Frizz, gray hair, the dreaded growing-out phase? You asked your most pressing hair questions and we got answers.
“I’m trying to do something with my hair that makes me look younger. Should I change the color, get bangs, or cut it short?”
Bangs hide wrinkles on the forehead and make you seem more youthful. Long side-swept fringe is the most versatile. Short hair is a no no! That tends to mature people—plus, wearing your hair the same way every day is aging. Instead, go for hair that just hits the collarbone, with long layers. You’ll be able to pull it into a ponytail—and wearing different styles makes you look younger. Also, if your skin has gotten pale or sallow with age, try warming things up with golden highlights and a rich base color—just don’t stray too far. The most flattering base shades re-create the color and depth that you used to have.
“What is the best way to grow out a short pixie cut to shoulder length?”
Let it grow for four months before getting a cut. While you do, try tucking it behind your ears and sweeping your bangs to the side. If your hair starts to look puffy, brush it forward or off to one side, and avoid blow-drying. At four months, ask your hairdresser to even it up by cutting the back to create a bob, or to make the back a little shorter than the front—that will make your hair appear longer than it is. After another four to six months, add long layers in the back and cheekbone-length ones in the front. Another trick is to pin your hair up, then people just assume that it’s long.
“I have color-treated hair that is prone to breakage. How can I prevent both that and color fading at the same time?”
If your hair breaks easily, it’s probably either very fine or has been overly bleached and lost its elasticity. Hair color always fades eventually, but it will fade more quickly when hair is damaged. To keep it from becoming more porous and brittle, avoid bleach, shampoo infrequently, and only get highlights every eight weeks. Try not to heat-style more than a few times a week, and always use a protective product. Add strength and moisture by using a conditioning treatment with natural oils once a week and trade in your regular shampoo and conditioner for ones that are enriched with protein. Also, drink plenty of water, and take a biotin supplement. It can take up to six months to see results, but it works.
“My hair is oily at the roots, but dry at the ends and has no volume. The more I style it, the drier the ends get, but the more I condition, the roots get oilier. Ideas?”
You’re probably shampooing every day, and that can strip away natural oils, so your scalp overproduces oil to make up for it. Shampoo every other day instead, and follow with conditioner on just the middle to the ends of your hair. We are also firm believers in dry shampoo. It absorbs the oil that flattens the hair, so it takes care of greasiness and adds volume at the same time. Aim the nozzle at the roots, holding it eight to ten inches away, too close makes the hair look white, and then brush the powder out after a few seconds. Finally, use a light leave-in conditioner on dry hair from the mid-shaft down – it will moisturize without compromising volume.
“My thick, straight hair gets frizzy no matter what I do. I have never had it dyed, highlighted, or relaxed. I shampoo and condition once a day, and I rarely use blow dryers or irons. What can I do? I’m desperate!”
Some people think that leaving their regular conditioner in the hair instead of rinsing it out can prevent frizz, but that will actually dry out the hair. Instead, use a frizz-fighting cream. They are heavier than a serum, so it will coat the hair and weigh it down to prevent frizz. Work a nickel-size amount through damp hair from roots to ends, using your fingers or a wide-tooth comb. If your hair still gets frizzy during the day, use a quarter-size amount the next time. Then blow-dry your hair smooth with a big round brush; a natural boar-bristle brush is better than a nylon one, which just rips through the hair and can make it fuzzy. Work your way from the bottom layers up—otherwise, you risk making the top frizz. You’re better off not flat ironing your hair every day, because it can cause damage. But if it’s humid, zip a flatiron through the hair to make it look silky.
“My long, curly hair is triangular. What do I tell my stylist so that I can get a modern cut without looking like an ’80s rocker?”
Short layers on curly hair can cause that triangle look. In the front, layers should hit at an angle under the cheekbone, and then drop down to long layers by the breast so that the curl is all around the perimeter of the face instead of looking puffy at the top. In the back, you want longer, blunt layers so the hair drops down in softer waves.
“I’m trying to grow my hair long, but I get a lot of split ends. How can I get rid of them without losing length?”
Every 10 to 12 weeks, ask your stylist to trim just the split ends; some will even do it as part of a blowout. I know every product in the world claims to repair split ends, but that’s really hard to do. Plus, a lot of those products are so heavy, and there’s nothing worse than greasy split ends. We prefer leave-in creams. Rub a little bit just over the split ends to hold them together temporarily. That should last for about six hours, so carry the cream in your purse for touch-ups.
“My brown hair has already started graying (I’m 22). What’s the best way to cover the strays?”
Semi-permanent color is an easy way to blend away grays without much commitment. It fades after four to six weeks, so you won’t have obvious roots. Pick a shade that matches your natural hair color by looking at the swatches on the box; they’re more accurate than the picture on the front, but a lot of people don’t realize that. Finding at-home color that matches light blonde and red hair can be trickier, so look for a brand that offers lots of different shades. Apply the dye over the whole head. Don’t worry about only covering up the gray strands—that’s difficult to do and not really necessary. If you need an immediate fix, you can cover a few grays temporarily with a root touch-up pen, but we usually prefer using a loose matte eye shadow. Pick one that’s close to your hair color, and use a wet shadow brush to dab it on the roots.
“I lightened my brown hair but want my natural color back. Can I darken it with an at-home color kit?”
It’s not as easy as slapping on some brown dye, but with these pointers, you can get your natural color back. When you bleach your tresses, you strip away the rainbow of tones (bits of red, yellow, and blue) that make up a rich brown hair hue. So you have to put those colors back in to re-create the vibrancy. To do this, pick out a semi-permanent hair-color kit in a warm brown shade (look for the word golden in the shade name). Let the dye process for as long as the directions indicate, then rinse out. After your hair dries, apply another semi-permanent dye that matches your roots exactly. This should bring you back to your beautiful natural hue.
“Help! The stylist cut my hair shorter than I wanted! How can I tweak it until it grows out?”
Hair grows about half an inch per month. In the meantime, disguise your do with accessories and styling products. Here, some of our tress tricks:
If your bangs went from long to super short, the best solution is to sweep the barely there fringe to either the right or left side of your forehead, then secure it with a decorative bobby pin.
If you wanted long, sexy layers but your stylist gave you short, chunky ones, experiment with different styling products to create an edgy effect. To do, distribute a dime-size amount of texturizing cream to damp hair, then blow-dry using your hands to tousle your mane. Next, smear a pea-size amount of pomade onto fingertips and run over ends of hair to create a slightly separated, funky look.
If you asked for a shoulder-length bob but walked out with hair that barely grazes your chin, go for a super chic, slicked-back do. Just rub a dime-size dab of gel between palms, then rake hands through hair, slicking all of it behind your ears and against the nape of your neck.
“I’m an African-American with relaxed shoulder-length hair. I want to grow it longer, but it’s very damaged. Any tips?”
The chemicals used to relax kinky locks can leave them brittle and sapped of moisture, which can lead to split ends and breakage, making it a challenge to grow them out. To nurse your hair back to health and keep it strong, follow this moisturizing regimen: First, be sure to use a gentle hydrating shampoo that won’t strip away your hair’s natural oils. Follow with a thick, creamy conditioner to boost your strands’ strength and help seal split ends.
Too much heat from a blow dryer, curling iron, or straightening iron will hurt your fragile tresses even more, so always apply a protective styling cream first. Finally, even though you’re trying to grow out your hair, it’s important to get a trim every four to six weeks to keep any dead ends from splitting all the way up your hair shaft.
“My hair is fried from the sun. Any tips?”
If summer fun has wreaked havoc on the health of your hair, pamper your tresses back to their prime with this daily at-home conditioning routine: Mix equal parts of a scalp-soothing mint-oil conditioner and a shampoo made for your hair type. Suds up with this mane-moisturizing concoction, and rinse thoroughly. Follow with a deep conditioner, rubbing the ends of your hair as you let it soak in for a few minutes. Rinse, and apply a leave-in conditioner with sunscreen to shield your strands from do-damaging UV rays.