I recently bought a teal colored beret. I used to wear hats a lot; on my first day of fifth grade at a new school I wore a denim hat with a big fake sunflower on it. I didn't really wear hats much after that. Really, how could I top that one?
But this new beret is trendy; I've seen girls wear them very stylishly, and it was $1.98 at a thrift store. I did not buy it to help me throughout winter's "bad hair days" because frankly, those kinds of "days" are a load of crap. And it's not just me that thinks this way. I consulted a professional. Turns out, if you're having "bad hair days" it is because you are guilty of bad hair care.
First, you can't blame anyone but yourself. Modernity has provided hair care items to overcome any problems you might blame on genetics. Texture, color, length, thinness or thickness -- all have a product or a utensil crafted to give you the exact, desired results, even if mom and dad didn't give you those traits automatically. And just as those born with a bad complexion have to work to correct it and those born with a good complexion have to maintain it, the same theory can be applied to a head of hair.
Chances are you are already completing the most obvious aspect of hair care, washing. Now, you just need to check that you're doing everything right for your hair. First off, how often should you wash your hair? Ideally, every other day is the typical rule of thumb and if you can, go three days between shampooing. This lapse in suds allows the natural oils of your hair to step in, giving your hair what it needs to stay healthy and not dry. What keeps people in fear from doing this is the old oily hair excuse
"If I don't wash my hair every day, my hair is really greasy." Yeah, turns out that greasiness is a result of hair that is washed daily. If you don't wash every day, your hair gets less oily. The really oiliness factors in because hair is overcompensating for the next day's wash. Knowing it is going to be coated with suds within the next 24 hours, hair goes into overdrive and produces more oil, making it look really greasy when you wake up the next morning. If you get over the initial greasy look (invest in some dry shampoos that you sprinkle on the roots to soak up that extra oil), going down to shampooing every other day will be healthier, lower maintenance and possibly cost effective.
Use Your Head
The whole cost thing depends on what you spend on shampoo, conditioners and the other products you use. What is your money getting you if you pay for the high-end stuff from salons versus the products at super stores? Less sulfates? Or, for you non-chemistry-inclined folks, less salt?
I have long discouraged salt on hair. Sweating, salt water pools, oceans and their other salty compatriots are drying. And for those with color treated hair, salts strip hair of its processed color. Salon-sold products, which don't cost $3 or $4 a bottle like the drug store products do, will have less salt and generally more organic elements.
The cheaper hair care lines also feature more wax to give the appearance of cleaner, shinier hair. This deception is also not good for your mane.
But, in fairness, to offset the high prices in the salon shampoos, you now know to wash less frequently, and you don't have to use a lot. Short hair cuts really only need a dollop the size of a dime and long hair the diameter of a quarter. More suds don't mean cleaner hair.
Products really are the foundation for a good head of hair. Toni Johnson, a stylist of 18 years and the owner of the Toni Johnson Salon and Spa (1336 E. 15th St.), explained that in addition to daily brushing and regular trimming or dusting (taking off the split ends), the most important rule a person should follow for hair care is using the right products and utensils. Also, a good cut should occur every four to six weeks for short hair or six to eight weeks for long hair.
Johnson said that hair is put through the ringer every day. Offices that feature ultra violet lights fade hair color, even natural hair color. Wind can break hair. Smoking, even the second hand variety, is bad for hair. The damage is most evident on a person who has grey hair, as it can turn a yellow shade based on elements from the environment alone.
So, for protection and to keep away those "bad hair days," have a hair care routine that consists of a good shampoo, a good conditioner, a styling aid and a finishing product. A good shampoo is structured around your hair (thin, curls, color treated). Same with a conditioner, which should be used at least once a week. As it is currently winter, you'll want heavier shampoos and conditioners that have more moisture. The heaters kept on full blast to keep you warm can really dry out hair, so the thicker products will keep your mane balanced. Regular use of conditioner throughout the winter will also prevent static in your hair.
A styling product should be used after hair is towel-dried. Johnson said that 50 percent of the control a person has over their hair is dependant upon the products they use. Healthy, shiny hair that you have control over, she said, doesn't require a gamut of products, just good ones. Seeking a professional's opinion should lead you in the right direction when choosing a spray, foam, gel or other elixir to get the desired outcome. Find a line of products with results you like in a shampoo and go from there.
Some products weigh down thin hair; some might produce a volume unnecessary for a person with a full head of curls. This is the step necessary when picking that last product, a finishing aid. These pomades, gloss drops, hair sprays and the likes are the finisher in achieving your chosen look.
In the Toolbox
Products are just as important as the tools used. Johnson said that dryers are now incorporating more heat and less air to keep hair from looking frizzy and to prevent more damage. Find salon-quality flat irons, dryers and other heated gadgets to keep hair as healthy as possible. Hair is weakest when wet, so always be sure to dry to prevent breakage. Even people who leave hair wrapped in a towel before drying risk breaking due to the towel tugging. Tools like brushes, Johnson said, will depend on what you like. Options like natural bristles (made from boars' hair) or ceramic, synthetic brushes are two options. A round brush, which should be used once hair is 70 percent dry, will smooth hair and give it bend and shape without curling.
Proper day-to-day care is definitely something the average woman or man can handle, but people take it a step further when their home also becomes their own salon. At-home hair colorists clash with those that chose to have color done professionally. Those that color at home think the salon goers are crazy for spending that kind of money; and those that go to a salon think it's crazy that people take something that long lasting into their own hands.
Johnson said that while the commercials for these products make you feel like you could do the hair coloring at home and look as good as its spokesperson, "Sarah Jessica Parker isn't wearing Garnier." Essentially, it's unlikely that your hair will come out looking like you want it to. At worst, the results mean you will need to visit a salon and pay to have it corrected or just wait it out. Johnson said at-home dying gone wrong can take up to six months to grow out. The same could be said for DIY hair cuts. I take the stance that I wouldn't fill my own cavities or stitch up my own wounds because there are professionals trained to do so. Same with my hair.
And really, a good go-to stylist is also an important aspect of good hair care. They get to know you on a personal and follicle level so they know what cut and style fits your lifestyle. And here, communication is key. Even if things don't turn out as planned with a cut and color, if you promise to stay honest and upfront without yelling and being degrading, your stylist will too. They'll work with you to get you the look you want. Maybe. The communication works both ways, as they'll let you know if a color or cut won't work with your complexion, face shape, lifestyle or hair texture.
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