Get enough protein
As your hair is made of keratin, a protein, not getting enough protein in your diet can lead to dry, brittle strands, says the nutritionist Jo Lewin. She recommends adding chicken, turkey, fish, dairy products and eggs into your diet. Good sources for vegetarians and vegans are legumes, nuts, tofu and quinoa. Complex carbohydrates and iron are also important.
Brush hair gently
The trichologist Anabel Kingsley notes that diet, although important, will only strengthen newly forming strands, not hair that has already grown. She says using the wrong brush is one of the most common causes of breakage, and advises using a brush with plastic, rounded prongs. Brushing hair from the ends and gently working your way to the top of the head also helps avoid snapping strands.
Air dry your hair when possible
Hairdryers and heated styling tools can leave hair brittle and lacking in shine. “Heat can, in a sense, cook the hair,” says the dermatologist Dr Zoe Draelos. “Think of it like a piece of steak – it starts out nice and soft and flexible, but when you cook it, the steak changes texture and becomes hard. Similarly, hair transforms when exposed to heat over time.” She recommends allowing hair to air dry when possible, and if using a hairdryer, to use a protective spray or serum and to start off on the lowest setting before gradually increasing the heat.
Exfoliate your scalp
Cold weather can exacerbate dandruff. Shampoos containing zinc pyrithione or salicylic acid are recommended to treat dandruff, or, for a cheaper option, try the Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes’s homemade recipe: pour sea salt flakes into shampoo and rub energetically into the scalp pre-shower.
Stress can cause hair loss, says Kingsley. Exercise, a healthy diet, meditation and prioritising sleep all help to de-stress body and mind.
Hydrate grey hair
Grey hair is often finer and more fragile, but can look coarser due to oil glands producing less sebum as we age. Matt Hawes, of Josh Wood Colour, advises using a hydrating and moisturising conditioner and oils such as argan and jojoba as part of a routine to soften hair and counteract dullness. Purple- and blue-toned products are also designed to brighten grey hair.
Have regular trims
It is essential to get rid of split ends before the damage travels upwards. Charlotte Mensah, multiple winner of the best Afro hairstylist at the British Hairdressing awards, recommends a trim every six to eight weeks. “Even though it is less obvious than with straight hair, Afro hair needs to be trimmed regularly to ensure you have better curl definition.”