A hair care routine is highly personal. Every hair type has unique characteristics that require different products and care. Just because an influencer with amazing holographic hair uses certain products to maintain their silky-smooth tresses doesn't mean that those exact products will work for you.
Of course, there are a few golden rules of hair care that are universally agreed upon: going easy on hot tools, being gentle with wet hair and never underestimating the awesome detangling power of a high-quality bamboo comb, to name a few. But for the most part, we all need — nay, deserve — a personalized approach to hair care that aligns with our hair type and lifestyle.
But where do you even start?
Whether you’re building a hair care routine from scratch or fine-tuning your existing routine, we’re here to help make the process a little easier. Keep reading for a simple guide on how to find the best hair care routine that works perfectly for you.
Step One: Identify Your Hair Type
Identifying your hair type is essential to having more good hair days. As we said, everyone's hair has different characteristics that make it unique, and understanding these characteristics is key to choosing the right products and tools for your hair.
To identify your hair type, check out the Andre Walker Hair Typing System. Created in the ’90s by celebrity stylist Andre Walker, this system breaks down hair into four categories: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky. Hair types are further broken down into subcategories based on the texture of the hair.
Keep in mind that the Andre Walker Hair Typing System is not an exact science. Hair can change over time due to factors such as aging, stress, hormones, and your physical environment. Nevertheless, it’s a good starting point for learning how to care for your hair.
Step Two: Assess Your Hair’s Needs
After determining your hair type, it's time to assess your hair's needs. What hair problems are you currently dealing with (if any)? Do you have dry, brittle hair after years of chemical treatments, or are you simply looking to maintain your already-healthy locks?
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For example, if you have dry, frizzy hair, using a moisture-retaining hair oil — like jojoba oil, argan oil, or coconut oil — can make a huge difference to your strands. Likewise, if you have curls, you’ll want to steer clear of silicone-based products that are more likely to weigh hair down and block nutrients from the hair cuticle.
Step Three: Find a High-Quality Shampoo
A salon-quality shampoo is the cornerstone of every effective hair care routine. More often than not, drugstore shampoos contain fillers, sulfates, preservatives, and other harmful ingredients that can disrupt your scalp pH and strip hair of its natural oils. By choosing a salon-quality shampoo, you can rest easy knowing that you’re putting high-grade ingredients in your hair (as opposed to tongue-twisting chemicals).
Do note that “salon-quality shampoo” doesn’t mean it needs to come from a professional salon. You can find plenty of hairstylist-recommended shampoos online these days, from color-safe shampoos with extra hydration to nourishing shampoo bars that work for all hair types. Don’t be afraid to branch out with your hair care products and try something new!
Step Four: Condition, Condition, Condition
If you aren't already conditioning your hair after every wash, you're doing your hair a major disservice. Beyond restoring moisture to dehydrated strands, the conditioner offers additional protection from heat styling tools and harsh weather.
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Keep in mind that not all conditioners are created equal. For example, some conditioners contain silicones that can build up on the scalp and weigh hair down. For optimal hair health and hydration, look for a silicone-free conditioner with moisturizing ingredients, like glycerin and jojoba oil.
If you’re looking for an all-around great conditioner, try a conditioner bar. These travel-friendly bars are typically loaded with ultra-hydrating ingredients to help tame frizz and make styling hair easier.
Working with curly or kinky hair? You might want to consider co-washing. This hair-washing method involves replacing your shampoo with a specially-formulated cream conditioner, resulting in softer strands and bouncier curls.
Step Five: Wash Your Hair the Right Amount
It’s a common myth that you need to wash your hair every single day. While some can benefit from scrubbing their roots on a daily basis, most people are better off extending the time in between washes. That’s because over-washing your hair can strip the natural oils from your hair and scalp and even disrupt your scalp’s microbiome, which can result in dandruff and inflammation.
The average person should wash their hair every two to three days, according to WebMD. If you have thicker hair, you can likely stretch it out even further. Play around with your hair and see what feels right for you!
Step Six: Remember to Swap Products for Different Seasons
Much like your wardrobe, your hair care products could probably use a seasonal refresh. During the winter, for example, your hair and scalp may be prone to split ends, itchiness, and static hair because they’re deprived of moisture. The colder months are a good time to stock up on moisturizing products, like deep conditioning hair masks, leave-in conditioners, and heavy creams.
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Conversely, in the summertime, you may find yourself battling frizzy hair due to the constant humidity. During the warmer months, consider leaning on lightweight styling products and hair oils (or a cute headband when all else fails!).
Finding a Great Hair Care Routine Won’t Happen Overnight
Beauty influencers make it look so easy to achieve strong, silky tresses, but the reality is that everyone’s hair is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to hair care, so don’t be surprised if you have to do a little experimenting before you finally have that eureka moment.
Additionally, keep in mind that hair only grows one-half inch per month on average, which means you may not see the true results of your efforts until months later. Be patient, keep going and you’ll have healthy, gorgeous hair in no time!
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