20 Questions with Valerie Monroe: The Haircare Edition
1. I have thick, dry, curly hair. Am I better off skipping shampoo, as I've heard some people are doing?
Though shampooing less frequently is okay if your hair is very dry, it's not a good idea to skip it altogether, says David Kingsley, PhD, a New York City trichologist (hair expert). Shampooing is the most efficient way to remove oil and dirt from the scalp. If you wet your hair more than once a week, wash it just once and use a conditioner the rest of the time. If you wet your hair only once a week, wash it then and use a leave-in conditioner (like L'Oréal EverSleek Humidity Defying Leave-In Creme, $9, drugstores) or a moisturizing, antifrizz conditioner (like Tresemmé Climate Control Conditioner, $5, drugstores).
Keep in mind: When styling, use a gel or antifrizz cream and then don't touch your curls, says Rita Hazan, colorist and owner of the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. The more you fuss and play with your hair, the frizzier it will be.
2. My hair is dull; I'd like to try a gloss or a glaze. What's the difference?
Such an innocent question. It seems so simple: Gloss, glaze, which is which? But you, dear reader, have sent me down the rabbit hole. Marie Leppard, senior colorist at the Julien Farel Salon in New York City (who gives me my highlights), told me authoritatively that a gloss is a bit more permanent than a glaze. It adds shine and adjusts the tone (say, if your highlights are too bright or brassy, a gloss will subdue them), she explains. A gloss penetrates the hair's cuticle, so it lasts two to four weeks. A glaze, on the other hand, simply coats the shaft with shine and semipermanent color; it's like putting a top coat of polish on your hair, and it lasts a week or two. But here's the problem: Haircare companies use "gloss" and "glaze" interchangeably. According to cosmetic chemist Mort Westman—our ultimate resource for clarification about all things confusing in the beauty business—originally, a glaze added shine and deposited semipermanent color, and a gloss added only shine, but the word "gloss" was added to dye products because it's appealing to people who are coloring their hair.
Bottom line: If you want just shine, look for a "clear" gloss or glaze (like Frédéric Fekkai Salon Glaze Clear Shine Rinse, $28). If you're looking to boost your color or bump up your highlights, choose a gloss or glaze with "semipermanent" color (like John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze, $16).
3. What can I do about flyaway hair?
You're not just talking about your hair sticking up when you whip off your hat, right? Because if that's the only time you have flyaways, there's probably no problem with your hair's health—you're just triggering a plethora of positive electrical charges. But if it's sticking up most of the time, you've got cuticle damage, which means that the strands' outer layers are peeling up, exposing the inside fiber. An intact cuticle protects the fiber; when it's interrupted, the fiber is more susceptible to static, says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University. The best method to tame flyaways is to use a silicone-based or leave-in conditioner after you shampoo. The conditioner coats the fiber, making it less prone to static, says Mirmirani. A natural-bristle brush (not synthetic) will also help keep things under control.
Bottom line: Condition your hair to make it behave.
Keep reading: How to Banish Static for Good
4. After I dry my hair in the morning, it's straight and smooth. By the time I get to work, it looks as if I've traveled from home to the office via the Everglades. How can I avoid frizz?
I'm going to assume that you're using conventional rather than fun transportation—like a ferry or a bike—because if you're exposing your hair to humid ocean breezes or crushing it under a sweaty helmet, the only advice I can offer (and I do, wholeheartedly) is to forget about the frizz and enjoy yourself. Actually, even if you ride the bus, I hope you're enjoying yourself, but I also know what a joy-buster a headful of frizz can be. What you need, says Mark Garrison, owner of the Mark Garrison Salon in New York City, is an anti-humectant, which coats and seals hair to prevent moisture in the air from getting into and swelling the strand. Try a silicone serum, a straightening balm, or a defrizzing light cream, applied when hair is damp, to prolong the effects of your morning blow-dry, says Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studio in New York City. A light hairspray will add shine and hold.