Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 1/12/2021
There's everything to love about healthy hair: big volume, super shine, the many looks of envy when it produces little/no shed after brushing...
For some of us however, it's a struggle to maintain volume. Our hair is less shiny, more limp, and the only looks we get are worry over the many strands on the bathtub floor.
If you fall into this latter category and would like to know how to get healthy hair; or even better, how to get healthy and thick hair — we’ve put together a guide on how to achieve healthy hair growth.
Plus, the best ways to prevent hair loss.
Achieving healthy hair growth can depend on a number of factors: your genes and diet, but also external influences like UV rays and air pollution.
We’ll be taking these into consideration while examining easy ways to achieve healthy hair:
Your hair gets dirty for a number of reasons: there could be a build up of sebum, which is produced by oil glands on your scalp.
Then there's sweat, environmental pollutants like dust, or even the accumulation of products used to maintain your hair’s health. All of these contribute to your wet hair requiring a wash in the shower.
But it isn't just about lathering up your hair and calling it a day.
The well being of your scalp — and how clean it gets — are heavily dependent on your shampoo. Which is why if you're really determined to achieve healthy hair, you'll steer clear of picking just any shampoo. Instead, select an option tailored to your needs.
Your shampoo choice should be dependent on your hair type, or the condition of your hair.
Take oily hair, for instance. Shampoo with strong sebum removal abilities would be advisable.
When dealing with a condition like dandruff, specially formulated medicated shampoo could help with its treatment and management.
Dyed or damaged hair could do with all the moisture it can get, mild shampoos with reduced abilities to strip the hair of oil are recommended.
If you'd like more volume to your hair, shampoo with volume-building abilities could add some mass to fine hairs.
Right after shampooing, consider your hair a thirsty sailor in need of hydration, and fast!
Conditioner comes in to replace the moisture lost after shampooing. It minimizes static electricity in the hair, increases hair shine, volume and very importantly, ensures hair manageability.
Depending on what you'd like to achieve, you may select any of the following types of conditioners: instant, deep, thickening or leave-in, to help with managing your hair.
Instant conditioners are used right after shampoo, and are ideal for minimally damaged hair.
Deep conditioners are more concentrated, and are better suited for extremely dry hair, or hair that has gone through coloring or other chemical treatment. This conditioner is typically left on the hair for around 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
Lastly, hair thickeners are applied to the hair shaft for a volumizing effect. Like shampoo, these conditioners are to be applied on wet hair. It will require rinsing to get the product out of the hair completely.
Leave-in conditioners operate a little differently however — they are to be applied to wet or dry hair for conditioning and detangling purposes.
Sampling the different conditioner types to know what works best for you is an easy way to ensure healthy hair.
If you’re looking to grow stronger, thicker hair, consuming a diet rich in Omega 3-fatty acids is a good place to begin.
In a study conducted on 120 women over the course of six months, it was discovered that omega 3&6 — notable antioxidants — can be useful in improving hair density.
These fatty acids can be found in foods such as fish and flaxseed.
Aloe vera has been used for centuries as a home remedy for improving hair, digestive and skin health.
While there is sparse research on the effectiveness of this plant on hair growth, its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal properties as studied in vitro and on animals — and generally involve total leaf extract — strengthen its potential for improving hair health.
Aloe vera also contains vitamins A,C,E, which are known antioxidants. These antioxidants could be useful in decreasing oxidative stress brought on by the hair’s exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Coconut and argan oil are commonly spoken about for their benefits to the hair, and for good reason.
Coconut oil has proven antibacterial and antifungal abilities which are always helpful in protecting the hair.
It is also chock full of fatty acids which, if you scroll up a bit, you’ll remember is pretty good for growing thicker, healthier hair. And there are some studies out there to back up the claim.
This oil is also able to penetrate deep into the hair shaft, the best news if you’re also looking to avoid hair breakage and split ends.
Argan oil also offers great hair growth benefits. It is rich in fatty acids and filled with antioxidants known to promote hair health.
It prevents dry hair, and holds great promise for improving scalp health.
Now that you're a little more informed of the necessary practices to achieve strong hair, you may have noticed two popular options that didn't make the cut. It's time to address the two elephants in the hair shaft.
Castor oil and biotin supplements are common recommendations for growing healthy, long hair.
However, with very little studies and reports on its benefits, the effectiveness of castor oil remains mostly anecdotal.
Likewise, biotin supplements may not provide all the hair perks promised. For one, there's very little research on the actual benefits it offers to the hair. Then, there's the fact that you probably get enough biotin from the food you eat, and may not require any support from supplements.
However, early studies have shown a link between biotin and hair growth. This could be a promising sign for its role as a hair growth supplement.
It’s one thing to grow healthy hair, but it’s a whole other ball game to maintain it well enough, to prevent hair loss.
Now sometimes, preventing incidences of hair loss may be outside of our control, take inherited hair loss for example. In other instances however, preventing the loss of hair may be as simple as adopting better practices, or making changes to your hair care routine. Some of these changes could be:
As much as shampoo can help in promoting strong hair growth, the sulfates contained in some of them can also be instrumental in causing hair loss.
This is because these sulfates — the cleaning agent in many shampoo — can be a little strong for your scalp when executing their role in removing dirt and sebum on the scalp if used often.
When shampooing becomes frequent, your hair becomes too clean and can appear rough, dull, prone to tangling and may even have some frizz.
The friction from everyday shampooing could damage the overlapping scales that make up your hair follicles, causing breakage. You don’t want that.
If you've been experiencing hair loss, it may be time to take a look at what you're eating, or even more likely — what you aren't.
Having a deficiency of iron, zinc, vitamin D, A, E and fatty acids has been shown to cause hair loss.
Likewise, over-supplementing certain nutrients like Vitamin A, E and selenium may prove harmful to your hair, and could lead to hair loss.
Finding the right balance is key to preventing hair loss.
Yes, the man-bun is very popular right now, but sporting it seven days in a row could be damaging for your hair.
Hair loss in conditions like traction alopecia may be caused by continued tension on the hair. This may be caused by hairstyles like tight ponytails, buns and braids.
An easy way to prevent hair loss is to steer clear of a tight hair look, and to avoid putting pressure on the roots of the hair.
Hair breakage may occur as a result of trauma experienced during styling. This breakage can in turn lead to hair loss.
A quick suggestion to avoid this is to make use of brushes with soft bristles when styling your hair.
Also, avoiding excessive hair combing, and using a wide-tooth comb when doing so, could be instrumental in preventing hair breakage and loss.
Don't get us wrong, it's great to go from soaking wet hair, to dried and styled in 10 minutes flat.
However, high heat styling tools like hair dryers may cause multiple cracks on hair cuticles following repeated use. This can damage your hair.
Using heat styling tools like hair dryers from a safe distance, while also making use of heat protectants can be very useful in preventing hair loss.
Having healthy hair is an easy top two wish when it comes to growing hair. That, and maybe being able to rock a pompadour.
Achieving healthy, thick hair doesn't have to be an impossible feat, simple changes like the right shampoo, incorporating conditioner and using the right oils could set you on the right, hairy path.
Other practices, like using hair masks and massaging the scalp for increased blood circulation could be beneficial for your healthy hair goals.
Likewise, preventing loss and maintaining hair health could continue from eating a balanced diet, keeping hairstyles loose enough and making sure to give your hair adequate protection when using heat styling tools.
If you're noticing more hairs at the bottom of the drain or on your pillow and want to know more about what to look for, we've covered it in our blog, The Early Signs of Balding.
If you're ready to take the next step in treating your hair loss, the best thing to do is schedule time to speak with a healthcare professional who can point you in the right direction.