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You can get clues about your hair health by looking for telltale signs of damage.

If your hair sheds a lot (more than 50–100 strands per day), this could be a sign of stress or something else going on that might require medical evaluation.

Recently having a baby, having a high fever, or undergoing surgery may also lead to excessive hair loss, but this usually resolves on its own with time.

If your hair appears dull, has split ends, is easily tangled or broken, and has no elasticity (doesn’t bounce back when gently pulled), these could also be signs of hair damage.

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Hair is most vulnerable to damage when it’s wet. Using a wide-toothed comb to untangle your hair gently will help avoid unnecessary hair breakage. It’s also best to use a shampoo that’s specifically designed for your hair type. For example, if you have oily hair, use a clarifying shampoo to prevent buildup.

When shampooing, focus on applying it to your scalp where oil and buildup are present. Overly washing the lengths of your hair can cause them to become brittle and dull.

When conditioning, focus on the ends of your hair to prevent split ends and make your hair stronger and shinier. Conditioning all of your hair can cause it to appear limp.

Other strategies for improving hair health include:

  • limiting your use of heated hair tools
  • limiting how often you color or perm your hair
  • protecting your hair while swimming
  • protecting your hair from UV radiation and pollution

Your skin is your largest organ and the first line of defense against infections, so it’s really important to take excellent care of it.

Certain habits that can negatively affect your skin include:

  • smoking
  • heavy alcohol use
  • a non-nutritious diet
  • poor water intake
  • going out in the sun without adequate sun protection
  • using tanning beds
  • unmanaged stress

Poor skin cleansing techniques can also mess with your skin health. Scrubbing your skin until it’s “squeaky” clean removes important natural oils and causes irritation, which can worsen conditions like acne.

Some things you can do to keep your skin healthy and slow down skin aging include:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Avoid tobacco products.
  • Use proper sun protection, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Use gentle skin care practices.

Additionally, certain cosmaceuticals (cosmetic products with bioactive ingredients that are thought to have medicinal properties), such as topical vitamin C, can prevent wrinkles, skin discoloration, and UV damage when used in combination with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

Gently cleanse your skin in the morning, evening, and anytime you sweat more than normal, like after an intense workout. Use a moisturizer designed for your skin type after cleansing to help prevent dryness and keep your skin barrier intact.

Finally, don’t pop, squeeze, or touch your face unnecessarily to avoid infections and scarring — pimple popping is a dermatologist’s nightmare!

If your nails are constantly breaking and chipping, it probably means your nails are brittle and weak. Certain nail procedures can cause nail thinning and damage, such as acrylic nail application.

Opting for a regular manicure or going without polish can help rebuild and strengthen your nails.

Additionally, overly exposing your nails to excessive moisture can cause them to become dry and easily tear.

Finally, certain nail disorders can also cause nail fragility. If you’re concerned about your nail health, a dermatologist can help you figure out what might be going on.

Taking good care of your nails is super important. Here are some things you can do to keep them strong and healthy:

  • Avoid keeping your nails wet: They’re more likely to tear and become dry with consistent water exposure. Wearing gloves while washing the dishes can help.
  • Cut your nails straight across: Also, use an emery board to avoid snags.
  • Don’t bite your nails: This can damage them and possibly lead to infections.

Eating a balanced diet can also help with nail strength since some nutrients, like biotin, play a role in nail health.

There’s not much evidence that biotin supplementation can help people who don’t already have a biotin deficiency, but getting enough through diet can help ensure your nails stay healthy.

Food sources of biotin include:

  • meats
  • eggs
  • almonds
  • sweet potatoes

Make sure to let your doctor know if you’re taking biotin supplements, especially if you’re getting bloodwork done. Biotin supplements can interfere with certain laboratory assessments, such as thyroid levels and troponin (a heart enzyme important in the management of heart attacks).

Eating a balanced, antioxidant-rich diet can help improve your hair, skin, and nails.

Antioxidants help combat free radical damage that can wreak havoc on your hair, skin, and nails. Tasty food sources of antioxidants include blueberries and dark chocolate.

The evidence regarding biotin for hair, skin, and nail health is still unclear, but eating a varied diet will help you obtain natural sources of biotin without needing supplementation.

Finally, drinking plenty of water can prevent skin dryness by increasing skin hydration.

To keep your hair looking healthy, avoid combing and styling your hair while it’s wet, which can lead to breakage. The following can also cause hair damage:

  • hot hair tools
  • tight hairstyles
  • hair dyes
  • chemical perms

To maintain healthy skin, avoid the following:

  • using tanning beds
  • not wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • using abrasive skincare production
  • pimple popping

Lack of sun protection can also put you at risk for future skin cancers and speed up skin aging.

In terms of nail habits to avoid, routine acrylic nail application can thin and damage your nails. Additionally, cuticle trimming during a manicure or pedicure puts you at risk for infections as the cuticle provides a natural defense against bacteria and fungi.

Dr. Joan Paul is an ABMS board certified dermatologist who specializes in psoriasis, skin cancer, skin of color, and global health. She has also completed seven medical missions in the countries of Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Malawi, Uganda, India, and Botswana.