In the age of hair salons with blowout bars, extreme dye jobs, and perms (yes, they’re back!), it’s not a question of if your hair is damaged but of how bad the situation really is. Before you start feeling hopeless because you’d sooner sell your soul than give up your flatiron, consider that even wrecked hair can be revived with a few sneaky little adjustments to your routine, according to scientists. Shinier, healthier-looking hair is just 11 tricks (and one roll of paper towels) away.
Get it wet less often.
There’s one nugget of grooming mythology that I abide by, even though it isn’t scientifically proven. It’s the answer to the perennial question: How often should you shampoo? When we wash our scalps less, the theory goes, we actually train it to produce less oil. As in, the body understands that there is an equilibrium of oil that can be reached, and it will work to reach this point faster if we continually clear the slate. So, more washing means more oil, and less washing means less oil.
“If you shampoo every day, it will strip your scalp of all its natural oils and can lead to dry, brittle hair, ” says Julien Farel of the Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa in NYC.
Stock your shower.
On those days when you do wash your hair, add a pre-shampoo—yep, that’s a thing now—to your routine. It works like a sealant, “smoothing the hair’s cuticle before it gets wet so there’s less damage, ” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. who recommends this for all hair types except fine. It also protects against friction from massaging in shampoo. “When your hair rubs together, the edges fray, ” she explains. We like Nexxus Color Assure Pre-Wash Primer and Tresemmé Beauty-Full Volume Pre-Wash Conditioner.
Get smarter about your shampoo.
Who likes the rough feeling of damaged hair? Pretty much no one. Argan oil, found in OGX Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner, makes dry, coarse hair feel softer and silkier because it’s rich in fatty acids. Ultralight sunflower-seed oil, found in Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner, does the same for fine hair without weighing it down.
Change the way you think about conditioner.
We all know they smooth frizz and make your hair softer and shinier. But if you own a blow-dryer or flatiron, you should also know that conditioners are critical to heat protection. “It’s just as important as heat-protectant spray, if not more, because conditioner is better at coating the hair, ” says Wilson. Skim labels for ingredients that won’t rinse off—words with “methicone” or “polyquaternium” in them—or just get one of our favorites: Dove Quench Absolute Conditioner. Leave it on for at least five minutes, and then rinse with cool water. “This allows for more residual conditioner to be left on the hair, ” she says.
Add layers of heat protection
Did you know heat applications on hair can reach up to 446°F? Ouch. Enter: heat protectant spray, designed to help protect against damage from harsh temperatures so you can use your favourite style tools with confidence.
Sleek and silky strands are the reason many of us turn up the heat when we style. TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Heat Defense Spray is designed to help combat frizz and seal in shine while shielding against damage. If flat irons and curling tongs are your styling tools of choice, try a heat protectant spray that helps guard against both heat and friction for smooth results.