Secrets of Real Women with Gorgeous Hair

Lustrous locks are not just a matter of good DNA. Six readers share some simple hair-care habits that can score anyone an enviable mane. All you need do? Read and repeat

by Genevieve Monsma
Alison Cihra
Photograph: Ari Michelson

1. Stop Shampooing So Much
The notion that you can do less and look better seems counterintuitive, but not one of the six women interviewed for this story washes her hair daily. In fact, most suds up just once or twice a week, relying on dry shampoo, ponytails or wetting then restyling sections of their hair to stretch time between shampoos. “My hair is healthiest—and my color stays true longer—when I wash just twice a week,” says platinum-tressed Deborah Marquardt, senior vice president of digital investment and innovation at L’Oréal USA. Women with very thick hair—like Alison Cihra, a former PR executive whose flame-colored mane would make Nicole Kidman envious—often say their hair actually performs better a few days after they wash it. “If I have an event, I will count backward and wash my hair two days prior. My hair looks better when it has some of its natural oils,” Cihra says. Fine- and silver-haired Cindy Joseph, founder of Boom! by Cindy Joseph cosmetics, says it’s not just coarse or colored hair that benefits from a shampoo scale-back: “I can’t go days and days without washing, but I do stretch it to at least every other day. And if my roots get a little greasy, I sprinkle in cornstarch, which absorbs oil like a dry shampoo.”

2. Cut Your Heat-Styling Use
No one is saying ditch the blow-dryer, curling iron or flatiron. But none of our six well-tressed women use a hot tool daily. Cihra and Joseph air-dry after washing, then create loose waves with a curling iron a couple of times a week. Zehra Zaidi, a stay-at-home mom with long, silky strands, relies on weekly salon blowouts to style (and control) her über-thick tresses— then touches up with a dryer at home as needed. Michaela Angela Davis, editorial director of BET Networks, rocks a naturally blonde Afro and washes her hair once a week, then air-dries (though she cops to using a diffuser when she’s in a hurry). And Rosemarie Sterling, vice president of communications for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, Viktor & Rolf Parfums and Stella McCartney Parfums, blow-dries her choppy bob two or three times a week: “My stylist, Julien Farel [of the eponymous salons in New York City and Cabo San Lucas], taught me to blow-dry just the bangs and top pieces around my face, then let the rest air-dry. To restyle, I dampen the ends, scrunch and go.”

3. Accept Your Hair As It Is
“I consider my style ‘happy’ hair,” says Davis. But that wasn’t always so. “As a child, people tried to ‘fix’ my hair, pulling it into ponytails or braids, anything to tame it into submission.” It wasn’t until Davis was in her twenties that she saw her texture and color as an asset. “Black hair grows up and out, and I realized this made my hair more malleable. I began to see my hair as magic,” she says. Joseph’s hair started to go silvery white in her thirties, so she began dyeing it at about 40. “Then, at 47, I threw out my dye, cut off my hair and let the silver grow in. At 49, after the last of the dye was trimmed off, I was approached by a casting agent. Flattered, I decided to give it a go, and on the precipice of 50, I appeared in a Dolce & Gabbana print ad.” The four other women have also learned to play up what makes their hair unique. Marquardt’s hair is naturally blonde, but in her early thirties it darkened in the back. Her then stylist suggested she go for “sexier” hair—very blonde all over. “And just weeks after I lightened up, I met my husband,” she says. Zaidi and Cihra have healthy strands and gorgeous color, which they flaunt with long locks. Sterling, however, knows short hair is her sweet spot. “Some people look great with flowing hair, but mine becomes straggly by the time it reaches my shoulders. So I’ve accepted I look best with short hair, and I’ve made it my signature style,” she says.

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