These days, going to the hair salon is not unlike going to the dentist. Unless you’re super-meticulous about your hair care routine, your stylist has probably lectured you about protecting your locks from hot styling tools and harsh products, kind of like how your dentist lectures you about flossing and nixing the sugar every time you go in for a cleaning. And, if you’re like many of us, you’ve probably asked yourself why this even matters. Hair grows back brand-new, after all. “If it’s damaged, I can just start fresh tomorrow,” you say to yourself.
In theory, that’s a totally logical pattern of thinking, but then you have to wait months or even years to get back your perfectly coiffed mane. And that’s no fun. Like many things in life, with hair, prevention is the best medicine, and medicine comes in the form of nourishing, non-damaging hair products and a good regimen. Getting yourself into an easy hair care routine will help ensure that your locks don’t frustrate you to the point of a buzz cut. Here are some of the problems that can result from a poor routine (or no routine at all) and some tips for what to do about it.
- Problem: Your Hair Is Dry – Your hair’s oil scale needs to be carefully balanced. If it gets out of whack at all, it can leave strands zapped and brittle or over-oiled to the point of greasiness. Your hair gets dry when your scalp doesn’t produce enough natural oils, which can happen if you over-wash, stripping your hair of these oils. It also results from spending too much time with your hot styling tools, including the straightener, blow dryer, or curling iron.
- Routine Solution: Lighten Up on the Washing –Try your hardest to wash and condition your hair as infrequently as possible. It’s possible to “train” your hair so you don’t have to wash it as much (dry shampoo will be your best friend during this process), helping to restore its naturally balanced moisture levels and preventing excessive dryness or greasiness. When you do wash, use a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner and always use a heat protectant spray before wielding any hot tools.
- Problem: You’re Losing Your Hair – These days, there are many effective hair regrowth solutions out there to address thinning and balding, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to avoid things that could trigger permanent hair loss. Though most people suffer from hair thinning as a result of genetics, routinely winding and twisting your hair into tight braids and ponytails can lead to a condition called traction alopecia, which permanently damages the hair follicles and renders them unable to grow hair.
- Routine Solution: Skip the Tight Updos – The best way to avoid this form of avoidable hair loss is to let your hair free and stop twisting it up into tight hairstyles. If you’re worried about hair loss for any reason, whether it’s hereditary or because you love to rock tight braids, make sure to use clinical hair care products designed to support healthy hair growth as a part of your well-designed hair care regimen.
- Problem: Your Hair Is Dull and Dead-Looking – The constant onslaught of sprays, salves, and serums can do a number on your hair, leaving it looking totally devoid of life. People who dye their hair regularly, especially from dark to light colors, are particularly susceptible to lack of shine and life. Hair loses its luster when the cuticle (the outermost layer of the hair strand) becomes weak, rough, and dull, so you want to arm it with the nutrients it needs to shine to the best of its ability.
- Routine Solution: Revitalize It with Sulfate-Free Hair Care – Here’s a situation where using the right products can actually help reverse some of the visible damage that plagues your once-silky locks. It’s a good idea to use a moisture-boosting shampoo, coupled with the occasional deep conditioner (*occasional* is the key word here, as too much can just leave your hair perpetually greasy) plus a nourishing serum to help rebuild the hair’s cuticles.
- Problem: Your Hair Is Discolored – Having your hair colored can run you as much as $150 every six to 12 weeks, and there’s nothing worse than a perfectly mixed shade fading into oblivion a few weeks after your service. There are many things that zap the color from your locks, but the biggest offenders are the sun, the pool, hard water, and harsh chemicals that might be hiding in your shampoo, conditioner, or styling products.
- Routine Solution: Protect It from Things that Make It Fade –Your best chances for preserving that perfect dye job? Keep your locks far, far away from the usual suspects listed above. It’s often not practical nor enjoyable to stay out of the pool or the sun, so just make sure you’re using hair sunscreen (yes, it is a thing, and yes, you need it) if you plan to spend any prolonged periods outside. These SPF 30+ sunscreens can usually be easily spritzed on before you head to the beach or pool.
- Bonus: Hair Extensions – There are many different types of hair extensions and depending on the type they can damage easily if not properly cared for. If you have human hair extensions the steps already listed can all be applied to their care. Additionally, the natural oils of your own hair will not reach the extensions so it is important to ensure they are brushed and moisturized. When washing your extensions focus on just the scalp to preserve the extensions and consult your stylist for the best shampoo to use for your specific extensions.
What Makes a Good Hair Care Routine?
As you can see, keeping your hair safe from the most frustrating forms of hair damage really comes down to having the right routine to keep strands properly moisturized (but not overly so!) and protecting it from things that make it look dull, damaged, or faded. In other words, a good hair care routine requires the perfect mix of proactive prevention and regular maintenance. As long as you keep that in mind, you’ll have gorgeous locks in no time!