If you’re constantly coveting perfect hair, turn away from all those pricey fad treatments that do more to drain your wallet than treat your strands. And instead, pick up some daily habits that will actually make a difference. We asked top stylists to spill their secrets on things women with fantastic hair do daily, and here’s their list — all of which you can do from the comfort of your own home.
1. She avoids heat styling as much as possible.
But let’s be honest, you have to use them sometimes. Michael Dueñas, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Hair Room Service, recommends steam rollers, which are gentle on the hair and do not get overly warm, as they’re heated solely by steam passing through the foam on the roller. But if you absolutely have to use hot tools (blow dryers, curling irons, wands, flat irons, hot rollers) to style your hair, always use a spray-in heat protectant, says Eve Galminche, Arrojo top colorist.
Silk’s smooth texture won’t rough up your hair cuticle when you sleep the way cotton does, leaving you with smoother hair in return, explains Suave Professionals celebrity stylist Marcus Francis. Fewer frizzy strands in the morning? Now that’s the dream (no pun intended).
3. She keeps her hair clean.
We’re sure you’ve heard a lot about the No-Poo movement (basically not shampooing your hair to preserve your natural oils), but Cristophe Salon Newport Beach owner Scott Fontana urges you to listen to your hair. “As long as women are using quality products, they can benefit from more frequent washing,” he explains. “It reduces split ends, provides great moisture, and gives hair an overall clean and shiny look.”
Not sure how often to lather up? Jeffrey J. Miller, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine suggests these straightforward rules: Wash daily if you live in a city with pollution or humidity, or work out daily. Wash every few days if you live in a rural environment away from pollutants, or an especially dry climate. And if your hair is normal or combination, with dry ends and oily roots, you should split the difference and wash every other day.
The skin that makes up your scalp needs moisture just like the skin on your face does, especially if it’s going to provide a healthy foundation for hair to grow, explains Riawna Capri of CLEAR Scalp & Hair. She adds: “A general rule of thumb is to condition every time you shampoo.”
But the moisturizing doesn’t end once you leave the shower. Even if you’re not heat-styling your hair, you should comb through a protective product, says Oribe Hair Care stylist Adam Livermore. It can reduce frizz, dryness, and split ends, and even protect your color!
5. She stays loyal.
It’s a common misconception that switching up your hair care brands keeps your hair healthier because it never gets time to adapt, but experts disagree. Instead, they suggest finding what works for you and sticking with it. Remember: Your hair doesn’t know the difference. And while it’s perfectly fine to change things up when searching for that perfect combination that leaves you with killer strands — once you find it, don’t let it go.
6. She eats the right foods.
For all the attention we pay to the hair follicle once it leaves the scalp, half the battle for beautiful hair is already lost (or won) by what you’re putting in your body every day. According to Dr. Robert Dorin, New York City-board certified diplomat of the American Board of Hair Restoration, what you eat plays a huge role in gloss, growth, and volume.
“A diet rich in iron, zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids, and protein will help stimulate your hair follicles for growth.” Dorin recommends alternating between lean red meat, chicken, and fish during the week for optimum hair health.
7. She takes her vitamins.
Even if your diet is impeccable, it’s possible you’re missing out on some crucial hair-boosting vitamins. Not sure if you need them? Dr. Frank Lipman, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, says the answer is in how healthy (or not-so-healthy) your skin and nails look. For example, if your fingernails are ridging and/or if you have dry, flaky skin, chances are your hair is crying out for help, too. But that’s easy to reverse: Once you start taking the right combo of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs, you can get fuller, shinier, and stronger hair in just a few months. Bonus: Your nails and skin will also benefit.
8. She limits her time in the sun.
You see the damage that a day without sun protection does to your skin, but even though your hair suffers just as much, it can be harder to tell. To prevent sun damage, Rik Rak Master Stylist Marcelo suggests applying a leave-in conditioner at least every other day. Careful application from mid-shaft to the ends of hair can combat damage from the summer big three — UV rays, wind, and saltwater.
And if you’re headed to the beach where the heat will be coming at you from all directions, spritz a generous application of heat protectant with SPF onto damp hair before going out, followed by a reapplication after swims — same as you would do for your skin.
9. She steers clear of snarls.
Before you go ripping a comb through your strands, think about what you’re doing — and be gentle. Use a wide-toothed comb for particularly tangled locks, and always brush your hairfrom bottom to top to avoid creating more knots and snarls.
10. She gets regular trims — even when growing out her hair.
You might be tempted to skip seasonal trims when growing out your hair, but to add healthy length, you actually need to do just the opposite. Meri Kate O’Connor, senior colorist and educator at Eva Scrivo Salon stands firm that a haircut every six to eight weeks is necessary to prevent split ends from forming as the hair cuticle splits.
“When the split goes up the hair shaft, it becomes so thin that it breaks — that’s when people get breakage.” And once your hair splits, there’s no way to repair it, so keep it trimmed to prevent harmful breakage before it starts.
11. She keeps it cool in the shower.
When you’re washing your hair, you don’t want the water too hot, warns David Edery, owner of Attitudes Paris Salon in Houston. Excess heat can blast the volume out of your hair, leaving you with limp locks. Instead, opt for warm water — this temperature allows you to work up a nice lather while still staying hot enough to rinse suds clean. And when it comes to the final post-conditioner rinse, the colder the better. Chilly water locks in those coveted nutrients into each strand, adding a beautiful, healthy luster.
12. She knows the right amount of product to use — and where to use it.
If you cover your entire head when you shampoo or conditioner, you’re doing it wrong! Concentrate the shampoo on the first few inches of hair at the scalp, where you get the most oil and product buildup — your ends don’t need cleansing as much. As for conditioner, work it in from the mid-shaft to the ends where the hair is driest and prone to split ends.