By: Adele Marchant
Photos by: Christine Zhang
Hair dye. Hot tools. Salt water. These are three things I love, but also three things that can ruin even the healthiest of hair. When I was in high school, my hair was coarse, damaged, dry, and downright gross. Now, I dare you to stop me on the street and feel my hair! The shine and silkiness would knock your socks off, especially if you knew what my hair used to be like.
So how did I get rid of the damage? I learned how to properly take care of my hair – and lucky for you, I’m here to pass on my knowledge. Read on to find a list of everything you need to know when it comes to caring for hair without resisting the temptations of dying and styling.
#1 Get those dead ends chopped off.
You’ve heard it before and you will hear it again: if you have dead ends, get them cut. Not only will your hair look better, it will also feel better and grow faster because those ends won’t continue to split. Bonus: short hair is so in right now. The best thing my hair guy (shout out to Guillaume at O Salon!) ever did for my hair was to chop those ends off before I could stop him. It was terrifying to watch, but my hair has thanked me for it ever since.
#2 Upgrade your hot tools.
You should invest in your hot tools the way you would in a nice everyday bag. That flat iron from seventh grade isn’t going to cut it anymore! If you blow dry your hair regularly, invest in a quality blow dryer that will minimize damage with new technologies (my personal favorite is the T3 Featherweight Luxe 2i. Or snag a NuMe curling wand for a crazy deal if you love curling your hair. To get the best deals, check Instagram: Youtubers will often have coupon codes for up to 75% off. No heat is obviously the best for damaged hair, but splurging on higher quality tools that won’t do as much harm is a good step towards preventing further damage.
#3 Rethink your hair dye routine.
As a natural brunette, I have been through many stages of hair dye damage in my four years since as a blonde. My biggest tip is to avoid bleaching it (there are various other ways to lighten hair), and to have a professional colorist dye your hair whenever possible. Other tips: go lighter gradually, avoid stylists who recolor your whole head every time instead of just the roots, and ask for balayage highlights in order to go longer between colorings while still looking chic. Once you’re home from the salon, be sure to sleep in a hair mask before your next shower (I love using coconut oil for a cheap DIY mask)!
#4 Beware salt water – and pamper wet hair.
For the beach lovers out there: before you hop in the ocean or in the pool, always apply a moisturizing hair product with built-in sunscreen. Hair absorbs the most of what it first comes into contact with, so a layer of product helps your hair absorb less of the drying properties of salty pools and ocean water! I also recommend invest in a Wet Brush, a great brush designed specifically for wet hair, to detangle knots without ripping your hair out. I swear by this brush!
#5 Take note of products with silicones and alcohol.
Often times we don’t realize the harmful ingredients in our favorite hair products. Many popular brands use harmful silicones that make your hair feel smooth and shiny solely because they coat the strand. These products can hurt the hair in the long run, though, as the coating is hard to wash off. This prevents the good stuff – like necessary oils and conditioner – from reaching the hair shaft. Do some quick Google searches for ingredients to avoid and evaluate your product arsenal. Is it hurting all your hard work? Two of my natural hair all stars are the Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil and plain ol’ coconut oil.
#6 Take your vitamins.
I once read that Lauren Conrad recommended taking prenatal vitamins to make your hair grow. I’m here to tell you she’s so right! Prenatal vitamins are the only thing that have truly made a difference in how fast my (naturally glacial-paced) hair grows. Throw in some fish oil for shine and you’ll help you hair grow in healthier from the roots.
#7 Give it time.
Time heals everything, including damaged hair. For the time in between now and your end goal of luscious locks, try rocking some braids to mask the breakage. Curls hide split ends better than straight hair, so put down that straightener and grab your curling iron for that night out. And when all else fails, a messy bun always looks great.