Disclaimer: I’m a bit of a filthy casual when it comes to beauty. I forget to take my make-up off, I forget to wear sunscreen, and I hardly ever wear lipstick. Oh, I try to be “good.” I try to execute all those pernickety little steps that Glamour has drummed into me time and time again. I religiously follow models and make-up artists on Instagram and Twitter, scour the Internet for tips and tricks, and frolic around beauty counters like a child in a candy shop. But, at the end of the day, time is of the essence—and it also happens to be something that most of us just don’t have enough of. So, like most women, I forever fall short of the beauty editor ideal. Womp womp.
But one thing—the one thing—I never, ever, ever neglect is my hair. And so, after 22 years of trial-and-error, I have my own hair routine down pat.
Time for a pat on the back, methinks.
Let me explain. A natural redhead, the one thing I always got compliments on was my hair. My mother would meticulously blow-dry my hair at night and braid it for school in the mornings, and the smallest mention of hair dye was practically aneurysm-inducing. As I grew older, however, and began to accept a little more responsibility for my own appearance (goodness knows, it took long enough), I discovered that my hair was difficult. It isn’t curly, or wavy, or straight, but prefers to mold itself into bizarre formations that stand as far away from my scalp as physically possible. It is thick and stubborn. On a good day it’s lovely, and on a bad day I look like Mufasa.
Quite simply, my hair
is has the potential to be the bane of my life. But this doesn’t have to be the case. After all, when I invest a little time and TLC in my barnet, I feel fabulous. And so, I imagine, do most women. It doesn’t mean spending hours preening in front of the mirror in the mornings; it just means just taking the best possible care of your hair. Because if your hair is in great condition, you can almost guarantee it’s going to be good hair day. And every woman knows that a great hair day = a great day overall… right?
So, without further ado, here’s my tried-and-tested, “minimal effort, maximum results” hair care ritual, which landed me with my healthiest hair ever.
Get a great haircut. Seriously: A good haircut can mean the difference between rolling out of bed in the morning and feeling “I woke up like dis” Beyoncé, or feeling a frazzled mess. A good hairdresser will address the texture and thickness of your hair, so your hair will fall into place with minimal effort. Think of a good haircut as a basic foundation—without it, your styling efforts will pretty much be in vain. Don’t be afraid to go to your hairdresser with photos, and ask if the cut will suit your hair type. They’re trained professionals, armed and ready to make you look great.
Find the right product. As with all beauty regimens, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all miracle product (boo). For example, different skin types require different cleansing routines and base make-up… welp, it’s the same deal with your hair. But products are so, so important, and finding the right one is crucial. Once you find something you love—a shampoo that makes your hair feel all airy and soft, or a serum that gives you that Pantene-ad confidence—stick with it. Adore it. And stock up on it.
Here are some of my personal recommendations:
Condition, condition, condition. I go through bottles of hair conditioner the same way that my husband goes through shaving foam. I use a lot. I’ve read so many differing opinions where conditioner is concerned, but I’m convinced that less is not more, and coating your hair in a hearty dollop is the right way. It’s especially important if you use a lot of heat or hair dye; think of conditioner as a drink for your parched barnet. How much you use depends on the thickness and length of your hair, but a squeeze the size of a quarter is a good baseline. Add it to the bottom half of your hair (using it too close to your scalp will leave your hair greasy), and leave it on for a good few minutes while you shower. And rinse it off with warm water, finishing with cold—as cold as you can manage. The cold water seals the hair follicle and adds an extra boost of shiny-happy.
Use a light serum on your wet hair. Conditioning your hair is great. But when I started making a habit of adding a little serum to my towel-dried hair… Well, it was nothing short of an epiphany. If you don’t already do this, then start. Once again, though, the problem is finding the right product. But take heed: Once your hair’s dry, a gloopy, sticky serum leaves you feeling more Smeagol than smug, so invest a little in a good one.
Avoid excess stress. We’re kinda mean to our hair. We blast it with hot hair, iron it at 400 degrees, tie it up with rough bands, let the sun scorch it, tear through tangles with fine, harsh combs. It’s no wonder that your hair soon frizzles up and dies on you after all this torture. But, then again, we all like good hair days (and sunshine) and for the majority of us, these are the lengths we go to for good hair days. So it’s time to strike a balance:
Let your hair dry naturally whenever possible.
When towel-drying your hair, be gentle: wrap a towel around your hair and gently squeeze the hair in sections. Hair is most vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet, so this is a really important tip!
Always use a wide-toothed comb, especially on wet hair. For dry hair, use a cushioned paddle brush with flexible bristles.
Only flat-iron and curl your hair on special occasions.
Never, never, never tie your hair back with a rubber band; go for a fabric-covered band instead. And try not to tie your hair up at the same point every day—vary between high and low ponytails, to prevent recurring strain on one area of your hair.
Got any more miracle hair-care tips? Tweet us @litdarling!