10 At-Home Tips To Get Your Hair Back In The Game

The crazy summer humidity may have finally calmed itself down, but that doesn't mean your bad hair days are behind you — now there's all that pesky winter dryness to worry about. The secret to keeping your hair under control in any weather is to keep it healthy — strong hair is less prone to breakage, so there's less opportunity for your locks to freak out with frizz, static, and split ends.
We asked Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in NYC, to give us her best hair care remedies to help you pamper your mane at home. From the best foods for shiny hair to a simple trick that will stop a split end in its tracks, read on to uncover 10 super-easy secrets for supermodel-worthy hair.
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1. What You Eat Matters

"In order to achieve soft, shiny, healthy hair, you should be eating a sufficient amount of protein," says Phillips. That means lots of lean protein (meat, fish, eggs, chicken) at both breakfast and lunch. "Dinner is the least important meal of the day for your hair, so you can indulge in whatever you like," she says.

In addition, Phillips also says you need to have red meat at least once a week, as it provides you with iron and ferritin (stored iron), a mineral that is essential to hair growth and health.

Finally, be sure your diet is also rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains, as they provide essential minerals and vitamins that the hair needs to flourish. "If you want to have healthy and beautiful hair, or hair that is in its best condition possible, you need to stick to a healthy, nutritious, well-balanced eating plan," says Phillips.

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2. Condition. A Lot.

Frizz and static can be a huge problem during colder months, thanks to a combination of dryness in the air and the friction caused by wearing our coziest knit hats. To help combat flyaways and increase shine, Phillips advises using a conditioner daily and a deep-conditioning treatment once or twice a week.

Coarse, textured hair requires something a bit more heavy-duty, so try a weighted, de-volumizing product to help prevent poufing and keep hair smooth.

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo
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3. Hydrate Your Hair

A moisturizing hair mask is a necessity for all hair types. If you have fine or medium hair that is unprocessed, Phillips says you should use a mask once or twice a month. Unprocessed coarse, wavy, curly or frizzy hair should use a mask once a week.

If your hair is processed, you're going to need to exert more effort to help regain lost moisture. If it is fine/medium, Phillips says to apply a mask once a week, while coarse, wavy, curly or frizzy hair should use a mask twice a week. Her favorite? Philip Kingsley's Elasticizer, a pre-shampoo, intensive moisturizing treatment that delivers elasticity, bounce and shine to hair.

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4. Careful With That Brush!

While detangling is important to hair health, you can actually do a ton of damage to your mane by brushing it the wrong way.

Girls with long, thick hair should use a large, vented paddle brush — the holes allow heat to disperse quickly, drying hair faster and minimizing exposure to the blow dryer. Fine and medium hair types should opt for a vented grooming brush. For wavy or curly textures, try gently finger-combing through hair. If you're prone to tangles, Phillips advises detangling nightly using a wide tooth comb and a leave-in smoothing cream.

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5. Snip Split Ends

As much as we wish there was a magical cure for split ends, the truth is that no such thing exists. "Whatever you read, whatever you do, you cannot cure a split end," says Phillips. "The only way to get rid of them is to snip them off. If you don’t, you risk them getting higher up the hair shaft and causing more damage."

There are products on the market now that can temporarily fix a split end — they create a glue effect that can give the appearance of smoothed down, un-damaged hair — but Phillips says its best to just snip the split and take it easy on the chemical processes to prevent further damage to your locks.

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6. Give The Blow Dryer A Break

The more styling you do to your hair, the more you damage it, so try to take breaks from the blow dryer every now and then. Also, Phillips says it's imperative to use a heat-protectant spray when styling your hair; it will smooth and straighten the hair shaft and protect it against the heat from your blow dryer or flat iron.

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7. It's Okay To Shampoo Every Day

Worried that washing your hair too much could be causing it to dry out? "If you have oily hair it should be freshly washed every morning for optimal looking hair," says Phillips. "Adding a dry shampoo will not influence oil production, it will just add weight and dullness to the hair. Washing daily is the best option, and there are no negatives to this. We advocate daily shampooing for most people."

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8. Don't Neglect Your Scalp

In addition to your hair, you also need to be sure you are taking proper care of your scalp. "We understand the need to nourish the skin on our faces to maintain its health, and the same goes for the skin on our scalp. The key to healthy hair, as well as healthy-looking hair, concerns your scalp almost as much as your actual hair," says Phillips. Be sure to add a product that's aimed at balancing and nourishing the scalp into your weekly hair care routine.

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9. Show Some Shampoo Loyalty

Contrary to some stories you may have heard, your hair cannot get "used" to a certain product. "The same shampoo, used on the same hair, under the same circumstances, always gives the same result. Shampoo buyers are noted for their disloyalty, and manufacturers frequently take advantage of consumer dissatisfaction with other competitors. Very few people are truly happy with their hair’s performance so they try to improve it by switching products," says Phillips.

However, she does say that products can build up on another and react, which is a contributing factor to limp, greasy, lifeless locks. To combat that, you simply need to tweak the products you are using. Find the combination of products that work best for your hair and stick with it. According to Phillips, the only time you need to change your products is when you change your hair.

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10. Sleep (Carefully) On It

If you toss and turn in bed, you could be unknowingly damaging your strands while you sleep. Fiber-to-fiber friction —caused by the hair rubbing repeatedly against your pillowcase — is responsible for nocturnal breakage and tangles. To prevent waking up to a disheveled mess of a 'do, Phillips suggests braiding hair into two loose braids at bedtime. This will lessen wear and tear on the hair and can reduce breakage significantly.

Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo