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Your genes largely determine hair type, texture, density, and color. But properly caring for your tresses can make the difference between lifeless locks and hair to write home about.

Factors, like diet, stress, and age, can also influence hair health.

Below, we comb through how you can best care for your hair and keep your locks looking healthy. Here are some healthy hair habits to keep in mind.

If you want to keep your locks lustrous, it can help to know your hair type and texture. There are four basic types of hair:

The shape of your hair follicle, which is determined by genetics, affects your natural curl pattern.

In addition to type, hair has one or more of three basic textures:

Use the thread test to determine texture: Fine hair is thinner than a thread, medium hair is about the same width, and thick or coarser hair is thicker than a thread.

Knowing your hair type and texture is an important first step in caring for your hair. For example, curlier, thicker hair types may require less frequent washings.

Read more about hair types and how to care for yours.

A well-balanced diet can contribute to healthy hair growth. Foods that may support hair health include:

  • eggs
  • berries
  • spinach
  • omega-3 rich fish, like salmon, herring, and mackerel
  • sweet potatoes
  • avocados
  • nuts
  • beans

Read more about foods for hair growth.

Vitamins and supplements thought to contribute to healthy hair include vitamin B, biotin, and omega-3s.

Vitamins A, C, D, and E, iron, zinc, and selenium may also help maintain healthy hair, according to a 2018 review of studies.

Other research has linked oils like Chamaecyparis obtusa with hair growth. C. obtusa is part of the cypress family, native to northeast Asia. Essential oils, like lavender, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme, may also help hair.

Before you consider taking supplements for hair growth, it’s a good idea to first talk with your doctor.

Read more about essential oils for hair.

Careful grooming is another essential aspect of keeping your hair healthy.

Shopping

Look for products designed for your hair needs. For example, if you color your hair, use a shampoo and conditioner formulated for color-treated hair.

Try products that contain natural oils, like coconut, avocado, olive, argan, and shea butter. Look for proteins like keratin, wheat protein or panthenol, and biotin.

Among product ingredients everyone should avoid:

Consider skipping products with these ingredients, because they may be harmful to you and the environment. Some people may also want to avoid products with sulfates, which may cause skin irritation.

Washing and drying

When you use shampoo, concentrate on the scalp. Unless you use a 2-in-1 shampoo, always use conditioner and coat the ends of your hair.

How often you should wash may vary depending on your personal preferences and needs. For example, people with oily hair may want to shampoo daily, while those with dry hair may prefer to shampoo less often.

Other factors affecting how often you need to shampoo include:

  • your activity level
  • how much product you use
  • whether your hair is chemically treated
  • your age

After your shower or bath, don’t rub your hair dry with a towel. Instead, wrap your hair to absorb moisture and let it air dry.

Choose a leave-in conditioner to moisturize curly hair, and use your fingers, rather than a comb, to style. Air dry whenever possible.

Hair care and styling

What about brushing your hair 100 strokes a day? Don’t. Brush and comb hair with a wide-tooth comb only to style it.

People with oilier hair or those with thick, curly hair who wash less frequently may want to consider using dry shampoo between washings.

Before styling, use a heat-protecting product, and make sure ceramic combs or irons are at the lowest possible temperature.

Certain hairstyles can permanently damage hair follicles over time. These include tight braids, ponytails, and buns. It’s a good idea to avoid keeping your hair tightly pulled back all the time. Try alternating loose hairstyles with updos.

Read more tips for fuller, healthier hair.

Hair loss, or alopecia, can affect your scalp or entire body. It’s often hereditary and can be temporary or permanent. Causes include:

  • hormonal changes
  • stress
  • hair treatments
  • specific medical conditions
  • aging
  • certain medications

It’s typical to lose 50 to 100 hairs per day. New hair usually grows in at the same time hair is lost. Hair loss happens when new hair doesn’t replace the hair that has fallen out.

Consider making an appointment with your doctor if you notice sudden hair loss. It may be a sign of an underlying medical condition or nutrient deficiency.

Read more about hair loss and what can cause it.

Working with your hair type and texture and supporting it with the right routine, products, and styling techniques can help you nurture a healthy head of hair.

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