If your hair looks good, everything else follows. At least that’s how I feel. I have a thing for my hair; it’s my one pride and joy, and let’s be honest, no matter how much I’ve indulged over the holidays, my hair will always look great. But the maintenance is something I NEVER slack on. I am a freak about keeping my hair healthy because it’s so long. There is nothing worse than lots of dry, damaged hair, so in order to keep my hair looking full, shiny, and lively, there are serious routines I follow religiously. My three areas of concern? The shampooing, products, and heat. I’ll go through each of them in detail…
The trick is to keep shampooing to an absolute minimum because that process can really dry out hair. I wash mine twice a week. I know that sounds gross, but there are ways to keep hair looking clean in the meantime. Let’s start with the shampoo. I like something that’s oil-based; I used to use argan oil-based shampoos, but the build-up made my locks limp and too much oil in the shampoos caused my hair to get greasy sooner than I like to shampoo. I found a perfect in-between. Wella Keratin shampoo (at Ulta for $22) gives a nice, shiny sheen and fortifies strands, while also offering a squeaky clean finish that keeps hair balanced for days. The Wella Keratin mask (at Ulta for $22) is great as a conditioner; just don’t keep it in too long. I put it in, and wash it out immediately.
If you can’t get away with washing your hair only twice a week, I would definitely limit to every other day instead of daily, which is really hard on it (especially if your hair is longer than shoulder-length). And when you do wash, shampoo just the scalp where the grease builds, and leave the ends with some of the natural oils to keep them protected. Condition only the ends to keep the oily scalp at bay, so you can limit the washing.
I know it’s winter, but the last rinse after conditioning should be with cold water…as cold as you can handle. This seals the cuticles so you don’t get any frizz, and keeps hair from breaking when you are styling. If you have a handheld shower head (which I do, and it’s the only reason I can handle this) you can lean over to one side and hold out your hair away from you, using the shower nozzle to rinse just the locks without touching any part of your body. This is way more fun and refreshing in the summer.
Dry shampoo is your best friend. This is the one product I solidly stand behind. This is how you hold out on the washing. It truly saves your hair. There are so many out there now, and honestly, they all work the same way. I like Oscar Blandi Pronto (at Sephora for $11) because I have super black hair, and this one does not leave white behind. Even the ones that do will go away if you massage it in, though. Dry shampoo is basically just powder that absorbs oils, so there’s no direct damage to hair. It also gives incredible lift and body; I use it even if my hair looks perfectly clean.
Once a week, I apply argan oil to revive my hair, and give it a healthy dose of much-needed nutrients. It offers the most amazing shine and makes hair super soft. The oil protects against the damage you do to your mane, whether from styling or coloring. Again, I only treat the ends; there’s no need to make the scalp any greasier than it already is. Leave-in oils like Josie Maran’s (at Sephora for $30) are great. It’s lightweight, so there’s no build-up and best of all, this is super easy and convenient to use; no need to stay in just to do your weekly hair treatment. It absorbs really nicely into the hair too. Use it on damp hair before you style, but see below for how I feel about styling!
As for styling products, I say no to all of them. Of course, for special occasions, gels, hair spray, etc. is fine to use. On a regular basis, though, I avoid them all. Your hair is most beautiful in its natural state, and all of those chemicals will only wreak havoc in the long-term.
This last one is the most damaging and the one that is hardest to avoid. Blow dryers, curling irons, hot rollers…any kind of direct heat to the hair compromises the hair structure, and with frequent use will inevitability damage it. I love to have a wave in my locks as much as the next girl, but I keep the curling iron to an absolute minimum while still getting the bounce I desire. This is what I do. For the most part, I air dry my hair. When it is almost dry, I put it up in a high bun and sleep overnight in it. The high bun will give you the lift you need, and when you take it out, you’ll have the most amazing and glorious natural waves. Reserve the blow dryer and the curling iron for those days when you don’t have the time or foresight to wash your hair the day before, And when you do put on the heat, always use the Argan oil serum or something similar.
I have been in love with my T3 dryer (at Sephora for $200) for many years now, and it really does make a huge difference. This is so much easier on the hair, and dries strands twice as fast, which reduces the heat time as well as your (my) impatience. It also helps to use a quick-absorbing towel – those high tech microfiber ones. These will remove most of moisture before you even turn on the blow dryer. And for curling irons, choose a ceramic one to reduce frying. I also avoid curling the very ends, making for a more natural look.