Still in the pursuit of healthy, shiny, commercial-worthy hair? It's actually not that hard to get, but many women are often sabotaged by some common hair care mistakes. Scarily, a lot of hairstylists still advocate some these bad mane moves, but we have the real scoop from Emily Overton, Pantene Principal Scientist and member of their Healthy Hair Science Squad. She spends her days scrutinizing how hair behaves in different environments and reacts to all sorts of ingredients, so we know she has the lowdown on the best strategies to care for your locks.
Many of us have been told to apply conditioner only to lower half of our hair, especially if it's fine and limp. The thinking is that a conditioner will weigh it down. But, in reality, fine hair is very fragile and needs the extra support of a daily conditioner. "Hair is weakest when it's wet, and can stretch up to 30% more, which makes it prone to breakage," explains Overton. The solution is to use a light conditioner from roots to tips that moisturizes and strengthens hair without weighing it down. Our Pick: Pantene Pro-V Fine Hair Solutions Flat To Volume Conditioner ($3.99) makes hair feel soft, strong and full of body.
Women need to protect their hair before using a blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron for two reasons. First, using a hot tool causes friction, which damages cuticle cells and causes breakage. Furthermore, the heat can burn you hair, making it feel dry and brittle. A conditioning heat protective spray coats your hair so the hot tool will glide over it without causing friction. It also acts like an insulator, preventing your strands from burning.
"Women aren't using a daily conditioner properly, so it's important to use a weekly deep treatment to help compensate for that and maintain healthy, shiny hair," says Overton. The surface of a hair strand is made up of overlapping hair cuticles, similar to how tiles are layered on a roof. When hair is damaged, these tiny cuticles get lifted up or broken off, which causes frizz, breakage and dullness. A deep conditioning treatment will help fill in any holes and repair roughed up patches so hair is soft, shiny and manageable. Our Pick: Sebastian Professional Penetraitt Deep Conditioning Masque ($15.95) works instantly to strengthen and soften hair.
No matter how fast you need to get ready, frantically rubbing your hair with a towel won't speed up drying time, and could actually cause a bad hair day. "Your hair is weakest when wet, so if you rub it harshly, you'll rough up the hair cuticles and cause frizz and breakage," explains Overton. The solution: First, spritz detangling spray all over, then squeeze out water using a soft, super-absorbent towel. Our Pick: Pantene Pro-V Medium-Thick Hair Solutions Silkening Detangler ($3.99). It contains micro-conditioners that silken and separate strands to help prevent breakage. Combing your hair out will be a cinch!
Patience is a virtue, and when it comes to knots, it's also a true hair savior. While we all want to rush through brushing our hair, if it is prone to knots, you need to take the extra time to gently coax them smooth, otherwise you risk snapping your strands. The trick is to brush your hair from the ends up. This way you'll gently undo all of your knots before you gain the full momentum of running the brush down your hair from roots to tips. If you have a real nasty knot, use a wide-tooth comb to gently undo it from bottom to top. Our Pick: Tool Structure Tortoise Large Handle Comb ($2.69). Also, prevention is best. Use a daily conditioner and your hair will be less likely to get all knotted up.