The Ultimate Guide to Low Maintenance Hair

Rachel Krause
Photo: ImaxTree

Photo: ImaxTree

There are some beauty junkies for whom “low maintenance” does not enter their vocabulary. Anyone who wakes up early to spend 30 minutes of quality time with their blowdryer falls distinctly under this category, and that’s fine and well. But for some of us, our idea of a good hair day entails both hair that looks good and hair that didn’t take up a significant part of our morning routine. Why labor over the round brush when we could be concentrating on the perfect cat eye or crisp red lip?

For those among us who wish to wash-and-go, or sleep on a damp braid and call it a day, this guide to low maintenance hair is for you.

Bangs are a no-go.
First things first: Skip the eyebrow-grazing bangs. Bangs may look insouciant because, when styled correctly, they give hair that “just rolled out of bed” quality, but the reality is that they require frequent trims to keep their shape. On the other hand, longer bangs that you can sweep to the side are totally fair game. They grow out nicely and blend easily into the hair’s other layers, and their success isn’t completely dependent upon styling.

One of our favorite lazy girl shortcuts is to part damp hair, then tuck both sides tight behind our ears—this technique gives straight or wavy hair a cool natural bend.

Short does not always equal easy.
As with bangs, the shorter your hair is, the more frequently you’ll need to trim it to maintain the shape and length. It’s true that a pixie or abbreviated bob cuts back on styling time because there’s just not as much hair to style, but what you gain in fewer hours spent blowdrying you’ll certainly lose in having to schedule more salon visits. Even if you decide to grow your hair out post-pixie, you’ll still have to head to the salon once every couple of months to ensure that everything is growing out properly, lest you find that cool crop becoming a soccer mom style.

Consider your texture.
Keeping your natural hair texture in mind is probably the most important rite of choosing a new hairstyle. Be honest with your stylist and with yourself—if you’re a true wash-and-go girl who can’t be bothered with styling, let it be known. If you’re more than willing to wield the dryer for a few minutes’ time, say so. To be fair, if you’re naturally curly and like to wear your hair straight every day, there’s never going to be anything low maintenance about it until you invest in a straightening treatment.

On the flip side, if you have fine, straight hair, you’ll want to invest in long layers and angles that will give your hair a bit of natural volume rather than something you’ll have to blow out every day to ensure body. Wavy hair types don’t need much to roll with their texture, but they should avoid too-short layers, which can exacerbate frizz.

MORE: Expert Tips to Warm Up Your Hair Color for Fall

Treat it well.
The best place to start is with a good shampoo, conditioner, and deep conditioner. Even if your hair tends toward the oily, good conditioning habits are important for avoiding breakage and split ends, which is your best bet for avoiding frequent trims. Just focus on the mid-shaft and ends rather than the bulk of the head—we’re partial to Kérastase Resistance Masque Force Architecte because the fortifying gel formula is hydrating enough for dry and damaged hair but still light enough for finer types.

Regardless of your hair type, always, always apply a heat protectant (generously!) before blowdrying or using any type of hot tool. It’s also good to get in the habit of using a leave-in formula, like a light oil or a moisturizing cream, even if you air-dry.

Skip the heat styling.
We dabble in hot tools every now and then, but we’re also huge advocates of letting your hair take its natural course. Air-drying does not have to translate to messy, unstyled hair, and if your hair looks less than favorable post-air dry, chances are you’re not doing it correctly. Heed our advice instead—when your hair is still damp, but not wet, apply a detangling product and comb through gently using a wide-tooth comb. For shiny, natural-looking waves, separate your hair into two sections and twirl each around your finger as they dry, or wash hair before bed and sleep on a loose braid to wake up with soft texture in the morning. Just finish everything off with a drop of serum and a spritz of light-hold hairspray or styling spray to keep it all in check.

Try ombré.
Hair color is high maintenance in and of itself, but the ever-popular ombré effect is one way to get a new look without committing to monthly root touch-ups. With the ombré technique (and its sister, sombré), color is placed from the mid-lengths to the ends of the hair rather than at the root like most highlights or single processes, so it creates a natural gradation that doesn’t leave a visible line as it grows out. You can get your ombré done as infrequently as once a year—that’s a low maintenance hair color if there ever was one.