The bare minimum of maintaining healthy hair is shampooing and conditioning regularly, but do we really know as much as we should when it comes to keeping our locks in their best possible shape? We asked the experts for their top tips for healthy hair: Here’s what they had to say.
Add an oil or serum to your routine.
“There are a thousand reasons hair gets dry, ranging from color treatments and heat tools to exposure to sun, chlorine, and saltwater. Adding an oil or serum will help guarantee that your hair is well-nourished and properly conditioned,” says John Frieda International Creative Consultant Harry Josh, whose clients include Gisele Bündchen, Miranda Kerr, and Amanda Seyfried. He loves the new John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Oil Elixir ($8.99, target.com), which contains argan oil and vitamin E, used on its own or “cocktailed” with other styling products.
See a professional.
Boxed dyes picked up from the drugstore for under a tenner make it really, really easy for us to decide to change our hair color on a whim. Resist the impulse and make a point of planning ahead and seeing a professional colorist. PRAVANA Stylist Cynthia Valentin says, “You may skimp on budget when DIYing your hair color at first, but going to a pro will give you the results you want without the need for excessive coloring or color correction, which will result in more money out of pocket and more damage to your hair.” Ask for a color treatment that’s low in ammonia and rich in protein, like PRAVANA ChromaSilk Hair Color. Rita Hazan Salon NYC stylist Cristina B. also recommends visiting a salon regularly for other treatments, like a protein treatment to restore nutrients to hair compromised by heat styling and coloring. She says, “[Treatments are] just as important as your highlights and haircuts.”
Hair can sustain damage even while you’re sleeping. Cristina endorses the use of a silk pillowcase to prevent breakage—the seemingly luxurious practice is actually grounded in a constructive truth. Kien Hoang, Oribe educator and owner of Umbrella Salon in San Jose, CA, has an additional tip for those with long hair: wrap it in a low bun that’s comfortable to avoid nasty tangles in the morning. He also recommends a light oil, like Oribe Gold Lust ($48, oribe.com), on the ends to provide extra overnight care.
Do a hair mask once a week.
Moroccanoil’s Global Creative Director Antonio Corral Calero recommends that we adopt a once-a-week hair mask ritual alongside our daily hydrating styling products for optimal hair health in order to “deliver deep conditioning and restorative benefits to improve hair’s texture, elasticity, manageability, and shine.” Antonio uses Moroccanoil Intense Hydrating Mask ($54.40, moroccanoil.com) on thick, coarse hair and Moroccanoil Weightless Hydrating Mask ($67.20, moroccanoil.com) on fine or limp hair. For extremely thirsty locks, he recommends using a mask twice weekly and decreasing use over time as the texture of hair improves.
Invest in the right tools.
A powerful, salon-quality hair dryer and a good brush “will completely change the texture of your hair without breaking or frying your strands,” says Mark Hampton, global ambassador for TONI&GUY Hair Meets Wardrobe. While we’ve heard time and time again that frequent brushing is detrimental to hair’s health, Rodney Cutler, owner and creative director of Cutler Salon, says otherwise. “Brushing out your hair with a natural boar bristle brush, such as a Mason Pearson ($120, nordstrom.com), helps keep the scalp and hair healthy. Brushing your scalp is also key to stimulating hair growth and will help to distribute natural oils that can build up on the scalp.”
Shampoo less frequently.
Cutler recommends only washing hair a maximum of three times a week to avoid stripping the hair of natural oils, which can lead to dryness, damage, and breakage. For those who exercise frequently, or just “miss the feeling of washing it,” he assures us that we can still rinse well with water and condition the ends between shampoos.
Avoid heat styling.
“Heat causes hair to dry out or can even burn the hair follicle, causing a great amount of damage if you aren’t careful,” Cutler warns. We know, we know, but how are we ever to part with our beloved hot tools? We don’t have to, provided we air dry as frequently as possible and use a product with heat protection like Redken Hot Sets 22 Thermal Setting Mist ($21, salons) to both minimize damage and strengthen hair whenever we blow dry, curl, or straighten.
We know now that we don’t necessarily need to get our hair cut as frequently as previously thought, but Cutler advises, “When you first decide to grow out your hair, make sure you cut off all damage and split ends. A split end can end up splitting all the way up the length of the hair, leaving it weak.” Says Edgar Parra of Sally Hershberger Downtown, “It’s not about cutting a lot every time, it’s about cutting a little bit every time. Think of it as hairstyle maintenance.” So, as a general rule, cut what needs to be cut, when it needs to be cut, and go from there.
Read more: Natural Beauty Tips Every Girl Should Know