Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a love of long, silky and luscious hair – back then, it was just a matter of admiring women I saw on TV; but nowadays, I actually strive to get that gorgeous look, everyday.
To my joy, I discovered that it’s not really necessary to take frequent trips to the salon or spend a lot of money (or time) to do that. After reading recommendations from experts on improving both the health and appearance of hair, I’ve put together tips & tricks to better help you achieve and maintain the tresses of dreams.
DON’T OVERWASH YOUR HAIR
The frequency of hair washing is widely disputed – some people claim that it is better to wash it everyday, whilst others claim that washing two to three times a week is best. So which one is really better?
It really boils down to hair type and personal habits. Straight hair calls for more frequent washing, since the oil wicks down faster; as does frequent exercising, because of the sweat. Curly or coloured hair call for less washing. There is no universal formula which will work for everyone – you should really experiment and play around to find what works best for you and your hair type.
Though there is no universally flattering formula, there is something universally harmful, and that is overwashing. Our natural oils, which condition and protect our locks, can be stripped away by it – this will dry the hair, and in time, create an excessive production of oil. The excess will lead to a need for more frequent washing, perpetuating a vicious cycle.
Using dry shampoo is a great way to help lower the regularity of washing. It will instantly refresh and add texture, whilst reducing the oil buildup and helping mainly the roots retain moisture. I really enjoy Batiste for their refreshing, hassle-free and affordable products.
ROTATE SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS
There are shampoo love affairs which start out everything you could hope for – your tresses are drop-dead-gorgeous, bouncy and full of life, and it feels like nothing could ever go wrong – and then, suddenly, it happens: the shampoo’s effectiveness is gone. In its place remains limp, dull and flat hair; the remnants of a once happy affair.
So what’s up with that?
Shampoo’s byproducts, much like our natural oils, can build up in our scalps. By rotating shampoos and conditioners every 4-5 days, this buildup is removed, allowing our natural oils to reach the hair shafts and renew shine and softness.
SHAMPOO YOUR SCALP AND CONDITION YOUR ENDS
Shampoo isn’t meant to be scrubbed into the ends of your locks – rather, it is supposed to be massaged into the scalp (which also encourages circulation and detoxifying), then rinsed down onto the ends. Conversely, conditioner should be applied on the ends, to avoid your roots from getting greasy too quickly. Removing excess moisture from the ends before applying conditioner also helps – that’s because when hair is soaking wet, it can’t really absorb anything else, so taking your time to squeeze out water with a towel (your hands will also do the job, just not as well) will really help in allowing the product to penetrate the hair shafts.
DETANGLE IN THE SHOWER
I use my fingers to gently detangle my mane, from the bottom up, with conditioner on. This helps in really massaging the product in and boosting its effectiveness; and also makes detangling after the shower much easier.
AVOID HOT SHOWERS
I’m not telling you to take cold showers, but the fact is that excessively hot water can dry and break off your hair. Cooler temperatures, on the other hand, can contribute to its strength and beauty – which leads me to…
FINISH WASHING WITH A SPLASH OF COLD WATER
At the very end of most showers (I skip this step in really cold days, or when I’m feeling lazy), I like to splash my hair with some really cold water. It not only helps seal in moisture, making it less frizz prone, but also increases shine. The only drawback of this step (other than the cold) is that since it does such a good job of smoothing your hair, it may cause finer hair to flatten out.
BRUSH FROM THE BOTTOM TO THE TOP
Brushing from the roots down can cause breakage – try, instead, to carefully detangle from the bottom upwards. Wet hair is weaker and more fragile, so brushing isn’t recommended, but if you must, using a wide toothed comb is preferable. It is also a good idea to regularly remove hair that gets stuck in your brushes, and clean them with lukewarm water and a little bit of shampoo.
BLOT OUT MOISTURE WITH TOWEL
Try gently pressing your locks with a towel, from the ends up, instead of mindlessly rubbing. The rubbing action can rough up the hair cuticle, leading to breakage and frizz.
BLOW-DRY AT LOW TEMPERATURE WITH THE NOZZLE POINTED DOWN
Overheating hair causes it to become dry and brittle. Ideally, blow-drying should be done with a low temperature setting and the nozzle turned down. If you really need the heat, try to mitigate it with a heat protective product, such as this one from Kiehl’s, or this one from TreSemmé. Finishing with a blast of cold air will do the same as cold water in the shower, helping to seal in moisture and shine.
Pointing the nozzle straight down helps avoid the frizzy messes that tend to come with blowing hair out sideways. Moving your hair around whilst drying also helps in creating volume and bounce.
USE HAIR OILS
Coconut oil works wonders for me – my hair gets shinier, softer and stronger whenever and however I apply it. Sadly, it does not work as well for all hair types, with people reporting adverse effects such as hair loss.
Other natural oils that are highly recommended are jojoba, castor and argan oils. I really love using a couple of drops of argan oil to style the bottom 3/4 of my mane – it’s the fastest way I know of to defrizz and create a sleek, lustrous look.
These tips, as well as they have worked for me, have only been a part of how I achieved healthy locks. For the best possible results, I strongly recommend a healthy and balanced diet along with external hair care.