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How to Get Healthy Hair

Want healthy hair that's strong—and long? 6 tips from a top nutritionist and a celebrity hairstylist.

You've already heard about my super-exciting press trip to New York City with Viviscal, where I got to learn about all things hair from nutritionist extraordinaire Joy Bauer, facial plastic surgeon Steven Dayan and the hairstylists at the Julien Farel Salon.

Not only was the trip amazing, but I also left with some MAJOR pointers on hair health. Here's what I learned about keeping hair healthy, strong and long!

1. Feed your hair.

Strawberries can help build healthier hair.

We all could use a little hair boost, and that boost can come in the form of eating more fruits and veggies (which are packed with vitamins that help hair grow long and strong), or it can come from using a dietary supplement (which I'll talk about in just a sec). Pair the two together, and you've got a winning combo. 

Let's start with the superfoods you should add to your diet ASAP. Nutritionist Joy Bauer swears by these five:

  • Eggs: Rich in B vitamins and biotin, eggs are a food you want to eat at every chance you get. While you might be tempted to eat just the whites to save on calories and cholesterol, it's the nutrients found in the yolks that are key to scalp and hair health.
  • Lentils: While they may not be on your regular grocery list, try incorporating more lentils in your diet. Because they're packed with iron and protein, they help build stronger, healthier hair.
  • Spinach: Dubbed "nature’s multivitamin" by Joy, spinach contains folate and iron, which help to get oxygen into the hair follicles. Not sure how to prepare it? Joy suggests adding wilting spinach leaves into warmed marinara sauce, chopping and mixing spinach into turkey burgers, or whirling a few spinach leaves into a smoothie.
  • Strawberries: You might not know it, but strawberries are packed with vitamin C—a critical nutrient for the production of collagen, which hair needs to stay strong and grow long. According to Joy, a vitamin C deficiency can lead to dry, brittle hair that splits and breaks easily. And no one wants that.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Yum! Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A. They can help with the growth of hair cells, so stock up!

2. Wash your hair less often.

Jessica Simpson only washes her hair two or three times a month.

"Believe it or not, it’s very common in the Hollywood world for stars to not wash their hair," says celebrity hairstylist Darrell Redleaf, has worked with Demi Moore, Christina Applegate and Will Ferrell, and is also a spokesperson for Viviscal. Jessica Simpson, for example, only washes her hair two or three times a month. Yes—month!

The reason? The more often you shampoo, the more you're stripping your hair of its natural protective oils, which keep hair healthy, conditioned and smooth. Plus, the more aggressive you are to your hair with shampoo, the more reactive it will be in creating even MORE oil. If you start to wash your hair less often, it will learn to produce a moderate and manageable amount of sebum.

Instead of daily shampoos, Darrell suggests we "fake shampoo" with water. In the shower, "use your fingers to remove styling products, debris and oil, then towel-dry and you’ll have luxurious hair," he says. "It won’t be 'clean', but it will rinse out the products and you can get away with that for two or three days." 

3. Take a break from heat tools.

Nicole Scherzinger often air-dries her hair.

Curling irons, straighteners and blow-dryers all zap the moisture and nutrients from your hair. "Any heat applied to the hair strips the keratin protein [that keeps it strong]," says Darrell. Most of the damage happens at the hair cuticle (the outermost layer of the hair shaft), and it's not just heat we need to worry about but also chlorine and sea salt.

Try to lessen the frequency of heat styling, and you will notice a long-term difference in your hair. Think: air-drying your hair instead of blow-drying, and then just finishing off your style with an iron on the ends (if at all). When you do need to use hot tools, don't skimp on the heat protectant sprays. 

If you go swimming in a pool or the ocean, make sure to rinse your hair as soon as you're out of the water. And yes, that means you'll need to swap your sea salt spray for another texturizing product, such as dry shampoo.

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4. Use high-quality hair products. 

Kate Moss is the face (and hair) of prestige haircare line Kérastase.

Ask any hairstylist about drugstore haircare, and they'll probably tell you: inexpensive hair products can be damaging. "Drugstore brands are made in the millions of units," says Darrell. "They cannot to afford to put in quality hydrators and ingredients because the price would go up. Salon products are more expensive because they usually contain higher-quality ingredients." His go-to shampoo and conditioner brand: Kérastase.

In general, look for gentle products that add moisture back in the hair. Low-lather sulfate-free formulas or cleansing conditioners are ideal.

5. Nourish your hair and scalp with serums.

Gwyneth Paltrow has used Phyto products AND Viviscal supplements.

Hair oils are super-hot right now, and you might think they'll help you get healthier hair. Think again! Hair oils, even the much-raved-about argan type, don't do that much for your hair other than temporarily smooth it. That's because they sit on top of the hair—but they don't absorb into it. "They just make you greasy and don’t actually penetrate the follicle," says Darrell. What's the point of that?

For deeper nourishment, try a hair serum, which will penetrate into the strands and help make them shiny, silky and smooth. Keratin-based serums are best. "Anything with a keratin base will grab the hair's existing keratin and help re-bond and restructure the hair," says Darrell. Products packed with this magic protein include AG Hair's Repair Serum and Phyto's Phytocyane Revitalizing Serum

Phyto Phytocyane Revitalizing Serum

6. Try Viviscal.

Viviscal Hair Nourishment System

Viviscal is 100 percent drug-free and nourishes hair from within. (It's also backed by seven clinical studies and 20 years of research!) Taken twice a day, the marine-based supplements promote healthy hair—and hair growth—by supplying vital nutrients to the hair follicle. Some users suffering from thinning hair or hair loss notice significant results in as little as three months. Too good to be true? Believe it—check out Katrina's experience here

Viviscal is also the beauty secret of countless celebs, including Gwyneth Paltrow, above, Lauren Conrad (pre-hair chop!):

Lauren Conrad takes Viviscal’s "marine extract-packed supplements to keep hair healthy."

Reese Witherspoon:

"When I'm working on a movie, they blow-dry and curl my hair quite a bit. I take these [Viviscal] supplements to keep it healthy," says Reese Witherspoon.

And Miley Cyrus:

"I’m secretly tugging on it every night and taking Viviscal [to help it grow]," says Miley Cyrus of her short hairstyle.

Not only does Viviscal help with hair growth, it also helps with overall hair health—which is key for people who heat-style frequently. "Viviscal fortifies the keratin from within, so the hair you’re growing is a lot stronger and able to endure more of what you do to it with heat," says Darrell. It also helps you keep more hair on your head. "The supplement helps you hold on to your hair for longer. If you fortify your scalp, you’re not going to shed that much hair." Sounds good to me!

Besides having a noticeable effect on hair, Viviscal also happens to have a crazy-cool effect on self-esteem. Facial plastic surgeon Steven Dayan conduced a study of 40 women experiencing hair loss; half were given Viviscal and half were given a placebo. The Viviscal volunteers not only experienced 80 percent more hair growth by the end of six months (amazing!), they also reported 30 percent greater self-esteem. Healthy hair really does make people happier. 

Have you tried any of these tips for healthier hair?
What do YOU do to keep your hair beautiful?