Say goodbye to bad-hair days: These easy fixes for the most worrisome issues will save your strands–and your sanity.
Dirt from pollution and buildup from styling products can stick to strands and linger, explains Sean Santiago, scientific liaison for L’Oreal Professional Products Division. Not only does the grit feel icky, but it can also make hair look lackluster by preventing light from being reflected off of it.
Just as charcoal in face masks sucks grime out of pores to reveal a glowing complexion, it can help make your hair gleam. Try sudsing with a charcoal-infused shampoo, like Herbal Essences Detox Shampoo With Black Charcoal ($6, drugstores), a few times a week to gently lift away residue, revealing super-shiny strands.
A quarter of women are anxious about this, a Survey Monkey poll found. Thinning is genetic, but physical and psychological stress can also cause it, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. As for length, a healthy scalp should grow about half an inch of hair monthly.
Keep everyday anxiety in check with aromatherapy oils or walks outside. For optimal growth, a scalp scrub will remove product buildup that can weaken hair follicles, says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Kiehl’s Deep Micro-Exfoliating Scalp Treatment ($20, kiehls.com; uses apricot seeds and argan shells to exfoliate. Also take a supplement with collagen, like Nutrafol Women ($88, nutrafol.com) to strengthen hair and promote new growth.
Next time you want to reach for your blowdryer, flat iron, or curling rod, remember: “Heat can cause moisture inside the hair to evaporate and upset the protective lipid balance,” says Randy Schueller, cosmetic chemist and cofounder of The Beauty Brains. Hair dye might also be a culprit (most formulas contain dehydrating ammonia).
If you’re an avid heat-styler or among the 70% of women who dye their hair, you need to replenish your hair’s moisture. In addition to regular conditioner, mist a lightweight leave-in conditioning spray over damp strands to hydrate without weighing them down. IGK Thirsty Girl Coconut Milk Leave-In Conditioner ($29, igkhair .com) uses nourishing murumuru butter and hyaluronic acid.
Tight hairstyles can put strain on the hairline and even pull hair out and damage follicles. Elastics can also lead to breakage, especially if you wear your style in the same spot every day. All types of damage (from heat styling, coloring, or chemical straightening) can cause split ends.
Give your hair a rest by air-drying it or choosing less damaging accessories. Thick fabric hair ties are gentler than thin elastics, and Goody Simple Styles Spin Pins ($6.50, Walmart) hold a bun with little pressure. A trim is the only way to get rid of split ends, but in the meantime, a mending lotion, like Living Proof Fresh Cut Split End Mender ($24, Sephora), can temporarily seal them.
This was the biggest strand stressor for 25% of the women polled, and when you’re prone to it (due to external factors like chemical and heat damage or natural characteristics like texture), water from the environment is the enemy. It can seep into porous strands and lift the cuticle, creating a rough surface.
Fact: If you can block moisture from the air, you can prevent frizz. Look for an anti-frizz spray such as Color Wow Dream Coat for Curly Hair ($24, colorwowhair.com), which works like the treatment used to make fabrics water-resistant; misted over damp hair, it acts as a sealant against moisture to keep hair smooth all day.
Annoying roots that seemingly sprout in seconds or surprise wiry silver strands: A quarter of women admitted to worrying about grays, which “are the result of genetics,” Dr. Zeichner explains.
In the future, prevention of graying might involve the use of antioxidants on the scalp, but until then, hair dye and temporary cover-up products that deposit transfer-resistant color are your best bet. “Touch-up sticks for the hairline and sprays for larger areas help buy you time between colorings and are perfect for hiding unexpected grays,” says Priscilla Valles, a celebrity colorist in Los Angeles. Try Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch-Up Stick ($25, ritahazan.com) for spot concealing and L’Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up ($11, drugstores) for bigger overhauls.
Taking hair from relaxed back to Its natural texture is a process, and for 14% of black women, it’s a major concern. Either you make a big chop or you’re left dealing with two very different textures at the same time, explains Mia Emilio, a senior stylist at Devachan Salon in New York City.
If you’re not Into sporting short hair, hydration will be your best friend. Add a nourishing cream to your styling routine–Pantene Gold Series Hydrating Butter Creme ($8, drugstores) uses heavy hitters like argan, coconut, and jojoba oils. Focus the product on your treated ends to help blend the textures. “The more moisture in your hair, the faster the curls will become more defined,” says Emilio.