As some of you gorgeous babes know I am a semi-retired kitchen hair cosmetologist. So I wanted to put a little twist in the regular posts and talk about hair care!
Upkeep is one of the most important things you can do for your luscious locks, it doesn’t matter if you have curly hair, thin hair, oily hair, dry hair, or any other type of hair—certain hair care tips are truly universal. Here are my main hair care takeaways for all my lovely ladies. Enjoy!
HAIR CARE TIP #1: CONDITION CORRECTLY
On the off chance you didn’t know, you should use conditioner regularly. Are you sure you’re using it the right way? I have many clients who complain of dry skin and what is the first thing we do to help with dry skin? Apply lotion. When we have dry skin chances are that our scalps are on the dry side too and can be over producing oil to help moisturize our skin. I recommend applying conditioner to your whole scalp once or twice per week or even use a moisturizing shampoo to help balance our bodies natural oil production. The rest of the time conditioner only needs to be placed on certain sections of your hair. You can skip applying it near your roots, and apply conditioner from mid-lengths to ends. Conditioning at the roots can end up weighing down your hair and the ends need all the nutrients.
HAIR CARE TIP #2: Rinse, Rinse, RINSE
While we’re on the topic of conditioning. Be sure when getting out of the shower you do a second or third rinse to remove any remaining product. Double your rinsing time, you won’t regret it! Be sure to be extremely thorough with washing everything out, as leftover product can leave you with buildup. Focus especially behind the ears and the base of the neck.
HAIR CARE TIP #3: SHAMPOO IS FOR THE SCALP
Shampoo should be concentrated on the scalp, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Washing the lengths and ends of your hair will gradually strip strands of their moisture and cause them to become lackluster, dull, and dry. Which is a recipe for breakage! It is unnecessary unless you are actually dirt dirty. Your scalp (which produces oil and constantly sheds skin cells) is the area that really needs cleansing so when you shampoo, keep your efforts focused on your scalp and roots. Also if you are like me with hella fine hair you need some BODY stat! Make sure you’re using a shampoo that is CLEAR! Usually this means it does not have a protein infusion or all the extra parabens and SLS anyways, always check your labels. If you need a little protein to help out check out leave-in sprays and balms or even light oils.
HAIR CARE TIP #4 BLOW DRY DOWN THE STRAND
When you’re blowing out your hair be sure to always blow the hair down the hair shaft. If you blow out your strands towards the scalp you can fray your cuticle layer and cause frizz and potential breakage. Need extra volume? Lift your hair in sections and point your dryer in the direction you desire the lift to be just keep the wind direction down the hair shaft. If you’re uncertain which way is down the shaft grab a strand and gently run your fingers down, it should be smooth, if you go the other way towards the scalp it feels squeaky or rough, we want to cater to the smooth side. For extra shine hit your hair with that blue mystery cooling button on your hair dryer, this will smooth and polish the cuticle layer.
HAIR CARE TIP #5: HEAT IS FOR DRY HAIR ONLY
Have you ever dropped water into a hot pan? Sizzle! Consider if you want the same to happen to your hair. NO. Do yourself a favor and never ever use a curling iron or hair straightener when your strands are wet or even just a little damp. It’s worth the wait to let your hair completely dry, whether that means air drying or giving your mane a blast with a blow-dryer. When our hair is wet we have something called a side bond that gets broken. There are three types of side bonds: hydrogen bonds, salt bonds and disulfide bonds. These side bonds link chains of the hair’s amino acids together and each type of bond contributes approximately 33% to the hair’s overall hair strength.
These bonds are the most flexible. Hydrogen bonds are easily broken in the presence of water and heat. They are the primary bonds responsible for changing our hairs overall shape and the main reason we see so much damage. They are responsible for up to 30% of the strength and up to 50% of its elasticity (hairs natural ability to stretch).
Hydrogen bonding allows our hair to change shape temporarily and produces a strong hold. Here is an example of hydrogen bond manipulation resulting in an altered appearance of the hair: setting your hair in rollers. Hair is usually set in rollers while wet. The hair is then held in position until it dries. As the hair dries, hydrogen re-bonding occurs, but in the new “shape”. The same thing happens with heat when we use a curling iron/wand or flat iron.
When our hair becomes damp, these bonds are temporarily disrupted and we are able to take advantage of the hair’s flexible hydrogen bonding arrangement to restyle our hair with more definition. So the hair will remain in the new “shape” until it’s presented with water again and that can either occur through shampooing/conditioning or humidity.
Bottom line, boiling your hair is a no go.
HAIR CARE TIP #6: EASY ON THE HAIR TIES
Messy buns and ponytails are a classic for a reason. It is incredibly convenient to be able to sweep all of your hair off your face. Pulling your hair up every day, or when wet, and especially in the same spot can put unnecessary strain on your locks. Try rocking lower and looser braids, buns, or ponytails, using softer hair ties that won’t pinch, or just wear your hair down more often. Avoid sleeping with your hair pulled up in a bun, especially while wet, this puts severe strain on the hair around the hair tie and will cause breakage and frizz that are usually mistaken for baby hair. If you want to check yours use a mirror to look at your dry hair and look for a line of frizz horizontally. Pulling wet hair up causes the hair to overstretch so that instead of bouncing back to it’s normal shape your strands will just snap. #bringbackthescrunchy
HAIR CARE TIP #7: YOUR SCALP NEEDS CARE, TOO
Think about it: your scalp is skin. Just like the rest of your beautiful body, your scalp also needs regular exfoliating and hydration. Unfortunately, regular build-up of oil, dead skin cells, and leftover product can leave your scalp overloaded and less than healthy. Be sure to evaluate the quality of your hair product. (Spoiler alert if it comes from the grocery store it is not as top shelf as you think.) To help exfoliate once or twice a month, use a teaspoon of baking soda in your shampoo and gentle massage your scalp for 3-5 minutes. Then to rebalance your pH use an apple cider vinegar rinse (1:3 of vinegar to water ratio)
HAIR CARE TIP #8: TRIM YOUR SPLIT ENDS
This may be the most important tip of all and I don’t mean at home. As much as you care for your hair and keep it healthy, sometimes split ends are just inevitable. Rather than trying to “seal them up”, book an appointment with your hairdresser and get them snipped off. Hair is already dead, so when it splits there’s no fixing it, you can temporarily “seal them over” but that’s like a bad patch on a pothole. Best bet is to trim at the first sign. Otherwise the damage will only travel up the shaft and cause more breakage in the long run. Just do it. Ask for a dusting if you can’t handle the two-inch breakup, I promise your length will survive and it’ll grow in better in the long run.
HAIR CARE TIP #9: DON’T BRUSH WET HAIR
It’s a fact, confirmed by the American Academy of Dermatology: Wet hair breaks more easily when brushed. The best comb to use in the shower or out on wet hair is the five-finger comb (aka your hand) although an extra wide comb for the shower is great! You should always use a wide-tooth comb when detangling damp or wet hair, and also to be as gentle as possible while doing so, work from the bottom to the top.
Remember not to sleep with your hair pulled up in a bun while wet as this puts severe strain on the hair around the hair tie and will cause breakage and frizz.
HAIR CARE TIP #10: HOT TOOL TEMPERATURES
When it comes to heat styling, never turn your heat up to the highest setting, it is unnecessary—those super-hot settings are actually intended for in-salon treatments. Check the age of your tools, if you have had it for more than 5 years or since high school it is time to say BYE. When it comes to temperature keeping your hot tools on the low or medium temperature setting will get the job done just as well, and without causing nearly as much damage to your strands. Need a number? If your strands are on the fine side start at 280-300 and work your way up and take smaller working sections. Tools aren’t magic they’re just tools, and abusing them or your hair will only cost you actual dollars in the long run.
HAIR CARE TIP #11: BRUSHES AND BOARS HAIR
Shopping for a new hair brush can be intimidating to say the least, where do you start? First off I highly recommend a wide tooth comb or wet brush for detangling, paddle brushes are good for this, too. Not to mention a killer blowout without needing a shoulder replacement afterward. Boars hair brushes are great for smoothing and distributing our hairs natural oil to the ends of our hair. If you tend to be on the oily side a boars hair brush with nylon bristles is a great way to stimulate the scalp and disperse excess oil to your ends before applying dry shampoo and before washing.
HAIR CARE TIP #12: DON’T USE SO MUCH DRY SHAMPOO
I have a love hate relationship with this tip because if you know me, you know I love my dry shampoo. My hair is fine and relatively limp without beating it up with hot tools. Dry shampoo gives me the oompf that I need. However, aerosol dry shampoo is really not great. Boo. Why not??
For one the first few ingredients are usually something like: Butane, Isobutane, Propane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Alcohol Denat.
I’m not a scientist but I’m 1000% sure putting gas on your hair is not a great idea or good for our lungs. That stuff dries out the hair strands so much it can do more harm than good in helping us “shampoo less” from the amount of pore blocking it can do in the meantime. Well how about non-aerosol? It’s a better option but is still causing some blocking of your follicles and leads to buildup and a waxy coating on the hair, ew. To remove this buildup you need a nice sulfate-free shampoo to use regularly and to clarify at least once every week or two. Heavy long-term use is really not a great option, sad I know. But the good news is if your hair seems dirty, wash it. Even if that means just hitting your hairline every day. When using the right products your scalp will rebalance itself and not need as frequent of shampooing.
Give yourself time to adjust to new products (2-4 weeks) and breakup with your dry shampoo. Or you know save for emergencies.