Hair can be a person’s crowning glory or a source of endless frustration. If you feel like you’re engaged in a battle of wills with your strands, we’ve got help: Part 8 of our Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook offers a full range of tips on treating, maintaining and protecting your hair. Get tips on dyeing hair at home, reviving dull locks, combating frizz and more.
“Hair brings one's self-image into focus; it is vanity's proving ground.” - Shana Alexander
Straight, curly, dull, dyed, natural…with so many different hair types, there’s definitely no one-size-fits-all regimen to suit everyone’s hair needs. That’s why it’s important to create a routine specifically tailored to your hair, with special treatments as needed to boost hydration, build body or solve issues like dandruff or even lice. Between the sun, chlorine, seasonal concerns, hair loss and heat styling, everyone could use a little guidance for keeping hair healthy and vibrant.
Hair treatments & tips for damaged hair
» Q: Is it true that the sun can damage your hair?
A: Yes, absolutely. According to Good Housekeeping, the sun can cause split ends and breakage, so all hair — especially damaged locks — needs protection from UV rays. To shield your hair and scalp, wear a wide-brimmed hat and invest in a good hair protection product, such as Oscar Blandi Capri Sun Shield Spray or Quintessence Q-Sunshade Leave In Hair Conditioner and Scalp Protectant SPF 30.
» Q: How often should I get a trim?
A: For healthy hair, trim at least half an inch every four to eight weeks, according to Shape.
» Q: How should I treat head lice?
A: Apply a medicated hair shampoo, lotion or cream that treats lice (you can ask your doctor to recommend or prescribe one), and use a fine-tooth comb to take the lice out. Continue to comb the hair for two weeks and wash with normal shampoo every few days.
» Q: What’s a good, affordable treatment to revive dull hair?
A: In Prevention magazine, Paul Labrecque, owner of Paul Labrecque Salon in New York City, recommends using jojoba oil in place of pricey restorative treatments. You can find small bottles of jojoba oil in health food stores for under $10, according to the magazine. Apply the oil to dry hair, wear a shower cap and cover with a hot towel. After 30 minutes, wash your hair and then rinse it out with cold water, which helps “to seal in the cuticle and trap added moisture.” You can do this treatment once a week.
» Q: What kinds of ingredients can replace lost moisture in my hair?
A: Look for products with ingredients like shea butter, panthenol, hydrolyzed yeast extract or sweet almond oil.
» Q: What foods are important for healthy hair?
A: WebMD lists the following foods as the top 10 contributors to healthy hair: dark green veggies, beans, nuts, poultry, eggs, whole grains, oysters, salmon, carrots and low-fat dairy products.
» Q: What would you recommend for damaged hair?
A: Dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, M.D., F.A.A.D., tells the American Academy of Dermatology that individuals with damaged tresses can benefit from using a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioning formula and a separate conditioner afterwards to repair the cuticle. She also suggests using a leave-in conditioner.
» Q: I recently started using a flat iron to straighten my wavy locks. I love the soft, sleek style, but I’m noticing signs of damage, including dryness and broken ends. How can I maintain healthy hair?
A: There are many ways to reduce styling damage. Depending on the thickness of your hair, avoid heat styling every day and lower the temperature of your tool. Thicker hair can handle more heat and styling than fine hair. Before styling, apply a protecting spray like Frederic Fekkai Coiff Defense Pre-Style Thermal/UV Protectant. Also, make sure you’re using a high-quality straightening iron that minimizes damage to your hair, like Metropolis Technology Ti-Ion Titanium Digital Iron 1". Or consider sidestepping the flat iron altogether by using a straightening balm and letting your hair air-dry, if it isn’t too curly or unruly.
» Q: My hair is dry and lifeless, even though I use moisturizing formulas. Is there another way I can add moisture to my hair?
A: Sometimes using moisturizing shampoo and conditioner isn’t enough to provide all the necessary nutrients for your hair. In addition to these formulas, try a moisturizing hair mask. Alterna TEN Hair Masque deeply hydrates and rejuvenates hair.
Color-treated & damaged hair
» Q: I got my hair highlighted recently, but now I have roots showing! How can I hide them when I pull my hair back and wear it in certain styles?
A: Highlights warm up your skin tone and add depth and volume to your hair. But it can be frustrating when highlights grow out and roots start showing. Try an at-home root touch- up. Oscar Blandi Colore Pen provides an easy fix for roots as hair starts to grow out. It’s available in six shades from light blond to jet-black. Simply apply the pen to your roots. The color will remain until you shampoo it out.
» Q: Any tips on dyeing hair at home?
A: Here’s a comprehensive article on how to dye hair at home — and manage any mishaps that might occur. In a nutshell, first figure out what kind of formula you need — permanent, semi, demi or temporary — and then select the shade. If you’re going for something dramatic, such as from black to blond, see a stylist. (You’ll find more shade-specific tips in our guide.) Remember that your natural hair color and the state of your tresses (how processed is your hair?) determine the end result — not the color on the box. Read directions thoroughly and seek help if you experience a dye disaster.
» Q. I’d like to transition from colored hair to my natural silver shade. I’m worried that such a drastic change might make me look older. Any tips?
A. Gray hair can be gorgeous. Just go gray gradually, advises Jolene Edgar of Prevention. Wait until your roots are 60 percent silver to stop color treatments. Also, consider a contemporary hairstyle like a cropped cut.
» Q: How can I care for color-treated hair in the winter?
A: Choose moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, or those designed specifically to help preserve color pigments in your hair. You can also put a tint or glaze over your color to add luster and shine, according to Edward Tricomi of Warren-Tricomi Salons. Consider trying a darker, warmer shade to brighten up your pale complexion. And wear a hat or scarf over your head to protect the color from harsh temperatures and UV rays, which can cause your color to fade.
» Q: I color my hair and heat-style it a lot with a curling iron and blow-dryer. How can I prevent my hair from becoming dry and damaged?
A: Keep it as moisturized as possible to combat the drying effects of coloring and heat styling; don’t wash your hair too often, because this will strip away moisture and color; use gentle shampoos and hydrating conditioners; and apply a rich reparative mask or hot oil treatment weekly, suggests Helen Foster in The Beauty Book.
» Q: Will permanent hair dye damage my hair?
A: If it’s your first time, there shouldn’t be any problems — as long as you follow the directions carefully. But over-processing your hair (or dyeing it too often) can lead to damage. Consider regular deep conditioning treatments to avoid serious harm to your hair.
» Q: I’d like to try a different color for a little while to see how it’ll look. Where do I start?
A: Your best option is to try temporary or semi-permanent coloring. If you aren’t sure about the color, have a professional stylist/colorist apply a temporary color that’ll wash out in a few shampoos. If you decide that you like the color afterwards, select a semi-permanent dye.
Hair loss & thinning
» Q. I’m only 27 years old and worried that my hair is becoming too thin. Am I too young to experience female-pattern baldness?
A. The average age for women to first experience thinning hair is between 25 and 35. There could be countless triggers for your thinning hair ranging from thyroid conditions and heredity to stress and medications. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor to determine the cause and discuss a treatment plan.
» Q: I have very fine, thin hair. Are conditioning masks too heavy for me?
A: They can be. If you use a conditioning mask, especially if you don’t rinse it well enough, it can weigh down your hair. A better bet for fine hair is to skip heavy conditioners and follow with a regular conditioner every time you shampoo. Another option is a leave-in conditioning spray, which is lighter than a conditioning mask but still offers protection.
» Q: Will brushing my hair help with hair loss?
A: Actually, over-brushing can weaken strands, leaving them brittle and damaged. Don’t brush your tresses when they’re soaking wet, because this can cause damage and even hair loss. Gently blot hair with a towel, but don’t rub it. Then, detangle wet hair using a wide-toothed comb, not a brush. Add a detangling product to simplify the process. For instance, Phyto Phytobaume Detangling Conditioner for All Hair Types can help with tangles and make combing easier. Use a natural bristle brush for styling hair when it’s dry.
» Q: What causes hair loss? Can straight hair fall out and then grow back curly?
A: Many factors can cause hair to fall out: illness, surgery, medication, hormones, pregnancy, poor nutrition and not enough sleep. And yes, formerly straight hair can grow back curly. This is often the case with cancer patients, because the follicles are changed with chemotherapy, notes Jennifer Griggs, M.D., though hair can revert to its formerly straight state after a while.
Seasonal & chlorine hair concerns
» Q: During the winter months, my scalp gets very dry and itchy. What can I do?
A: In an article on MSNBC, NYC dermatologist Francesca J. Fusco, M.D., recommends you choose one day out of your week to skip shampoo and instead, apply conditioner to your roots and massage your scalp. If you're still feeling itchy, try rinsing with cool water. The itching might have to do with histamines in your blood. By rinsing with cool water, you constrict your blood vessels.
» Q: What are some ways I can avoid getting my hair damaged in the pool?
A: Woman’s Day has a few good tips: Rinse your hair with regular water before swimming, which reduces how much chlorine your strands soak up; use shampoo specifically formulated for swimmers with the chlorine-dissolving ingredient thiosulfate; and repair damage by rinsing with club soda after swimming. The Beauty Brains blog recommends readers wash their hair with a product that’s high in silicone before swimming, which coats the hair and protects it from damage.
» Q: How can I combat dry hair in the wintertime?
A: Try to shampoo your hair every other day, because washing too frequently can strip strands of natural oils and moisture. Also, look for formulas with moisturizing ingredients such as lanolin, silicone and shea butter. Before using any heat-styling tools, be sure to apply a product that protects the hair. Check out our article for more on fending off dryness and combating other common wintertime hair problems.
» Q: How soon do I need to wash my hair after swimming?
A: Ideally, as soon as possible. If that’s not an option, at least rinse the hair with cool water until you can shampoo. Look for a deep cleansing formula to remove oils and residue. The ingredient sodium thiosulfate may interact chemically with chlorine for better removal, according to The Beauty Brains.
Curly hair & general styling tips
» Q: I only wash my curly hair a few times per week to maintain moisture, but I don’t like the build-up of products and dirt in between shampoos. What can I do to freshen my hair in between washes?
A: Use a dry powder like Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo to absorb the build-up of product, dirt or other impurities in between washes. This formula also adds volume and smells fresh for an instant hair pick-me-up.
» Q: I long for the gorgeous waves that develop in my normally straight hair when I step out of the salt water. Is there a secret for recreating these sea-worthy waves at home?
A: The secret? A salt spray! Make your own by blending together a few tablespoons of table salt and tap water. For benefits that go beyond a beachy look, Philip B Maui Wowie Beach Mist also provides a nourishing blend of extracts including orchid, gardenia and algae to strengthen hair and invigorate your senses.
» Q: I have naturally curly hair that tends to dry out. What should I look for in a shampoo?
A: Marie Claire recommends shampooing no more than two or three times per week with a sulfate-free formula like Alterna Life Solutions Curls Shampoo. Sulfates tend to deplete hair of natural oils that are essential for maintaining hydrated, manageable curls.
» Q: There are so many styling products available. What’s the difference between mousse, gel, wax and serum?
A: Mousse is like foam. You use a few pumps and massage it into roots to give hair body and volume, which is great for fine hair. Gel is stronger and provides more control than mousse, making it a better choice for coarse hair. Wax is ideal for short hair, layered cuts and spiky pieces to give strands shine and definition. Serum adds shine and can help tame flyaways. Keep in mind that piling on too many products can weigh down your hair and make it limp and greasy.
» Q: How can I protect my hair when heat-styling?
A: Whether you use a curling iron, straightener or blow-dryer, let hair air-dry so it isn’t sopping wet and spray on a heat protectant. If possible, attach a diffuser to your blow-dryer before styling. Learn more about timeless tips for healthy hair.
The first step to healthy, lustrous locks is finding a hair routine that works for your lifestyle and hair type. Whether you’re looking for tips on dyeing hair at home or want to bring out the best in your hair naturally, learning the ropes on proper care is a great way to create beautiful tresses.
Stay tuned for more installments of our complete Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook.
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 7: Cosmetic Procedures
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 6: Budget
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 5: Body & Spa
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 4: Pregnancy, Babies & Kids
Skincare & Beauty FAQ Handbook – Part 3: Anti-Aging