There's a lot of conflicting information about hair care—how often you're supposed to wash it and how often you should get a trim, for starters—but the truth of the matter is that these things often depend on your hair type, whether you color it, and even the water in your shower. (Yes, really. We'll elaborate on that in a bit.) Still, there are some universal best practices for healthy, shiny hair. We reached out to two of the top hair experts in the industry—colorist to the stars Sharon Dorram and Emmy-nominated hairstylist Alyn Topper—to get their takes on hair-maintenance guidelines. From the best at-home products to salon services and lifestyle tips, they share how to have gorgeous, healthy hair all year round.
Get your hair colored every four to twelve weeks.
This is a big gap of time, but that's because it's dependent upon the type of color you get. A single process is the highest maintenance because roots show quickly, so you'll need to have your hair colored every four to six weeks, Dorram says. (You can also come in after two weeks for a hairline touchup, she adds.) If you have highlights, get them done every six to twelve weeks—the timing really depends on how much your base color contrasts with your natural shade. "On average, it's every nine or ten weeks," Dorram says. The same touchup method also applies here—if you see roots that bother you after three weeks, go in for a hairline touchup.
Get a trim every eight weeks.
"If you think about it—especially if you have long hair—how long has that hair been on your head? It's probably been three to five years since it grew from the scalp, so if you don't get trims, there's no way it will look bouncy and fresh," Dorram says. Not to mention the fact that trims keep split ends away.
Wash your hair every second or third day.
If you shampoo too often, your scalp can become flaky and irritated, Dorram says. If you don't shampoo enough, you can clog the hair follicles—especially if you use a lot of dry shampoo—and that eventually leads to hair thinning and hair loss. Washing it every two or three days, depending upon how oily and thick your hair is, will keep it healthy and clean. "If you have a dry scalp, shampooing less allows the natural oils to flow down the hair to condition, protect, and add shine," Topper says. "Just brush your hair to help distribute the oils." And everyone should steer clear of shampoos with sulfates, as they strip the natural oils from your hair, causing it to become dry and brittle, he adds.
Give yourself scalp massages.
Proper blood flow to the hair follicles is important for growing healthy hair, Topper says. Try mini scalp massages two to three times daily to bring more blood flow to that area. He also uses Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Shampoo and Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Clinical Densifying Leave-In Root Treatment. "They remove excess buildup and residue from the scalp and help the hair appear thicker," he says.
Use a purifying shampoo weekly.
To eliminate product buildup, use a deep-cleaning purifying shampoo weekly. It will keep your hair looking full and your color vibrant, Dorram says. Try Virtue Refresh Purifying Shampoo or Christophe Robin Purifying Shampoo.
Keep a deep conditioning mask on hand.
Use a great moisturizing hair mask regularly, especially if you color your hair. Dorram likes Leonor Greyl Masque Orchidee. She also recommends pure vitamin E for severely brittle hair. "If it's really damaged, and you want to protect it before you get it colored, take straight vitamin E, put it on your hair and comb it through, then sleep with it in a bandana. Your hair will drink it up and it will be more elastic," Dorram says.
Invest in a showerhead filter.
If you notice your hair color turning brassy or dull a few days after leaving the salon, the water in your shower may be to blame. "It's really common, actually," Dorram says. "The minerals in the water can change your hair color. It becomes dull from the water pipes. To protect your color, try a water filter for your showerhead like T3 Source Showerhead Filter.
Use sun protectors in the summer and humidifiers in the winter.
Just as your skin undergoes a change between summer and winter, so does your hair. "In the summer, we tend to abuse hair more—swimming in salt water or chlorine, showering more often—and your hair will pay the price." Use moisturizing, UV-protecting sprays like Aveda Sun Care Protection Hair Veil. And in the winter, though we're inside more often, homes are drier from the heat, so Dorram recommends using a humidifier, which will benefit both your hair and your skin.
Treat your hair gently.
Using rough materials on your hair can cause breakage. "Always use a boar bristle brush, not metal," Topper says. "And a wide-tooth comb in the shower when your hair is wet, as wet hair is more vulnerable and easier to break. Comb out your hair section by section, starting at the ends and working your way up to the scalp." Also: use snag-free, fabric hair ties instead of rubber bands, and put your hair up with a scrunchie before bed since they don't pull or snag. "And never sleep with clip-in extensions! The clips can pull the hair while you toss and turn," Topper says.
Be conservative with heat-styling tools.
"Heat-styling tools stress out the hair and eventually dry it out," Topper says. "Dry hair becomes brittle and causes it to split." He recommends using styling tools that allow you to customize the temperature setting and says fine hair can be set at 285 to 330 degrees, medium hair can go up to 330 to 385 degrees, and coarse or thick hair can be set at 385 to 450 degrees.