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As counterintuitive as it may seem, and no matter what you've heard, trimming your hair regularly is at the top of our list of hair care tips. Trim a half-inch to an inch off of your hair anywhere from every six to twelve weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows and how much damage it sustains. And remember, the longer you let your split ends go, the more you'll end up needing to cut off.
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Wash your hair with warm or hot water to cut natural oils, but rinse conditioner with cold water to lock in moisture and keep your tresses from drying out.
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Almost nobody should be washing their hair daily. In fact, for most women, every other day is the absolute most you should be shampooing—and ladies with dry hair can go as long as a week between washes. Shampooing too often will strip your hair of natural oils, causing overproduction, and actually making your hair greasier. To wean yourself from daily washes, replace a couple lathers a week with dry shampoo.
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Speaking of shampoo, it's best to pick a brand that doesn't lather at all. The chemicals that create suds are actually super-damaging to your hair. Look for sulfate and paraben-free formulas: They come at all price points, and while it may take a while to get used to washing without the lather, your healthy locks will thank you. Shampoo is designed to clean your scalp, so avoid sudsing up your whole head of hair and causing unnecessary drying to the weaker strands at the bottom of your tresses.
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Conditioner is designed to smooth the ends of your hair, so you should be applying it at least two inches below the scalp to avoid making your roots look flat and greasy. Put conditioner on damp hair, rather than sopping-wet strands, and give it a few minutes to soak in before rinsing with cold water to lock in moisture.
Combing vs. Brushing
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Limit brushing your hair as it damages strands, causing breakage and split ends. Use a wide tooth comb instead of a brush as often as possible, especially on wet hair.
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Wet hair is especially prone to damage, which means you should treat it with the utmost care. Things that should be used sparingly on dry hair should be avoided like the plague with wet hair, including brushes, flat irons, curling irons, and tight hair ties.
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We know it's a necessary evil, but try to limit your blow-drying to once or twice a week (this is easier the less you wash your hair). You probably know air drying is the best way to go, but here is some news that might surprise you: Towel drying your hair can cause damage too. The coarse fibers may be fine for your body, but they can rough up hair cuticles, causing breakage and split ends. Opt for a microfiber towel or a cotton t-shirt to soak up water softly.
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Just as with blow dryers, you should use hot tools only when necessary. Again, the less you wash your hair, the more feasible this is. Heat dries out hair quickly, and if you're working with colored, damaged, or naturally dry hair, you're on the fast track to crispy, strawlike locks. Be sure to use the best tools you can afford. Ceramic and tourmaline-plated professional tools are pricey, but they'll save you more in the long run on damage control, and they tend to last longer. And remember to always, always use a heat-protecting spray.
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We don't know anyone who rolls out of bed with perfectly styled hair, and if we did know them, we probably wouldn't like them at all. The healthier your hair is, though, the better it looks in its natural state. We're not saying to nix the teasing, the curling, and the clear plastic hair ties forever—just save them for special occasions. If you want to keep your tresses under control on days off, opt for loose ponytails or braids secured with knotted elastic hair ties.
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Preparing for the weather is one of the most overlooked hair care tips: Be aware of how your hair reacts to the different seasons. Sun can damage your hair the same way it can damage your skin, so even if it seems silly, don't skip the SPF-infused hair products. And we all know winter can be taxing on skin and hair, so be sure to refresh your locks with a weekly conditioning mask.