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5, 4, 3, 2, 1! It’s a brand new year. If one of your new year’s resolutions is to have longer, stronger, healthier hair, there are a few habits you need to leave behind.

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Not using heat protection.
Sure, a silky blowout makes your hair look great, but high heat can cause major damage. Heat damage happens when hair has been so physically or chemically altered that it can’t return to its original, healthy state. Direct heat can also strip hair of its moisture, resulting in dryness.

Shield your precious strands by cutting down on the use of heat and setting of all your heat tools to the lowest levels possible. Make sure to use a thermal protector on your hair, like Fantasia IC’s Hair Polisher Heat Protector Straightening Serum, or Cantu Shea Butter Thermal Shield Heat Protectant, for an extra layer of protection.

Not deep conditioning.
If your curls feel dry and brittle or limp and lifeless, it may be because you aren’t deep conditioning often enough. For most naturals, a weekly deep condition is enough to help prevent breakage and keep hair long and strong, but with trial and error, you’ll figure out routine what works best for your curls. If weekly conditioning seems to leave your hair limp, stretch it out to two or three weeks. If your hair feels dry with once a week conditioning, step it up to twice.

While you’re working out the frequency, be sure not to over-condition! Don’t condition overnight or for longer than 30 minutes–over conditioning can actually make hair weaker. Look for conditioners with words like hydrating, treatment, restorative and strengthening on the label for a thick, creamy conditioner that fortifies your strands.

Not trimming your ends.
It seems silly to cut your hair in order for it to grow, but frequent trims can get rid of split ends and help make hair look longer and healthier. If your hair is breaking off, your ends are dull and damaged, or you haven’t been using heat protectant (see #1!), it’s time for a trim.

Regular trims should be part of your routine for keeping hair healthy. Trimming hair every 8-12 weeks eliminates damaged ends and helps you maintain your style. Waiting longer might turn your light trim turning into a big chop.

Not eating right.
A healthy diet, including foods rich in protein, iron, and other vitamins can keep hair looking its best. Vitamin C, Vitamin B7, and Niacin have been found to be essential for hair growth, but you can also find nutrients for luscious locks in everyday foods. Salmon is loaded with Vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids to promote hair growth. Snacking on almonds can give you a boost in Vitamin E, which keeps blood flowing to your scalp and encourages hair to grow.

A daily biotin supplement can also help give your body the nutrients necessary for longer, stronger hair. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that supports the growth of hair, skin and nails. A healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, lean meats like fish, chicken or turkey, and 5,000 micrograms of biotin daily can help to strengthen your strands.

Not moisturizing.
Nothing’s worse than dry, crunchy hair. Add moisture to thirsty hair with rich oils, and add butters and creams to lock it in. Natural oils like coconut, castor, olive, shea, and jojoba help seal in moisture and add shine. Co-washing and pre-pooing can help restore moisture to parched curls.

Whether you choose the L.O.C. (liquid, oil, cream) method, the Curly Girl method, the Max Hydration method, or any other way to infuse your hair with moisture, make sure to drink enough water to hydrate your hair from the inside out. You should aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day–so if you weigh 150lbs, try to get in 75oz throughout your day.
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Cheers! Here’s to healthier hair in 2017!

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Tiffani Greenway is the wife and mom behind MyMommyVents, a New York city parenting blog. Her tips have been seen on Yahoo Parenting, Mommy Noire, and Fit Pregnancy. Find more of Tiffani’s work at mymommyvents.com.

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