Apply these strategies to protect your locks from surprising everyday stressors — and heal the damage you've already done.
No matter how much fish oil you ingest or coconut oil you slather on your strands, your daily beauty routine can still trash your hair. The repetitive cycle of water, shampoo, hair dye, and heat can harm anyone’s hair, explains Jon Reyman, a Dyson Global Styling Ambassador and founder of the clean beauty empire Spoke & Weal Salons.
But the healthy, shiny locks you crave can be yours if you avoid some sneaky saboteurs and follow this expert advice to repair the damage.
Shampoo less often
Shampoo swells your hair cuticles — the protective layers of scales that keep healthy locks smooth — which opens them up to damage, Reyman explains. If you’ve had your hair colored, this is especially true.
But don't quit sudsing cold turkey. If you wash every day, you need to dial down your shampoo dependency slowly. To avoid getting super greasy, you essentially have to re-train your scalp to absorb your natural oils, says Brenna Clauson, an independent stylist at Mint Salon Block in Falmouth, ME. Gradually add shampoo-free days into your routine by only rinsing your hair after you work out and simply using a small amount of conditioner on your ends, suggests Clauson. Apply dry shampoo before bed and brush it through your hair so it’ll feel less flat and greasy in the morning. Clauson's dry shampoo of choice is Moroccanoil because it's lightweight, feels less sticky than some other brands and comes in light and dark tones.
Avoid water damage
Like shampoo, water in and of itself causes the hair cuticle to swell, making it vulnerable to damage from heat and styling tools. As a result, your hair can stretch and lose its springiness. The fix: Before you expose your hair to water, lock in moisture with a prewash, says Reyman. A quick spray with Aquis’ Water Defense Prewash, for example, can make your locks — wait for it — hydrophobic, helping them repel water to maintain a natural pH, which water threatens, he says.
Brush before bed
Your teeth aren't the only things you need to get in the habit of brushing before you turn in. An evening hair-brushing routine can help stimulate circulation in your scalp, which in turn may support healthy new hair growth, says Reyman.
Covering up grays with products that contain ammonia, relaxing your hair with chemicals or lightening your hair by removing pigment can cause damage, says Reyman. But you can minimize the assault. “Find a stylist who is concerned about maintaining the integrity of your hair,” says Clauson. Ask them about mixing in a bond builder like Olaplex or Bondpro, which can help prevent and repair damage from broken bonds in strands of hair — a natural result of the coloring process, says Clauson.
Use heat protection
Heat is enemy number one when it comes to hair health — coarse locks become limp and damaged, and fine hair breaks off, says Reyman. Unfortunately, this a common occurrence with traditional dryers, as the airflow backs up into the main body of the tool, creating extreme heat.
To ease the blow, always use a heat protectant before drying your hair, preferably a spray for your roots, plus a serum or cream from the middle to the end of your hair, advises Clauson. Her recommendations: Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray and Thickening Great Body Blow Dry Crème (which contain nourishing wheat protein and honey with no parabens, phthalates, mineral oils or formaldehyde), or Oribe Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray (which contains ceramides that protect from heat and split ends, as well as UV-absorbing molecules to protect from sun damage).
Then, invest in high-quality products from brands who have done their research, says Reyman. A few of his favorites: The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. It never gets hot enough to cause major damage thanks to intelligent heat control and powerful airflow from a motor that spins, on average, six times faster than other hair dryer motors. The Dyson AirWrap also has intelligent heat control, so you can curl and straighten your hair without the damage you’d get from a flatiron or curling iron, he says.
Swim with a mask
Combing on a hair mask before spending time in the sun and sea (or pool!) helps create a natural barrier to protect your hair from UV, water and chlorine damage, says Reyman who suggests coating your hair with coconut oil and braiding it to reduce surface exposure.
Alternatively, the Formula 18 mask combines plant-based ingredients like pea peptide protein and extracts from tamarind and the resurrection plant to bind your hair’s cuticle, creating long-term protection from environmental stressors like hair dye and free radicals. Clauson likes a new product called 5-Minute Resq Hair Therapy by Jess and Lou Beauty. “The product is silicone-free and made up of ingredients like murumura butter, chia seed oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil and soybean oil, leaving your hair feeling healthy, shiny, smooth and full of body.”