Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/25/2021
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 listed 13 of these tips, techniques and habits below to help you keep your hair looking its best and avoid dryness, itching, dandruff, hair loss and other common issues.
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 another set, consistent schedule.
While these tips are okay, the best way to wash your hair is by taking note of how oily your skin becomes, then washing based on its appearance and feel.
Not everyone’s scalp is equally oily. While some people naturally have oily skin and hair, others have relatively dry skin that doesn’t require as much attention.
With this in mind, it’s best to wash your hair whenever you feel it becoming oily. If your scalp is naturally oily, this may mean washing your hair every day.
If you have moderate skin, you may only need to wash every other day.
If you have dry skin and see flakes developing on your scalp, it’s a reliable sign that you need to wash your hair more frequently.
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.
When you wash your hair, focus on gently massaging the shampoo into your scalp. This helps wash away oil and other unwanted substances that can affect your hair’s appearance, scent and texture, all without making your hair become overly dry or dull.
Make sure to avoid washing only your hair. Remember that your sebaceous glands (the glands in your skin that secrete oil) are found in your scalp — not in your hair — meaning your scalp needs the most attention whenever you shower.
Some shampoos, particularly inexpensive shampoos sold in 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, look 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 can feel less bubbly than traditional shampoo, are a good alternative.
Contrary to popular belief, conditioner isn’t just an optional extra. When you apply conditioner to your hair, you increase the hair’s physical strength, provide protection against damage from UV radiation and reduce the buildup of static electricity in your hair.
Conditioner also has noticeable aesthetic benefits — it makes your hair feel smoother, increases its shine and gives it a fuller, thicker appearance.
Make sure to use conditioner every time you wash your hair. Apply your conditioner immediately after you finish washing your hair with shampoo.
When you use conditioner, focus on 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.
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.
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.
Alternatively, it’s alright to use a blow dryer — just make sure to use the lowest heat setting and hold it a reasonable distance from your scalp.
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.
One study even found that hair brushing is associated with hair loss, and that reducing brushing frequency may help to prevent hair shedding.
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). Outside of styling, there’s no real need to brush your hair regularly.
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, more than half of men develop moderate to extensive hair loss by the time they reach their late forties.
You can catch male pattern baldness before it becomes severe by looking out for the early signs of balding, such as excessive amounts of hair shedding.
If you’re losing your hair, it’s important to take action as quickly as you can to stop it from getting worse.
Currently, two medications have been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. They are minoxidil (sold as a generic and under the brand name Rogaine®) and finasteride (also sold as a generic and under the brand name Propecia®).
Minoxidil is a topical medication that works by encouraging hair follicles to enter the anagen, or growth, phase of the hair growth cycle. It’s sold in liquid and foam form and can be purchased without a prescription.
We offer generic minoxidil and finasteride online, with both medications available together in our Hair Power Pack.
Although male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men, other conditions may also cause you to shed hair.
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.
You can avoid this form of hair shedding by practicing good general health habits and by taking action swiftly if you ever become physically unwell.
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 the hair roots by certain hairstyles and styling products.
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.
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 shield your hair from exposure to chlorine, and may even improve your swimming.
The second is to rinse and wash your hair after you finish swimming.
For optimal results, use a swimmers’ shampoo to remove any leftover chlorine, then use conditioner to keep your hair soft, hydrated and healthy.
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.
This is especially true for medications like finasteride and minoxidil, which need to be used daily over the long term for consistent effects.
In addition to using the right hair care products, maintaining a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle may also help to foster improved hair growth.
Simple things such as eating a healthy amount of zinc and iron-rich foods, managing your stress levels and quitting smoking can all have a positive impact on your hair.
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.