Still brushing your hair 100 times every night? Ok, Marcia Brady, it’s time for a hair-care update. Here, top stylists and colorists share the latest, greatest tress-transforming tricks in their arsenals
Prevent frizz by using a paper towel to gently wring water from your strands post-shower, suggests Adir Abergel, Fekkai celebrity stylist. “The paper won’t create as much friction as a towel, so your hair ends up less frizzy. It also absorbs more water than a cloth towel, really speeding up your drying time,” he explains.
Spray dry shampoo on a bobby pin before sliding it into an updo, suggests Mark Townsend, a consultant for Dove Haircare and a Los Angeles–based stylist with many A-list clients. The spray’s powdery texture gives the pin extra grip, which keeps it from sliding out. Try Dove’s Refresh+Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo ($4; drugstores).
If your hair is misbehaving, maybe the problem is product buildup on your scalp—something clarifying shampoo won’t sufficiently cleanse. The result? Clogged hair follicles, weakened strands and possibly slowed hair growth. To get rid of that grime, Kyle White, a senior colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon in Manhattan, swears by oldie but goody Sea Breeze Astringent ($5; drugstores). Apply to your scalp once a week with a cotton ball, then shampoo as usual.
The water you wash your hair with may contain chlorine, minerals, even rust from old pipes,” says White. “All these things can enter the cuticle of your hair and alter your hair color.” To minimize discoloration, he suggests investing in an Aquasana Shower Filter ($55; aquasana.com; less expensive filters are available in hardware stores).
It’s a myth that unwashed hair takes dye better than squeaky-clean strands, says Jennifer J, an L.A.-based colorist who has tinted Julia Roberts’s tresses. In fact, your colorist needs to see your actual color in order to determine the most flattering hue for you (and product buildup can make your mane look darker). So before your next appointment, suds up.
This seemingly straightforward word can be interpreted lots of different ways, says Kevin Mancuso, a celebrity stylist and the creative director of Nexxus. Say “bangs” and some stylists imagine Goldie Hawn’s eyelash skimmers. Others see Mia Farrow’s wisps in Rosemary’s Baby. Don’t find out the hard way that you and your stylist have different visions. The surest way to be on the same page? Come prepared with a photo from a magazine or an image bookmarked on your iPad. Do the same if you’re contemplating a new hair shade. Color company Aloxxi has even created a look book (available at salons that carry the line) filled with hair swatches so colorists and their clients can finally speak the same language. Go to aloxxi.com for more info.
“Many volume-enhancing products are heat activated,” says Susanna Romano, co-owner of Salon AKS in New York City. So combing or scrunching them in, then letting your hair air-dry will not make the most of their lifting effects. A better bet (even if you don’t blow-dry your whole head) is to aim warm air at your roots, activating the stylers and giving your hair the oomph you desire.
“A deep protein treatment or conditioner [often billed as strengthening on the label] helps reinforce weak hair, but you really only need to apply it every two months,” says Rita Hazan, owner of an eponymous salon in Manhattan (and the color guru behind Uma Thurman’s golden hue). Using protein on the hair more often than that may cause build-up that she says can “strangle” the hair, leaving it dry and brittle. One strengthener we like: Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Mask ($49; fekkai.com).
Never smooth the roots of fine or thin hair while blow-drying, says Mancuso. “This causes the hair as a whole to collapse and flatten,” he explains. Instead, tousle the hair from root to crown with your fingertips as you blow-dry. Then, when your strands are dry, give the roots extra lift by back-combing their undersides with a clean, dry toothbrush. Rather than tearing at hair like a comb, the soft bristles will grip and rough up strands just enough to maintain lift.
To create soft, old-Hollywood waves, most professional stylists use a large-barreled curling iron. But those irons are hard to wield effectively (not to mention safely) at home. What to do? Caruso steam rollers ($38–$50; drugstores) create big, bouncy Ava Gardner undulations, says Abergel. Even better, they won’t singe your skin.
The sexiest tousled looks today (think Gisele Bündchen or Sarah Jessica Parker) are straighter at the roots, with waves that don’t begin until the temples. To achieve this, Abergel suggests you channel Roger Federer: Don a terry cloth headband over damp strands; then, as the hair air-dries, the band will pull it straighter root to ear.
We usually think of humidity as hair’s archenemy, but parching-dryness is worse. If you regularly experience dry air—from either working in a building that pumps it in (cool or hot) or living in that kind of climate—your hair will become parched, says Christopher Cilione, a colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon. Moisturizing hair products help, he says, but not as much as regularly running a humidifier.
Stylists have a dozen tricks to flatten stubborn flyaways. Here, our favorites: Pat them down with a fabric softener sheet, says Richard Marin, Remington’s consulting stylist. Apply lotion to your hands, then, while your palms are tacky, smooth the strands, says Jeffrey Paul, a celebrity stylist. Coax them south by combing them with John Frieda Full Repair Flyaway Tamer ($10; drugstores), says Simone Mangano, a colorist at the Serge Normant Salon in Manhattan.