In some ways, tending to your strands in your 20s is relatively simple, which makes this decade the perfect time to establish the healthy haircare habits that will last the rest of your life. Factors like stress, diet, hormones, health issues and your hair care routine can all play into the health of your hair.

Here are the hair health essentials you need to know about in your 20s — plus, find out what products you really should be using to encourage hair growth.

Learn to Manage Your Stress

Because your 20s are a time of such change, this age range can be a particularly difficult time for stress levels. From establishing your career to balancing dating, friendship and the many other changes this decade of life can bring, it’s not uncommon to experience considerable stress. Unfortunately, these elevated stress levels can result in telogen effluvium or stress-induced hair loss.

Learn to be proactive instead of reactive. Understanding your needs and setting appropriate boundaries in regards to the people and situations in your life is one of the best things you can do to manage your stress and keep it from negatively affecting your health and your hair.

Shop: GRO Collection for Longer, Stronger-Looking Hair

Balance Your Diet

When you’re in your 20s, many people find themselves struggling with the task of nourishing their bodies. Once you’re out of your parent’s house and buying your own groceries, it can be tempting to overindulge in fast food and sweets. And cooking for yourself can seem like a challenge when you’re just starting out — especially if you’re inexperienced in the kitchen. This all adds up to less-than-adequate meals, from indulging in takeout multiple times a week to repeating simple meals that may not deliver the nutrients we need.

However, eating a balanced diet is one of the best things you can do for your long-term hair health. Eating your fruits and veggies is the best way to ensure your strands are getting the support they need. Ongoing nutritional deficiencies can impact both hair structure and hair growth.

Make sure you’re eating the rainbow every day to help ensure your hair and body are getting the nourishment they need. Focus on consuming adequate calories, and make sure you’re getting protein from diverse vegan sources like legumes, seeds and nuts.

Related: 12 Foods to Grow Your Healthiest Hair Ever

Invest in Haircare That Helps

When you’re figuring out your hair care routine, it can be tempting to test out drugstore products. Three-in-one shampoo, body wash and conditioner can seem like a good space-saving option, but you may actually be doing your hair long-term damage in the interest of saving a few bucks. These products are often loaded with bad-for-you chemicals and harsh sulfates that can leave hair feeling dry and depleted, especially for those of us with curly or natural hair care routines.

Instead, invest in a shampoo and conditioner kit that’s packed with powerful phyto-actives and formulated to actively support your hair’s long-term wellness — not detract from it. Using a dime-sized dollop of shampoo and conditioner each wash day is enough to get the job done, so the kit will last you a while. However, signing up for a subscription is a way to get even more bang for your buck. Plus, you won’t have to remember to go back and reorder every time your supply runs out. It’s a great way to establish a routine that will help your hair thrive.

Don’t Neglect Your Scalp

While your strands get all the love, it’s important not to forget about your scalp. Because oil production is at its peak in your 20s, this is an especially critical time to make sure your scalp is happy and healthy. Use a weekly scalp detoxifying serum to remove excess buildup at your roots and prevent clogged follicles. A scalp massager can also help exfoliate roots and work products in deep so they can get the job done.

Good to Know: How to Exfoliate Your Scalp for Healthier Hair

Stay Attuned to Hormonal Changes

We think of the teens as the time of the most dramatic hormonal change, but as we enter our 20s and our natural hormone levels begin to stabilize — peaking in the mid to late 20s — hormonal changes can affect our hair health.

If you’re on birth control, switching to a new formula or starting a new form of hormonal birth control can cause hair shed. On the other hand, if you have a baby in your 20s, your hair might be thicker and shinier for the duration of your pregnancy, then begin to shed in the months after your baby is born.

Whatever your hormonal situation, staying attuned to the changes that take place within your body is the key to developing a healthy relationship with your hair that can last a lifetime.

For help with hair shedding, our bestselling GRO Hair Serum is clinically proven to reduce shedding and improve hair density in as little as three months. Plus, it’s greaseless, lightweight and mess-free to apply.

Related: Can an IUD Cause Hair Loss? Here’s What You Need to Know

Make Your Doctor Appointments

Last but not least, the big one: Yes, you should actually see a doctor, even if you feel totally fine. A yearly appointment with your physician is a great way to stay on top of your physical and mental wellness, including the health of your hair.

Your 20s Set the Stage for Lifelong Hair Health

By investing in hair care, managing your stress, and taking a holistic approach to your hair wellness, you’ll be setting the stage for a lifetime of happier, healthier, and more well-nourished strands in decades to come. While establishing hair health habits in your 20s can feel overwhelming, we promise you’ll be thanking yourself for the rest of your life!

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.