Straight hair can be great when you want that Cher-in-the-'60s look, but it can be a huge pain in the ass too. I have naturally straight and barely put heat on it for literally a year, yet when I went to see my stylist, she said while my hair was pretty damaged despite looking very healthy. Knowing what not to do to straight hair — and being in tune with the best possible practices to keep it healthy — can vary from brushing it the wrong way to not using the right products to thinking that you don't need to use any products.
To find out how to keep my strands healthy, I reached out to several different stylists from NYC to see what the worst things you can do to your straight hair are. I heard back from Nunzio Saviano, the owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon, Jason J Dougherty, expert stylist from Butterfly Studio Salon, and Sarah Rappolt, master stylist and Director of Education at ION STUDIO NYC. They all offered different insights, but their message was clear: you have to take care of straight hair differently than any other hair type.
Each expert told me some of the biggest mistakes that they see their clients with straight hair making, with problems ranging from not applying heat protectant spray before using hot tools to using the wrong type of shampoo. Here's a list of the not-so-great things you can do to your straight hair so you don't make the common mistakes anymore.
1. Skipping The Heat Protectant Can Cause Serious Damage
Don't forget this step! You can really end up damaging hair this way. Look for a heat protectant that not only protects hair from hot tools, but also moisturizes it so you avoid breakage and split ends. This one keeps hair looking shiny and feeling soft. Dougherty told me that the Thermique line actually increases heat tools' efficiency so it takes less time to style your hair.
2. Using The Wrong Heat Protectant For Your Hair Type Can, Too
"For many fine hair types products that weigh the hair down is the biggest concern — know there is an answer for every hair type," said Dougherty. He recommends this heat protectant hairspray for women with fine hair because it's a weightless product. It offers 24-hour UV ray protection, heat protection up to 450 degrees, and makes hair look smooth and frizz-free.
3. If You're Going To Blow Dry Your Hair, Use A Leave-In Product
Saviano told me that if you have naturally straight hair, you don't need to blow dry it before you style it. Let your hair air dry. But, if you're going to dry your hair before you style it, all you need is a styling cream that also helps manage your natural texture. And if you can put off using the hot tools, use your leave-in product and then create a heat free style by braiding damp hair overnight or wrapping hair in a bun while you sleep.
4. You Need To Work With Your Natural Texture
First things first: invest in a good haircut. Rappolt said that a lot of her clients come to her for the first time with a haircut that doesn't work for their natural texture. Straight hair can often be really flat. So you need a good cut that helps give you some movement, and then you need to use products that enhance that look. A sea salt spray is a great way to give your hair a boost. Rappolt told me that salt based sprays and texturizers are perfect for people whose hair gets oily fast.
5. Play Up Your Volume Properly
If your hair doesn't get oily, then use a volumizer to build texture and volume when your hair is falling flat.
6. Always Replenish Your Hair With The Nutrients It Needs
Use a creamy conditioner so that your hair can get back the nutrients it loses every day. Rappolt said, "Straight hair typically needs a little help in the elasticity department. I recommend lipid based moisturizers instead of oils because they penetrate the hair shaft instead of sitting on top." This one is made with sweet almond butter for extreme nourishing benefits.
7. You Don't Need A Ton Of Products To Keep Strands Strong
"Soften and protect the hair, rather than making it more slippery like an oil would," Rappolt told me. You need to use products in your hair no matter what your hair type is, and there is a common misconception that you can't find a good quality product that does more than one thing to keep it strong. This spray detangles, moisturizers, makes hair shinier, controls frizz, gives you a bit of volume, and protects hair from heat styling — talk about a multi-tasker! It contains roucou oil which makes your tresses nice and strong, too.
8. Stop Pulling Your Hair Out While Brushing It
Stop putting your hair up in a towel and then trying to brush it afterwards. It'll end up a knotted mess and you'll just be pulling hair out of your head (which is incredibly painful). Instead, Dougherty suggests using a wet brush in the shower while you have conditioner in your hair. That way the brush detangles hair painlessly.
9. Take Care Of Chemically Straightened Hair The Right Way
"You want to use sulfate-free shampoos," said Saviano. "Chemically straightened hair will never be as straight as naturally straight hair." Avoid weighing down your chemically straightened hair with any shampoos or conditioners, so make sure you're using one that is free of heavy oils and sulfates. It will give your hair the nourishment it needs without making it look heavy or feel greasy.
10. You Need To Keep Hair Healthy After All The Chemicals
If you chemically straighten your hair, then you should use a product that doesn't leave your hair with longterm damage like breakage and dryness. "You might want to consider a conditioning non-formaldehyde smoothing treatment such as Cezanne Perfect Finish which is the best option for keratin because it benefits and protects your hair and improves it over time. It’s ideal for easy day to day maintenance without the long term commitment," said Dougherty.
11. Recognize The Inexpensive Natural Options To Strong, Beautiful Hair
You don't have to break the bank to take care of your straight hair. "Coconut oil is wonderful for protecting the hair from heat, providing strength to split ends, hydrating the hair and also helping with dry flaky scalp," Dougherty told me. You can use natural or homeopathic products to achieve some of the same things that an expensive salon-quality product does.
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