A few weeks ago, my husband told me that the 80s metal scene was on the phone for me: it wanted its hair back. See, I have naturally curly hair that I usually beat into straight submission with the help of my trusty flat irons. This takes plenty of work, mind you, since I love bangs and refuse to let them grow out. On this particular bad hair day, I was too tired/lazy/apathetic to do anything other than let it dry naturally…and, voila, the perfect 80s storm of poodle-esque "business in the front, party in the back" was born.
Now maybe your hair days aren’t quite as heinous as mine, but no matter who you are, there’s no woman walking the earth today that’s immune to their ego-deflating power (why do you think J.Lo learned to rock those scarves?). Here are the three most common reasons that your strands misbehave, and how to keep them in check.
#1 Wrong haircut
Bad cuts are like bad boyfriends: It may not be that they’re bad in general, they’re just not right for you. In fact, what often makes a cut bad is that it works against your natural hair texture, or it’s just too much work in general (and too complicated for your lifestyle and beauty routine). “If your stylist spent 45 minutes fussing to finish it, chances are you won't be able to re-create the look once you get home,” says Washington, D.C. stylist Jeremy Row. When the cut is good, hair naturally behaves better under all circumstances and is more likely to do what you want it to. It also works with your hair texture and type, so it can actually help control frizz and defy the gravity that always seems to be tugging at your limp locks.
Next time you see your stylist, bring along pictures of styles you like but make sure to be honest when you discuss your hair texture, how much time you’re willing to spend on your hair, and what types of products and tools you use. Don’t forget to mention what you don't like about your hair (the cowlick, the frizz, etc), and ask for solutions.
#2 Hair type
Every hair type has its pros and cons, but the right products can virtually erase those traits you wish didn’t belong to your tresses.
- If your hair is fine and limp, go for a volumizing shampoo and conditioner. “The new technologies can really build body into your hair and make a huge difference when it comes to styling,” says celeb favorite Oscar Blandi, who’s teased Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner’s tresses. “Working in a hair thickener before blowdrying can also help hair look fuller, but having lots of layers makes the biggest difference because they keep hair from looking weighed down.” Try Living Proof Full Thickening Cream.
- If your hair is curly, apply a hair mask in the shower for extra moisture to seal the cuticle and prevent frizzies. Detangle with a wide-tooth comb in the shower. Rinse most of it out, but leave in a little if your hair is thick and coarse. “Rub a shine serum or argan oil in your palm and comb through hair, from end to roots, depositing less as you move up the hair strand,” says Row. Try Mizani Supreme Oil. Either air-dry or use a diffuser, lightly scrunching to bring out its natural texture. Smooth out any remaining frizz by applying a bit more oil or serum to dry curls. Most importantly, keep your hands away from your hair once its dry—the more you touch it, the frizzier it will get.
- If hair is damaged, look for shampoo and conditioner loaded with protein, amino acids, and fatty acids to repair and rejuvenate your hair. Make sure to add a deep conditioning treatment like Kerastase MasquIntense at least once a week.
Congratulations—the cause of your tress trauma is something completely out of your control. But there is good news: you can beat the barometer with a few tweaks to your routine.
- To beat winter cold and indoor heat, don’t blast wet hair with a blow-dryer set to its hottest setting (though it’s tempting when your wet hair is making you shiver). “This damages hair by overheating the moisture inside each strand,” says Row. “If you can, let it airdry until it’s just slightly damp, apply a heat-protecting spray, and use medium heat.” Regardless of your hair type, add an intensive conditioning mask to hair at least twice a month (if you’re hair is fine, apply to ends only). “And if all else fails, lightly rub a fabric softener dryer sheet over flyaways to put them back in their place.”
- To solve summer humidity woes, try a shampoo and conditioner made for fine hair (like Garnier Fructis Forfifying for Fine Hair) to avoid any residue that can weigh hair down even more (or, if your hair’s in good condition, skip the conditioner entirely). “Before styling, apply a volumizing root booster to damp roots, and blow dry hair while it’s flipped upside down to get as much lift as possible,” recommends Blandi. “Avoid any heavy styling products, and finish with a mist of humidity fighting spray.” Try Oribe Impermeable Anti-Humidity Spray.
- To combat frizz, apply silicone hair serum or argan oil to wet hair (how much you use depends on the length and thickness of your hair, but start small and build up to avoid product overload). Gently squeeze the moisture and excess product out of hair with a supersoft towel. Next, comb a smoothing balm through hair, making sure not to miss any strands. After hair is dry, rub a bit of the serum or oil over ends since they’re the first place to frizz.
How do you save your bad hair days?