Currently experiencing hair that's drier than usual, and wondering how to get soft hair? Generally, to enhance your hair's softness, you'll want to amp up your conditioning game and cut down on damage-causers (like hot tools and hair dye) — but there are also plenty of other things you can do that you may not have thought of. To find out, keep reading for 10 clever tips from five professional hair stylists. But first, some background.
As for why some people have hair that's not as soft? As Jessie Lee Montague, a hair stylist in Rhinebeck, New York, notes, genetics play a big role in the feel and texture of one's hair. But there are additional factors that affect the way our hair feels, like shampooing in areas with hard water, for example (in addition to the more obvious culprits like hot tools and chemical treatments).
Dan Sharp, a hairdresser and celebrity stylist in Brooklyn, New York, echoes that genetics play a big role in the way our hair behaves, but so do our hair habits. He recommends shampooing less often, avoiding excessive heat styling, using moisturizing hair products, and taking care of yourself by eating well, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of sleep. Most importantly, he believes it's important to like yourself and your hair.
Tia Ashe, owner of Love Hair Salon in Kingston, New York, adds. "Your hair should not be compared to anyone else’s. You — and your hair — are unique, so what may work for others that have the so-called 'same hair type' may not work for you. I have yet to service two clients that have the same exact hair."
With that in mind, scroll on to find out how to get softer hair in 10 easy steps.
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1. Choose A Sulfate-Free Shampoo
“Shampooing less [often] is better for keeping hair from drying out," says Lee Montague, adding that "Shampoos that are sulfate-free are the most gentle.” Don't forget to condition the ends, where your hair could use the extra moisture.
This set of Hask's Keratin Protein shampoo and conditioner contains hydrolyzed keratin to keep hair smooth, shiny, and soft. The sulfate-free formula also aims to make hair generally easier to manage, and can even help cut down on humidity-induced frizz.
2. Try A Product With Coconut
Lee Montague likes hair products that contain coconut, a highly effective nourishing ingredient that works to keep the hair shaft protected and strong. This budget-friendly hair mask from Garnier, which contains two forms of coconut — coconut extract and coconut oil — can be used as a mask a couple of times a week, as a conditioner whenever you wash your hair, or even as a leave-in treatment. Other heavy-duty hydrating ingredients, like shea butter, olive oil, and avocado oil, round out the formula.
Note: if you're sensitive to products with scents, this mask is not for you as it does contain added fragrance.
3. Make Your Own Hair Mask
Ashe tells her clients to mix a few teaspoons of a natural oil into their favorite hair mask and apply after shampooing. “Leave the mixture in overnight, and in the morning rinse with water (if they have coarse, dry hair) or lightly shampoo (for finer hair textures). My favorite oils for this treatment are unrefined/cold pressed coconut, olive, avocado, or jojoba oil," she says.
This bottle contains nothing but 100% cold-pressed, unrefined jojoba oil, topped off with a handy dropper for mess-free application. You could also mix it into your go-to conditioner, or apply a small amount to the ends of your hair where it's driest.
4. Apply A Thermal Protectant Before Heat-Styling
“If you're styling your hair, you need to use a thermal protectant," insists Debra Banks, co-owner of A Touch of Vanity in Portland, Oregon. She loves this lightweight Super Skinny Relaxing Balm from Paul Mitchell. "If you run it through your hair and leave your hair to dry naturally, it will act as a light styling gel. If you put this in your hair and blow [it] dry, or use a curling iron or flat iron, it will leave hair feeling silky smooth.” This balm also helps speed up drying time, so you won't have to expose your hair to the potentially damaging heat of your blow dryer for as long.
5. Keep Your Hair Moisturized
Your salon cut or color is only as good as your home care, says Gina Martinez, owner and master stylist at Blondies The Beauty Shop in Denver, Colorado. Martinez works with each client to find the best, highest quality styling product for their unique hair type and texture. She's a huge fan of this Unite Hair U Argan Oil, a lightweight, leave-in styling oil that helps control unwanted frizz, reduce drying time, and keep hair protected and strong. It won't make hair feel weighed-down or greasy, so it's a solid choice for any hair type, even thin.
6. Spray Your Hair With Distilled Water Before Showering
Hard water can do a number on your hair, says Lee Montague. She suggests saturating hair first with distilled water before getting into the shower, which will help prevent hair from absorbing as much of the hard water. "Hair is like a sponge, so fill it with good, pure water first and it will take in much less of the less desirable water."
Use a spray bottle, like this one, to fully saturate your hair without making a soggy mess all over the bathroom floor.
8. Use A Clarifying Shampoo Once A Week
Stylists, including Banks, suggest using a clarifying shampoo, like the Neutrogena Anti-Residue Shampoo, on occasion to remove product buildup from hair that's starting to feel weighed down and look dull. The formula here provides a deep clean, so it's not intended for use more than once a week (some people even have luck with once every two weeks). It can also help take out chlorine-induced brassiness.
7. Wear A Swim Cap
9. Use The Right Products For Your Hair Type
Every hair type has its own unique needs. Sharp says curly hair tends to be drier than straight hair because our natural oils come out of the same follicle as the hair itself, and curlier hair patterns restrict the flow of those oils, which also explains why straight or fine hair tends to feel greasy and weighed down faster.
If you have curly hair, a targeted product, like the Cantu Shea Butter Moisturizing Curl Activator Cream, will restore all that much-needed moisture using a delicious blend of ingredients like shea butter, coconut extract, and avocado, sweet almond, and jojoba oils. It also helps enhance your natural curl pattern, in addition to leaving hair hydrated, shiny, and soft.
10. Editor's Reccommendation
This newish launch from L'Oreal caused quite the fuss among Elite Daily editors because of how soft it made their hair feel. As its name suggests, the 8 Second Wonder Water aims to leave hair soft and shiny as silk in, well, just eight seconds. But what sets it apart from conditioners and masks is that it's water-light, so it won't leave your hair feeling remotely weighed down or greasy. Use it a couple of times a week after shampooing, and revel in your softest hair ever.
Jessie Lee Montague, hair stylist in Rhinebeck, New York.
Dan Sharp, hairdresser and celebrity stylist in Brooklyn, New York.
Tia Ashe, owner of Love Hair Salon in Kingston, New York.
Debra Banks, co-owner of A Touch of Vanity in Portland, Oregon.
Gina Martinez, owner and master stylist at Blondies The Beauty Shop in Denver, Colorado.