From ‘How to use hair serum?’ to ‘What vitamins are good for hair?’, get the lowdown on products for your hair's individual needs

This article is sponsored by Head & Shoulders, Klorane, L’Oréal, Nioxin, TRESemmé, Hairburst & Regaine®

When it comes to hair health, everyone’s goals and needs are different. Perhaps you’ve got a dandruff dilemma? Or you’re looking for a hair serum saviour?

At Boots, we’re with you for all your hair health moments with advice and products to help you through every step of your hair journey. That’s why we’ve rounded up the answers to some of the most searched for questions on hair health, along with the products that will help you achieve and maintain healthy hair.

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a common skin condition where white or grey flakes of skin appear on your scalp and in your hair. Flakes tend to stand out more on darker hair and sometimes they can fall off your hair and scalp onto your shoulders where they become more noticeable. Your scalp could also feel itchy and dry.

Although dandruff isn’t harmful or contagious, it can be uncomfortable and many people choose to treat it to get rid of the visible flakes.

How to get rid of dandruff

The best way to get rid of dandruff is to use an anti-dandruff shampoo. These are specially formulated to target and prevent the signs of dandruff. They work just like any other shampoo, so there’s no need to do anything extra in your routine.

There are many anti-dandruff shampoos available at Boots, like this one from Head & Shoulders:

Try: Head & Shoulders BARE Pure Clean Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

• Size: 400ml

• Suitable for daily use

• Dermatologically tested

Designed for oily scalps, this shampoo contains only minimal ingredients including an anti-dandruff agent. It leaves your scalp and hair cleansed, nourished and refreshed whilst providing effective protection from dandruff.

The lightweight packaging uses 46% less plastic (per ml) than the standard Head & Shoulders 400ml bottles. Plus, it’s recyclable and has an easy-to-roll design so you can squeeze out the last drops of shampoo. Think of it as dandruff protection with the bare minimum!

What should I do if my dandruff won’t go away?

If you’ve been using anti-dandruff shampoo for a month and your dandruff still hasn’t gone away, you could speak to your local Boots pharmacist who can help suggest products or over-the-counter medicines which may help.

You should see your GP if those haven’t helped or you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

• Your dandruff is very bad

• Your scalp is very itchy

• Your scalp is swollen or red

• You also have flaky, itchy patches on your face or other areas of your body

Your GP can check if you have any other skin conditions or an underlying cause.

How often should you wash your hair?

It’s a much-debated topic, but there’s actually no set answer to how often you should wash your hair. It’s entirely dependent on your hair type and it’s individual needs.

As a general rule of thumb, people with thin and fine hair may benefit from washing their hair daily because they tend to have more oil glands on their head, meaning their hair becomes greasier faster. People with medium-textured hair may find washing it every day to every other day works well. Whilst people with thicker, textured, curly or coily hair may only need to wash theirs once a week.

However, it’s important to listen to your hair’s needs. You may find that, even with fine hair, a dry shampoo can control oiliness in between washes. Or, even with thicker hair, you need to shampoo more often to get rid of product build-up. It’s worth experimenting and finding out what feels right to you. Here, you can learn more about how often to wash your hair.

What shampoo should I use?

Another question without a set answer! Your choice of shampoo is, again, down to the type of hair you have and what you feel it needs to look and feel healthy. Most shampoos will be labelled as being suitable for a certain hair type or being designed to help with a particular hair concern (or both).

For example, if your hair is feeling parched and frizzy, choose a shampoo formulated for dry hair. Or if you’re looking to strengthen thinning hair, then this option from Klorane could work a treat:

Try: Klorane Strengthening Shampoo with Quinine and Organic Edelweiss for Thinning Hair

• Size: 200ml

• 80% natural formula

• Biodegradable formula*

• Vegan**

• 100% recycled and recyclable packaging~

• Dermatologically tested

Strengthen thinning hair with this plant-based shampoo that gently cleanses, strengthens, and limits breakages for hair that's visibly stronger, thicker and healthier-looking. The combination of powerful quinine and organic edelweiss extracts, vitamin B and caffeine helps to restore strength, vigour and reduce hair loss.~~ Made with up to 98% natural-origin ingredients, the formula provides effective, clinically proven results. 84% felt their hair had restored strength and vitality§.

What is a hair serum & what do they do?

Much like skincare serums, hair serums are there to provide that extra bit of TLC to your hair. They’re usually a lightweight leave-in treatment, packed with ingredients to improve the look of hair and, in many cases, help with specific hair concerns such as strengthening or reducing hair fall-out.

Since most hair serums are left in without rinsing, the ingredients can get to work for longer than a shampoo and conditioner which are washed out within a few minutes.

How to use a hair serum

Whichever hair serum you choose will come with instructions on how and when to apply it, so it’s best to follow those.

In general, some hair serums are designed to be distributed through the lengths of your hair, often coating your strands to tame frizz and add shine. Other serums are applied directly to your scalp and massaged in, so the ingredients can get to work near the root of your hair.

Interested in trying a hair serum, but not sure where to start? Here are our top picks:

Try: L’Oréal Paris Elvive Full Resist Anti Hair-Fall Serum with Aminexil

• Size: 102ml

• Enriched with aminexil, caffeine and arginine

• A daily serum for strengthening hair

This ultra-potent scalp serum is scientifically designed and effective on hair with a tendency to fall out due to breakage. It's formulated with 1.5% aminexil, a patented molecule that's clinically proven to reduce hair fall out by up to 92%.†

Apply it daily to your scalp and gently massage. For optimal results, start your routine with the Full Resist Reinforcing Shampoo and Break-Proof Conditioner for up to two times less hair on your brush.††

Try: NIOXIN Intensive Treatment Anti-Hairloss Serum with Sandalore™

• Size: 70ml

• Clinically proven and dermatologically tested

• 95% noticed less hair in their hairbrush^

This leave-in scalp serum is clinically proven to thicken hair from the first use and can reduce hair loss in just eight weeks thanks to improved hair anchorage of the roots to the scalp.^ Thicker, fuller-looking hair is within reach.

Can heat styling damage your hair?

The short answer is yes! When you apply heat to your hair, such as using a hair dryer or styling tools like straighteners or curlers, the extreme temperatures can dry out your locks and change the structure of your hair strands. All of this can lead to damaged hair that’s prone to breakage, split ends, frizz and a general lacklustre appearance.

How to protect hair from heat damage

The best way to protect your hair from heat damage is to use a heat protectant spray before styling. These are cleverly designed sprays that create a barrier between your hair strands and the heat. Think of it a bit like sunscreen which creates a barrier over your skin to block the sun’s UV rays.

Not sure which heat protectant spray to go for? Here’s one we love from TRESemmé:

Try: TRESemmé Care & Protect Heat Defence Spray

• Size: 300ml

Offering heat protection up to 230 degrees,this professional-quality formula contains a heat-activated complex to help protect your hair when blow-drying and straightening, so you can use your favourite styling tools with confidence.

It also prevents hair from becoming brittle and dull while reducing breakage by up to 82% with continued use.±±

Can vitamins support hair?

There are several vitamins and minerals which are known to support and maintain hair, including biotin, zinc and selenium. Your first port of call for getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals you need should be by eating a varied and balanced diet, but if you think your diet may be lacking a particular nutrient, you may want to consider taking vitamin supplements‡ such as these ones from Hairburst:

Consider: Hairburst Healthy Hair Vitamins – 60 Capsules

• 1 month supply

Working from the inside out, take two Hairburst capsules in the morning and get ready to fall in love with your hair. They’re uniquely formulated and packed with a premium mix of 26 essential nutrients, including biotin, zinc and selenium which help maintain hair.

What is male pattern baldness?

Male pattern baldness is also known as hereditary hair loss or androgenic alopecia. In simple terms, it’s a type of hair loss that runs in the family and is inherited from either your mother’s or father’s side.

It’s a common condition where, with increasing age, hair spends less time actively growing and hair follicles become smaller. Over time, thinner and less visible hair replaces your once thicker hair. Male pattern baldness is characterised by a receding hair line and thinning of the crown which often (but not always) runs in a similar pattern as the family members it’s inherited from.

How to treat male pattern baldness

One of the ways to treat male pattern baldness is by using a product that contains minoxidil, such as this treatment from Regaine®:

Consider: Regaine® for Men Extra Strength Scalp Foam 5% w/w Cutaneous Foam

• 3 months’ supply

• Suitable for men aged 18-49 years

This easy-to-use foam contains minoxidil, the only over-the-counter treatment that’s clinically proven to help stop and even reverse hereditary hair loss and hair thinning in men. Nine out of 10 men said they kept or regrew hair after 16 weeks when applied twice a day and clinically visible results can be seen as early as eight weeks.‡‡

Regaine® for Men Extra Strength Scalp Foam 5% w/w Cutaneous foam contains minoxidil. Always read the label.

*According to OECD 301B test.
**Vegan formulas do not contain any animal-derived ingredients or by-products.
~Excluding the cap.
~~Ex-vivo anti-breakage test efficacy study on weakens hair samples after 12 uses of the shampoo, versus control after 500 brush strokes (=mechanical damage): -57.8%.
§Consumer test on 134 people using the Quinine Shampoo, during 21 days, % of satisfaction.
†From breakage. Instrumental test, shampoo + conditioner + serum, 2022.  
††Instrumental test, shampoo + conditioner, 2019.
^In a double-blind clinical study vs. placebo among 120 panellists with alopecia.
±±Combing damage vs non-conditioning shampoo.
‡Supplements should not be used...
‡‡Substantiation needed for Regaine.