As much as we might all wish for it, there is one basic truth about hair care: Nobody rolls out of bed with perfect hair. Hollywood celebrities look the way they do because an entire hair and makeup team spent hours working before the celebrity ever set foot out the door. Most of us can manage without a team of stylists, but having someone else trim and style our hair now and then makes a big difference. We all know that to keep your hair looking good, you have to spend a little time on it. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Here’s how.
1. Wash, rinse, repeat — not!
Washing your hair twice in one session is an old marketing trick designed to make you use your shampoo up twice as fast. Double-shampooing strips all the natural oils out of your hair as effectively as paint thinner. Hair should never be “squeaky clean” because that’s the same as “super-dry.” Even people with naturally oily hair merely rev up their oil production by stripping all the natural oil from their scalps. One of our top experts, a partner and senior stylist at an upscale New York salon, recommends using shampoo on your hair not twice in one wash, but only every second wash. “Put in a little conditioner on your hair the days you’re not shampooing,” he says, “And be sure to rinse it out very well in warm water, so it doesn’t start to build up on the strands. The days that you do shampoo, use about half the amount.” The benefit to this system? Healthier hair with more body and shampoo costs that are cut in half.
2. Use baking soda for healthy hair
Your hair will look shinier and bouncier if you remove all traces of styling products and conditioner every six weeks or so. But you don’t need to buy a special clarifying shampoo. Simply mix a tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of white vinegar and work it into your hair. Rub it in well all along the hair strands and then rinse thoroughly.
3. When it comes to dyeing, timing is everything
Don’t use any clarifying shampoo, either store-bought or homemade, if you have just colored your hair, because it can remove some of the color and leave your newly coiffed head looking a lot less lustrous and evenly toned. But it’s a great idea to use a clarifying shampoo just before you color your hair. Removing all traces of buildup allows the hair to take the color much better, and thus the color will last longer.
4. Stay away from too much of a good thing
Shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, hairspray — whatever you’re putting on your hair, you’re probably using too much. Try using half of the usual amount of everything you put on your hair, from shampoo and conditioner to gels and hairspray. You’ll prevent (or slow) product buildup, allowing the products to be more effective, and you’ll make a bottle or tube last twice as long — cutting the price effectively in half.
5. Sleep like a princess for Rapunzel-like locks
Your hairstyle rumples less if you sleep on a satin pillowcase. Cotton pillow covers (yes, even those 400 thread-count sheets) roughen the cuticle more, but satin allows the hair to slip smoothly over the surface as you roll and turn in your sleep. Satin allows you to preserve your do overnight. If you’ve spent a lot of time getting styled the day before, a night on the satin will help leave it magically preserved in the morning and ready to face another day.
6. Baby those tresses
Don’t pay premium prices for high-end shampoos that are specially formulated for colored or permed hair. An inexpensive bottle of baby shampoo will treat your hair just as gently and will also allow the color or perm to last much longer.
7. Give it a natural shine
To bring out your highlights without a lot of expense, use an astringent rinse last thing while washing your hair. For lighter-colored hair, combine 1/4 cup of lemon juice with 1 cup of warm water and pour it over your hair. To bring out the highlights in darker hair, mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of warm water.