While we love our hair, we don’t always treat it with TLC. Look what we do to it: relax, dye, fry, iron and blow-dry. You name it, we do it—and that’s definitely damaging our strands. So what’s a girl to do? For some, throwing away the Chi ceramic iron, giving up perms and avoiding heat appliances may not be realistic.

What is reality, however, is the fact that all the manipulation, chemicals and heat can damage your hair. Though hair can heal, it will take time, effort and work on your part. Here are some tips to nurse your hair back to health.

Deep Condition Once a Week
If there’s one tip that you should follow, this one is it. Deep conditioning repairs and nourishes your tresses, reduces breakage and adds moisture that your hair may lack. After washing, section hair into four parts. Apply conditioner to each section, focusing on the ends, which are the oldest part of your hair and usually the most damaged. Place a plastic conditioning cap on your head and sit under a hooded dryer for 15–20 minutes. Don’t own a dryer? No problem, leave conditioner on for about an hour then rinse out and style as usual.

RH faves: Nexxus Humectress ($24.99, 33.8 oz.), Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner ($6.49, 8.45 oz.) and Banana Brulee Moisturizing Deep Conditioner ($18, 16 oz.)
FYI: Add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to your deep conditioner for added moisturizing benefits.

Massage That Scalp
Massage isn’t just for your neck and shoulders, it’s also great for the scalp. It stimulates blood circulation and promotes hair growth. To reap the benefits of scalp massage, try doing it every other day for five minutes.

When massaging start at the nape of the neck, with your fingers (avoid using your fingernails) moving in a circular motion. Massage the entire scalp moving up toward the temples. Finally, move your fingers down back to the nape.

FYI: Try massaging with Dabar’s Vatika Oil ($2.75, 150 ml). It’s a pure coconut oil packed with lemon and the herbs amla and henna.

Satin, Satin, Satin
We understand that sleeping with a satin bonnet or scarf tied on your head may not be the sexiest look, but neither is having broken hairs on your shirt. The satin protects your hair from rubbing against cotton pillowcases, which can break hair and dry it out. If you toss and turn excessively while sleeping, opt for a silk or satin pillowcase.

Food for Thought
A healthier diet is not only good for the body—it’s also great for the hair. Don’t forget to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables, along with more whole grains and fresh foods. Cut back on processed foods and fatty foods along with refined starches and sugars. Try eating more of the following:

  • Protein from lean meats, chicken, milk and yogurt.
  • Silica—a great mineral for hair growth—is found in cucumber, oats and strawberries.  
  • Brown rice, nuts and seeds for vitamin B, which is good for strengthening the hair shaft.
  • Leafy greens for folic acid, a type of B vitamin, can help prevent hair loss.
  • Omega 3s—essential fatty acids—found in salmon and tuna feed the follicles and add shine.

FYI: Don’t forget to take a multivitamin everyday!

Water Anyone?
Staying hydrated is crucial for hair health. Water moisturizes, unclogs follicles and helps flush toxins out of the body. Try drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of water daily and cut back on dehydrating drinks such as coffee, alcohol and soda.

Check out these websites for products reviews, YouTube hair tutorials and reader tips on how to take care of your hair:
Mane and Chic: Inspiration for the curly, kinky and chic
Anti-Hair Slave: Healthy hair…all the time
Long Hair Care Forums