Being on the outside of the body, hair is naturally prone to damage. Combine that with regular styling, coloring, shampooing and exposure to various environmental elements, and it’s no wonder maintaining healthy locks requires time and effort.
We turned to Rochelle Listul, elite stylist for LifeSpa at Life Time in Chanhassen, Minn., to share her top tips for enjoying more good hair days. Regardless of your hair’s texture, length, or color, she suggests following some basic rules to support your hair’s health.
1. Nourish from within.
Your hair’s appearance is a reflection of your inner health and requires a variety of complex nutrients. A whole-foods diet is key, and certain supplements can provide extra benefits.
(For more specifics on healthy hair foods and supplements, check out “The Healthy-Hair Nutrition Guide.”)
2. Wash only when necessary.
“There are many different factors that influence how often you should wash your hair,” says Listul. “Lifestyle, texture, and time are all considerations, but over-washing can strip your hair of the natural oils that moisturize and protect it, especially if you’re using water that’s too hot.”
Washing every other day with cool or lukewarm water tends to work best for individuals with fine hair that shows oil more easily, while those with thicker hair textures can get away with washing less frequently — every two to three days, and sometimes less.
You may want to use this time of social distancing to your hair-health advantage and start reducing how frequently you shampoo. Any potential awkward phase as your scalp adjusts its oil production to the new washing schedule will happen while you’re at home.
Using the right products at home during this time is crucial for maintaining your style without washing. Style-extenders and dry shampoos can keep your hair looking and smelling fresh. You can also sleep with a silk pillowcase to help tame frizz and retain moisture.
3. Condition every time you wash.
Use conditioner every time you shampoo to help close down the hair cuticle and prevent frizz and flyaways during drier months.
4. Deep condition once a week.
“For extra hydration, I recommend using a deep conditioning mask once a week, or even twice, if you’re trying to revive over-processed or heat-damaged hair,” Listul notes.
You can even try making your own nourishing hair mask by combining the flesh of one avocado with a tablespoon of honey. Apply to hair and gently massage into hair and scalp. Leave on for 20 minutes, then shampoo and condition as normal.
5. Be careful with heat.
Your time at home may also be the perfect occasion to take a break from heat styling. Too much heat can lead to dryness, breakage, and split ends. While there’s no need to swear off using heat on your hair for good, consider these techniques to help protect your strands.
- Invest in heat tools that have clear temperature settings and use the low or medium setting. For fine hair, this means lower than 200 degrees F. For coarse or thicker hair, set your tools between 200 and 300 degrees F.
- Prep your hair with a heat protectant — a product specifically made to act as a barrier between the hair tool and your hair. Apply a small amount to damp hair at the ends and slowly work it up toward your roots. When your hair is dry, lightly spritz with a heat spray for extra protection.
6. Use the right hairbrush.
Not all brushes are created equal. If your hair tends to get knotted when washing, use a brush that’s designed for wet hair to detangle without damaging or causing pain. Boar-bristle brushes are great for gentle smoothing and for use on hair extensions.
7. Avoid products with parabens.
“If you have color-treated hair, you’ll want to avoid anything with parabens in it,” advises Listul. Parabens and other fillers, such as sulfates and sodium chloride, may make your hair feel soft immediately, but over time, they cause it to look dull and feel weighted down.