10 Tips for your Best Hair Ever
By The LifeScript Editorial Staff
Monday, October 6, 2008
A good hair day can feel better than a new pair of heels or a designer
purse. What if you could walk out the door every day looking like you just
stepped out of a pricey salon? There’s no getting around the fact that hair
has a mind of its own, but with these 10 tips for healthier tresses, hotter
styles and smart product selection, you’ll leave your house with your best
1. Hairstyles for your face shape
“The shape of your face will absolutely determine what kind of style is or is
not going to work on you,” says celebrity hairstylist Mitch Stone of L.A.’s
Cloutier Agency. So before you go picking out hairstyles, you need to
determine your face shape:
1. First, measure your face horizontally, starting at the top of your
cheekbones. Write down that measurement.
2. Then, run the tape across your face at jaw level. Write down the
3. Measure the widest part of your forehead, just above your eyebrow
line, and record the measurement.
4. Finally, run the tape measure from your hairline to the bottom tip of your
chin, and record the measurement.
Oval face: Your face length is about 1½ times longer than the width. “With
this [shape], you can get away with just about anything, from super-short
hair to very long,” Stone says. Just avoid shags and styles with lots of
strands in your face.
Round face: Length and width are about equal. “Updos are good, just be
sure to leave some pieces down. I also like to cut into the hair in chunks, a
layering technique that offsets the roundness,” Stone says. Also, length is
important, and light bangs easily complement your face.
Square face: The widths of your forehead and jawline are about equal.
Try long layers, and give your hair some height with a teased updo and
loose curls. Stay away from chin-length bobs, full bangs and center parts
on dead-straight hair.
Heart-shaped face: The measurements across your cheekbones and/or
forehead will be the widest and your jaw will measure small and narrow.
Opt for a loose, layered look that won’t call attention to the bottom of the
face. Keep hair long or bobbed to shorten the length of the face. But avoid
2. Hungry hair
No amount of conditioner or vitamin-enriched emollient is going to repair
damaged hair. Instead, it’s what’s on the end of your fork that can revive
your strands, starting at the root.
Hair is made up of keratin, a hardened protein. Therefore, your hair needs
plenty of high-quality (complete) proteins, from either animal or plant
foods. Complete proteins are hard to come by if you’re a vegetarian, but
combining the right foods can help. These food parings make complete
proteins that your hair will eat up:
Grains + dairy: yogurt topped with granola, oatmeal with milk
Grains + legumes: rice and beans, peanut butter on whole wheat bread
Seeds + dairy: sunflower seeds on cottage cheese
Omega-3s nourish and moisturize dry, brittle hair and relieve an itchy
scalp. The best sources of dietary omega-3 are fatty fish, flaxseeds and
some varieties of nuts. Herring has the most omega-3 per serving,
followed by mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna.
Iron plays a starring role in oxygen delivery to all the body’s cells, including
hair. Eating too little of this mineral can cause iron-deficiency anemia,
which can contribute to hair loss. If you rely on plant foods for iron,
combine them with a vitamin C-rich food to promote absorption. Some
prime examples include:
Bell peppers with lentils
Broccoli with tofu stir-fry
Stewed tomatoes with beans
Orange juice with iron-fortified cereals, such as Total or Special K
3. Questions to Ask Your Hairstylist
How can you avoid the too-short bob, the impossible-to-style shag and
other shear horrors? Ask your hairstylist these four questions:
1. What are your credentials? All hairdressers should have a state
certificate showing completion of cosmetology school. One crucial
credential that can’t be proved with any certificate: a satisfied clientele. So
be sure to ask around.
2. How do I style it? When considering a new style, always keep your hair’
s texture in mind. Ask your hair guru for a hands-on styling lesson before
you leave the salon. Be wary of the product pusher who insists you
purchase every can of hairspray or tube of gel used during the
3. How short will it really be? Use a ruler to show how much you want
taken off, or physically take your finger to show the stylist where you want
your hair to hit. Also, arrive at the salon with your hair in its natural state
so your stylist can see the movement and natural wave (or lack thereof).
4. What’s included in the price? Does the cost of the haircut include a
consultation, shampoo and/or conditioner, scalp massage, and styling
lesson? And during your cut, pay attention. If your stylist starts blow-drying
or curling your hair and you’re not sure if the service is included, ask.
4. Your Best Hair Color
The trick to finding the right hair color is to complement, not match, your
skin’s undertones. Here are the three basic shades of undertones and
recommended hair colors for each:
1. Pink/blue undertones: Intense browns, reds or blonds work well for
the base color. Pick golden, ash or honey highlights for contrast.
2. Red undertones: Above all, avoid bright red tones. Don’t over-process
your hair or go too blond or too dark. Choose honey-brown or a golden
base color. Add caramel lowlights to give your hair a sun-kissed
appearance and make your skin appear less red.
3. Yellow undertones: Avoid a yellow or golden hair color, which will
make your skin look sallow. Instead, use a deep, rich base color like
intense dark chocolate, chestnut, mahogany, or auburn. Ask your stylist for
highlights in shades of cinnamon, red, burgundy, or dark copper, which will
help neutralize the yellow in your skin.
5. Making Hair Color Last
Following these upkeep secrets will help maintain longer-lasting hues and
highlights and prolong the time between your next visit to the salon or
Wash your hair only once every other day. If you can’t stand a little extra
grease, use baby powder to soak up the oils on days you don’t shampoo.
Use a shampoo and other products specifically formulated for color-
treated hair to maximize and maintain your results.
If you don’t want to have to frequently touch-up your hair because of
unsightly roots, choose a hair color that is 1-3 shades lighter or darker
than your natural hair color.
If you only part your hair on the left side, try parting it in the middle or on
the right. This exposes different sections of the hair to the sun, preventing
natural fading in only one area and helping your new hair color last longer.
6. Do-It-Yourself Dyeing
Want to save some serious cash? Follow these easy steps for at-home
1. Look for a formula that is conditioning, hypoallergenic or formulated for
brittle hair. Semi-permanent dyes are usually gentler than permanent hair
2. Test a strand of hair with the color to make sure you like it and aren’t
allergic to it. Don’t forget to use gloves.
3. Bleach your hair a few days before dyeing it if you want hair color
lighter than your natural shade.
4. Divide your hair down the middle into fourths: left to right and then front
to back. Pin back hair to allow access to the first quadrant. Once that
quadrant is completely saturated with dye, move to the next quadrant.
Once each quadrant is fully saturated, apply any remaining hair dye evenly
all over the head.
5. Once the dye has been in your hair for the recommended time, rinse
with cold to lukewarm water. Follow package directions for shampooing
hair. Many hair dye packages include a color setting formula that should
be applied with the first rinse. And don’t forget to use color-treated
shampoo and conditioner to extend the life of the color.
7. Stylin’ Hair
Whether you’re headed to the gym, a chic nightclub or a casual lunch date,
a well-styled ‘do will always turn heads. Try these three tips for gorgeous
hair, no matter what the occasion:
1. Sleek on top, wavy on bottom
Apply straightening balm to damp roots and then work curl-enhancing
lotion throughout the length of your hair. Blow-dry and then wrap sections
around a curling iron. Work with thick, two-inch sections to ensure that
your curls are soft and loose, not tight and springy.
2. Wild child
To vamp it up, first apply thickening spray to damp hair. Then blow-dry
gently on low heat, tousling your strands as you go. Once your locks are
dry, twirl random pieces around your finger and then wrap these twirled
pieces around the outside of a curling iron (don’t use the clamp). Toss your
head to separate the curls.
3. Polished ponytail
This childhood hairstyle is all grown up. First, apply smoothing cream (but
not too much to avoid greasy strands) to damp hair and blow-dry straight.
Slick your hair back and fasten the pony high on top of your head. Disguise
the elastic by tying on a satin ribbon or wrapping a thin piece of your own
hair up and around the band, then pinning in place.
8. The Right Hair Care Products
Your hair-care needs depend on the type, texture and chemical processes
your tresses have had.
In general, normal hair types have more choices. But if you have straight
hair, stay away from deep moisturizing products, which tend to make the
hair limp or heavy. Shine-enhancing products should be used minimally in a
spray form on straight or fine hair. And if you’re looking for a little extra
boost, use a volumizing spray or mousse at the roots only.
For oily hair, use a shampoo without added conditioners or moisturizers.
You probably don’t need to use a conditioner on a daily basis either.
However, long hair will benefit from some added moisture on the ends
where excess oils do not reach. Steer clear of product designed to control
frizz or add shine; these might be too heavy for oily hair.
Dry hair can use all the moisture it can get. Look for creamy shampoos
and conditioners enhanced with shea butter or jojoba oil. Anti-frizz
products or shine serums are great for curly heads. Coarse, thick hair can
also benefit from applications of oil or pomades; just be sure to choose
oils designed specifically for hair.
9. Home Remedies
Dry hair? Oily? Dull? Check out these home remedies for your hair:
Dry or Damaged Hair
Try this deep conditioning treatment from beauty guru Rona Berg’s Fast
Beauty: 1,000 Quick Fixes (Workman, 2005):
1. Mash an overripe avocado until it looks ready for guacamole.
2. Mix in one beaten egg yolk and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
3. Massage into damp hair, tuck strands under a shower cap and leave on
for 15 minutes to an hour.
4. Rinse, shampoo and condition as usual.
Here’s a tip from The Black Book of Hollywood Beauty Secrets (Penguin,
2006), co-authored by Kym Douglas:
1. Brew five bags of mint tea and allow it to cool.
2. Shampoo and condition (if necessary).
3. Pour the tea over your head as a final rinse.
The mint will act as a natural astringent, removing extra oil where you don’t
want it. If you need to de-grease on the run, saturate a cotton ball with
witch hazel and wipe your entire scalp, moving your hair out of the way as
you go. The witch hazel will absorb excess oil.
Combine the juice of one lemon with one cup of water. Use this concoction
as a final rinse after shampooing to brighten dull locks. Or try this trick:
Instead of your regular conditioner, massage two beaten egg yolks into
your hair, then rinse for instant sheen.
10. Avoiding Hair Loss
Are you losing your hair? Check out these hair-care culprits:
1. Don’t use a tight-toothed comb or densely bristled brush. These make it
more difficult to brush out wet or tangled hair and can pull hairs from their
roots or cause them to break along the middle of the shaft. Instead, use a
wide-toothed comb whenever you brush your hair.
2. Don’t wash your hair more than once a day. This strips hair of its natural
oils and causes your strands to become dry and brittle, which leads to split
ends and breaks along the hair shaft.
3. Don’t skip the conditioner. Use a leave-in conditioner daily and deep
condition once a week to keep strands hydrated.
4. Limit your usage of heat-styling tools, which dry out and permanently
5. Don’t get in the habit of always styling your hair in tight braids, ponytails
or buns. These ‘dos are major don’ts because they put strain on the root
of the hair and can cause breakage and hair loss. Alternate these types of
hairstyles with loose, free-flowing styles.
6. Bleaches, dyes, perms, and chemical straighteners all damage both the
hair and the scalp and can contribute to hair loss. If you must chemically
treat your hair, allow at least a few months between each session.
If you’re experiencing heavy hair loss, talk to your doctor. It could be a
side effect of certain medications, a medical disorder or natural hormonal
changes that occurs post-partum or during menopause.
Test Your Hairstyle IQ
You're up on all the latest hairstyle trends, are a whiz with a flat iron and
get touch-ups on your highlights every 6 to 8 weeks. But how much do you
know about the history of hairstyling - a complex, ancient art that has a
direct correlation with the hair politics of today? Test your tress smarts
with this hair quiz.