Your Strands But Stronger

Shine, volume, body – it all happens when your hair is resilient to everyday torture. Here’s your best defence against damage.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Shine, volume, body – it all happens when your hair is resilient to everyday torture. Here’s your best defence against damage. 

Although hair starts as a living cell, the part you see is actually a dead fibre, which naturally degrades with time, says Michelle Blaisure, a certified trichologist (hair and scalp specialist) for Bosley Professional Strength hair care. Technically, hair fibres can’t be rebuilt after they’ve left the follicle, but you can fortify and protect the hair’s outer cuticle layer with proper care. The result: silkier and healthier-looking strands overall. 

My Reading Room


“Dry shampoos are great for a second or third day, but they don’t take the place of a shampoo,” Michelle says. “There’s a whole microbiome of bacteria on the scalp that needs to be cleansed on a regular basis; otherwise you’ll get buildup that could affect growth.” When you do cleanse, which should be at least twice a week, depending on your hair texture, go for a mild yet strand- fortifying shampoo like Essential Nourishing Breakage Defense ($10.90, Watson). For coloured or chemically treated hair, use an even milder option, such as Rita Hazan True Colour Shampoo ($38, Sephora). 


When your body lacks the right balance of vitamins, proteins, and minerals, the hair it produces can become weak and defective. “It’s like a factory that’s trying to manufacture something but is short on parts,” says David Bank, a dermatologist and the director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery in New York. “Limited nutrition doesn’t allow the hairs, when they’re actually being produced in the follicles, to be 

at full strength and thickness.” Certain medications, like the pill, can also weaken the hair, he explains. Bottom line: Internal support is what really helps to grow high- quality hair. Your best approach is to take a biotin supplement daily (at least 2,500 milligrams), along with a multivitamin and fish oil, and make sure your diet contains plenty of protein. 

My Reading Room

Dry ends need oil-based nourishment, like OUAI Hair Oil ($42, Sephora). 


“The more gentle you can be with your hair, the stronger it’s going to be,” Dr Bank says. “Because you’re not fully able to repair breakage once the hair has left the scalp, it’s really about not adding insult to injury.” In other words, be especially careful when your hair is wet and in a fragile state; for example, gently squeeze freshly washed hair rather than rub with your towel. And when blow-drying, be mindful not to pull or tug your strands too taut with your brush. 


We all have a go-to do, but wearing your hair in the same style every day can actually harm the strands. “Parting the hair a certain way or wearing it in a ponytail with a rubber band repeatedly for too long can cause breakage,” Michelle says. Extensions and weaves are no exception. Stressing the same strands over and over weakens the hair follicle itself, which can even lead to hair loss over time. If that does happen, go au naturel for six months to give your hair a rest, Michelle says.

My Reading Room

UV protection is key – no matter what time of year. Try OGX Renewing + Argan Oil of Morocco Penetrating Oil ($16.90, Guardian). 


“Using conditioners will help strengthen and coat the hairs, reinforcing them from the outside against damage,” Dr Bank says. Invest in a deep-conditioning treatment that contains rice extract and protein, which helps strengthen and repair the hair shaft. Aim to use it at least once a week, Michelle says. On days when you don’t use a regular conditioner, make sure to protect your ends with a light-weight oil-based serum or spray. 


If you regularly heat-style or spend a lot of time outdoors, it’s crucial to arm your strands with thermal protection beforehand. After shower, run a UVA- and UVB- protective primer through damp hair before reaching for the blow-dryer, and distribute it evenly from midlengths through ends. If you plan to use a straightening or curling iron, spritz a multiuse protective spray, like Verb Ghost Hairspray ($24, Sephora), on dry hair before styling. 


Since the ends are the oldest and therefore the most-worn part of your hair, getting them snipped regularly will help prevent the strands from fraying, Michelle says. When you notice the ends beginning to split, it’s time for a trim – usually every six weeks or so, depending on your hair length.