Strong, luscious locks start in the shower with a shampoo session that maximises your hair’s potential. While an in-salon wash and blow-dry are a treat, you can mimic professional-quality results right at home.
‘Your hair is your most important fashion accessory and the first thing people notice about you,’ says Charles Worthington, celebrity hairstylist and author of The Complete Book of Hairstyling. ‘It speaks volumes about your personality, lifestyle, look – and most of all, what sort of mood you’re in.’
Here’s what you should keep in mind the next time you wash your hair:
1. Brush and detangle before you shampoo
Hair is naturally strong and elastic – it can stretch up to 30 per cent of its original length when wet – but it can only stand so much tugging, pulling and aggressive handling, so handle your mane with care. Start by detangling dry strands from tip to root (not the other way around). Hold a section of hair in the middle and carefully brush out the ends. Work your way up until all knots are smoothed out. Then consider your shampoo options: make sure you get one that matches your hair needs. Using a clarifying shampoo once a week will also benefit your hair by removing build-up from styling products.
2. Let your hair soak
Thoroughly wet your hair for 30 to 60 seconds before applying shampoo. You’ll need less product, and washing will be easier on the hair. Evenly distribute shampoo, beginning at the scalp and working your way down to the tips. The pre-shampoo brushing you’ve done should help make this process more manageable. Use your fingertips (never your nails) to massage and stimulate the scalp. For extra-thorough cleansing, add a little water as you go along.
3. Rinse thoroughly
It’s important to ensure that no residue is left after shampooing and that your hair’s cuticles are open to soak up the conditioner. If you’ve used lots of styling products the previous day, don’t let the shampoo sit in your hair – just go for a second wash. No matter how many times you shampoo, make sure you re-massage the scalp to help get everything out.
4. Apply generous amounts of conditioner
Keep a plastic, wide-tooth comb in the bathroom, along with a shower cap (those complimentary ones from hotels work fine.) First, rinse and squeeze out any excess water from your hair. Squirt conditioner on one hand, smear it with your palms and distribute it evenly throughout strands. Concentrate on the tips, which are the driest part of the hair. If time allows, comb hair to evenly distribute conditioner. Wrap it in a bun and cover with the shower cap while you finish bathing. Rinse when finished and use a soft towel to gently press excess water out of hair. Never rub the towel vigorously over wet strands.
5. Go for ‘holistic hair care’
If you have an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, your hair, like your skin, will suffer. Fatigue and stress will also wreak havoc on your hair, so modern hair care must be holistic and take into account all aspects of your lifestyle.
When you are tense, your scalp tightens and the blood capillaries contract, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the hair follicles. The production of sweat increases, causing a greasy scalp. And, in time, repeated aggravation may even lead to hair loss. A good tension-relieving scalp massage helps increase blood flow and maintain a healthy head of hair. Your healthy, tangle-free tresses will thank you.