I'm going to sound like a vain brat right now, and I'm apologizing in advance for that, but I almost always have good hair days. Don't get me wrong, I'm not Pantene commercial ready on a daily basis, but I never have the impulse to shave my head/invest in scarves/throw on a beanie or whatever else it is people do. I have my hair down to a science, an easily repeatable routine that I can stick to everyday. To be fair, it took me years of middle school-esque angst to get to this place. I know my hair isn't everybody else's hair, but I have a few tips to help anybody achieve hair awesomeness on even Monday mornings.
1. Accept your natural hair texture. You heard me. If you have curly hair, wear it curly. If you have straight hair, let it hang straight. I'm not saying that you shouldn't mix it up and pull out the curling/flat iron every once in a while, but on a daily basis, give your hair a break. It took me about 6 years to get over the fact that I don't have waist-length Giselle Bunchen waves. I scrunched/wave sprayed/braided/curled my hair every night in hopes that I would wake up with anything but the pin-straight hair I was born with, and I fried my hair doing it. So, I finally decided to cut it all off into a shoulder-skimming bob that actually looks best straight. And it feels freaking awesome. Start with getting a cut that flatters your natural hair type, i.e. lots of layers for fine hair, dry cutting for curly hair, razoring for thick hair, etc. Yes, sometimes it can be expensive to get a professional cut like that, but think about the money on styling tools and products, and not to mention the time you'll save if your haircut can pretty much style itself.
2. Use the right products. You can get away with only using one or two products if they're the right ones. Dull, greasy hair comes from a combination of oil and buildup. Use a clarifying shampoo, like Bumble and Bumble's Sunday Shampoo, $22.94 at amazon.com, one or twice a week. Clarifying shampoos are stronger than regular shampoos, so they take away more oil, and are designed to get rid of the buildup that styling products can leave behind. If oil is the only problem, try a dry shampoo like Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo, $18 at sephora.com (washing your hair less often also helps prevent dry ends). Also, your hair, like your skin, can acclimate to products over time, so you need to switch up your shampoos and conditioners. I like to use a nice shampoo once a week, like L'Oreal Everpure Smooth Shampoo, $6.99 at drugstore.com, and use a shampoo like Herbal Essences Color Me Happy Shampoo, $7.49 at drugstore.com, for the rest of the week. That way you get all the benefits of the nice shampoo at a fraction of the cost. Color Me Happy shampoo is also a great, cheap shampoo for colored hair. I've been using it for a few weeks, and I should have serious roots by now, but I don't! Win-win-win. Also, random tip, but if you have dry hair, use a creamy shampoo. Creamy, opaque shampoos are much more moisturizing than clear, transparent shampoos.
It's important to use the right products for your hair type, colored, dry, fine, limp, whatever. If your hair is extremely limp or extremely thick (like mine, in which case gravity is not your best friend), a volumizing mousse is a fantastic option. I like Tresemme 24 Hour Body Volumizing Mousse, $4.99 at walgreens.com, because it leaves my hair soft, not crunchy, and the body lasts all night (I shower right before bed) and all the way through the next day. Just comb an egg-sized amount through your hair right out of the shower. Plus, it smells AWESOME. For another tip for limp hair, scroll down to a DIY recipe at #4. For super-curly hair, use a curl-activating cream like Living Proof Curl Defining Styling Cream, $24 at sephora.com, to bring out your natural curl, and a serum like Bumble and Bumble's Brilliantine, $24.94 at amazon.com, to fight frizz and keep your curls from getting over-enthusiastic. Brilliantine is also awesome for basically any other hair type. It's great to smooth away frizzies and flyaways, it fights dry ends, and I use it to add texture and definition to the ends of my hair. Another way to combat dry and split ends is to use a deep conditioner. You can splurge on Sephora worthy deep conditioners, but at the rate I go through this stuff, I like to go drugstore cheap, and you can't get better than Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Time Renewal Conditioner, $5.99 at drugstore.com. The day after I started using this I literally marched up to Maud and was like "FEEL. MY. HAIR." After one day, it's noticeably softer and just overall happier looking. It's a pretty intense conditioner though, so if you have fine hair I'd only leave it on for a minute or two. Lastly, if you do any type of heat styling, blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron, anything, USE A PROTECTIVE SPRAY. I can't say that enough. Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray, $4.75 at drugstore.com, keeps my daily flat ironing (explanation below) from totally frying my ends. I haven't had split ends (at a noticeable level, at least) in over a year, and I think this is why.
3. And the right tools. Personally, I think blow dryers are the devil. If you don't really need to blow dry your hair, why not just wait an extra hour or two for your hair to air dry and save it all that damage? Then again, I shower at night, so I'm never rushing off places with wet hair. But if you're one of those weird morning shower people (so. early.), at least invest in a blow dryer that won't eat your hair alive. Trust me, one of those ionic dryers will pay for itself with all the money on fix-it styling products you'll save, and they cut drying time drastically, so they damage your hair less. I've heard good things about this CHI Turbo Low EMF Professional Hair Dryer, $135 at drugstore.com, and it's CHI, so it has to be good. For a combo curling/flat iron, I'm in love with my T3 Mini Flat Iron, $119 at sephora.com (and $60 on eBay). I have 99% straight hair that likes to flip out awkwardly at the ends, so I use this to just curl my ends under/straighten them every night. It heats up in 15 seconds, has adjustable temperatures, and even though it's travel-sized, can curl/straighten your entire head quickly and is great at adding root volume. Can you tell that I love it? Now, I'm the last person to plug a hairbrush, mainly because I like my hair bedhead messy and brush my hair like once a month, but if you want awesome shine, you need a hairbrush. It's one of the most effective ways to make your hair look polished and pulled together. Make sure you get a paddle brush (also works for blow outs) with high quality boar bristles, like this Karina Brush, $29.99 at drugstore.com.
4. A few cheap, extra tips. When people ask me what I do to my hair everyday to make it look half-way decent, the first thing I tell them is the cheapest, easiest hair tip I have. Rinse your hair in cold water before you get out of the shower. And I mean cold water, as in as cold as it gets. It works because your hair is like your skin; it has 'pores.' Cold water closes skin pores and the cuticle openings on the hair shaft. When the hair shaft is smooth, light reflects off it more evenly and hair looks shinier. You'll need to do this for at least a week to see results, but seriously, I had run of the mill hair before, and now I can't take a picture of my hair with flash because the shine makes it look white. Another way to get rid of buildup and extra oil, aside from a pricey clarifying shampoo, is to rinse your hair once a month with a water bottle filled halfway with apple cider vinegar and halfway with water, and then shampoo and condition as usual. Apple cider vinegar strips away everything that builds up on each strand of hair, making it look clean and shiny. Finally, I love to use the conditioners that come with my hair color as deep conditioners. They're super-nourishing and smell fantastic. You don't have to color your hair to do this. I used to 'borrow' them from my mom before I dyed my hair, and you can buy them separately online or on eBay. Once a week, when I shave my legs in the shower, I leave on the conditioner. It takes me about 5-10 minutes to shave my legs, depending on how clumsy I am, so the conditioner has a long time to absorb, and the heat from the shower makes it even more potent. It's my cheap version of a deep conditioner. To add texture to fine, limp, or very straight hair, fill a spray bottle (12 ounces, please) with 8 ounces of water, a teaspoon of fine salt, 2 teaspoons of conditioner or deep conditioner, depending on how fine/dry your hair is, and a dollop of drugstore brand hair gel, shake vigorously, apply to wet hair, and scrunch like crazy for volume, texture, and a hint of a wave.
Once you figure out what products you need to use and incoporate whatever tips/tricks you want into your routine (seriously, try the cold water, it's MAGICAL), try the whole thing out for a week and document the difference it makes. Write it down, use pictures, whatever. If you don't have significantly more good hair days that week than usual, feel free to write me angry comments/emails, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Just for proof: look at the shininess! And that's without flash.
Bumble and Bumble Shampoo: amazon.com, Herbal Essences shampoo: drugstore.com, L'Oreal shampoo: drugstore.com, Tresemme Mousse: walgreens.com, Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine: amazon.com, Living Proof cream: sephora.com, Pantene Conditioner: drugstore.com, Tresemme Heat Defense: drugstore.com, CHI Blow Dryer: drugstore.com, T3 Iron: sephora.com, Karina Brush: drugstore.com