Thick, luscious hair is a dream for many men and women, but damage and genetics can get in the way. Aside from your genes, the main causes of thin hair are breakage and damage caused by styling, which make your hair appear thin and limp. Restoring the health and balance of your hair can help improve its thickness.

The speed at which your hair grows is determined by genetics and can’t be accelerated, but you can increase your hair’s strength by “feeding” it with smart lifestyle and hair care choices, says Women’s Health Magazine. Patience is also required, however: Hair renovation can be a slow process, and it may take weeks or months to see results.


Adjust Your Diet

What you put into your body can have an enormous effect on your hair’s health and appearance. Stick to a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats and eggs. Protein is a huge factor in hair’s thickness and appearance because it helps produce keratin, which strengthens hair and prevents strands from breaking and splitting, according to Health.com.

If you’re worried that you’re not getting enough vitamins from your diet, start taking a daily multivitamin. There are several multivitamins on the market that are specifically designed to strengthen and thicken hair. These multivitamins commonly include zinc, which stimulates carotene in the body and boosts hair growth; vitamins A and C, which help repair damage; and vitamin B, which strengthens hair follicles, says a 2014 article in Well and Good’s website. Biotin and fish oil can also accelerate hair growth and strength.

If you’ve noticed a drastic decrease in the thickness and health of your hair, talk to your doctor about checking your iron levels, as some studies have shown a relationship between anemia and hair thinning, states WebMD.

Change the Way You Wash

Washing your hair too often or too vigorously can dry out your hair and cause breakage, which makes hair appear thinner. Wash your hair two to three times a week using a sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates are cleaning agents or detergents that can cause hair to become dry or brittle. Find an herbal or all-natural shampoo that expressly says “sulfate-free” on the bottle. Ingredients such as peppermint or eucalyptus oil can increase blood flow and circulation in the scalp and stimulate hair growth.

Focus on massaging shampoo into the scalp rather than farther down on the strands, as this can cause breakage. Follow up with an all-natural conditioner, which hydrates and strengthens the hair to prevent thinning and split ends. Gently rub the conditioner into the strands and ends of the hair rather than the scalp to avoid greasiness.

Be Careful With Styling

Styling can be a major cause of hair damage, so exercise caution from the minute you step out of the shower. Avoid breaking hair follicles by gently patting your hair dry with a towel rather than rubbing or wrapping it. Don’t brush your hair until it is completely dry, as wet-brushing causes breakage. When you do brush, use a wide-tooth comb and avoid pulling too vigorously. This can yank hairs out of your scalp or damage the strands.

Heated styling products like straighteners, curlers and blow-dryers can weaken hair and make it appear thinner, so either avoid them or use the lowest setting possible. You can also apply a moisturizer or a leave-in conditioner beforehand to help the hair cuticles better resist the heat.

De-stress

If you’re noticing more and more hair coming out in the shower or in your hair brush, it may be time for you to find a healthy way of dealing with the stressors in your life. Stress can trigger your body to release cortisol and other hormones that lead to hair thinning, according to Harper’s Bazaar.

Hair loss is normally triggered by physiological stress, such as dramatic changes in diet, lifestyle or medications, rather than emotional stress, according to WebMD. However, emotional stress can often lead to physiological stress, so try to manage your emotions, frustrations and pressures before they get to the point of causing hair loss.

Exercising, meditation, counseling or cutting back on responsibilities and work hours are some ways that may help if you’re experiencing extreme stress.