Your hair can be one of your most powerful assets or one of your biggest liabilities in looking and feeling your best every day, so it’s important to know how to take care of it properly. The hair care routine you choose should depend on the health and appearance of your hair, as well as your personal preferences and lifestyle choices. Here are 10 simple steps to take care of your hair.
1) Get a trim
To prevent split ends and keep your hair looking healthy, set up a trim appointment every three months. During a trim, you’ll likely need two or three inches cut off—ask your stylist for advice on how often you should come in for trims if you’re not sure. While some stylists will charge a base fee plus an additional cost per inch, it’s generally more economical to pay by length.
2) Use hair serums and oils
If you like hair oils and serums, make sure that you’re using them correctly. While it might seem tempting to pour a big dollop into your hand and work through your hair, that’s actually doing more harm than good. Instead, apply a small amount from root to tip, focusing on areas where hair tends to be most damaged (typically around your face). Use an oily product before bed—it’ll soak in overnight and let your strands soak up all its goodness.
3) Wash your hair in cold water
Cold water is not only good for your hair, but your skin too. Cold water helps slow down blood flow to capillaries and arteries in your scalp, reducing inflammation and stress on follicles. And don’t worry; a cold rinse won’t wash away products or make your hair more prone to tangles because it doesn’t allow for enough contact time with shampoo or conditioner.
4) Deep condition regularly
Water, heat, and product can damage your hair strands. Protect them by deep conditioning at least once a week. Mix in some avocado or honey for extra moisture, and use a cool setting if you have a blow dryer. If you don’t have time, try an overnight treatment—combine two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 10 drops of lavender oil in 8 ounces (236 ml) of water; apply it to your scalp before bed, then rinse it out in the morning.
5) Use the right products for your hair type
If you have curly hair, avoid shampoos with sulfates and opt for products that reduce frizz. If you have fine hair, look for lightweight conditioners and volumizing products instead. Ask your hairstylist or check out reviews online for ideas on what type of product will work best for your hair.
6) Protect your hair from heat damage
Heat styling your hair on a regular basis is never a good idea, but it’s an especially bad idea if you have thin or damaged hair. Just as with skin, heat can damage your hair at a cellular level. If you must style your hair with heat (i.e., straighten it) use protective products and take appropriate measures to avoid damaging your locks. Also remember that exposing thin or damaged hair to excessive sunlight is also bad for it.
7) Shampoo correctly
The first step in caring for your hair is knowing how to shampoo properly. Using too much shampoo can create an over-abundance of bubbles, while not using enough can leave a film on your hair shaft. Aim for between 1/4 and 1/2 ounces—yes, that’s right, ounces —of shampoo per wash. Massage thoroughly into wet hair, lather and then rinse until all suds are gone.
8) Protect your hair in windy conditions
Whether you live in a city where a stiff breeze can whip through at any moment or you find yourself living in a windy city like Seattle, it’s important to do what you can to protect your hair. This can range from using sunscreen on your scalp when spending time outside, as UV rays make hair dry and brittle. It also means avoiding rubbing your hair when removing tangles.
9) Sleep on a satin pillowcase
Satin pillowcases are known for their smoothness and can help reduce frizz in your hair. Just throw it on top of your regular pillowcase every night and wake up with less bed head!
10) Cut down on heat styling tools
Hot tools are a blast—until they’re not. Too much heat can fry your strands and lead to damage that takes months or even years to repair. If you want longer, thicker hair, you’ll need to take a break from using irons, curling wands and blow dryers at least a few times per week. In place of these styling tools, try using rollers or air-drying your hair; both methods use less heat and reduce damage.