Bad hair days are a bummer; that’s a beauty truth. But they are no joke: According to a Redbook poll, 74% of women say a bad hair day makes them feel less confident. So, when your hair is in good shape, it undoubtedly looks better, and the chances of that happening are far less likely— or at least less frequent.
The challenge is your strands are constantly prone to hair damage: dullness, thinning, dryness, breakage, frizz, and more. With all these potential strand stresses, it’s no surprise that having healthy hair requires effort to keep it looking lush. And while there isn’t a secret shortcut to healthier hair, taking time to keep strands strong is worth the commitment. With small tweaks to your routine, maintaining great hair can be effortless.
Sunnie Brook, a Los Angeles-based celebrity hair dresser, shares her pro-tips to help you establish healthy habits in your haircare routine for great hair days ahead!
1. Brush your hair before you shower.
No matter what your hair texture is, taking 60 seconds to detangle strands will keep them strong. “When your hair is wet it is more vulnerable to breakage,” explains Brook, “so always brush knots out of your hair when it’s dry.” One added benefit: brushing dry hair distributes the natural oils from your scalp down to the ends of your hair. Another plus: post-shower it’s already smooth and ready to style!
2. Condition correctly — and with care.
Unless your hair is long (read: Rapunzel-like), a nickel-size drop of conditioner is plenty for most textures and lengths. “Apply your conditioner first to the mid-shaft and ends of your hair; then work your way up to the scalp,” advises Brook. It’s important to make sure your scalp gets hydration as well. Leave it on for a full minute before washing it out. If you are a dry shampoo addict (no judgement!), this is especially important to prevent a dry scalp.
3. Take time for hair masks.
To keep strands hydrated and smooth, “use a moisturizing hair mask or deep conditioner at least once a week, and more frequently if you use hot tools regularly,” says Brook. Her go-to: Matrix Biolage HydraSource Deep Treatment Pack, which leaves hair feeling soft and shiny without weighing hair down.
4. Be mindful of key ingredients.
Staring down the haircare aisle can be overwhelming: with endless haircare options, how do you choose the one? As you pick out your products, narrow down your options by looking for strengthening ingredients, which will nourish your strands. Brook suggests incorporating coconut oil, Argan oil, aloe, or spirulina into your regimen.
5. Eat a balanced diet.
You already know that you are what you eat. “Your hair is mostly made up of protein, so eating a balanced diet of protein rich food is important,” says Brook. Add these items to your grocery list:
Other good sources of hair food: berries, spinach, and avocados, along with anything else rich in vitamins C and E which will help boost collagen production, resulting in stronger strands.
6. Take a deep breath.
Repeat after us: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. The little things make a big difference. “Your hair is an outgrowth of your body; if you are stressed, your skin will be stressed and that includes your scalp.” Now, keep calm and read on.
7. Turn down the temp of your shower.
As soothing as a steamy show may feel, “taking a super hot shower on a daily basis can irritate you scalp and possibly weaken your hair as it grows out,” says Brook. Keep the temperature on the warm side and at the end of the shower, do a quick cold-water rinse to seal the cuticles shut, boost shine, and maintain healthy hair.
8. Shield strands from the sun.
UV rays don’t only cause damage to your skin, and the same goes for pollution. When you style your hair, “apply a leave-in styler to protect your strands,” says Brook. She recommends antioxidant-rich Coola Organic Scalp and Hair Mist SPF 30, which guards against an array of environmental factors.
9. Don’t skip your scalp.
Healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp. “If you’re notice dryness, itching, or any scalp issues, your hair will be affected by this,” says Brook. To maintain a balanced scalp, Brook recommends her long-time go-to for clarifying the scalp: Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Shampoo and Conditioner. The result? Voluminous, fresh hair.
If you prefer a more sleek style, go for Head & Shoulders Smooth and Silky collection, which keep hair frizz-free. If your scalp is stubbornly flakey and your hair is dry too, try Head & Shoulders Masque Conditioner Treatment. The 2019 Beauty Award-winner is proven to reduce dryness in both scalp and hair.
10. Sleep on silk.
Make the most of your beauty sleep: swap out your cotton pillowcase for a silk alternative. “It protects the cuticle of your hair by reducing the amount of friction between your hair and the fabric,” says Brook.
Another secret to reduce stress on strands: “Sleep with your hair in a loose topknot—secured with a silk scrunchie— or try a low loose braid if you have thick or textured hair to give you more control of your strands during the night.
11. Style smarter.
To minimize damage from heat styling, “invest in professional hot tools that have ionic technology, which will infuse moisture into your hair as you style,” she says. Also, opt for a curling iron or straightener that is solid ceramic, rather than only having a ceramic coating: “This will distribute heat onto your hair evenly, locking in your style quickly so you don’t need to re- apply the iron continuously to get your desired look,” explains Brook. Follow her smart steps when using hot tools:
12. Get a trim.
You need regular haircuts to ensure that your strands stay healthy and don’t break off at the ends. If you don’t want to loose a lot of length, ask your stylist for a “dusting,” so only the tips are snipped, which gets rid of damaged ends, but maintains the length. Brook recommends going every two months and if you have a short or defined cut, you will likely need to go in sooner.