Coarse? Limp? Solutions to Your 5 Biggest Hair Challenges
The Best Cut: Scrupulously neat ends will help your hair look silky. Don't ever let a stylist use a razor or glide scissors down the hair shaft—these techniques fray your ends and encourage frizz. Wear your hair any length, but avoid bangs because you'll always have to blow them out to keep them sleek.
The Best Shampoo and Conditioner: Products that contain light moisturizing ingredients like panthenol and glycerin will smooth your frizz without weighing hair down. Lather up as often as necessary to keep your scalp free of natural oils.
The Best Styling Regimen: Too much oil or silicone makes your hair lifeless, says hairstylist Allison Woodruff, of the Marie Robinson Salon in New York City. Instead, spray on a light leave-in conditioner to soften without flattening. Then combine a smoothing cream and shine serum (a pea-size dab of each), and work the mixture through from roots to ends before you air-dry or blow-dry.
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D.
2. Tresemmé Split Remedy Leave-In Conditioning Spray, $5.50, drugstores.
3. L'Oréal Paris EverStyle Smooth & Shine Crème, $7, drugstores.
4. Dove Nourishing Oil Care Anti-Frizz Serum, $7, drugstores.
Photo: Kenneth Willadt/trunkarchive.com
The Best Cut: You have two options. Chop off the frizz and go pixie short, or aim for a shoulder-length (or longer) style that will let the weight of your hair keep frizz under control. Long layers cut with scissors (never a razor!), starting two inches from the ends, minimize pouf and relax curls.
The Best Shampoo and Conditioner: Shampoo can be drying to your coarse hair, so don't use it every day. (When you do wash, choose a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo.) Condition, though, as often as possible. Conditioner seals the cuticle of each hair shaft so it's less susceptible to the water in the air that causes frizz. On no-shampoo days, brush your hair before you get in the shower, wet it, and apply conditioner. Mix the conditioner with a few drops of pure olive oil in your palm before you work it through from roots to ends, says New York City hairstylist Lisa Chiccine.
The Best Styling Regimen: Apply a silicone serum (look for dimethicone or cyclopentasiloxane on the ingredient list) while your hair is still wet. "Take the time to apply the serum in one-inch sections so the silicone is distributed evenly," says River Lloyd, hairstylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda Salon in New York City. If your hair is curly, add a little gel to the silicone serum and use your fingers to shape the curls.
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D.
The Best Cut: Go for any length you like, but because gray hair can look severe, get a few softening layers around your face. While you're at the salon, ask for a clear gloss treatment; it keeps your hair smooth and shiny for four to six weeks, says Sharon Dorram, of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger in New York City.
The Best Shampoo and Conditioner: A shampoo with a violet tint (the bottle will usually specify that it's for silver or white hair) brightens gray and removes yellow tones. Always condition, and try to do an intense moisturizing treatment once a week: Comb a deep conditioner through damp hair and leave it in for an hour before you shampoo.
The Best Styling Regimen: While hair is still damp, comb a leave-in conditioner through to control frizz and add shine. Layer a smoothing cream on top, then either air-dry or blow-dry. Before you walk out the door, mist your hair with a shine spray that also offers UV protection to shield your color from the sun, which can turn it yellow or brassy.
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D.
Photo: Lauren Darmon/trunkshowarchive.com
The Best Cut: A bob with defined edges gives some heft to limp, straight hair. Long layers around the face can add softness, but be judicious—too many layers will make hair fall flat. Consider lightening your color by two or three shades, says Dorram. Peroxide swells the hair shaft, making your hair feel thicker.
The Best Shampoo and Conditioner: Excess oil is often an issue for fine-haired women because their scalp has an abundance of hair follicles—and thus more oil-producing sebaceous glands. So wash your hair every day with a shampoo containing astringents like rosemary or tea tree oil. Avoid overconditioning. A great trick from Lloyd: In the shower, massage shampoo only into your scalp. Apply a light conditioner on the ends. Then rinse out the shampoo and conditioner together. The shampoo lather pulls away dirt and oil and just enough of the conditioner to keep your hair smooth but not flat.
The Best Styling Regimen: Your cocktail of choice is mousse spiked with a shot of gel. Combine the two products (a dime-size squirt of gel and quarter-size dollop of mousse) in the palm of your hand, and massage the mixture into your roots with your fingertips. Then blow-dry with a wide-barrel round brush, lifting your hair up and away from the roots. (Lloyd finds that drying hair on a low speed helps plump it up.) For extra oomph, once hair is dry, put in a few Velcro rollers. Place each roller against your scalp, then wrap your hair around it (rather than winding hair from the ends); leave them in for ten minutes. For a midday (or early evening) boost, spray a dry shampoo on your roots, then bend over, spritz the underside of your hair with hairspray, and flip your hair back.
Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D
2. Nexxus ProMend Split End Binding Bodifying Mousse, $12, drugstores.
3. Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo, $4.50, drugstores.
Photo: Christophe Kutner/trunkarchive.com
The Best Cut: Keep your hair above shoulder length with blunt-cut ends to prevent it from looking wispy. Many stylists recommend monthly trims. "You want the ends as sharp as possible," says Chiccine.
The Best Shampoo and Conditioner: Lather up with a volumizing shampoo; look for ingredients like wheat, rice, and silk proteins, which help prevent breakage and coat the hair shaft to make it appear thicker. Apply conditioner only on the ends (if you weigh down the roots, thinning is more noticeable).
The Best Styling Regimen: Be gentle, and don't overuse styling products. One option for thickening: volumizing mousse. For extra body, blow-dry hair upside down and then in the opposite direction of your part. When you're done styling, shake a hair powder onto sparse areas and lightly comb through; it contains fibers that attach to each strand, bulking up the hair.