Most women feel a passionate connection with their hair. It’s out there for the world to see, and when we’re experiencing that quintessential good hair day, we stand taller, project killer confidence and, we’ll admit it, feel sexier.
That’s not weird: All humans are programmed to subconsciously read our potential mate’s hair as measure of their health, and we, subconsciously, know that. BUT. While potential suitors will notice if you’ve got luscious locks, nobody will love you for your hair alone (and if they do, they’ve got problems). They’ll love you for the whole package: someone who is confident, healthy and feels beautiful.
No miracle mousse or shampoo alone will make that happen. Here are our science-approved guidelines to what makes hair look sexy. Spoiler alert: Like most of our external beauty, it all comes from within.
1Hair on a Diet
Though we think our hair is essential, our bodies don’t (read: we don’t need it to stay conscious). Other bodily functions, like, oh, breathing, are more pressing and get first access to the nutrients in our diet. Our hair gets the leftovers, explains Liz Cunnane, a hair and scalp scientist at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Centre in New York. “If there aren’t enough nutrients to go around, your hair will suffer,” says Cunnane. Her ideal diet for healthy hair: iron and zinc, which are abundant in lentils, kidney beans and pumpkin seeds.
Jessica Alba’s known for her seriously healthy lifestyle—her book “The Honest Life: Living Naturally and True to You” and her all-natural skincare line prove her commitment to taking care of her body and living a clean, healthy life.
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Known for her holistic lifestyle and love of organic beauty products, Gisele Bundchen preaches the importance of being aware of what we’re putting on our bodies—which is what prompted her to create her own all-natural skincare brand, Sejaa.
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Miranda Kerr is another model-turned-skincare-guru who developed her own organic line, Kora Organics. She’s also sticking to a superfood-rich diet, filled with raw foods such as avocadoes, chia seeds, cacoa powder and quinoa—all foods that are amazing for your body as well as your beauty.
4Quiz: Measure Your Stress Levels
Stress-Free Strands (And You)
There’s a reason the President of the United States always comes out with much more gray hair than he went in with: stress. Constant stress damages DNA and messes with the stem cells in your hair follicle, causing melanin-producing cells to go on the fritz, resulting in less color production and more grays popping out. And chronic stress can also cause hair to fall out, resulting in thinning and bald spots.
Angelina Jolie does it all. But between toting around six kids, acting, producing, directing and working with the UN, she always seems to keep it all together and look amazing.
5MORE: Get Your Stress in Check
The bottom line: Get your stress under control. Not only will you be happier and healthier, your hair (and skin) will be able to thrive, too.
Jennifer Lopez is a busy lady, yet she still manages to juggle her busy film and music career, clothing and fragrance lines with her highly publicized personal life. Through two marriages and divorces and relationships with high-profile celebrities like Ben Affleck and P.Diddy, she still managed to uphold her image as a pop icon and was named World’s Most Beautiful Woman by People magazine in 2011.
6Confident, Self-Assured Strands
Like any other aspect of your appearance, wearing your hairstyle with confidence and really owning it will radiate beauty. Love bangs? Take the plunge and find the best ones for you. Want to try a new style or tutorial you found online? Stop stalling. If you love it, others will, too.
Solange Knowles is the epitome of fearless when it comes to her hair. She isn’t afriad to show off her natural strands, and she’s been seen rocking so many different ‘dos, from a super short cut to braids to a voluminous Afro.
Improving your overall confidence is the first step to flaunting your hairstyle, head held high and a beautiful smile on your face. Now that’s sexy.
With her pixie cut, Michelle Williams did what many are too nervous to do: chopped it all off. It takes a ton of confidence to know you can pull off a drastic change, and she’s definitely go it.
It’s impossible to keep track of Rihanna’s new hairstyles, which is a testament to her sky-high confidence. She’s tried it all—short, long, black, bright red and even a mohawk—and owns each and every one.
7A Well-Maintained Mane
Healthy hair is universally attractive, and a little bit of TLC goes a long way towards increasing your hair’s health. Start by being mindful of your styling techniques. Do you blow dry or flat iron every day? If so, stop. You’re doing more damage than you think. By reducing heat styling, using gentle styling tools and techniques, and using reparative and moisturizing products, you can keep every strand shiny, strong and healthy.
Lauren Conrad has one of the most famous heads of hair in pop culture. (Confession: We’re totally envious of it ourselves.) On her blog, Conrad reveals her hair secrets, and most of them include some serious hair care. She suggests deep conditioning, avoiding styling products containing alcohol and using a heat-protecting spray before using hot tools. Those are styling tips we can really get behind.
8MORE: Keep Your Hair Healthy, Long and Strong
Katy Perry has said that she’s been dying her hair jet black since she was 15. But we’ve also seen her with blonde, blue, purple and pink tresses. That’s a lot of coloring, and it takes some serious maintenance to keep locks smooth and shiny through all of that damage.
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As a Pantene spokesmodel, Eva Mendes obviously has amazing locks. She’s said in multiple interviews that her secret is conditioning her hair overnight by applying a deep conditioner and throwing a shower cap on top.
10A Face-Flattering Cut
While a great hairstyle can lift years off your look and make you feel completely reinvigorated, few realize that it’s your face shape that is truly at play. As the foundation for any haircut, the shape of your face determines how your hair will emphasize your eyes, lips and cheekbones.
We love Lea Michele’s very versatile, full bangs that perfectly balance out her oval face.
11MORE: The Best Hairstyles for Your Face Shape
“With a great haircut and layering technique that is finely tuned to your face shape, you can truly make the best of yourself, and instantly bring more life and vitality to your features,” says Guido Palau, Redken Creative Consultant.
Ginnifer Goodwin’s cut (shorter in the back, fuller up top) and side-swept bangs keep her round face looking radiant.
12MORE:The Best Bangs for Your Face Shape
Side bangs are perfect for a square face shape, and Olivia Wilde is a perfect example of how the cut can really frame your face and compliment a structured jawline.