7 Things Women With Really Healthy Hair Always Do
I love getting compliments on my hair. It's not because I think I have better strands than anyone else, but rather I take it as a reflection of the hard work I put into keeping it at optimal health. First, I've never colored my mane, leaving it in a state stylists refer to as "virgin." Second, I treat my scalp care like skin care — hydrating and moisturizing it in a routine way (co-washes during the week to preserve my curls, deep-conditioning masks on Sundays).
Celebrity hairstylist and Dove ambassador Mark Townsend agreed with this philosophy when we met up at a recent event. "Would you ever skip moisturizer and sunscreen on your skin? No," he said. "You should never skip either conditioner, or at least like a leave-in cream."
You've seen his work atop the heads of A-listers such as the Olsen sisters, Dakota Johnson, and (my personal idol) Lea Michele. Being the hair junkie I am, I decided to quiz Townsend on all of his Hollywood secrets to getting truly beautiful locks. I discovered I was doing several things right (sleeping on a satin pillow case, not shampooing every day), and I also picked up some new hacks (such as using dry shampoo in lieu of hairspray). Keep reading, and start taking notes — you may have some hair homework to do!
Thou Shalt Sleep on a Sateen Pillowcase
"Cotton absorbs moisture — no matter how expensive or how high the thread count is," Townsend explained. "So it's going to steal the moisture from your skin and your hair while you sleep."
He recommends choosing a sateen (cotton coated in polyester) because it's cooler, so you won't sweat as much or tangle and roughen up the hair. Plus, he promises it makes a blowout last much longer.
Savvy Sleepers 100 Percent Satin Pillow Case in White Russian ($36), part of the October POPSUGAR Must Have box
Thou Shalt Not Shampoo Thy Hair Every Day
"No shampooing every day," Townsend warned. "It's too stripping on your scalp."
Here's what happens when you soap up: your scalp has to overproduce oil, which then makes your hair feel greasy, and you want to wash it again. It's a cycle, and once you break it, your grooming routine will get much easier.
Townsend recommends using shampoo every other day (or two days if you can stretch it!). "The rule is even if you get in the shower and wet your hair, massage your scalp just like you would with shampoo — but without the actual shampoo there," he's said. "That should be enough to break up the oils and let them slide down the hair cuticle where they're most needed."
Thou Shalt Not Skip Conditioner — Ever!
Be warned: even if you don't wash your mane every day (see above), you still have to condition it every time, according to Townsend. This is especially important for those with longer locks.
"Women are afraid of conditioner because they're afraid it's going to weigh their hair down, but the technology has moved in such a way that these are conditioners with real moisturizer in it," Townsend noted. "It's not just wax that sits on top of it."
Apply it on the midsection of the hair to ends, and let it sit for a few minutes to really work its magic.
Rahua Conditioner ($36)
Thou Shalt Use Natural Nut Oils as Treatments
"I'm a firm believer in natural oils, especially nut oils, because the physical molecules in macadamia, coconut, and almond oil can penetrate inside the hair," Townsend said. "Whereas argon, silicons, and other things sit on top of the hair."
Think about it: coconut water is one of the most hydrating liquids we can put inside our bodies, and coconut oil does the same thing topically for hair and skin. Choose the raw, unrefined kind from health-food stores for the best results. And get creative! You can mix your nut oils to create a power potion.
Townsend suggests using nut oil as a preshampoo conditioner. This means you apply it to dry hair (perhaps put a cap over it) and let it sit on the hair for at least 15 minutes. Then, jump in the shower and rinse your hair with shampoo and conditioner as usual. (This is what Townsend's client Mary-Kate Olsen does!)
Here's what I like to do: coat dry hair with coconut oil before bed, put it in a topknot, go to sleep, wake up, and wash it out. Poststyling, it looks like I just got a fancy, frizz-taming salon treatment!
Thou Shalt Brush Thy Hair Properly
You know the Drake quote, "Started from the bottom now we're here"? Well, it also applies to brushing your hair.
"Start from the bottom and work your way up," Townsend advised. "If you take your comb and brush straight down, you're pushing your tangles into one big tangle." It can also split the ends, which we now know is unrepairable.
Townsend's favorite detangling brush is the Harry Josh one. "I love that one because it's nice and soft," he added. "It doesn't snap the hair — it has a little give to it."
Thou Shalt Get Regular Haircuts
Good news: according to Townsend, you don't have to get a chop every six weeks. Rather, a haircut every three or four months is sufficient. "At least dust off a quarter of an inch because once the hair splits, you can never fix it," he warned. "You can only prevent it."
PS: your hair only grows a quarter of an inch to one inch a month. So if you have long hair, be aware that some of the bottom ends are really old and might need a trim.
Thou Shalt Swap Hair Spray For Dry Shampoo
Prepare to have your mind blown: Townsend prefers to use dry shampoo as a finishing product over traditional hair spray.
"I get more hold with dry shampoo," he explained. "It keeps hair so much softer. There's no alcohol in it, so it doesn't dry it out. I love touchable hair."
He advised using dry shampoo when you wear your hair down, but admitted that hair spray can be helpful for holding updos. "I only use hair spray for touch-ups where I need it," he noted. "I'll spray it on a mascara wand or natural-bristle toothbrush to put down flyways, but I don't like spraying it all over."
Bonus tip: Townsend even mists sections of hair with dry shampoo before using a hot tool on it. "It holds so much better than hair spray," he added.