How To Get Your Healthiest, Softest Hair Yet

Hair has the endurance of your average marathoner. Just consider how much stress we put it through on a regular basis, from wrangling it with a straightening iron, to blow-drying it at the highest heat possible, to washing it with harsh shampoos that strip away moisture. And don't even get us started on dry shampoo, which is great in moderation but a recipe for disaster if you pile it on every day. Even if you don't do all of the above, though, damage to hair can still add up over time — eventually leading to brittleness or even breakage (the ultimate sign of weak hair).

To bring out the best in your hair — and nix frayed, split strands — you need to rehab it back to health. That means #GoGentle: Lay off the heated styling tools, give dry shampoo a rest, and cleanse your hair with gentle formulas. (Basically, treat your hair the way you'd treat a really soft, really expensive cashmere sweater.) It's worth putting in a little bit of extra effort now: After all, it's easier to maintain healthy hair in the long run than it is to try and reverse damage. We've collaborated with Pantene to bring you the best tips and tricks to restore your hair to its softest, shiniest, and healthiest. Trust us: It's worth it.

Hold Off On Hot Tools


Before you freak out: It's a break, not a break-up. Air-drying your hair a few days every week (or even just on weekends) will allow it to recover — without heat damage constantly undoing all your efforts.

Lay Off Harsh Ingredients


Your usual shampoo and conditioner probably do the trick as far as cleansing your hair goes, but they may also be causing problems in the process. Shampoos often contain harsh surfactants that can dry out hair and encourage breakage in already fragile strands, while many conditioners can add weight to fine or weak hair. Swap damaging detergents for the micellar technology in Pantene Pro-V Micellar Gentle Cleansing Water Shampoo. Just like the micellar water you're used to for your face, micellar water for your hair gently picks up dirt and oil from the surface while leaving internal moisture behind. And trade heavy conditioners for the lightweight hydration in Pantene Pro-V Micellar Moisturizing Milk Conditioner. It penetrates every strand to strengthen hair without weighing it down.

Slow Down On Dry Shampoo


We get that there's nothing better after a tough HIIT class than a good dry shampoo (and a big meal). But using it daily in lieu of actual shampoo leaves residue on your scalp, which could lead to irritation, dullness, and even impaired hair growth. Just imagine what would go down if you only added more powder to your face instead of washing it every day. Dust on dry shampoo only when you really need it — and to complement regular shampoo, not replace it entirely.

Use Deep Conditioner


Deep conditioners contain far more moisturizing ingredients than their typical, 30-second counterparts, making them a must for drier hair textures like curls and coils. At least once a week, swap your regular conditioner for a more intense formula. And use the time to exfoliate, think about everyone you need to email back, or sing at the top of your lungs.

Start With Damp Hair


Whether you're heat-styling hair, working in products, or just trying to detangle, hair is most prone to breakage when it's sopping wet. Plus, taking your hair all the way from soaked to dry requires a ton of heat, which goes hand-in-hand with tons of damage. Before you do anything, gently blot your hair with a towel until it's just damp (bonus points if it's microfiber, which absorbs water without roughing up the cuticle). Then, proceed as usual.

Comb, Don't Brush


Yanking a brush through wet hair is a fast way to snap strands. The key is to be gentle, which is why a wide-tooth comb is a far better option. It detangles without requiring a ton of force. And, of course, wait until your hair is damp — never comb it wet.

Pile On The Protein


Hair is mostly protein, and it won't grow in as well or as strong without it. That means a protein-rich diet is a nonnegotiable for healthy hair. Stock up on the usual meats, fish, beans, lentils, and tofu.

Prep Before Coloring Hair


To keep your hair strong through a color treatment — since you might not exactly want to swear off highlights in the name of healthy hair — apply an oil to your ends, which may be more fragile, before exposing hair to dyes or chemicals.

This post is sponsored by Pantene.