* When you wash your hair, take more time washing your scalp than the ends of your hair. Hair ends donít get all that dirty (unless youíve got large doses of styling products layered over them), but the scalp can get oily and accumulate dead skin cells that need to come off. In addition, the scalp can almost always benefit from a massage, which will increase healthy circulation and help the hair thatís developing in the follicles.
* Conditioners that claim to deeply penetrate work only if thereís enough time and heat for them to be absorbed into the hair shaft. Most women who apply a conditioner in the shower never leave it on for longer than 1 or 2 minutes. Thatís fine, but donít expect the hair to soak it up. If you have damaged hair, it is very important to leave the conditioner on for as long as possible.
* Too much conditioner or conditioner that isnít thoroughly rinsed out can make hair go limp. Using a shampoo that contains conditioning agents plus a conditioner can result in buildup on the hair, making it heavy and lifeless. Generally, a shampoo with minimal or no conditioning agents at all is best, and then use your conditioner only where you need it, not necessarily all over or near the roots and scalp.
* Be careful to thoroughly rinse shampoo out of your hair. Leaving traces of detergent cleansing agents behind can make hair sticky and flat, not to mention serve as a source of scalp itching and irritation.
* The longer you leave a dandruff shampoo on your hair, the more effective it will be.
* Apply shampoo and conditioner by first spreading it over your hands and then smoothing it over the hair. Placing one big dollop in the middle and then working it through the hair wastes product and roughs up the hair more than necessary.
* When in doubt, use products designed for your hair type. Unless you have truly normal hair, undesignated products are not for everyone. There is no such thing as the perfect hair-care product for any hair type. Someone with coarse, dry hair has very different needs from someone with thin, healthy hair.
* Every now and then, take your brush and comb into the shower with you and give them a good shampooing. Styling products, conditioners, and your own oil can cling to brushes and combs, transferring some of the grime back to your clean hair. Remove the excess hair and go for it. For a more thorough cleansing, or if you have dandruff, soak them in a solution of diluted bleach; about three tablespoons to a quart of water should be enough to kill whatever may be lurking around or between the bristles.
* When using a blow dryer, hair is easier to style and control when it is damp but not wet. When it comes to blow drying, hair can be fickle. It takes some experimentation to find out how damp your hair needs to be to get the best smoothness. It is also less damaging to hair to blow it dry with a styling brush when it is slightly dry; wet hair is more vulnerable to damage than dry hair.
* Always dry the root area first. This will provide the most fullness and control the basic shape of the style youíre trying to achieve.
* Never use a curling iron on wet or damp hair. The heat from a curling iron can easily exceed the boiling point of water. The water content inside the hair shaft can actually boil if you apply a hot curling iron to it, and cause serious breakage and damage in that spot.
* When blowing your hair dry, do the roots first. Drying the roots up and away from the direction you want will achieve fullness and create the foundation for the rest of the hairstyle. Once the roots are done, you can smooth or curl the rest of the hair. If you leave the roots until last, they may already have dried in a direction you didnít want them to go, making them harder to shape. The length of the hair is easier to manipulate even if it is somewhat dry.
* Wet or damp hair is more vulnerable to losing its shape. It is best to blow your hair all the way dry and not leave any wetness, not even a little. Unless partial natural movement is what you are after, blow the entire head completely dry in order to keep the style in for as long as possible.
* If you have the time, alternate using hot air and cool air while blow drying. Heat forms the curl or smoothness, and the cool air helps keep it there.
* To help prevent hairspray from flaking off in white specks, apply it at least six inches away from the hair. A concentrated blast can make the polymers and resins go on too thickly, causing a stiff, matte bond that can lead to flaking.
* Never backcomb or tease hair. It is damaging, plain and simple, and there is no way around this one. It also looks dated and robs hair of its natural luster, especially if your hair is dyed.
* Do not use rubber bands. Use only soft fabric tie-backs for your hair. Rubber bands or anything that pinches hair is chipping away at the cuticle, and when you remove a rubber band, it takes lots of hair with it.