Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Ten Tips for Healthier Winter Hair

Suave ProductsWe had so much fun last week. I was approached by the people at Suave who wanted to sponsor a party where they would hire a hair stylist to come in and teach a group of us about hair care and styling.

I got the group together and Suave (as is typical when I've worked with them) did it all so elegantly. They provided the treats and the stylist and goodie bags full of tons of Suave products--mostly from their new products with scents like rosemary-mint, almond and aloe-ginseng--and I walked away with some highly valuable tips for doing hair.

I've used some of the Suave products for a long time, I like their body washes, body lotions and Freeze Hold spray which I swear works as well as the Paul Mitchell version and I've heard good things about their anti-frizz cream though I myself haven't used it since I have other hair issues besides frizz. After the party one of my friends went out to get a volumizing shampoo (at the suggestion of the stylist) and ended up trying one of the Suave line just to see if she could see a difference and told me the next day that she liked how it worked--and she's one who typically uses brands like KMS on her hair.

So, now that I've mentioned how classy our sponsor is, the tips the styists brought were wonderful. Of course, they concentrated on how to protect hair against cold, dry weather such as we have here but a few of the tips were good all-purpose things you can do to protect your hair and keep it healthy regardless of which products you use.

1. Don't over shampoo. If you have very oily hair then washing every day is fine but if you have fine or normal hair wash every other day and dry or damaged hair every three days. I know one stylist who doesn't use shampoo much at all and instead will rub baking soda in her scalp to remove grease--and usually with cool water rather than hot which can strip oil from your hair.

I've heard that your hair takes a little bit to adjust but once it does you have beautiful shiny and silky hair that is much less damaged. I'm a little skeptical of this myself and will stick to shampoo but you might try it on an unsuspecting toddler as a test subject. I'm kidding. Kind of.

2. Brush your hair before you shower, especially if it's long. It will help prevent tangles which will save your hair from added stress and damage.

3. Only shampoo your scalp. After wetting your hair and scalp in the shower, rub shampoo on your hands then shampoo your scalp, not the ends of your hair. Since shampoo is a detergent which can be harsh you should avoid overuse and shampooing only at the scalp as much as possible helps to remove the oils and dirt without damaging the ends. The shampoo will naturally tend to drift down the shaft as you rinse but focusing on cleansing the scalp will keep your hair healthier.

4. Only condition the ends. While you want to keep the shampoo at your scalp, keep the conditioner at the ends. Don't use too much (a quarter-sized amount) and rub it on your ends, combing it with your fingers and leaving it in for 3-5 minutes as per the directions and make sure you thoroughly rinse (again, cooler water is better).

5. Use protein formulas for chemically treated hair. If you've had chemicals, such as coloring, on your hair then look for products with protein because hair is made of keratinized protein which chemicals strip. Protein formulas help replace some of that lost protein.

* I'm slightly skeptical of this myself. I've heard from dermatologists that you should beware of products claiming to promote absorption of vitamins or minerals through your skin because the skin cannot metabolize. Vitamins have to be taken internally, not externally. I would assume that hair would be the same way though I don't know if that applies to protein as well. I'd have to ask a dermatologist about this one.

** After pondering my above skepticism I did, in fact, ask a dermatologist. My friend Dr. Jeffery Benabio publishes the Dermatology Blog and he confirmed that hair cannot absorb or replace lost protein. Pieces of protein can stick to the hair follicle, giving it the appearance of being healthier but the shaft cannot be healed by using a protein product. I knew it!

6. Brush your hair carefully. Once you're out of the shower be careful not to brush your hair roughly. A wide comb is best because the bristles tend to pull and damage the hair which is more delicate when wet. Towel dry it as much as possible and air dry it if you can.

7. Aim your dryer down and keep it away from you. To make your hair sleeker, blow in the direction of the hair shaft, downwards toward the ends but hold it 6-8 inches away from you and keep the airstream moving to avoid heat damage. To volumize, blow dry upside down with volumizing product applied at the roots and then once it's dry give a burst of cool air to cool the hair down before flipping right side up. This helps to set the hair in the upward direction and gives more lift. If you have curly hair, use a diffuser to avoid the frizzies. Fully dry your hair before using heat styling tools on it.

8. Think small. When straightening your hair use smaller sections as the results will last longer. Curling smaller chunks of hair will make things curlier and bigger chunks will create loose waves. Before applying any heating tools to your hair make sure it is free of tangles. Once you've heated a section of hair, if you've made a mistake and need to redo it, wait for the hair to completely cool before going back and reheating it, otherwise you'll damage it.

9. Protect with products. A leave-in conditioner is great for protecting hair. The spray varieties are best for fine or limp hair and the creams better for thick, coarse hair. Don't use too many products in general, which can build up and weigh you down but use good products with lasting power and you'll get better results. When straightening or curling hair, spray a bit of product on the hair, working it in, before heating to protect from heat damage. Using a clarifying shampoo once a week or so will help keep products from building up on your hair.

10. Cowlicks can be conquered. If you have one, use a round brush or blow the section directly forward, weighing the hair down with the air flow to tame it. If this can't work incorporate it into your style and don't fight it.

I've been trying these tips to see if it made a difference on my own hair and I will vow that yes, they do. I haven't used a leave-in conditioner and I don't have cowlicks but otherwise the tips have made my hair soft and sleek and much less prone to static. I worried that curls wouldn't stay in as long but that wasn't a problem--the curls looked smoother and softer without going flat. Success I'd say.

Thanks Suave! It was lots of fun.


Congratulations to Melissa of Rowlett, Texas, Janelle of My Inkstand, Erma of Washington Court House, Ohio, Sara of Independence, Missouri and Rebecca of Vestal, New York for winning this weekend's giveaway for You've Been Sentenced. You're going to love your games, I promise.

Sponsored by Polkadot Peacock for children's bedding.


Carrie said...

Wow...I am very happy to hear that companies like this are actually starting to talk about the advantages of less frequent shampooing. When I started to read your post, I was thinking, "oh boy, what kind of mularkey is Suave going to teach us today?" but I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the tips seem pretty reasonable to me. I follow a hair care regime that completely cuts out shampoo altogether, but I do use the Suave conditioners that don't contain any silicones. And the baking soda thing that your friend does is WONDERFUL! I am not an expert on hair, but I have just done a ton of research on this, because I have naturally curly hair and as you can imagine, it can be difficult to manage. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend a lot of these tips for people with curly hair (like the brushing, for instance) but I can see how they would be useful for straight hair. And you were totally right to be skeptical about the proteins, because too much protein can do awful things to your hair if you have a sensitivity to it. Kudos to Suave for rolling with the changes and thanks to you for sharing :)

dancing_lemur said...

It took about a year of training my hair, but for about the last 3 years I've washed my hair once a week. My hair is much healthier, and it's a time saver, too!

I have to add one tip, which I got from Amy at don't ever do the towel turban! Something about the weight of it weakens the roots of your hair. And indeed, since I quit that, my hair is stronger and thicker.

Cynthia said...

Thanks for the tips. I'm definitely going to try the brushing before washing for myself and my daughter, who has long, straight, easily tangled hair. I might save her some "Owwws" after her shower!

Moni said...

Congrats! You have been awarded the Sunshine Award! You can pick it up at my blog here
Thanks for the wonderful blogging!

Mrs_Scotsman said...

Thanks for the cowlick tip. My 4yo dd has a pronounced cowlick in her bangs. She won't let me blow dry her hair right now, but I will definitely keep that tip in mind for later.

Fawn said...

I actually have oily-ish hair (it's better than when I was a teenager!) but I still shampoo only every second or third day. It never looks dull and oily and I also don't get split ends despite blow-drying every time and living in a dry climate. It DOES work. :)

Mrs_Scotsman said...

I braid my dd's hair most nights before bed. It helps out so much with the bedhead.

Heart2Heart said...


Great hair care tips and ones we can all use.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

cndymkr / jean said...

I started using Suave after you talked about it last time. Their products really do make a difference. And the difference in prices are pretty good too.

mumple said...

As someone who has spent my life "fighting" a cowlick in the front (and who has mentally apologized to my daughter every day of her almost-8 years on the planet for giving her one, again, in front) the BEST thing to do with a cowlick is to figure out what's natural for it--then GO WITH THAT. Fighting it will only make it rebel, much like a moody teenager.

Mine? Part opposite, longer bangs (if I have bangs at all) and perms can be my friend--if I stopped coloring my hair. My daughter's? Part WITH it, leave longer bangs, if she has bangs at all, and let it gently wave everything else back from her fact. Or shave her head (which is entirely another story, and it actually HELPED tame the beast.)

Maintaining a part helps keep it sane. Our cowlicks just get frizzy and uppity if you try to blow them dry--no matter what direction, heat setting, brush stroke, you use.

Daisy said...

Sounds like fun! We are only a family of four, but we have four different hair types and four different shampoos.

miriama said...

I don't think I could ever go more than every other day for washing my hair. It is too oily. I have the fortune (sarcasm intended) of having both greasy AND frizzy, wavy hair. Several of the tips mentioned are very interesting and I am saving this post. I knew that about conditioning the ends but I always forget. And my daughter is going to teach me how to use a flat iron. Should be interesting...I am 50 and don't even use a hair dryer!

Lisa said...

I have a cowlick and it is annoying! I also have thick hair that has to be "fixed" every stickin' day. :( I have been trying to let it air dry lately to help it a little, but it takes hours to dry and it is a little cold her to run around with a wet head.

Lori said...

My hair is really a lost cause. Pony tails and hair accessories are my best friends!