Don’t let a change in the weather give you a bad hair day. Whether you’re unsure how to put together a hair care routine or simply looking to brush up on the basics, we’ve got you covered with this expert-backed guide
Just like your skin, your hair requires proper care to maintain its healthy glow. While a hair care routine can be as simple as applying shampoo and conditioning, there are several techniques and products that, employed correctly, can effectively reduce breakage and frizz, helping to banish your tonsorial woes.
We talked to experts from top hair care brands—Samuel Ma, educator at Moroccanoil; Diana Pratasiewicz, director of education at Ouai; and Prudvi Kaka, chief scientific officer at Deciem, the parent company of personal care label The Ordinary—for insights into how to put together a basic hair care routine.
Keep reading to learn about the correct order to apply hair care products, as well as tips to prevent hair damage and promote healthy growth.
What’s the correct order to apply hair products?
While it’s important to tailor your routine to your specific hair concerns, there are a few basic steps and essential products that will benefit all hair types.
1. Wash with lukewarm water
Don’t jump straight into applying your shampoo. Instead, start by rinsing your hair with lukewarm water for at least a minute to remove excess oil.
“Washing your hair with warm water will also further help open the cuticles, allowing the shampoo to penetrate deeper and eliminate the trapped debris and oil from the hair,” says Ma.
Before washing your hair, massage your scalp, which can help to promote blood circulation and enhance the strength of your roots.
“Our scalps also need regular exfoliating in order to avoid build-up of dead skin cells and product residue. A healthy scalp is the foundation for good hair growth, so I would highly recommend doing a scalp scrub twice a month as a pre-wash treatment,” says Pratasiewicz.
2. Shampoo sparingly
Put a dollop of shampoo on your palm with a little water and work it into a lather. Starting from the roots, massage gently with fingertips down to the ends of your hair.
“The scalp is the area that you should be focusing on when washing your hair,” explains Ma. “Make sure to apply shampoo to your entire scalp and take the time to massage it in circular motions.”
3. Condition correctly
Apply conditioner after rinsing your hair thoroughly. “Before applying conditioner, you should squeeze out excess water, because if the hair is too wet, the product won’t be able to penetrate or coat the hair strands,” says Pratasiewicz.
She also suggests not applying conditioner to the roots, as this can make the scalp greasy. Instead, apply it from mid-lengths of hair to the ends, areas that require the most nourishment, especially after colouring or heat styling. You can also use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the product more evenly and detangle your hair.
4. Rinse your hair again and blow-dry it
Next, thoroughly rinse off the conditioner with warm water to avoid product build-up in hair. Soak up excess water with a towel and make sure you don’t rub it vigorously, as this will lead to damage and frizz.
“In order to keep your hair healthy, use a leave-in conditioner to detangle, moisturise and provide heat protection to your tresses before blow-drying,” says Kaka.
What are the product ingredients that people with different hair types should look out for?
For dry and frizzy hair: According to Ma, argan butter is an excellent frizz-fighting ingredient that’s valued for its high concentration of vitamin E and essential fatty acids. It can help nourish and repair dry hair.
For fine hair: “Biotin, known as vitamin B7, can help improve hair growth, giving fine hair a boost in volume,” says Pratasiewicz. She also recommends using chia seed oil, which can deeply repair damage and adds fullness to hair.
For thick hair: “If you have thick, coarse hair, products with marshmallow root are ideal. It can help detangle hair and prevent it from coiling around itself,” says Pratasiewicz. Shea butter is also highly recommended, delivering deep hydration to the hair while acting as a sealant and keeping moisture locked in.
For oily hair: “Those with oily hair should opt for more clarifying shampoos and products that contain cleansing agents such as surfactants and sulphates to ensure effective removal of sebum and dirt from the scalp and hair,” suggests Kaka.
What are the don’ts of hair care?
Don’t overuse leave-in hair products
According to Ma, leave-in hair products should only be used on the lengths and the tips. A coin-sized amount of product is enough for thick, unruly hair; while a pea-sized amount is ideal for fine, thin hair, depending on your hair length. Be aware of how much product you use, because excessive quantities can lead to product build-up and scalp irritation.
Don’t brush wet hair
“When the hair is wet, the tensile strength of the strands decreases significantly,” says Kaka. “Don’t brush your hair when it’s wet because it can result in hair breakage. You should also make sure your hair is completely dry before brushing, blow-drying or heat styling.”
Read more: Untangling the Bald Truths About Hair Loss
More expert tips on how to improve hair health
1. Scalp care is key to hair health
Scalp care is often an overlooked step in any routine, says Kaka. Aside from choosing the right shampoo and conditioner that will work for your hair type and needs, maintaining optimal scalp health is essential to achieving hair health. Just like your skin, your scalp requires the same attention and adequate cleansing and moisturisation to ensure healthy hair growth.
2. Reduce the amount of heat styling
Excessive heat styling can take a toll on your hair, especially if your hair is thin, dry or prone to breakage. “Try limiting your blow-drying and heat styling sessions to give your strands ample time to recover in between each session,” suggests Pratasiewicz.
A quality heat protection spray is also an essential item in any routine, helping protect hair from further damage and frizz, she adds.
3. Deep conditioning treatments
Deep conditioning treatments will always benefit hair of all types or textures. If you find your hair isn’t cooperating lately, try to use a nourishing hair mask once a week to repair your dry strands, suggests Ma.