Who doesn’t love a full head of beautiful, healthy hair? Beauty trends come and go, but throughout history, gorgeous hair has always been in style. Even though your hair itself is composed of dead cells, the degree to which you care for it and your body as a whole affects how good it looks.
So how can you tell if your hair is healthy? Here are 7 ways you’ll know:
Your Hair is Shiny
And no, not from applying gel, pomade, or any other hair product. If your natural, clean hair is shiny, that means the cuticle layer is laying flat and reflects light well. A closed cuticle (the outermost layer of your hair) shields your strands from toxins and environmental stressors so your hair is more resilient.
Everything from the sun, excessive heat styling, chemical treatments, and salt or chlorinated water can damage your hair and leave it looking brittle and dry. Heat and chemicals open up the cuticle layer – much like shingles on a roof – leaving the inner portion exposed, which weakens each strand and makes them look dull.
You Lose Around 100 Hairs a Day
It’s healthy and normal to shed around 50-100 hairs a day. That might sound like a lot, but it’s not that much when you realize that you have around 100 million follicles on your head.
Hair grows and sheds in cycles. There are 4 phases in the life cycle of each hair, which typically lasts around 5-8 years from beginning to end:
- There’s the growing phase, called anagen, where follicles are actively generating new cells and adding length. Over 90% of your hair is usually in this stage at any given time.
- The next stage – catagen – is a transition phase that lasts around 6-8 weeks where the hair follicle shrinks and the hair it produced is no longer growing
- A resting phase (telogen) where the follicle rests and the hair detaches from the root
- Finally, the last stage is when the old strand is pushed out by new growth, which is why you shed some everyday.
Of course, if you’re losing clumps or handfuls of hair each day, that can be a cause for concern. Unless you’ve been diagnosed with a medical or genetic condition, lifestyle, diet, and stress can all affect hair growth and loss.
Your Hair Doesn’t Snap or Break too Easily
The elasticity of your hair is a sure sign of its strength or weakness. Healthy hair bounces back to its natural state if it’s pulled and then released. Weak or damaged hair often snaps or breaks if you tug on it even slightly.
Well-hydrated hair is much more pliable, and should feel smooth to the touch. If the texture is crunchy or stiff, you’re likely to have dry or damaged tresses.
It Doesn’t Frizz Immediately at the Slightest Bit of Humidity
Hair doesn’t usually do well in high humidity, but if your locks frizz at the slightest hint of moisture, it usually means your hair is quite porous. Very porous hair soaks up water quickly, like a sponge, with frizz being the result.
You can test the porosity of your hair by putting a few strands into a bowl of water. If they float, your hair isn’t too porous and resists moisture. If they sink, you have high porosity hair.
Damaged hair has an open cuticle layer, which allows more water to absorb and weigh each strand down.
You Don’t Have Split Ends
One tried and true method for determining hair health is by checking out your ends. If you get regular trims and take good care of your tresses, they should not be frayed or split.
Even if the upper portion of your strands look healthy, split ends weaken them since it can continue fraying up the length of your hair. This is especially true if you brush or work through tangles in a rough manner, causing more damage and breakage.
Your Hair Detangles Easily
With longer hair, tangles are not uncommon, especially if you’re coming in from a windy day out. If you have healthy tresses, you should be able to untangle them fairly quickly.
On the other hand, dry, damaged locks tend to get ensnared with each other and are more difficult to comb through without breaking some.
This is another reason to keep split ends at bay, since fraying hair tends to get tangled more easily.
Your Scalp Doesn’t Itch, Flake, or Look Red
The health of your scalp will largely determine the health of your hair. That’s because your scalp houses the millions of hair follicles that produce the hair you see.
If you’ve ever had dandruff or itchy scalp, you’ll know how annoying the condition is. By the same token, if you’ve ever noticed how red your scalp is compared to your face after a day in the sun, you know you’re in for a lot of peeling and flakes in a week or two.
Your skin, like your hair, is often an indicator of your overall health. The scalp has a natural pH balance that keeps it from itching, flaking, or peeling. If it’s in good shape, it’s a safe bet that the hair that grows out of it will be in pretty good shape too.
What Should You Do If Your Hair Isn’t Healthy?
If the above characteristics don’t describe your hair, you might need to start taking better care of it.
A good place to start is with your overall health – make sure to eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and try to keep stress at bay.
Take a look at your hair care routine too. If you’re subjecting your locks to a lot of heat styling, sun, sea, or chemical treatments, you may need a deep conditioner or hair mask to repair some of the damage.
And of course, get regular trims to reduce split ends and weaker strands. Stronger hair is longer hair, so make sure to trim the ends every couple of months even if you’re trying to grow it out.