You love your hair—especially after getting a blowout and fresh highlights and working in your go-to products. Thing is, all that fuss could be causing more harm than good. “Women do so much to protect their skin on a daily basis but not enough to keep their hair healthy,” says David H. Kingsley, PhD, a trichologist (hair and scalp specialist) in New York City. “Too much styling and coloring can lead to loss of volume, breakage, dullness, and split ends.” And it’s a vicious cycle because hair can grow in thinner and weaker. To the rescue: an easy detox—cleanse, treat, cut back on heat—for your do.
Popular wisdom has it that for healthier hair, you should shampoo less often. But if your hair is on the oily, limp, or dull side, you’ll want to wash it regularly—even every day, Kingsley says. “A clean scalp is key for hair health and growth,” says Juan Carlos Maciques, a hairstylist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. Just like the pores on your face, hair follicles on your scalp can become clogged with dirt, oil, and product buildup. Look for shampoos containing selenium sulfide, salicylic acid, or pyrithione zinc to slough off dead skin and excess styling goop. Instead of dumping a dollop on your head, start lathering at the nape of the neck and work up toward the hairline, recommends New York City hairstylist Nunzio Saviano: “Hair at the nape is thicker, so it traps sweat, gets oily and usually needs the most cleaning.”
Hot tools may seem innocent enough, but using them every day will weaken and dry out hair, leading to breakage and dullness. “The most damage usually occurs during those final minutes of styling, when women are perfecting their hair with a flat iron or curling wand,” says Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley in New York City. Always first work a thermal protectant through strands. Keep the heat setting on medium—too high risks scorching hair and too low requires multiple passes to smooth it out, which can also fry it. To give your hair a heat break, instead of fussing with tools, wrap slightly damp strands around large self-adhesive rollers, air-dry, and remove. The gorgeous result: smoothness with a bit of bounce. For waves sans a curling wand, wash your hair at night, sleep in a few damp, loose braids, and unravel in the morning.
When you need to replenish parched hair, reach for a pre-shampoo treatment, says Gwen Fields, a hairstylist and trichologist at Halcyon Salon in Washington, D.C. “These products are packed with nourishing oils that deliver moisture to the hair’s cuticle and protect vulnerable strands from stretching and snapping when washed,” Fields notes. At least once weekly, massage the treatment through dry hair, hang out for 15 minutes, then shampoo. Look for one with essential oils such as chamomile (to add shine), coconut (to soften), geranium (to strengthen), and argan (to moisturize).