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30 Ways to Improve Hair Health and Appearance

A beauty consultant and former hairdresser by profession, Jayne has been advising on cosmetics and skin and hair care for almost 20 years.

Find out what keeps your hair healthy and how to make it look good.

Find out what keeps your hair healthy and how to make it look good.

No matter what your hair type, find out what keeps it healthy and how to make it look good if you haven't been quite as caring as you should. Many of these tips are common sense, but some may surprise you.

Shampoo Tips

Wash Your Hair Less Frequently

Frequent shampooing can either dry hair out or stimulate sebum production, which makes it greasy. That’s why you should wash your hair no more than two or three times a week. Always shampoo twice: once to rid the hair of dirt, sebum, and product build-up, and a second time to allow the shampoo’s active ingredients to work.

Shampoo Only Once if You Wash Daily

It's tempting to wash greasy hair daily, even though you know it can worsen the condition. To minimize damage, shampoo only once using as little product as possible, and always rinse with lukewarm rather than hot water.

Use Dry Shampoo

In order not to over-wash, especially if your hair is greasy, use dry shampoo between washes. Spray or sprinkle the shampoo into the roots and distribute throughout the hair with a wide-toothed comb. Not only will it absorb excess sebum and leave a clean texture, but you'll achieve more volume, too.

Make Sure You're Using the Right Shampoo

Use only shampoos formulated for your hair condition. This is particularly important if your hair is dry or chemically treated. Products specifically for colored hair, for example, help to minimize fading and have hair strengthening properties.

Find the Most Effective Dandruff Shampoo

If your scalp tends to scurf, don't expect a generic dandruff shampoo to cure it. You'll save yourself a lot of time and embarrassment by visiting a dermatologist who will know immediately what type of dandruff you have, and exactly which product will help.

Rinse Thoroughly

To prevent scalp irritations, make sure you rinse out shampoo and conditioning products thoroughly.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

To get the best out of deep conditioning products, use a clarifying shampoo beforehand.

Clarifying shampoos rid the hair of product buildup and make it more absorptive. This gives it more body and bounce and allows conditioners to penetrate more deeply.

Apply a clarifying product once or twice a fortnight, and always shampoo twice.

Conditioning Tips

Always Use a Conditioner After Shampooing

Conditioners seal the hair to give it a smooth and shiny texture, which makes it easier to comb and less susceptible to tears and breakage.

Use the Right Conditioner

Use a conditioner formulated for your hair type and condition.

Don't Let Conditioners Weigh Your Hair Down

To prevent fine hair from becoming limp and flat, don't apply conditioner to the roots and crown.

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Use a Leave-In Conditioner

For a smoother, healthier appearance, leave-in conditioners are great, especially for hair that is naturally wiry or hair that has acquired a straw-like texture through chemical damage.

Use a Deep Conditioner

If your hair is dry, damaged, or long, apply a hair mask or hot oil treatment at least once a month. As previously mentioned, deep conditioning is more effective if you use a clarifying shampoo beforehand.

Use Regular Conditioner After Deep Conditioning

Deep conditioning treatments do not seal the hair, which is why you should finish with a regular conditioner.

Don't let conditioners weigh your hair down at the crown.

Don't let conditioners weigh your hair down at the crown.

Tips for Split Ends

Cut Off Split Ends

If you have split ends, cut them off as soon as possible. The longer you neglect them, the further up the hair they'll travel, which means you'll eventually have to cut off much more than desired.

As a rule, it's a good idea to get your ends trimmed once every six to eight weeks.

Apply Castor Oil to Split Ends

The main cause of split ends is dryness, especially if the hair is long. This is because scalp sebum production isn't sufficient for the entire hair length. As a preventive measure, apply castor oil or a so-called "repair" fluid to the hair ends.

Unless your hair is fragile or brittle, it's also a good idea to go through it once a day with a boar bristle brush to distribute sebum.

Use the kindest coloring product possible depending on your needs.

Use the kindest coloring product possible depending on your needs.

Coloring Tips

Choose the Healthiest Coloring Product Possible

Use the gentlest coloring product possible depending on your needs—the harsher it is, the more it will dry and damage your hair.

Temporary Colorants and Vegetable Dyes

The healthiest colorants are temporary products and vegetable dyes, like henna. The former is full of conditioners and lasts up to three washes. The latter leaves hair with a magnificent sheen and fades within about eight weeks, which means you won't have roots.

Use temporary colors and vegetable dyes if you want to brighten or deepen your natural color. These, however, are not suitable for covering grays.

Semi-Permanent Colorants

Like temporary colorants and vegetable dyes, semi-permanent products can brighten and deepen. Apart from that, they can also darken and cover first grays, which shouldn't make up more than 20 percent of the whole head.

Semi-permanent dyes fade within about 30 washes rather than growing out, so you'll have no visible roots.

Due to hydrogen peroxide, these dyes can have a slightly drying effect.

Permanent Colorants

Permanent dyes contain hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. They can brighten, lighten, deepen and darken, as well as cover any amount of gray. When the color starts to grow out, touch up the roots rather than re-dyeing the whole head; otherwise, your hair will become dull and dry.


Bleaching products are the most aggressive and can leave hair parched and brittle. Try highlights and lowlights before bleaching the whole head, and always get it done by a professional.

Drying and Styling Tips

Be Gentle When Towel Drying

Don't rub when you towel dry. The friction causes hair to split and tear. Instead, pat dry or wrap in a turban.

Air Dry Your Hair

If you've got time, give your hair a break from heated styling devices and let it air dry.

For hair that needs a lot of styling, consider putting it up in rollers.

Unroll Rollers

Yanking out rollers will cause untold damage, especially if they're Velcro. Always take your time and unroll with the greatest of care.

Use a Blow-Dry Lotion

A blow-dry lotion protects hair from heat and reduces friction caused during styling.

Keep Heat to a Minimum

Don't expose hair to more heat than necessary. Hold your hairdryer at least eight inches from your head, and make sure all styling devices are set no higher than at a medium temperature.

Wear Your Hair Loose

Constantly pulling your hair back to a tight chignon or ponytail can cause traction alopecia (hair loss through pulling). Wear it loose whenever possible.

How to Comb and Brush Your Hair Properly

Use a Wide-Toothed Comb

The longer or thicker your hair is, the wider toothed your comb should be. And always choose one that is handmade and seamless. The seam you see on machine-made combs will tear your hair.

Use a Wide-Toothed Comb or Detangling Brush on Wet Hair

Use only a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush on wet hair, which is more fragile than dry hair.

When getting rid of tangles in either wet or dry hair, start at the ends and work towards the crown.

If possible, keep your hair from tangling by combing often.

Use the Right Round Brush

If you use a round brush when blow-drying, choose one with boar bristles. It will seal the hair, leaving it smooth and shiny, as well as prevent frizz in humid conditions.

Backcomb With a Teasing Brush

Backcombing is always a bad idea, but if it can't be helped, a good quality teasing brush will do less damage than a comb.

No Metal

To avoid tearing the hair, never use metal combs and brushes.

How to Use Hair Ornaments

Clips, Grips, and Combs

Take care when putting hair ornaments with grips, clips, and combs into your hair, especially if they're made of metal. And never pull or tug them out. Using a leave-in conditioner, which adds a protective film to the hair, can help prevent possible damage.

Avoid Rubber

To avoid damaging your hair, never secure a ponytail or suchlike with a rubber band. Use textile-covered elastic instead.

How to Sleep on Your Hair

Invest in a Smooth Pillow

Invest in a silk or satin pillowcase. Because there is no friction, it preserves shine and style so you have less work in the morning.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2015 Jayne Lancer

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