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 6 tricks (and one roll of paper towels) away.
It’s time to take action to make your hair healthy again. By starting a new hair care routine, deep conditioning your hair and nourishing your body with healthy vitamins, you can help your hair get back to its naturally gorgeous self.
1. Treat yourself
Weekly scalp treatments make a bigger difference in the long run than you’d think. “Keeping the hair follicles clean prevents the blockage and inflammation that leads to thinning hair later in life,” says dermatologist Neil Sadick. Try Sachajuan Scalp Treatment with salicylic acid, which is better at cleaning the hair follicle than the cleansers in shampoo. If you’re pressed for time, “dandruff shampoos are great for cleaning the scalp, even if you don’t have dandruff,” says Sadick, who recommends Head & Shoulders Instant Relief Shampoo.
2. Cool your head
If your hair feels hot after you blow-dry or flatiron it, that means it’s still frying. “If you remove a steak from the grill, it still continues to cook, and it’s the same thing with heat retention from a blow-dryer, flatiron, or curling iron,” says Wilson. Hit the cold-shot button on your dryer.
3. Save your old shirts
We kid you not: Your cotton Madonna Virgin Tour tee is gentler on your hair than a Frette towel for drying. It’s why top hairstylists, including Mark Townsend, keep them on hand. “They don’t rough up the cuticle as much, so you don’t have to work as hard to smooth the hair and make it look healthy,” he says.
4. Move things along
Anything that speeds up a blowout is good—less heat means less damage—so humor us with an experiment. Blot (don’t rub) your hair with a towel, then do the same with paper towels. You’ll be shocked at how much more water comes out of your hair and how it makes blowouts take half the time, says hairstylist Adir Abergel. Add a quick-dry spray and you’ll be watching the Today show again in no time. L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Blow Dry It Quick Dry Primer Spray contains ingredients that wick water away from hair (isododecane) and protect against heat (silicones), says Schueller.
5. 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.
6. Get it wet less often
Water makes hair swell from the inside, which forces the cuticle up. “When that happens over and over again, you get frizz and breakage,” says cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller. “Don’t wash your hair more than you have to. Whenever you can skip a day, that’s great.” Instead, embrace a dry shampoo that’s a hard-core oil and odor absorber. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo removes grease and sweat from your hair rather than just coating it with powder.
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