I had VERY unhealthy hair for the longest time…
I struggled for nearly four years with over-treated, fried, dry, and brittle hair that was so frail that with one stroke of a hair brush, it would break. The breakage from my split ends was so bad that it would make my hair look uneven and thin, despite getting regular hair trims.
If you struggle with unhealthy hair then you know that feeling of defeat when you’re holding a clump of hair in my hand or watching broken ends sprinkling down like snowflakes.
It was disheartening, to say the least. I was so self conscious that I would try to hide the damage by wearing clip-in hair extensions. I wanted nothing more than to have long, beautiful, luscious locks, but for some reason it felt like my hair was giving up on me… It wouldn’t even hold a curl!
I thought maybe I was just reaching “that age” where the physical signs of aging was starting to kick in and my hair health was suffering because of it. I assumed that I would just need to accept it. (I’m 30 for anyone wondering).
I didn’t want to accept it. So, I did some research and learned something VERY important. My hair hadn’t given up on me. In fact, I had been neglecting my hair health for years and didn’t even realize it—and it was my own bad habits that caused the damage in the first place.
I immediately stopped what I was doing and made some serious changes. After a few months of changing my routine, I noticed a HUGE difference in the health of my hair and what I was doing was actually working!
If your hair is in dire need of some TLC, these are the 15 things I changed that transformed the health of my hair, and helped me gain the confidence to go extension-free for the first time in FIVE years!
BEFORE: Damaged Hair
1. Use Clean Hair Products
This one was really hard for me to change, to be honest. I was never the type to spend a ton of money on shampoo and conditioner. I would normally find my hair care products at the drug store and just grab whatever seemed good. But, I had no idea about the side effects the harsh chemicals used in most hair care products would have on my hair. Chemicals like parabens, formaldehyde, isopropyl alcohol, propylene glycol, synthetic colors, dimethicone, and more. Studies show that hair care products that contain these types of chemicals can cause buildup, dandruff, inhibit hair growth, and more. 
I remember using a good-quality (and good-for-your-hair) brand of shampoo and conditioner a few years back when my old hair stylist recommended it to me. I used it and remember telling her how much healthier my hair felt. But, it was expensive—and at the time, I couldn’t justify spending more than a few bucks on shampoo and conditioner. If I could go back in time I would have never stopped using it, though. I probably would have saved myself years of stress and frustration about my terribly unhealthy hair. If you want healthy hair, you have to stop using the drug store crap and start investing a little bit more in clean hair care products. I’ve loved using the R + Co shampoo and conditioners. They smell great and I’ve noticed a huge difference since using them!
2. Shampoo Once Per Week
Back when I was a personal trainer, I used to shampoo and condition my hair every day. I assumed that, “If I sweat today, I should probably wash my hair.” Boy, was I wrong. I assumed that if I didn’t wash my hair after sweating that my roots would get oily. Little did I know that the more you wash your hair, the drier your scalp gets—and when your scalp is dry, it starts to produce more oil. Over time, the constant shampooing forced my scalp to produce more oil than it needed and I ended up with an oily scalp. On top of that, the chemicals from my poor-quality shampoo and conditioner caused a lot of buildup in my hair. That, combined with the oily scalp, I felt like my hair wouldn’t ever hold a curl—which was devastating for someone who used hot tools every day.
3. Avoid Roots When Conditioning
Similar to reducing your shampooing to once per week, it’s important to avoid adding conditioner to your roots. This only contributed to the oil buildup that was already happening. Oily roots can cause your hair to feel heavy and flat. Avoiding conditioning at the roots makes your hair lighter, which adds volume and creates cleaner looking hair with more movement. I immediately noticed a huge difference the moment I stopped conditioning my roots!
4. Finger Comb When Rinsing
Nothing too much to say about this other than the fact that using your fingers to comb through your hair when you rinse out the conditioner helps prevent breakage when you brush it.
5. Pat Dry
I used to constantly rub my bath towel on head and around my hair after washing it. You know what I’m talking about… when you take your towel and it looks like you’re trying to start a camp fire around your hair? Yeah… Not only is this terrible for your hair, but it causes breakage and split ends! Instead, gently pat dry and squeeze your hair with the towel.
6. Brush From Tips To Root
I cannot stress enough the importance of brushing your hair gently! If you’ve ever brushed your hair starting from your roots then you know the pain when your brush snags every knot and tangle there is in your hair. Instead, start brushing the ends of your hair first and work your way up to your roots. Gently brush through any knots and DON’T YANK! Aggressive hair brushing can lead to hair breakage and contribute to thinning hair. I love using this paddle brush and the bristles are super gentle.
7. Apply Good Hair Oil To Your Tips
Over time, the ends of your hair can become dry due to a variety of factors like using poor quality hair products, too much exposure to hot tools, sun, wind, or dry weather, and excessive washing. Applying a good-quality hair oil to the tips of your hair and the hair around your face will add extra moisture to the areas that are most susceptible to split ends. The fatty acids found in hair oils like moroccan oil, argan oil, coconut oil, and more, will give your dry hair the boost it needs to bring it back to life. PRO TIP: Avoid applying the oil to your roots. This will just weigh down your hair and make your roots, well, oily. I’ve been using the Renewing Argan Of Morocco Penetrating Oil by OGX for years and I love it. It’s also extremely affordable and can be found in most drug stores.
8. Use A Leave-In Hair Repair Treatment
If you’re in the beginning stages of your journey to healthier hair, I highly recommend getting a leave-in hair repair treatment and using it after every time you wash your hair. It restores the hair’s natural moisture and also doubles as a heat protectant. I love the Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair cream by Aveda. It’s free from all the bad chemicals that can damage your hair and packed with hair-loving nutrients that can transform the look and feel of your hair in as little as one week. I honestly swear by this product if you have really damaged hair!
9. Use Heat Protectant & Detangler
This should be a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how long I’ve gone without using a heat protectant. I don’t really have an excuse for not using one other than the fact that I was lazy. If you use hot tools on your hair (even blow drying) please listen to me when I say that YOU NEED TO BE USING A HEAT PROTECTANT! As soon as I started using a heat protectant I noticed that my hair was softer and shinier than before I used one. The Aveda Damage Remedy hair repair treatment is also a heat protectant and detangler, but if you’re looking for a more mild product then I recommend the Prep Rally Prime & Prep detangler by Drybar. Not only does it smell great, but it leaves your hair super soft and silky!
10. Don’t Blow Dry Soaking Wet Hair
For the longest time I never understood why you shouldn’t blow dry soaking wet hair. Think about it—when your hair is sopping wet, you’re exposing it to heat for a much longer time than if you were to blow dry it when its damp. By letting your hair air dry for a bit before blow drying, you’re cutting the time spent exposed to heat in half. I like to do my makeup first and then blow dry my hair. Usually by this time I can blow dry my whole head in less than 10 minutes. The Revlon One-Step styler has changed the way I blow dry my hair, too! It gives me a salon-quality blowout in just 10 minutes which not only minimizes the heat exposure, but also speeds up my morning!
11. Stop Using Elastic Hair Ties
Traditional elastic hair ties suffocate your hair. The cinching can sometimes be so tight that it wears down the hair follicle in that area and can often lead to breakage. Have you ever worn your hair in a ponytail all day with an elastic hair tie and you’re left with a glorious dent in your hair when you take it out at the end of the day? THAT is where your hair is getting frail. Instead, opt for velvet scrunchies, ribbon tied hair elastics, and Invisibobbles. These are much better for your hair and accomplish the same job without the damage.
12. Keep Hair Color Close To Your Natural Color
So I went through this phase where I would color my hair bright blonde. This phase lasted about 4 years. I’m naturally a dark brunette. Needless to say, the constant maintenance and frequent visits to the hair salon to bleach and lighten my hair was catastrophic for the health of my hair. It took me a while to realize it but choosing a hair color that is closer to your natural color will not only look better (and more natural), but will also prevent harsh damage.
13. Opt For Partial Highlights & Toning In Between Hair Appointments
As mentioned above, I was the queen of getting my hair colored in shades probably way too light for my own good. So, if you can opt for a color that’s closer to your natural color, this tip is going to save you a ton of money (and hair damage). I used to get a full highlight every four months at my hair salon. Once I started coloring my hair in a more natural color, I was able to go in for a partial highlight and a tone to maintain my color and placement, but I spread out the full highlight to only twice per year. This will minimize the harsh treatments and give your hair a much needed break.
14. Get Regular Trims & Opt For A Blunt Cut
It took me a while to realize this little hack, but if you feel like your hair is thinning and breaking, I recommend getting a blunt cut. If your hair is prone to breakage, getting a hair cut with layers can make your hair look and feel thinner than it actually is. And if you have dry or split ends, layered hair only makes it stand out more. A blunt cut basically makes all your hair the same length and gives it a full and thick feel and appearance. If you are prone to breakage you should also get trims on a regular basis to keep your hair even.
15. Take A Collagen Supplement
I’ve never been one to take vitamins and hair pills. Primarily because I can never seem to remember to take them. So I tried collagen instead. And let me tell you—it works. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and can be found nearly everywhere—our skin, nails, joints, muscles, the lining of our guts, and yes… even our hair. As we age, our natural collagen supply declines, and we start to experience the physical signs of aging like wrinkles, joint pain, and thinning hair. Collagen is super easy to add to your routine because it’s just a flavorless powder. I add it to my coffee every morning and it really has made a huge difference in my hair! I’ve been using SkinnyFit Super Youth for a little over a year now and I love it!
The Bottom Line On Healthy Hair
We all want healthy hair, there’s no doubt about that. But, if I could give one piece of advice to anyone who wants to improve the health of their hair it’s to start making these changes NOW. Don’t wait! Swapping out your old hair care products for good-quality products and taking the time to care for your hair properly is going to make the world of difference! Think of it like taking care of a house plant. If you don’t care for it properly, it’s not going to live up to it’s potential and it will likely die. Be kind to your hair. Give it the love and attention it deserves! And don’t be hesitant to spend a little bit more money for good quality products. When it comes hair care, remember—you get what you pay for.