Dear Scott: I can’t ever get my hair to look like it does when I leave the salon. Can you give me some simple pointers to help me make my hair look like the pros did it?
Answer: Keep in mind that you don’t have arms coming out of your back, so the results that you get at the salon are always going to be a little better than what you can do for yourself.
Shampoo: Start at the beginning with a top quality product. Gentle cleansing is a must for the best finished results. Natural oils produced by the body should remain contained within the hair shaft while excess oils are removed.
Condition: Great conditioning is the next step for shiny, healthy looking hair. A good conditioner will absorb into the cuticle. The rest should rinse off. To make hair more shiny, rinse conditioner with cool water to close the cuticle layer of the hair shaft, sealing the product inside. If your hair is thinning or fine, condition the scalp instead of the hair to promote healthy growth and prevent limp hair.
Style: Don’t forget to add something for hold and manageability as the third step for successful results. A healthy scalp needs to breath. Choose products that don’t coat the scalp. Styling products will create volume and distribute weight, allowing movement and memory to the style. Add heaviness to overly curly hair with a styling paste. Foaming mousse will provide lighter hold for airy whips. Use a gel for stronger holding power. Gel-foam products give you the best of both in one easy step.
Heat: Dry hair immediately. Air drying will cause the base of hair to become distorted from drying flat against the head. Blow-drying will lift the hair up off the scalp, adding fullness and volume. Tabletop dryers give air-dried looks without the frizz. They can also be used to dry curly hair straight. Comb the hair flat before drying, and then fluff it at the end with a blow dryer. If drying without heat, use a T-shirt to wrap the hair up while it dries. Terrycloth towels cause distortion from the hair getting caught in the fibers of the towel.
Finish: Aerosol finishing is best for the final touch. Non-aerosol spritzing products increase dry time, making the style either collapse or explode into frizz. An aerosol spray needs some alcohol for the quick-drying needed for a good finished look, but too much alcohol will dry the hair. Spray should be water soluble. Use a product that will not coat the hair or scalp. Any leftover residue will complicate your styling efforts the next time around. Spray into the brush for added styling control.
Touch-ups: Wet your hands and shake out the excess water. Run your fingers through the hair to reactivate the styling products that are already in there. For fuller styling, turn your head upside down and rake through it with the water in your fingers. For tighter styles, smash it down and rake it out with your hands after it’s dry.
Scott Terwilliger is an Aiken salon owner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.