But enough about us. Let’s talk about you and your ‘do. Your lettuce. Your head fur. (No? Not a thing, head fur?) There are a few simple steps you can take to make it look good in the short term, and make it last in the long term. They’ll also cover you in the medium term, which nobody seems to talk about. We considered sharing these steps as a list of “’Do Dos and Don’ts” but we won’t have you making light of this important subject by secretly cracking up at the words “doo-doo.”
So without further ado…
1. Play It Cool
Hair dryers can do amazing things. They help set your hair in the exact style you want it, they get rid of wrinkles when you don’t have time to iron clothes, and they help eliminate the evidence when you spill your beer on the couch. But they also have a penchant for damaging hair – the very hair they’ve been sworn to protect. One way to spare your hair dryer from the crippling guilt of this is to use it on cool settings only. Yes, we know it’s tempting to fire that sucker up to maximum heat for blazing fast-drying action. But the side effect of this superspeed is often dull, frizzy hair and split ends.
So slow your roll and stick with your dryer’s cool mode, and you won’t get burned. Otherwise, prepare for a quick trip to Splitsville – Population: Your Hair.
Bonus Tip: Make sure your hair is only damp, not wet, when you start blow drying. Wet hair will get damaged more easily than damp hair. Why? See directly below.
2. Stand Pat
Think you’re in the clear because you don’t use a hair dryer? That was presumptuous.
Hair’s main component is a protein called keratin. Water can weaken keratin molecules. This means hair is more fragile when it’s wet – which is precisely the time guys are usually smashing, yanking and rubbing at it with a towel. This ham-fisted hatchet job can cause breakage. And the damage gets worse if your hair is already thinning or not quite what it used to be (and really, are any of us what we used to be?). So instead of the ol’ Rush n’ Rub when it comes time to dry, try something new: the Stand and Pat.
Just take a few extra moments to gently pat your hair dry with a nice soft absorbent towel. As we like to say around here, your hair would thank you, if it could talk.
Bonus Tip: If your hair does talk, consider giving it its own YouTube channel, or at the very least a weekly podcast.
3. Know the Over/Under
Don’t overdo the shampoo. Excessive shampooing can strip natural oils and damage your hair and scalp. If you have dry or coarse hair, try skipping at least a day of shampooing per week. Also, consider using a shampoo that hydrates while it cleans, like our HydroBlast Moisturizing Shampoo. But if you have oily hair, shampooing once a day is still best, as long as you use a shampoo designed for daily use like our Active Man Daily Shampoo. Both shampoos have botanicals like coconut oil, aloe vera and honey that help retain moisture and repair hair.
At the same time, don’t under use your conditioner. A lot of men shampoo every day, but they only condition sometimes, or even not at all. But most experts agree men should be conditioning daily. Your hair’s protective outer shell – the cuticle – is less likely to crack and split when you keep it moisturized and protected. Good conditioners will assist in that protection, often with the help of hard-working botanicals.
4. Use Less, Get More
Continuing our theme of moderation, another common mistake men make is using too much product when we style our hair. We can’t help ourselves. We like bold, attention-grabbing moves. It’s one of the reasons “Go big or go home,” is a more popular saying than “Act with moderation and proceed incrementally.” But if you want a guiding principle of hairstyling, the latter is the way to go.
A little bit of styling product can go a long way on your hair. Try starting small and taking good look at the results before deciding to use more. Not only will it help you maintain a more natural look; it will also help you avoid the heavy, greasy buildup that hair can get from overzealous use of styling products.
5. Eat Right and Exercise
Argh! Not that again. Why can’t just one advice list urge you to eat junk and sit on your duff?
Sorry, not this time. What’s good for your body, is generally good for your hair. For example, keeping your body hydrated by drinking lots of water also helps keep your hair hydrated. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish and nuts that are good for your heart, are also good for your scalp. And protein-rich foods that nourish your muscles will also nourish your hair, which itself is mostly protein.
Meanwhile, exercise will increase your blood flow and help deliver all those nutrients you’ve been consuming straight to your scalp, where they can feed your hair and help it keep growing healthy and strong, year after year, so that it stays around for a long time – maybe even long enough for “head fur” to become a thing.
Bonus Tip: Stress tightens the scalp and can cause hair thinning. Massages can de-stress and boost circulation to the scalp, encouraging hair growth. So go get a massage. Go on.
This article first appeared on Blackwood for Men