10 Ways to Detox Your Hair
You love your hair — especially after getting a blowout and fresh highlights and working in your go-to products.
Thing is, all that fuss could be causing more harm than good.
READ: A DIY Scalp Facial for Healthy, Gorgeous Hair
"Women do so much to protect their skin on a daily basis but not enough to keep their hair healthy," says David H. Kingsley, PhD, a trichologist (hair and scalp specialist) in New York City. "Too much styling and coloring can lead to loss of volume, breakage, dullness and split ends."
And it's a vicious cycle because hair can grow in thinner and weaker.
READ: 11 Habits for Healthier Hair Revealed
To the rescue: an easy detox — cleanse, treat, cut back on heat — for your 'do:
Cleanse your scalp
Popular wisdom has it that for healthier hair, you should shampoo less often. But if your hair is on the oily, limp or dull side, you'll want to wash it regularly — even every day, Kingsley says. "A clean scalp is key for hair health and growth," says Juan Carlos Maciques, a hairstylist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City.
Just like the pores on your face, hair follicles on your scalp can become clogged with dirt, oil and product buildup. Look for shampoos containing selenium sulfide, salicylic acid or pyrithione zinc, such as Clear Scalp & Hair Intense Hydration Shampoo ($6; Amazon.com), to slough off dead skin and excess styling goop.
Instead of dumping a dollop on your head, start lathering at the nape of the neck and work up toward the hairline, recommends New York City hairstylist Nunzio Saviano: "Hair at the nape is thicker, so it traps sweat, gets oily, and usually needs the most cleaning."
Lay off the heat
Hot tools may seem innocent enough, but using them every day will weaken and dry out hair, leading to breakage and dullness. "The most damage usually occurs during those final minutes of styling, when women are perfecting their hair with a flat iron or curling wand," says Elizabeth Cunnane-Phillips, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley in New York City.
Always first work a thermal protectant, like Oribe Balm d'Or Heat Styling Shield ($38; Amazon.com), through strands. Keep the heat setting on medium — too high risks scorching hair and too low requires multiple passes to smooth it out, which can also fry it.
To give your hair a heat break, instead of fussing with tools, wrap slightly damp strands around large self-adhesive rollers, air-dry, and remove. The gorgeous result: smoothness with a bit of bounce. For waves sans a curling wand, wash your hair at night, sleep in a few damp, loose braids, and unravel in the morning.
When you need to replenish parched hair, reach for a pre-shampoo treatment, says Gwen Fields, a hairstylist and trichologist at Halcyon Salon in Washington, D.C. "These products are packed with nourishing oils that deliver moisture to the hair's cuticle and protect vulnerable strands from stretching and snapping when washed," Fields notes.
At least once weekly, massage the treatment through dry hair, hang out for 15 minutes, then shampoo. Look for one with essential oils such as chamomile (to add shine), coconut (to soften), geranium (to strengthen), and argan (to moisturize). Try Philip Kingsley Elasticizer ($48; PhilipKingsley.com), which has a combo of natural oils.
Go deep once a week
Hair cuticles (the outermost layer) are made of protein cells called keratin that lie together like shingles on a roof. They overlap to create a waterproof and airtight barrier around the cortex (or root) of the hair, Cunnane-Phillips explains. When those cuticles are harmed by heat, color or UV rays, the cortex lacks a shield, leaving it vulnerable to problems.
Every week, use a protective deep treatment, such as Pantene Pro-V Deep Restoration Complex Weekly Rehab Crème ($4; Target.com). Apply to freshly washed hair, from scalp to ends, and leave on for 10 to 30 minutes; longer hair typically needs more time because it's older and likely more beaten up. Rinse with lukewarm water — hot H2O can strip the protective oils that act as a natural conditioner, sapping your hair's moisture and shine.
Back away from the dye
When you go lighter or cover grays, you can expose strands to damage from the ammonia or peroxide used in most hair color. In fact, in one study from Portugal, researchers found that bleaching hair made it up to 60 percent weaker.
If your hair is dye-fried, use the deep treatment twice a week, then boost radiance with an at-home gloss, such as John Frieda Luminous Glaze Clear Shine Gloss ($9; Walmart.com). To help prevent issues, says Stephanie Brown, master colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City, "stay as true to your natural hue as possible — it makes regrowth less noticeable and lets you go longer between appointments."
Natural fix: Baking soda
Sodium bicarbonate is an extraordinary cleanser (exactly why it's in toothpaste) and a great exfoliant that gently removes product buildup. Just add a tablespoon to a dollop of shampoo, work the mixture through hair — focusing on the roots — and rinse for residue-free strands.
Natural fix: Olive oil
It contains fatty acids that coat hair, moisturizing and protecting against damage. Heat a tablespoon in the microwave until it's warm, not scalding (about 10 to 15 seconds). Test with a finger. Then, apply to dry hair and cover with a shower cap for extra penetration. Leave on for 20 minutes, rinse with warm water and shampoo as usual.
Natural fix: Eggs
They're packed with protein and amino acids that help restore strength, shine and volume, preventing split ends from worsening and smoothing your hair's texture. Combine one egg with a quarter-size blob of shampoo, run through hair and let sit for five minutes; rinse really well.
Natural fix: Apple cider vinegar
The acetic acid helps wipe out product residue and oil while adding shine. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 cup of water and pour evenly over hair in the shower after you've shampooed. Let hair soak up the mixture for a minute before rinsing, then condition.
Natural Fix: Tea Tree Oil
A natural antifungal and antiseptic, tea tree oil helps eliminate bacteria, dandruff and flakes. Add a few drops to your regular shampoo, massage into your scalp and leave on for five to seven minutes before rinsing.