After a summer out in the sun, your hair can use a little pampering. The right hair products can help restore your locks after the rigors of the season.
"Sunlight is very damaging to the hair and very drying," says Julie Campbell, general manager of G Skin & Beauty Institute, a cosmetology school with campuses in Chicago, Naperville, Oak Brook and West Dundee, as well as Arizona and Nevada.
She advises a three-step hair product process for revitalizing hair: Start with a clarifying shampoo to clean off hard-water minerals and other dulling elements. Next, use a protein-based moisturizing conditioner, followed by a glaze.
"That is what I would recommend for a person going into winter in Chicago," agrees Irene Banister, coordinator of the Cosmetology Department at Harry S Truman College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. Truman trains students for careers in the beauty industry through coursework and experience in the school's full-service salon.
"Glaze," she explains, "is a coating that is put on the hair that closes the outside" of the hair shaft, helping to restore shine. Also called a "gloss," such products come in both clear and color-enhancing versions.
These are not steps you would take every day. Banister suggests glazing every six weeks.
Even regular shampooing and conditioning need not be a daily process, depending on your hair type.
"One of the hottest trends is dry shampoo or powder," says Campbell. When you don't have time to shampoo, or if you have oily hair that needs a lift before the end of the day, these products can give you a quick fix. Stick a can in your gym bag, she suggests, and use it to revive flattened locks.
If your hair is dull, shine sprays and drops can perk it up, Campbell adds.
Hair products go natural
An overall trend is hair color moving to more natural, understated shades this fall. "Blondette," a light chocolate brown with butterscotch highlights, is the season's hottest color, according to Campbell, and Banister says brunette and auburn are becoming more popular again, as well.
More and more companies are producing organic hair products now, adding to the natural focus. "Organic is huge," Campbell says.
Lengths are everywhere from short, pixie styles to long and swingy, while styles this season remain soft and tousled, "more lived in, natural, not that high maintenance," says Campbell. She adds, however, that looking like you did nothing to your hair can actually take more time than, well, doing nothing, if you want to look beautifully artless and not just messy.
"You try hard to look as if you didn't try hard," she says.
Banister says curls are coming back, too.
If you achieve those looks with a curling iron, Campbell strongly recommends heat-protection sprays before using hot tools on your hair. Banister notes that there are new kinds of titanium irons that are less damaging, helping to seal in moisture, as well.
You might also turn to the old-fashioned bonnet hair dryer, Banister says, using curlers for a slower, gentler way to get springy, long-lasting curls.
Products can help keep your hair looking good, but don't neglect the basic rule of hair care: Hair is protein, so eat healthful foods and take vitamins. "What goes inside is as important as what you put on the outside," says Banister, who recommends the widely available "hair, skin and nail" multivitamin formulas
And make sure you maintain your hair with frequent trims. "Get your hair shaped every five to seven weeks to get rid of split ends," Campbell says.
"Get your cut first," agrees Banister, or hair-care products won't help as much as they might.