The Pro Hair-Care Tips We ALL Need In Our Lives

About six months ago, our hair was dull, dry, and — except for the time when we splurged on NYE styling — anything but bouncy. But you probably didn’t notice. Truthfully, between the knit caps, scarves, and high necklines used to cover up from the crown down, we hardly noticed whether our hair was healthy. But now that summer is in full swing, there’s nowhere to hide. Spaghetti straps and exposed shoulders seem to call more attention to whether our lob is actually uniform or our curls are defined. What’s more, beaming sunlight is just begging to pick up on shine. So how do we leapfrog into healthy-hair territory as if we’d had it all along?
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For answers, we turned to celebrity hairstylists Marc Mena and Nai’vasha Johnson to help problem solve the biggest hair hurdles facing Refinery29 editors. We're talking illuminating bleached hair without shampoo (dry or otherwise), taking a break from protective hairstyles without damaging delicate coils, transforming combination hair (that’s partly wavy, partly straight) into mermaid waves, and more.
If you're thinking some kind of secret superpower must be involved to pull off these feats, well, that’s not too far off. (Who knew we could actually multiply air flow, while also targeting nothing but a small section of hair at a time by wielding a Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer?) Find our eight unexpected ways to optimize hair health in a single bound, no matter how bleak our winter (and let’s face it, spring) hair may have been, ahead.
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Claire Fontanetta, Senior Beauty Editor

Hair Type: Straight

The Question:
“I have long, straight hair that's very fine. Despite how many trims I get, I can't seem to rid my hair of split ends. Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time in the sun outside, but my hair essentially looks perpetually damaged — no matter how many moisturizing products I use. How can I heal my damaged hair?”

The Solve:
Ready for some serious hair therapy? In cases like this, Mena says, we may be, “avoiding the hair’s destiny.” He explains: “Everyone’s hair has a certain breaking point at which it will split and become transparent on the ends.” His fix? Setting boundaries in the form of a haircut that draws a firm line between healthy hair and compromised hair. “Cut your hair to where you see a solid line to keep your hair from splitting and becoming sparse,” he says. If you’re not ready to sacrifice length for health, there’s always alternatives, like clip-in hairpieces and permanent extensions, he notes.
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Lilac Perez, Associate Casting Director

Hair Type: Curly

The Question:
“I have naturally curly hair but often straighten it with an iron. In the summer months, I'm always battling humidity, while trying to keep my hair looking sleek and smooth all day long. How do I prevent expansion, without weighing my hair down with heavy products — all while keeping my hair healthy?”

The Solve:
“Using a great deep moisturizer prevents [expansion] while not weighing the hair down,” Johnson says. Another way to keep the hair shaft smooth and minimize flyaways? Use the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer with its concentrator nozzle attached in order to distribute air in a focused shot. That way, surrounding hair isn't unnecessarily heated or unsettled with gusts of air when styling hair section by section.
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Ryen Williams, PM/Producer

Hair Type: Coily 4C

The Question:
“I've been wearing protective styles for the past year in an effort to grow a full and bountiful afro for the summer. The problem is, I just recently went to the salon to get my hair 'trimmed,' and I had so many dead ends that I almost feel like I'm back to square one. How often should someone with my hair type get a trim to keep it healthy, and what are a few healthy, curl-defining tips I could use when not wearing protective styles?”

The Solve:
This tightly coiled hair type is delicate, so Johnson suggests keeping texture defined by trimming it every three to four months — even when growing it out and, yes, even when it’s often worn in protective styles. And when it’s time for coils to hang out? Try Johnson’s go-to style, which is equal parts defining and nourishing. “When not wearing protective styles, I recommend heavy, leave-in conditioner with a two-strand twist,” she says. “This allows the hair to naturally dry while creating a beautiful coil that lasts and looks defined.” Plus, the style is a great way to avoid shrinkage, Johnson says.
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Bethany Lewis, Associate Director

Hair Type: Curly 3C

The Question:
“I have naturally curly hair. In the summer, I try to wear it down in full, bouncy curls, but by midday, my hair has expanded and looks fried. If I try to compensate with product, my curls tend to become too stiff and flat. How do I find that perfect middle ground?”

The Solve:
Rollers may feel very old-fashioned, but the result they can provide is thoroughly modern, according to Johnson. The stylist suggests setting the hair with rollers, light mousse, and heat to create full curls that keep their shape — even in summer's relentless humidity. To minimize time spent under the dryer, pick one with amped-up horsepower. The speedy digital motor inside the Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer is coupled with a technology that pulls air into an existing current to blow three times as much air for ultra-fast drying, which means you’ll spend less time styling your hair this summer and more time shining.
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Sue Tran, Associate Creative Director

Hair Type: Straight & Bleached

The Question:
“It took multiple processes — including hours of bleach — to transform my black hair to full-on platinum blonde. Now, my usual routine has been completely uprooted; instead of washing my hair every day, I space shampoos two to three days apart in order to prevent it from getting brassy and dry. I’m at a complete loss about the in-between days when I want freshly styled hair but dry shampoo and an updo just won’t cut it.”

The Solve:
Mena says skipping the suds can help those with chemically processed hair hang onto hair health, as shampoo can strip hair of natural (and nourishing) oils. But lathering less often doesn't mean dodging in-shower hair care altogether. “When taking a shower, wet your hair, but don’t shampoo it,” Mena suggests — a trick that will help remove just the excess oil from the scalp. “Since you just went platinum, your hair can definitely use some extra hydration, so after you finish wetting your hair, condition just the ends.” His favorite oil-absorbing fix for fragile hair on the mend? Swap out dry shampoo for blotting papers. “Use them at the root of dry hair to remove oil — it’s not as gritty as dry shampoo.”
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Jen Anderson, Lifestyle Writer

Hair Type: Wavy

The Question:
“I always want to wear my hair naturally wavy, but I find it difficult to style because the top layers of my hair lay flat while the layers beneath have more wave. What can I do to help out my hair so that it dries with a consistent texture?”

The Solve:
Help whip straighter sections of hair into formation with a calculated cocktail of styling products. “Combine equal parts of hair cream and a light gel together in your hand, then distribute the mixture evenly throughout your hair,” Mena advises. Next, pick up a section of hair that matches the size of wave underneath and twist it around your finger (or fingers for looser waves). “Holding the twist for a few seconds will create the same texture as the curl underneath,” he says.

Don’t have time to engage in the manual twirling technique? “A diffuser will add body and an all-around consistent curl,” Mena says. After prepping hair with hair cream and gel, pop a diffuser attachment onto your dryer, choose a low heat setting, and gently scrunch a section of hair so it rests on the diffuser face. Hold for a few seconds, and then finish with a shot of cool air.
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Ali Ives, Fashion Editor

Hair Type: Wavy

The Question:
“Even though I don't color my hair, it never seems to feel all that healthy or hydrated. How can I stick to my styling routine — which relies on heat tools to define my waves (and keep them smooth) — without ending up with super-dry strands?”

The Solve:
Not every healthy hair trick requires styling know-how (or even styling products). For those who crave shiny, bouncy hair — and the styling perks offered by heat-styling tools — Mena suggests this hair hack borrowed from nutritionists: “Stay hydrated and drink lots of water,” he says. “What you put in your body is just as important as the products that you put on your body and hair. So for healthy, shiny, and hydrated locks, include nuts and avocado as part of your daily diet.”

Since nutritional shifts can take time to manifest as healthier hair, the stylist suggests the following supplements: “Try a deep conditioner used once a week to retain moisture, and always use a heat-protecting spray to avoid further damage from your tools,” he says.
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Anissa Richmond, Branded Video Producer

Hair Type: Coily 4C

The Question:
“I'm the queen of protective hairstyles (think: crochet hair and synthetic braids) and rarely have my natural hair out. My biggest challenge in between hairstyles? Making sure that I'm adding nutrients to my hair and scalp. What can I do for my scalp when I have a protective style in? And how do I avoid breakage of my delicate natural hair when I don't have a protective style in?”

The Solve:
The term “protective hairstyle” can be a bit of a misnomer if the coils themselves are given all the attention. “When in protective styles, taking care of the scalp is most important,” Johnson notes. Her favorite way to give the scalp its due? Saturate it two to three times a week with a natural oil like castor oil. Further, protective measures can be taken when hair is worn naturally to showcase curls, too. “To avoid breakage when your hair is not in a protective style, cover your hair at night with a satin bonnet and do regular condition and steam treatments,” the stylist adds.
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