It’s easy to underestimate the importance of maintaining a healthy head of hair. With our busy schedules, our haircare regimens tend to be rigid routines that we rush through, rarely change, and don’t use as opportunities to properly care for and treat our hair.

Neglecting proper hair care can cause both minor effects, like brittle and/or oily hair, and major effects, like hair loss. Simple alterations to your hygiene, beauty, and diet habits can prevent these effects and do wonders for how your hair grows, looks, and feels. Check out the tips below to learn more about how you can improve your haircare routine to grow healthier hair faster, whether you’re looking to grow some luscious locks for summer, change up your style, or simply adopt new, more natural beauty practices.

1. It all starts with the scalp.


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Hair grows from follicles, which are rooted within the scalp and consist of many parts, including protective sheaths, papillas that provide nutrients to your hair via blood circulation, and sebaceous glands that naturally condition your hair. Therefore, healthy hair growth must start with a healthy scalp.

To maintain a clean, conditioned and unclogged scalp, make a point to shampoo to remove any buildup of dead cells or dirt and to condition to replenish your scalp with the nourishment it needs to promote hair growth. Massaging your scalp, either with oil or conditioner, can also help by stimulating growth from the hair follicles.

2. Food is the answer (as usual).


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You will be very pleased to know that even though this article is about hair growth, we are still going to talk about food. A healthy, balanced diet is one of the best ways to promote healthy and fast hair growth.

Hair is made of a protein called keratin, and like all proteins, keratin consists of various amino acids. Therefore, incorporating proteins into your diet provides your body with the building blocks it needs to grow long, healthy hair.

Make sure to stock up on eggs, dairy products like yogurt and milk, dark leafy greens, nuts, and grains. Plus, foods like fish, beans, and olive oil nourish your body with omega-3 fatty acids, which make up about 3% of the hair shaft. Lastly, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B complex (from lentils and legumes), vitamin E (from plant oils), iron (from red meat), magnesium (from avocados), and zinc (from seafood) are critical for hair growth and preventing hair loss.

#SpoonTip: Avoid participating in diets or cleanses that could prevent your body from receiving the nourishment it needs to grow healthy hair.

3. Hold back on the heat.


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Try to minimize the time you spend using heat styling tools like straighteners, curling irons/wands, and dryers. Overexposing your hair to high temperatures can fry and weaken your hair. When you do style your hair with heat, try decreasing the temperature on your tool of choice and always apply a heat protectant spray or lotion to your hair before styling.

4. Condition more, shampoo less.


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As explained above, keeping a clean scalp is essential to healthy and fast hair growth. However, cleaning your hair too often can cause dryness and can strip your hair of its natural oils. There is no set number of times per week that you should wash your hair, as everyone’s hair quality is different and everyone’s body produces oils at different levels. But in general, shampooing less often and conditioning more often is recommended to maintain the oils your hair needs to grow.

#SpoonTip: Wash your hair with warm water, as hot water can dry your hair out. As uncomfortable as it may be, finish your shower by rinsing your hair with cold water to seal the hair cuticle.

5. Get frequent haircuts.


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No, really. Cutting your hair more frequently actually promotes healthy hair growth. This is because trimming your hair removes split ends, which prevents breaks from traveling further up the hair strand and causing further damage. Trims can also improve hair volume and quality.

6. Incorporate a DIY spa treatment into your routine.


Photo by Kirby Barth

Scalp massages, hair masks, and deep conditioning treatments can all be done at home and are quick additions to your normal routine that show big improvements in your hair quality and growth. Try to choose natural ingredients and substances (some of which you probably already have at home) over chemicals. Pamper yourself with a homemade egg mask, a dry or wet scalp massage, or a coconut oil treatment for a quick pick-me-up for your hair.

7. Refine your post-shower routine.


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I love my Turbie Twist, but tightly wrapping up wet hair can pull on your hair strands and cause breakage. Instead, a better method is to pat your hair dry with a towel. By the same token, try to wear your hair down more often or tie it loosely to avoid the strain put on it by tight buns and ponytails. The way you brush is also important; avoid over-brushing and make sure to be gentle when brushing or combing out knots.

8. De-stress.


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Most college students can attest to the fact that mental and emotional stress can also have physical effects. Stress can cause hair to become weak and brittle. Long term anxiety has also been related to hair loss, specifically alopecia areata, a condition which causes loss of large clumps of hair, and trichotillomania, a condition in which someone develops a habit of pulling out their own hair.

Another condition, telogen effluvium, is one in which the body cuts the growth cycle of hairs, which is usually two years, short. Stress and anxiety are difficult things to deal with and everybody’s situation is unique. However, practices such as meditation, working out, yoga, and taking time for yourself to do things that make you happy are great ways to relax and de-stress.