Eat These Foods For Shinier Hair

The benefits of a balanced diet have been drilled into our brains from the first time we laid eyes on the food pyramid. If you eat well, you'll feel well. Not so groundbreaking, right? But the effects of a balanced diet on hair, on the other hand, are a little less ubiquitous. That’s a shame, because the food you eat actually has a huge impact on hair growth, shine, strength, and softness — so pretty much everything that matters. Bet they didn't teach you that in elementary school.

So get your shopping list ready. Because together with Hair Food, the paraben-free hair-care brand inspired by nourishing ingredients, and advice from top nutritionists, we’re breaking down exactly how to snack, munch, chew (and wash!) your way to deliciously healthy hair. Spoiler alert: Avocados are definitely on the menu.
Illustration by Isabel Castillo.
Hair Food available at Target.
For Strong Hair, Eat: Citrus fruits, pears, nectarines

In the beauty world, vitamin C is already an established MVP — when it comes to your skin. But it also plays an equally big role in your hair. “Vitamin C is essential to building collagen in our bodies,” explains nutritionist Keri Gans, RDN. “And collagen, which is a connective tissue that gives structure, is important for hair strength and growth.” A deficiency in it could actually lead to breakage, dry hair, and more split ends than usual. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Taking a vitamin C supplement is fine, but it's always better to eat the real thing. And if you just can't get enough, add the Hair Food Color Protect with White Nectarine & Pear shampoo and conditioner to your shower caddy (not your kitchen cabinet, obviously). The fruity scent lingers after you turn off the water, while the nourishing formula helps your hair color stick around longer between salon appointments.
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Illustration by Isabel Castillo.


For Long Hair, Eat: Avocados, eggs, almonds

The vitamin B family is an overachieving bunch, since its members (like B6, B9, and B12) take care of everything from red-blood-cell production to brain development. In terms of hair health, though, biotin, or B7, is hands-down the best. So much so that it’s common in most beauty and hair-growth supplements.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a magic bullet for cartoon princess hair, since it mostly only matters if you’re low on it. “A deficiency of biotin causes hair loss,” explains Lisa Drayer, RD, nutritionist and author of The Beauty Diet. “But studies haven’t demonstrated that people who have adequate levels of it benefit from ingesting even more.” That’s why it’s way easier to make sure you’re getting biotin via your food — instead of shelling out money for supplements you might not even need. The good news? Avocados, the entire world's favorite food, are packed with it.
Illustration by Isabel Castillo.
For Resilient Hair, Eat: Lean meats, fish, eggs, peanut butter, Greek yogurt

Hair itself is primarily made up of keratin — a.k.a. protein — which gives hair its strength and elasticity. “Without enough protein, the texture of your hair can change,” says Drayer. “It can result in hair that's dull, dry, thin, and brittle.” As if that’s not bad enough, skimping on it can even make your hair color look washed out or uneven in tone. But it’s not like you have to go Paleo in order to score benefits. Instead, just be sure that at least 25% of your daily calories are from protein, suggests Drayer.
Illustration by Isabel Castillo.
Hair Food available at Target.










For Hair That Sticks Around, Eat:
Vanilla, dark chocolate, cranberries, chamomile tea

Hair basically broadcasts your general health to the world — which is why it suffers as much as you do when you’re pulling late nights at work and living on takeout. “Stress can do crazy things to our bodies, including our hair,” says Gans. Enough of it can even exacerbate hair loss.

An easy solution is vanilla; studies have shown that just the scent of it can reduce stress and anxiety. If you don’t happen to be cooking with it on a regular basis (really, who is?), try incorporating it into your routine in other ways. The Hair Food Hair Milk with Jasmine & Vanilla shampoo and conditioner smell as yummy as the name suggests. The vanilla-scent will keep you feeling blissed out, while also hydrating and smoothing your hair for extra shine. And since stress and inflammation are closely connected — chronic stress actually causes low-level inflammation throughout the body — stock up on anti-inflammatory foods, like dark chocolate, just in case.
Illustration by Isabel Castillo.
For Shiny Hair (& A Healthy Scalp!), Eat: Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna

Omega-3s are kind of like the superstars of the health world (and the reason fish-oil pills are so popular). While they’re vital for both heart health and smooth skin, they’re also essential for hair. “Omega-3 fatty acids are needed to build the cell membranes in the skin of your scalp and maintain the natural oil that keeps your scalp and hair from drying out,” explains Drayer. Without them, you’re susceptible to eczema and even dandruff (so if you have scalp issues, this could be why). As for vitamin D, “there’s research that suggests it may actually help create new hair follicles, therefore increasing hair growth,” says Gans. Longer, stronger hair? Bring on the sushi.
Illustration by Isabel Castillo.






For Soft Hair, Eat: Red meat, dark-meat turkey, beans, oysters, clams

Pumping iron makes you stronger — and scarfing it down does the same for your hair. Since iron is responsible for shuttling oxygen and nutrients around the body, explains Gans, not getting enough means that your hair might not receive the vital nutrition it needs. “A lack of iron can cause hair to feel dry and rough,” adds Drayer. “Plus, it can also lead to hair loss.” Um, no thank you. On the plus side, iron-rich foods like red meat and shellfish tend to be high in protein and zinc, too — so you’re getting a big beauty bang for your bite.
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