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Hair Repair: How to Get Strong, Shiny Hair

What’s Your Hair Type?

More than half of women don’t know what kind of hair they have, and they use the wrong styling products as a result, says Jeni Thomas, PhD, Pantene senior scientist. Figure out where your strands stand with this easy guide.

You have fine hair if… it automatically falls into a part when wet or your strands look thin and delicate. Fine hair is typically straight or wavy.

You have medium-to-thick hair if… it takes more than 20 minutes to blow-dry. Medium-to-thick hair, which can be straight, wavy, or curly, is the most common type.

You have coarse hair if… one strand makes a sound when you roll it between your fingers. Coarse hair feels rough and can be straight, curly, or kinky.

Mane Mission: Sleekness

Frizz occurs when individual strands stray from the pack as hair is exposed to humidity.

Tress test: Turn your bathroom into a steam room: Close the door and run hot water in the shower. If after five minutes your strands start to swell, tame them with these tricks.

Add hydration. Moisture may seem like public enemy number one, but frizzy strands are actually dry. They lack fatty acids that retain water, says Nathaniel Hawkins, a celebrity hairstylist in New York City. To strengthen your hair, apply an oil treatment, like Matrix Sleek Silk Wonder Smoothing Oil , to dry strands before you shampoo.

Dry completely. Leaving hair damp encourages frizz to form because any moisture can make your style revert to its natural state, Hawkins says. No time for a thorough blowout? Apply mousse and let hair air-dry almost completely while you get dressed. Then smooth it with a blow-dryer for a few minutes to polish strands.

Get perma-sleek. Pro smoothing treatments can make you silky for months, but many come with a hefty price tag and potentially toxic formaldehyde. Yikes! Stick to safe at-home alternatives that de-frizz with keratin, which helps fill in porous spots so your strands lie flat. Try John Frieda Frizz-Ease 3-Day Straight.

Mane Mission: Manageability

If you have long hair, tangles can also be signs of damage. Anytime hair is weak, the potential for knot-caused breakage increases, says Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York City.

Tress test: Put your hair in a bun during a workout. If you can’t run your fingers through it when you let it down afterward, try these tips.

Start at the bottom. Combing wet hair from the roots will only push tangles farther down the shaft. Instead, start from the ends and work your way up. Mist stubborn spots with a leave-in conditioner; we like It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product.

Braid for impact. Winter winds can kick up more knots. According to a Tresemmé survey, 52 percent of women are likely to throw in the towel when styling their hair on a windy day. Before stepping out, work hair into a tight braid to protect it.

Mane Mission: Volume

According to Matrix hair care, 42 percent of women say their hair lacks fullness. Common body snatchers include hormonal changes (such as those that occur with pregnancy), a chilly climate (winter air can leave hair limp), and age (hair’s density peaks in your teens).

Tress test: Flip your head down and fluff your roots with your fingers. If your hair falls flat when you flip your head back, here’s how to bodybuild.

Shampoo daily. “Clean hair has more volume,” Cunnane Phillips says. Zap buildup with a gentle cleanser made for fine strands.

Condition correctly. To find a product that moisturizes without making hair too soft, dab a little on your finger. “The best formulas for fine hair feel almost tacky,” says Hawkins, who suggests Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Clay Conditioner.

Plump up all over. “Don’t settle for volume only at your crown,” Hawkins says. Squirt a generous amount of mousse (think golf ball size) in your hands, flip your hair over, and distribute the product evenly from roots to ends.

Mane Mission: Shine

Radiance is the ultimate sign of hair health. When its cuticles are flat, hair is reflective, says Charles Baker Strahan, a celebrity stylist for Herbal Essences.

Tress test: Grab a hand mirror and stand by a window to examine clean hair in natural light. You should notice a band of light that spans your head. Don’t see it? Get glossy with these easy tweaks.

Handle with care. Treat your hair like your favorite cashmere sweater: Avoid any friction. Blot hair dry rather than vigorously rubbing it with a towel. When blow-drying, Jet Rhys, a salon owner in San Diego, suggests that you use the nozzle attachment to concentrate the air down the hair shaft — the direction in which the cuticle lies.

Do a detox. Styling products can leave behind a milky residue that regular shampoo can’t cut through. For a deep clean that won’t strip hair of its natural oils, mix one tablespoon each of lemon juice and vinegar with a dollop of your regular shampoo. Lather for about two minutes and rinse thoroughly. If you need extra sheen, mist your hair with Aussie Heat Protecting Shine Spray  before blow-drying.

Mane Mission: Strength

Each strand of hair is built tough: The outer layer protects the cortex within. But over time, environmental factors and heat styling can wear down the outer layer.

Each strand of hair is built tough: The outer layer protects the cortex within. But over time, environmental factors and heat styling can wear down the outer layer.

Get flexible. Put some spring into brittle strands with a weekly mask that has essential fatty acids, Hawkins says. Try Organix Ever Straight Brazilian Therapy Masque.

Serve up protein. Eating lean meats, beans, and eggs will help nourish your hair at the root, Cunnane Phillips explains. Applied topically, protein bonds to porous spots, making strands sturdier. Try Pantene Split End Repair Crème.

Lower the heat. “Blow-dry or flatiron, but don’t do both,” Rhys says. Are you a flatiron fanatic? Try one slow pass rather than several quick ones, suggests Sam Villa, education artistic director for Redken Fifth Avenue.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2012.


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