There's a world of difference between what I knew as a regular, everyday college gal scooping ice cream (yes, I did that, and it was one of my favorite jobs I've ever had) and what I know now as a hairstylist. For example, I grew up believing that there was nothing I could do with my fine, stick-straight, flat hair. I got haircuts at cheap chain salons because I thought, "What else is there to do? My hair isn't worth more than that." I never flat ironed my hair. I never curled my hair because my hair never held a curl. I was a wash-blowdry-go kind of girl, but not by choice -- by what I believed was necessity. No other option.
Now, I know the things that would have helped me manage & love my hair on a day-to-day basis, and they're simple! It's not magic, it's just knowledge. And I want to share it with you. Your stylist can help you figure out how to deal with your specific hair type, but here are the basic hair tips that I think everyone should know and utilize.
You don't have to wash your hair every day
You think you do because your hair gets greasy, but your hair gets greasy because you wash it every day. If you wash it less, your hair will adjust & produce less oil, your hair will be healthier, and your color will last longer. Not to mention — you'll save yourself a load of time in the morning!
Some tips: grab yourself a dry shampoo, because you will need it. Also, don't confuse sweat with oil — they aren't the same thing. Try rinsing your hair really well in the shower without shampoo (or just use conditioner, if you have dry ends) to freshen post-workout hair. Check out my post on not washing your hair every day for more guidance on how to lengthen the time between shampoos!
You should use sulfate-free shampoo. Really. In a nutshell: sulfates are too harsh for your hair & scalp and they strip color and natural oils out, so sulfate-free shampoo will normalize your hair & help your color last longer. Itchy scalp? Dry hair? Go sulfate free.
Save your hair from the heat
Always - and I mean always - use a heat protectant. It can be as simple as a spray-in product that you use on your wet hair before you blowdry it, and my absolute favorite is UNITE Eurotherapy's 7Seconds. Your hair is not strong enough to withstand the heat of the blowdryer and the flat iron (or curling iron) day after day, and over time your hair will become damaged & brittle. Eventually it will break off. You don't want that.
I find leave-in conditioners with heat protectants the easiest thing to use: I just spray it all over after my shower, before I comb my hair out. Done. It's that simple. There are also products that you spray on dry hair section-by-section before you flat iron or curl. Some styling products (like smoothing balms) even have heat protection in them. Use whatever floats your boat, just make sure you have a product that you know is a heat protectant.
Shampoo your scalp, condition your ends
It always surprises me that people don't know this, but shampoo is meant for your scalp, and conditioner is meant for your ends. The hair near your scalp is oily because it's next to your scalp, which is why you shampoo it, but it doesn't need conditioning because your scalp oils take care of that. Your ends are usually drier and damaged because the oil doesn't make its way all the way down the hair shaft, which is why they need conditioning (not to mention the fact that it's the oldest hair on your head).
If you shampoo your ends, it will dry them out; if you condition your scalp, your hair will get greasy and weighed-down. Shampoo your scalp, condition your ends. :)
Cut back on build-up
Use a clarifying shampoo once every week or two (no more!) to remove excess product build-up on your hair. Regular use of shampoos & hair products can leave a film on your hair that weighs it down and dulls it. Clarifying shampoos are too harsh and drying to use more than one a week, but with regular, weekly use you'll see an increase in shine & volume.
Now before you go buy a clarifying shampoo and look at the ingredients and come back to me all, "But I can't find one without sulfates!".... yeah, most clarifying shampoos have sulfates in them. That's okay. You're only using it once every week or two, so it won't ruin your hair.
Save yourself some energy - rough dry your hair
Your hair cannot be styled while it's wet because moisture keeps your hair from being able to hold any style, so there's no point in round-brushing or using a paddle brush right from the start when you blow-dry your hair. Just dry it with your blowdryer and your hands until it's about 90% dry, then start styling it with a brush.
Use that cool shot!
The cool shot button on your hair dryer is a super-valuable - and underused - tool! Your hair must cool before it can hold a style, so this is the time to use your cool shot button. If you blowdry your hair upside down for volume, keep your head flipped over once it's dry and continue to blowdry with the cool-shot button held down until your hair is not warm anymore. Then flip your head back over. Poof! Longer-lasting volume. If you round brush your hair, hit the section on your round brush with the cool shot button for 5-10 seconds before you release it, and you'll see more volume and a stronger, longer-lasting curl.
Don't let your bangs dry themselves
Do your bangs give you trouble? They need to be dried & styled first, and they need to be totally wet (not partially air-dried) when you do it. This is especially true if you have a cowlick in the front. Your bangs will only go where you tell them to go while they're drying, so if they air-dry, they will want to go where they are while they're air-drying. If you usually do your makeup before you dry your hair, just rewet your bangs when you're done before you start blowdrying. You'll find them much easier to manage if you dry them first! [Extra tip: if you like your bangs to swoop down and over, but you feel like they just go over to the side without swooping, try drying them in the opposite direction.]
So how many of these tips did you already know? Obviously, everybody's hair is different, and there will be many, many things some people can do that others can't simply because of the differences in hair type. Like I said, your stylist can help you manage your individual hair type, but these are the basics that I think everyone needs to know.
What tricks do you have to keep your hair looking fabulous? I'd love to know! Tell me in the comments below!
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