To best care for your hair in-between visits to the salon, it’s important to tailor your hair care and styling routine to your hair type. Your hair type is determined by your hair’s curl pattern, and typically falls into one of 4 categories: straight, wavy, curly, or coily. Within those categories, hair can vary in density from fine to thick, and in porosity (how well hair soaks up moisture).
That said, there are a few common hair care tips that apply to all hair types:
- Get regular haircuts. Some hair types can go a long time between trims without much damage. But it’s generally good to get regular haircuts to keep your ends fresh and prevent breakage.
- Turn down the temp. To prevent unnecessary moisture loss, wash your hair with lukewarm water instead of hot.
- Evaluate your diet. Make sure you are getting enough more protein (prevents brittleness and dryness), iron (makes hair grow faster), vitamin A (aids with natural oil production), vitamin C (aids in collagen production), and omega-3 fatty acids (keeps hair hydrated and improves scalp health).
Beyond these basics, you will get the best results if your routine addresses your hair’s specific needs. Here’s our roundup of at-home hair care tips for every hair type.
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Simply put, straight hair is hair that does not have any natural curl. Straight hair can range in density from thin to thick, and each variation requires slightly different hair care routines.
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One of our favorite hair care tips for adding volume to fine hair is incorporating a texture spray. If your fine hair is on the drier side, you can also apply leave-in conditioner at the ends and work your way up. With leave-in products, avoid the roots, as this can add additional weight and cause hair to look greasy. Since fine hair tends to tangle more easily, using a fine toothed comb on wet hair can help prevent breakage.
If your hair gets oily and feels slick or weighed down, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wash more often. Instead, try to strike a balance between using products and cleansing. Using a product too much can dry out the scalp even more, which in turn increases oil production. To regulate the scalp’s oil production, use a combination of dry shampoo and less frequent washing.
If washing your hair less often sounds impossible, here’s an easier way to jumpstart the process. Choose a specific hairstyle to rock on days that you don’t wash your hair. This should be a style that you like and that makes you feel less self-conscious about your unwashed hair. For example, slick your hair back under a headband or hat, braid your hair, or wear a ponytail.
If your hair is coarse, try double conditioning. Who says you can’t condition both before and after you shampoo? That’s right, no one. Conditioning prior to shampooing can help soften hair and protect the strands from losing their natural oils, which is especially important for those with thicker, coarser strands.
Wavy hair comes in a few different types: from loose, undefined waves to more structured, S-shaped waves. The key to caring for wavy hair is choosing a regimen and products that will enhance the hair’s natural wave.
One of our top hair care tips for wavy hair is to drop the heat tools. Often, people with loose wavy hair have the tendency to straighten their hair, especially if the waves are uneven. But over the long-term, this can cause significant heat damage and lead to split ends and dryness.
Instead of over-straightening or over-curling, take advantage of your hair type. If you have looser waves, you can play up that effortless beachy look with just a little salt spray. Not only will this add texture to your hair, but it will also mask any unevenness in your waves.
When it comes to products, it all depends on the density of your wavy hair. Those with finer strands should look for lightweight products, to prevent weighing down the hair. If your waves are located only at the ends, you can add more volume at the roots with a light, water-based mousse.
If you have thicker and more defined waves, your hair can be much more prone to frizz than other wavy hair types. To combat this, try to space out time between shampoos by co-washing, and apply a leave-in conditioner afterward. It’s best to let hair air dry, but if you must blow dry, make sure to use a diffuser attachment.
If you have curly hair, chances are you’re lucky enough not to have to wash your hair as frequently as the rest of us. But when you do wash your hair, make sure you’re choosing products that contain the right ingredients to keep your curls in tip-top shape.
One of the key hair care tips for curly hair is to use products specifically formulated for your hair type. Look for products that contain nourishing ingredients such as aloe vera, keratin, shea butter, panthenol, provitamins, and natural oils like coconut, jojoba, sunflower, and avocado oil. If you go long periods of time without washing your hair, supplement your routine with a clarifying shampoo once or twice a month. This will give your hair and scalp a deep cleanse and remove buildup.
Curly hair tends to lose moisture quickly and can be prone to dryness and damage. When it comes to styling, ponytails and buns are the biggest no-nos. Although they look cute, these styles pull at the hair and can cause hair loss over time. Let your hair flow freely, and swap heavy serums or oils for texture sprays and dry shampoo.
The other big no-no? Dry combing and brushing. Over-brushing curly hair can cause the strands to become frizzy and frayed, so minimize damage by combing your hair in the shower with a wide-toothed comb. For easy styling, apply leave-in conditioner and use your fingers to distribute it evenly through the hair.
Coily hair, also known as kinky hair, tends to be dry and delicate. Like the other hair types, there is variation among coily hair, and it can range from soft and fine to coarse and wiry. In general, coily hair types need a lot of moisture and deep conditioning, including masks, butters, and creams.
All coily hair types, from the loosest to the tightest, benefit from nourishing conditioning treatments. Ingredients like coconut oil and shea butter are a mainstay for coily hair. Increasingly, people with coily hair are swapping shampoo for co-washing or using conditioner only.
Some coily hair types benefit from the shingling method, which involves applying a combination of curly hair products through each individual curl. Although there are many ways to do this, one of the most popular layering combinations is leave-in conditioner, oil, and cream.
Protective styles like weaves and braids are often recommended to protect fragile ends while they grow out, some stylists say these styles can actually damage hair. This is because while hair is tucked away, it is also difficult for conditioning treatments to fully penetrate the hair. So with this hair type, opt for a style that allows you to keep hair consistently moisturized.
As an alternative to protective styles, try the wash-and-go instead. This method emphasizes and defines your natural curls, without the potential disadvantages of a protective style. Prepare hair by washing and conditioning, which helps cleanse and detangle your curls. While hair is still wet, reach for a styling gel or cream and emulsify the product into your hair. The right amount of product will penetrate the hair enough to provide definition, without leaving excess residue. Then, let your hair air dry. To allow the products to set properly, avoid touching your hair until it is completely dry.
Putting it All Together
Establishing a good hair care routine depends on more than just your hair type. Your hair care needs will naturally change over time for a multitude of reasons, including age. So expect to re-evaluate your hair care routine every few years.
No matter your hair type or stage of life, there are a few key things to remember when establishing an at-home routine. With any treatment or routine, don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results right away. It can take several weeks for the effect to kick in, especially if your hair is very damaged. Just like your skincare needs can vary from season to season, it’s also good to switch up your hair care too. Choose more hydrating products in the winter and more lightweight products in the summer.
For best results, make sure you are using products in the correct order. First, apply products that you rinse out, including shampoo, conditioner, and any other in-shower products. Follow this up with heat protectant, a volumizer or mousse, and shine serum. Dry and style your hair, setting it with hairspray or texturizing spray. When it comes to the last step in your styling routine, choose a product that seals in moisture.
Not sure about your hair type and how to best care for your hair at home? Get some help from a pro. Find and book the best local hairstylists on Booksy.