, or outside cover, of your hair. Over the course of a long summer or sunny vacation, this may cause your hair to become dry, brittle and frizzy.
There are several things that you can do to protect your hair from the sun. The first is to wear a hat on sunny days. The second is to avoid spending too much time outside during the sunniest hours, such as around noon and early afternoon.
Not only can this shield your hair from UV damage -- it’s also a good way to stop your skin from becoming sunburned and damaged by sun exposure, which can make many signs of skin aging more visible.
Finally, if you live in a really sunny region, consider applying a leave-in conditioner that contains zinc oxide -- a common ingredient in sunscreens that’s known to provide UV protection.
Many swimming pools, especially swimming pools in hotels, resorts and public facilities, contain chlorine and other ingredients that can be harsh on your hair.
If you swim often, there are several things that you can do to keep your hair protected while you swim and after you leave the water.
The first is to wear a swim cap. A swim cap will help protect your hair from exposure to chlorine, and might even improve your swimming. The second is to rinse and wash your hair as soon as you can after you finish swimming.
For optimal results, use a swimmers’ shampoo to remove any leftover chlorine, then use clean water to apply conditioner to keep your hair soft, hydrated and healthy.
A variety of factors can cause or contribute to dry, damaged hair, including washing your hair too often, using a harsh shampoo and swimming in salt water. Many people also have hair that feels dry naturally, which may become worse if you live in a region with low humidity.
If you’re prone to developing dry hair, try to keep your hair moisturized by conditioning it often (a topic we covered above) and choosing hair care products that contain moisturizing ingredients.
Many people note that moisturizing shampoos with plant-based oil ingredients, such as coconut oil, tea tree oil and avocado oil, have moisturizing properties. Many of these ingredients are also found in hair masks and other hair care products.
However, there’s very little high quality scientific research on the moisturizing properties of these ingredients, meaning we don’t know how they compare to conventional conditioners.
Another way to keep your hair more moisturized is to shampoo less frequently, such as one time every other day instead of daily. This can be a good approach as you age, as it’s normal for your scalp to gradually produce less sebum as you get older.
Just like your hair, your scalp can dry out, increasing your risk of dealing with flaky skin that gets caught in your hair and on your shoulders.
A range of issues can cause a dry scalp, including scalp fungal infections, seborrheic dermatitis and seasonal changes that cause your skin to lose moisture.
If you’ve noticed your scalp looking a little flaky, feeling itchy or showing other signs of dryness, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider. They may suggest making changes to your hair care routine, prescribe medication, or refer you to a dermatologist for further care.
Another great way to prevent dry hair and an itchy, irritated scalp is to turn down the heat a little when you take a shower.
As nice as it can feel to turn up the heat when you shower, doing so can strip away sebum from your scalp, potentially worsening dry hair. If you have a skin issue such as psoriasis, hot water can also increase your risk of flare-ups.
Instead of taking a hot shower, try washing your hair with lukewarm water. If you’re prone to dry skin or brittle hair, make an effort to limit your showers to five to 10 minutes to prevent moisture loss.
Few things can affect the appearance of your hair more than a noticeable receding hairline or bald patch.
Male pattern baldness is an extremely common issue for men. According to research published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery, upwards of 50 percent of men display signs of moderate to extensive hair loss by the time they reach their late 40s.
If you’re beginning to notice hair loss, you might want to speak to your healthcare provider about FDA-approved medications like finasteride and minoxidil.
Finasteride is a prescription oral medication that’s often used to treat male pattern baldness. It prevents your body from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen hormone that can damage your hair follicles and cause male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that’s available as a liquid or foam. It doesn’t block DHT, but it does stimulate hair growth by moving your hair follicles into the anagen (growth) phase of your hair growth cycle and improving blood flow to your scalp.
Finasteride and minoxidil are both approved by the FDA, and research shows that they’re both effective at preventing hair loss and, in some cases, stimulating regrowth.
In fact, research shows that these medications are particularly effective when used together. In one study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery, more than 94 percent of balding men who used both medications for 12 months showed improvements.
In comparison, 59 percent of men who only used minoxidil and 80.5 percent of men who used finasteride on its own also displayed improvements.
We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. We also offer minoxidil liquid and minoxidil foam, with finasteride and minoxidil available together in our Hair Power Pack.
Finally, when it comes to caring for your hair, it’s important to be consistent. The more you stick to your hair care routine over time, the better your hair will look and feel.
Taking care of your hair is like taking care of any other aspect of your health -- in the long term, good habits tend to produce good results.
Focus on the long term and remember that real progress, whether in terms of stimulating hair growth, stopping androgenetic alopecia, or just improving your general hair condition, doesn’t always occur overnight.
From choosing the right shampoo to using conditioner, loosening off overly tight hairstyles and keeping your hair protected from the sun, a few simple habits can have a large positive impact on the strength, feel and appearance of your hair.
As for male pattern baldness, hair loss treatments such as finasteride and minoxidil can protect and maintain your follicles for decades when used consistently.
Worried about hair loss? We offer a range of hair loss treatments online that you can use to cut down on hair shedding, thicken up thin patches and improve your hair’s overall scalp coverage, density and appearance.
You can get started taking care of your hair by scheduling an online hair loss consultation to find out more about your options.