My hair is worth its weight in gold.
Not because it's particularly perfect — it's not Blake Lively's, after all. But, with the thousands of dollars I've spent dying my strands for nearly a decade, they just might be the most expensive part of me.
Of course, those double processes have taken their toll. My hair, formerly soft and manageable, has transformed into a dry, brittle and thoroughly sad state. It might look good on the outside, but it sure doesn't feel that way. Dry, damaged hair never does.
In addition to being a close relative to straw, my hair is thoroughly over me and doesn't want to stay on my head. My roommate can attest to this, as she's been leaving me passive aggressive notes to clean out the shower drain for months.
In an effort to make my hair feel as good as I think it looks, I got in touch with Mia Emilio, senior stylist at Devachan NYC, for some tips on how to give my locks some serious R&R.
If you're over your brittle locks, give these tips a try.
My hair is split-end central. Does that mean I have to cut it all off?
In short: yes.
Emilio says split ends are, just like they sound, broken. The only way to get rid of them is to cut them out of your life.
“A split end will continue to split,” Emilio explains. “That split end will just continue rising and damaging healthy hair."
Don't think your yearly trims are enough, either. According to Emilio, hair should be cut every three to six months. Fine, more straight textures might even want to spring for one every two months.
Is my hair frizzy because it's dry, or because it hates me?
Dryness and frizz go hand-in-hand, since hair becomes frizzy when it's dehydrated. By infusing moisture back in your hair, you can combat frizz, too.
Also, be sure to check the labels on your shampoo.
“Stay away from alcohol, sulfates, silicon,” Emilio says. “They continue to dry out your hair and make you frizzy."
Along with Devacurl's bullsh*t-free No Poo line (which I've praised over and over again), I also love the L'Oreal Paris EverPure line and the Verb Hydrating shampoo. If you've got dough to spend, try the Kérastase Resistance Thérapiste line.
There's more hair in my shower drain than on my head. How do I make my hair stronger, so it's not falling out all the time?
As my glossy-haired editor pointed out, the trick is to just throw all your heat styling tools out the window.
“If you're into heat styling, it continues to damage your hair,” warns Emilio. “Keep up with trims, moisturize, deep condition. It helps with the elasticity."
In my experience, going to sleep with wet hair is basically a recipe for your hair to look (and feel) like utter sh*t in the morning. While there are products to combat this (namely, masques for overnight use) I personally am not a fan of having to wash them out when I wake up.
If the washing out part doesn't deter you, my dry, brittle hair is all about once-a-week overnight Olaplex treatments.
Or, you know, just invest in a really great shower drain protector so your roommate doesn't kill you.
We all know our pillowcases are out to kill us. Do the satin kind really make a difference?
Research says silk and satin pillowcases are better for our skin than just plain Jane cotton or a manmade fiber. They're supposed to help smooth out wrinkles and not f*ck up our hair in the AM. Plus, Victoria's Secret models use them, so they must be good — right?
“I recently purchased one myself a few weeks ago,” Emilio says. “I ordered a silk bonnet and a silk pillowcase and I have to sleep with at least one!"
Bonnets are great for helping with tangled strands. Hair gets caught under our heads and shoulders when we sleep, which leads to tangling and makes it prone to breaking all-together.
Well, if the pros are using it, right?
What if my roots are super oily and my ends are extra dry?
For me, hair is like that one friend who can't make up her mind on what to order on Seamless. Noodles! No, pizza! Maybe sushi!
The trick to dealing with hair that can't make up its mind is to treat each part differently. Emilio suggests cleansing the scalp with shampoo and putting conditioner just on your ends, so the part of the shaft that needs hydration gets it. The conditioner also acts as a layer of protection for the part of your hair that isn't necessarily dirty and needs the extra dose of moisture.
Additionally, be sure to stay away from ingredients like sulfates.
“They can make your oil glands produce more oil,” Emilio says. “They're so much more stripping and your oil glands are like, 'Oh my God, we need to make more oil!'"
That oil builds up on your scalp and not your ends, which creates the two textural differences. Basically, treat your roots and your ends like two finicky children.
What do masks do? Do they help?
My philosophy when shopping for hair masks is pretty self-explanatory: Get one that has the consistency of mayo and smells like roses. The combo will mysteriously work wonders for your hair. Hey, I haven't gone bald yet!
“Always check for ingredients,” Emilio says. “And stay away from silicon and alcohol."
While many masks are sulfate-free, not many are also free of alcohol and silicon. Carol's Daughter makes a great Black Vanilla hair smoothie which I'm all about. According to a friend, works wonders on natural hair, too.
If you're the kind of girl who would much rather DIY, making a hair mask is easier than making a salad.
Emilio suggests mixing avocado and coconut oil together before adding them into your conditioner.
"Bananas, eggs — these are things you can mash up and get in your hair," she offers. "A ripe avocado, mixed with egg and coconut oil is great, too."
Not a fan of waiting in the shower until the mask sets? No problem. Just sleep with it overnight and rinse it out in the morning. Just don't forget to wear a shower cap.
Is my hair dry because I wash it too much, or not enough?
All those scary articles you might've read about the pitfalls of washing your hair too much are true. That extra 'poo is doing more harm than good.
“You don't need to use a cleanser every day,” Emilio explains. “Two to three times a week, tops. Drier hair types should do once a week. But, condition daily or every other day."
Conditioning helps hydrate the hair, while shampooing does the opposite and strips the hair.
What's the deal with protein? Does my hair need a steak dinner?
Protein has become a big buzz-word in the beauty world. The word on the street is that our hair needs a bit of extra meaty love from protein-infused styling products.
Emilio calls bullsh*t. Our hair is already largely made up of protein, and we don't need to be adding even more. Your hair can stick to salads and leafy greens.
In short, there is no hair that's not worth saving. My dry, ultra-damaged locks are beyond the point of no return, but with a bit of R&R, they might one day resemble what they looked like those 10-odd years ago.
And if not, I can always get a Beyoncé-worthy wig, like Channing Tatum.