Spring for a quality cut and color
The first rule of great hair is getting a great cut. “It’s so important to have a style that works for your face shape, hair texture and lifestyle and to have hair color that compliments your complexion,” says Mark Garrison, owner of Mark Garrison Salon in New York City.
“When you spend a bit more for an experienced stylist," Garrison continues. "you are dealing with an expert who knows how to achieve this.” And once you find someone you like, keep the relationship going.
“Get into the stylist’s chair every eight to ten weeks,” recommends Julie Ebner, owner of JuJu Salon and Organics in Philadelphia. “Regular trims are essential for keeping hair healthy and removing split ends.”
There’s a difference between having a signature style and being stuck in a rut. “It’s a big mistake to keep the exact same style you had in high school or college,” says Garrison. “Your face changes, your body changes and if your hair doesn’t change too, it can make you look old.”
You can keep the same basic style if it’s become your signature look, but you will need to make occasional tweaks. “Every third or fourth cut, make a subtle change,” suggests Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studio in New York City. “Go a little shorter or longer, add some new layers or update the bangs — even a little modification keeps your style looking fresh.”
Use the right products
A good cut is a great start, but you have to follow up at home by using the right products to care for and style your hair. Don’t use a product just because the woman in the ad looks amazing or because your friend — who might have totally different hair — loves it.
“Ask your stylist for advice and try the styling products she uses on you at the salon.” suggests Ebner. And when you’re shopping on your own, read labels. “Make sure your shampoo and conditioner are formulated for your hair type [dry, oily, curly, processed], so that you’re not stripping it or weighing it down.” says Garrison.
Protect hair from heat
Whether you’re blow drying, using a curling or straightening iron or spending time in the sun, you need to shield your hair from the damage that heat can do. By applying a leave-in conditioner or thermal protective spray, your hair will stay moisturized and not end up looking fried.
Don’t fight nature
“You can have good hair days all year round if you learn to love your own hair,” says Arrojo. But if you insist on fighting your natural texture, you’ll not only spend a lot more time working to style it, the results may never live up to your ideal image.
Invest in good tools (and learn how to use them)
You really do get what you pay for. Quality tools — dryer, irons, brushes — will not only last longer, but they’ll also treat your hair better. Look for heat tools with temperature settings (not just “on” and “off”) so that you can adjust the heat as needed.
Make sure to get the right brushes or combs for your hair type too. To learn the best styling techniques, book a lesson with your stylist. Have him walk you through the process of styling your hair from start to finish.
Eat a hair-healthy diet
Your hair will look its best when you nourish it well. That means eating a diet that feeds your hair the essential nutrients it needs. Make sure you get plenty of protein (hair is made up of it), omega 3’s (to keep it moisturized), iron (to prevent hair loss) and B vitamins (to encourage hair growth).