There's a saying that states you learn everything you need to know in life in Kindergarten. I’ve always found this saying a little silly - of course, you don’t learn to balance your checkbook or interview for a job in Kindergarten! But as I raise my own children, I’m realizing that there may be more truth to this statement than I realized, at least when it comes to very basic life skills.
Around Kindergarten age, we learn how to brush our teeth, dress ourselves, bathe ourselves, and what sounds like one of the easiest of all - wash our hair. What can be so complicated about slathering on some shampoo and conditioner and rinsing it out? Seems pretty simple, at least in theory. But at 33 years of age, I’ve finally learned that there is much more to it.
I’ve been guilty of subscribing to the theory that shampoos and conditioners aren’t as effective with continued use and that after a while, switching brands is the key to success. Like with many others, my shower has contained at least three different brands of shampoo and conditioner at the same time. I would switch to a new product almost every time I washed, thinking that's what I needed to do to prevent my hair from getting flat, weighed down, dull - you name it.
But then my husband pointed out - whether trying to be helpful or just getting tired of all the shower clutter - that if I kept switching-up the products I used, I would never be able to figure out what worked for me and what didn't. And he was absolutely right.
So what's a girl to do when she is trying to figure out the best products for her hair and budget? Consult with her stylist, of course, which is exactly what I did. What I learned was two-fold: it's not only about finding the right products for your hair type, but also about the technique and tools you use to cleanse, condition and style your hair.
I've always marveled at how much I LOVE how my hair looks and feels after leaving the salon. How clean and weightless it felt, how smooth it was, how shiny it looked. Even when I used the same products at home that my stylist used on me in the salon, my hair never felt as good as it did when I left my appointment. It's the age-old question - why can't I get salon quality results in the comfort of my home?
As my stylist explained, using quality products that properly address your specific hair woes is an important step. So when your stylist is telling you about what he or she used on your hair, it's not just about trying to make a sale - it's also about helping you achieve your hair goals.
The same holds true about your styling tools - any time you apply heat to your hair, you run the risk of causing damage. Using a quality blow dryer, flat- or curling iron in tandem with styling products that provide heat protection, and brushes or combs that won't put unnecessary stress on your strands, are all critical to protecting your hair as you style.
None of these are big shockers - at least, they weren't to me. I've heard this before and have tried my best to heed this advice. (On a personal note, I learned the hard way how important a good blow dryer is when I left mine behind during a trip to Europe and had to use the in-room dryers - what a fuzzy mess!)
What was surprising to me was learning that there's a right and wrong way to use shampoo and conditioner. Wait, what? You mean when Mom taught me how to wash my hair in the tub all those years ago, she was wrong?!? Apparently so.
Have you ever noticed how much time you spend at the bowl as you're getting prepped for your cut and style? If you're like me, you used that precious down-time to relax and doze a bit - I have young children, I take sleep moments anywhere I can! So I never really paid attention to all the steps taken, but when I did, I realized there is much more to this than I realized.
First, my hair was wet thoroughly, not haphazardly as I often do in the shower - under the water for just a few seconds - but really really wet, moving the water all around to make sure that every strand is soaked.
Next, shampoo is worked in, not just applied on top and rinsed, but actually worked in each strand from root to tip, ensuring that every hair is gently cleansed and the scalp has a proper wash as well. Then it's time for a rinse, not a quick one, but a good long rinse where again, the water is moved all around to make sure shampoo is completely washed away.
Another thing that happens at salons but rarely happens at home is the old rinse-repeat. There's a reason this is recommended for optimum results, and it's all about a quality wash as well as a way to stimulate the scalp. Not only does a rinse-repeat wash make sure you've done a good deep clean on your hair, but the extra time spent massaging shampoo at the root also stimulates the scalp, washing away excess dirt and grime that can clog pores. The cleansing process is finished off with a rinse, then even more rinse, from root tip and all points in between.
If you're not asleep by the time your hair is washed, you should really pay attention to the conditioning step. Most stylists start by pumping conditioner into their hands and working it through the hair, starting at the scalp. Again, a gentle scalp massage helps to stimulate while also working the moisturizing benefits deeply into the roots.
Conditioner is then worked through the hair, slowly and methodically, making sure that product is distributed evenly and that no strand is left over- or under-saturated. My stylist then pampers me with a neck massage, lasting 3-5 minutes, giving the conditioner time to work its magic.
Next is more rinsing - then more rinsing, working the water throughout the hair to make sure there is nothing left behind but soft, healthy hair. Most high quality conditioners will rinse away easily without leaving any residue behind, but a long, thorough rinse will ensure no troublesome build-up will remain to weigh down hair.
So that's how it's supposed to be done! Do you feel overwhelmed? How does anyone have time for this as a part of their daily routine?
With that in mind, I asked my stylist how I could cut some corners to save myself a little time. She told me very honestly that I could cut as many corners as I wished, but by doing so, I would also cut into my goal of having a salon-quality result.
Basically, my lazy routine produced lazy results - go figure! Just as sub-par products can strip hair and/or leave behind residue that makes hair dull and flat, a lackluster cleansing and conditioning routine will most assuredly give you lackluster hair.
The bottom line is, I can get salon quality results at home, but it takes commitment. I've stepped up my game with good quality products and tools that work well for my hair type. I've invested in them, and now I'm trying to learn how to invest in me.
That means telling myself it's ok to take a long, relaxing shower, so that I can treat my hair right. This extra time has also helped me learn to let go of some stress, to enjoy a little self pampering, and to focus my mind so that when I'm ready to start my day, I do so with a better attitude that comes from not feeling so rushed and disheveled.
In a perfect world, I could do this every time I shower, but when are things ever perfect? I do it when I can, and I'm happy to say that it shows, in my hair and in my self confidence.
- This blog entry was written by one of our fabulous Lubricity Labs Team Members
One of the most commonly-asked questions that Dr. Clark and staff receive at Lubricity Labs is from people asking how they can best care for their curly hair. Some prefer to straighten their curls, while others want the freedom to wear their hair curly. But whatever style they are seeking, they all want a frizz-free and fabulous final look that will last.