You don’t have to break the bank to have healthy hair during a bad economy, according to a dermatologist speaking at the American Academy of Dermatology’s SKIN Academy.

And it all starts with knowing what it means to have healthy hair, explains Paradi Mirmirani, MD, FAAD, dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco.

Hair is a fiber whose structure must be maintained to achieve healthy hair. The root of the hair (known as the hair follicle) produces the hair fiber, which is made of hair keratins.

Hair keratins are tightly packed structures wrapped in a hard cuticle.

The cuticle functions to protect everything inside the hair. If the cuticle gets damaged, hair appears frizzy or lackluster.

Mirmirani offered these tips to keep your cuticle—and budget—intact during your quest for healthy hair:

Bristles Matter
Purchase inexpensive plastic wide-tooth brushes. They place less friction on the hair than boar bristle hairbrushes.

A Little Shampoo Goes a Long Way
African Americans should wash their hair no more than once a week. Over shampooing can dry out the hair and scalp, which is typically drier than the hair of those in other ethnic groups.

Condition, Condition, Condition
Conditioner helps maintain the structure of the cuticle, so it’s essential to healthy hair. This step is even more important for damaged hair.

Not sure what’s best for your hair type? Mirmirani recommends you see a dermatologist for expert advice.

Are you knowledgeable about hair care? Test you hair smarts here.