Hands up if you're one of those people who invest so much in their skin but then completely neglect their hair (our hands are definitely up). For even the most dedicated beauty lovers, the concept of a hair routine has not progressed since toddlerhood: shampoo, condition, done. It’s wild, right? Because when you think about it, your hair, like the skin on your face, is something you wear every day. And just like looking after your skin involves a few key steps – cleansing, exfoliating, moisturising, sun protection – taking care of your hair by incorporating a handful of basics will show immediate results and make everyday styling significantly easier. And, if you’re smart about it, it takes little to no extra time. We promise!
Whether you are hair-obsessed or a total novice, this four-step, uncomplicated haircare routine is what you need for your best, most manageable hair yet.
Your hair, your routine
Hair that's been chemically processed has different needs than, say, hair that's only ever used box dye. So while the steps remain the same for each hair type, the kinds of products and ingredients used will depend on your personal hair type.
If your hair is fine, prone to greasiness and benefits from daily washing, then you'll need a shampoo that's gentle enough for regular use and won't dry out your scalp. If you have thick and curly hair that can get dry and frizzy, a weekly shampoo and condition using intensely hydrating and nourishing formulas would be your best option. A dry shampoo and texturising spray obsessive? A once-weekly clarifying shampoo will deliver a deep clean and help shift all that product build-up and residue. And if you regularly get your hair coloured at the salon, you'll want to protect your investment with colour-saving formulas, so it’s worth doing a little research to seek out the best one for you.
Now that we've got that sorted, let's get into your four part hair programme.
Step 1: Shampoo
The first step, as always, is to clean your hair. Just as you would pick a facial cleanser that’s suited to your skin type, you need to choose a shampoo that’s formulated for your hair type. A few general tips: dry, curly and chemically-processed hair is best matched to hydrating shampoos while coloured hair will benefit from a shampoo that’s specifically labelled ‘for coloured hair’ (these are usually gentle formulas and won’t strip colour). For those with oily hair that’s prone to greasiness, a balancing shampoo will help you best manage. There are also volumising shampoos for fine hair, wave-enhancing shampoos for those whose strands have a natural kink they’d like to enhance and shine-enhancing shampoos for anyone looking to add a little lustre.
After completely wetting your hair (you want it to be soaking), squeeze some shampoo into your hand and work it in. You probably need less than what you think; the actual cleansing formula of the shampoo will do the job of cleaning your hair, not necessarily the amount you apply.
Start at the crown and scalp, and spend some time here and really work the shampoo into your scalp with your fingertips because, in addition to feeling really good, it’ll help shift all the dirt, product-build-up and excess sebum that’s sitting there. Run your hands down the length of your hair, then rinse, and if you feel like you need it (especially if you have longer or textured hair), go in with another shampoo, this time focusing on working the shampoo down the hair strand. Rinse thoroughly.
Step 2: Conditioner
Step 3: Treatment
Once you step out of the shower, it’s time for a leave-in treatment. Do you really need one? We’ll put it this way: hair, like skin, is extremely absorbent, so if we’re loading up our faces with serums, oils and creams after cleansing, why aren’t we giving our hair the same love?
Now, there’s no pressure to go gung-ho with a face-like routine. Just one leave-in is a good place to start. An oil or cream will deliver an extra dose of hydration for those whose hair veers on the dry side or anyone with thirsty and damaged ends, while a spray or lotion won’t add extra weight on fine hair. You can also find leave-in treatments that pull double duty, offering benefits that will help you achieve your styling goals, whether it’s a frizz-free and smooth blow-dry, bouncier curls or beachy texture.
Apply these on towel-dried, but still-damp hair and focus on the lower two thirds of your hair. Just steer clear of your roots!
Step 4: Weekly treatment
In much the same way you might set aside a Sunday night for a face treatment to amplify the results of your weekday skin routine, a weekly hair treatment will take your hair game to the next level.
A weekly scalp scrub or exfoliator will clarify and detox like no regular shampoo can, going the extra mile to clear the scalp and roots of product and oil build-up, lingering dead skin cells and blocked follicles (the pores of your scalp).
If your ends are of more concern than your roots, and dryness, breakage and frizz are your focus, a richly hydrating pre-shampoo treatment, hair oil or deep conditioning mask will restore suppleness and smoothness to hair. And because these need to be left on hair for up to an hour, you can apply it on and run some errands around the house (no need to stand around butt-naked in the shower!).
Apply these now, and you’ve officially completed your four-step hair programme. Told you it was simple!
Bonus round: Heat protectants
Now that your hair is in peak condition, you won’t want to undo all that good work. If you plan on using hot tools to style your hair, or if you’re getting out in the sunshine, using a heat protectant will help minimise the likelihood of hot air and UV rays doing further damage like drying out your hair, frying it, fading the colour or leaving it looking dull.
And if your hair is going through a dry period and you want to cut back on washing, or you’re trying to preserve a salon style, or you’re just not in the mood for the full wash and dry, a dry shampoo is your best friend.