12 Hair Wellness Habits To Start In 2021

New year, new opportunities! In the year ahead, our goal is to be as kind and caring to ourselves as possible, and that includes lots of hair wellness and self-care.

In case you’re new here (welcome!), hair wellness is based on the science that hair growth goes far beyond the scalp. Our research shows that whole-body wellness — from balanced hormones to less stress to good nutrition and metabolism — is the key to a healthy hair growth cycle.

The number one hair wellness habit you can start in 2021 is to support your hair with medical-grade nutraceuticals, such as ashwagandha for stress relief, saw palmetto for DHT balance, and hair-building nutrients like collagen and kelp. (Wink-wink: These ingredients are all found in Nutrafol.)

On top of that, you can enhance your hair wellness with self-care and lifestyle habits to keep stress in check, up nutrition, and limit toxins from your environment. Let’s get started!

1. Maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle

Did you know that sleep is basically a rinse cycle for your brain? Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, a professor at Harvard Medical School, notes how cleansing cerebrospinal fluid flows most freely when the brain is at rest during sleep. Dr. Manson also explains how lack of sleep leads to higher cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which can impact hair growth. Maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle (aka going to bed and waking up at the same times every day) and getting an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night is essential to the health of your hair and your brain! If you have trouble falling asleep, use these tips.

2. Get your high-quality protein in every day

Protein is an essential building block of healthy hair. According to Harvard Health Publishing, the recommended daily intake for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. (For a 150 lb person, that’s about 54 grams of protein per day.) Equally important for hair is the quality of protein you choose. When it comes to beef, grass-fed is best, as it’s free of hormones and antibiotics and contains more vitamins. Similarly, look for hormone-free and organic labels when shopping for poultry and pork. And don’t forget: You can get plenty of protein from plants, too.

3. Take a stress adaptogen

Even if you don’t think stress is playing a role in your hair thinning, it might be: “I truly believe that all hair thinning is multifactorial, so you can have different root causes and stress will almost always contribute,” explains our own Dr. Sophia Kogan, MD. Her favorite stress adaptogen is ashwagandha. “The Sensoril® ashwagandha in Nutrafol helps balance stress hormone levels and improve adaptation or resilience to stress. The idea isn’t to get rid of stress, the idea is to adapt,” she says. Ashwagandha is also known to help with better sleep, mood, and sex drive.

4. Daily movement

Exercise is known to help with stress, sleep, and metabolism, all of which are key to healthy hair growth. Whether you love high impact fitness or just prefer nature walks and bike rides, carving out time to release those endorphins will pay dividends to your well-being. If movement isn’t a part of your routine already, start slow and experiment until you find what’s enjoyable for you. The point is just to move and free your mind.

5. Support your gut with a probiotic

The gut is the Beyoncé of the body — she does it all! Immune strength? Check. Nutrient absorption? Check. Better digestion? Check. There’s even new research linking the gut microbiome to brain functionheart health, and blood sugar. Most important to hair health is nutrient absorption. By taking a daily probiotic, you’re increasing the amount of good bacteria in your gut to help digest food and deliver vital nutrients to your follicles.

6. Use fewer hair styling products

Of course you need to wash your hair and yes, there are days when dry shampoo is the only thing that stands between staying in and going out. However, excessive product use can cause buildup, clogged pores, and increased chemical exposure. Leave a day or two between washes and don’t use unnecessary styling products. Hair spray on top of shine spray on top of dry shampoo on top of thickening spray is a lot for your follicles to handle. While you’re giving some of these products a rest, check their ingredient labels for parabens, sulfates, and other ingredients known to do more harm than good.

7. Fifteen minutes of calm

Try scheduling 15 minutes of meditation or yoga every day to fend off chronic stress from the daily grind. “Meditation and yoga have been shown to physically decrease levels of stress hormones and the activation of the sympathetic nervous system,” notes Dr. Kogan. This daily practice can also be in the form meditative hobbies like gardening, reading, and crafting. Just 15 minutes of daily de-stressing will make your hair growth cycle give thanks.

8. Use low glycemic sweeteners

Consistently high blood sugar levels can increase inflammatory markers throughout the body and hinder hair growth. As often as you can, reach for low glycemic sweeteners that won’t spike your blood sugar. Our favorite blood sugar-friendly sweeteners are monk fruit and stevia. Raw honey and yacon syrup are great as liquid sweeteners.

9. See your dermatologist or Professional Hair Stylists

If you don’t already have a dermatologist, 2021 is the year to find one. Especially if you’re experiencing hair thinning, a board-certified dermatologist can uncover the root causes (remember: most people have more than one) and address them. Not to mention hair thinning can be a taboo topic to talk about with friends and family, so having a trusted medical professional to answer your questions and guide you on your hair growth journey is essential.

10. Opt for low mercury fish

Often found in fish, mercury is a toxic metal that can lead to some unwanted health impacts, including damaging the hair follicle and blocking support from key nutrients and hormones. Evidence shows that increased levels of mercury are associated with negative effects to the digestive, immune, and nervous system, as well as higher instances of hormonal disorders and autoimmunity. A good rule of thumb is to enjoy smaller, lower mercury fish like salmon, tilapia, sardines, and North Atlantic cod. Learn more about the types of fish to enjoy and limit here.

11. Be conscious of heat styling

The effects of heat damage can range from dryness to split ends to hair so brittle that it breaks. However, we aren’t asking you to throw out your curling iron; just be conscious of how and how often you use heat tools. First, make sure your tools are ceramic or have even heat distribution. For curling and flat irons, keep the temperature below 400 degrees. You can also try heatless curls or invest in Dyson hair tools, which are engineered to protect hair from heat.

12. Take your four-a-day!

Of course, we can’t forget our favorite hair wellness habit of all: taking our Nutrafol. Since Nutrafol hair growth supplements are designed to be taken with food, making your four pills a day into a habit is easy. Have them before mealtime or open the capsules and empty them into cold foods like smoothies and acai bowls. Consistency is key: Nutrafol users see thicker, faster-growing hair by month three.
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