MAGNIFY YOUR SHINE
Tips and tricks to fight friction and smoothen your hair.
On any given day, your hair likely gets a quick towel dry, is pulled into and out of a ponytail a few times, and then nestles into your pillow – all typical habits in which you don’t give a second thought. But here’s the rub: “These movements create friction,” says hair stylist Eva Scrivo, owner of the Eva Scrivo Salons in New York City. And this repeated daily friction can cause a lot of damage over time. “Eventually, your strands fray and ultimately snap,” says Martina Spinatsch, a hair scientist at Schwarzkopf hair care.
Friction also makes strands feel rough, tangle easily and form split ends. “I don’t think a lot of us realise just how fragile hair really is,” Eva says. “We should be treating it as gently as a favourite dry-clean-only blouse.” To do that, you need to make some simple shifts to your routine.
Be especially kind to wet strands
Hair stretches up to 30 per cent when it’s wet, making it more susceptible to breakage, Eva says. Rather than aggressively rubbing it with a towel to dry it, wrap the towel around your head and squeeze out the excess moisture, says Herbal Essences celebrity stylist Charles Baker Strahan.
The detangling tool you reach for is also key. “Using the wrong one is like cutting a tomato with a dull knife – it’s ineffective and destructive,” Eva says. Opt for a wide-tooth comb or a brush made for wet hair, which has superflexible bristles. Slowly work your way through, section by section. “Be particularly conscientious with your ends – they are the oldest part of your hair, so they’re most susceptible to damage,” Martina says.
Then if you want to blow-dry your hair, the best brush for the job is a round one with boar bristles. Because these bristles have smooth edges, they put less tension on the hair than plastic versions do. Plus they can stand up to heat for much longer. Plastic brushes need to be replaced every other year.
After working out, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Ideally, after sweating through an exercise session, you’ll wash (or at least rinse) your hair before you dry it. But raise your hand if you’ve skipped that step to save time and gone straight into blow-drying your sweaty gym hair. It seems genius, until you learn that “the salt in your sweat combined with the heat of the dryer is seriously dehydrating,” Eva says. Her timesaving solution: Dab the sweat with a towel, then mist your hair with water (fill an empty hair spray bottle or use a facial mist) to dilute any remaining sweat. Then blow-dry.
Rotate your go-to styles
Strands are more prone to breakage when you put stress on the same section every day. “Tight ponytails and buns strain the hair, especially when you pull your hair into them when it’s still wet,” Charles says. “You’ll most likely see broken strands around the hairline.”
If you wear one of these styles daily, mix up its location: Try it high one day and low the next. To prevent breakage from your hair elastic as well, go with a thick version – it provides more cushion and less tension than a thin band would, Eva says.
Let your hair sleep soundly
Your trusty cotton pillowcase creates friction on the hair: Strands tend to snag on cotton fibres, which rough up the cuticle.
Use a silk pillowcase. Or wrap hair in a silk scarf or pull a silk slip over your pillow, Charles says. Sleep with your hair up? If you pull out your elastic in the a.m. and strands come with it, then go to bed with a looser bun or a braid to keep hair from being yanked in the night.
If you could zoom way in, you’d see tiny scales on the surface of your hair. When they lie flat, strands are soft and shiny.