Our skin pretty much steals all the beauty spotlight. According to Dianna Cohen, founder of the new hair-care brand Crown Affair, however, your hair deserves just as much attention. And in keeping with the less-is-more vibes reverberating through skin care, that doesn’t mean you need a routine stacked with multiple steps, you simply need a few hair care essentials that you can mix and match, depending on what your hair needs at a given moment.
“I’ve always nerded out about hair care, because your wellness routine includes your hair,” says Cohen of her passion for what she calls the “skin-ification” of hair care. “Like your skin, your hair goes through different phases in your life—if you’re going through a stressful time, it shows up in your hair as much as your skin.” As we know, stress really does cause hair to gray, and stress can sometimes even lead to hair loss. This is why creating a simple routine for your strands—something Cohen recommends for all—is key to leaving your hair looking nourished and less damaged.
Similar to skin, people have very different hair types (different textures, curl patterns, hair thickness) and lifestyle factors (such as how often you sweat or shower) that impact how you care for your hair. But Cohen swears that regardless of hair type, mixing up these four basic tools will lead you to a reliable, streamlined routine. Keep scrolling for the must-have hair-care essentials Cohen suggests for all.
First up is one of the most basic hair tools of all: the brush. “It’s the most fundamental and transformative tool, and everyone should have a handmade, high-quality brush for your pre-wash routine,” says Cohen. For straight or wavy hair types, brushing dry hair can help to add more volume and shine to your strands, while for curly or coily hair types brushing can help to detangle and prep hair for the shower. If your hair type is one of the latter, trichologist and chief scientist at Evolis Professional Dominic Burg, PhD, recommends only brushing before a shower—after detangling with a comb first—to distribute your scalp’s healthy oils down to the tips your strands.
“Getting these oils from the origin to your ends is important for hair health and helps to maintain the health of your ends,” he says. “After detangling, the hair should be sectioned into small bundles and brushed using wide-spaced bristles from root to tip.” Try something like the Goody Mixed Bristle Brush ($10) from a drugstore, or Briogeo Vegan Boar Bristle Brush ($22), both of which work on all hair types.
If your hair’s wet, it’s more prone to breakage, and Cohen points out that how you dry it matters. By blotting your hair or wrapping it up in a soft towel, it can help your hair air-dry more quickly if it’s on the thinner side or to retain moisture as you style it if it’s curly. “Using the same cotton towel that you use to dry your body can cause frizz and damage,” she says. This happens because thick, rough threads create friction against your hair and cause frizz. Instead, invest in a microfiber towel, which is much smoother for much less friction. “You don’t want to create tangles, so rather than rubbing, you should wrap your hair or gently pat dry with a quick-absorbing microfiber towel or turban,” says Dr. Burg. We like the Aquis Rapid Dry Waffle Long Hair Towel ($45) or the Devacurl Devatowel Anti-Frizz Microfiber Towel ($20).
Cohen believes that everyone should be hydrating their hair with a nourishing oil that functions like a serum for your skin. “If you are someone who needs a ton of hydration in your hair, like a type three or four, you can mix an oil in with a heavier conditioner to add even more moisture,” says Cohen of those with curly or coily hair types. If your hair is on the thinner, straighter side, hair oils applied to the ends can seal the cuticle to prevent damage, smooth frizz, and hydrate the hair. Play with how much product you use to find the right amount for you—try something like the Kerastase Elixir Ultimate Oil Serum ($50) or the Pantene Gold Series Intense Hydrating Oil ($8), and add into your everyday hair-care routine to prevent dryness and damage.
Incorporate a high-quality comb into your hair regimen to help spread product throughout your wet or damp strands or to detangle. “Your hair needs time to absorb the oils and proteins in a conditioner, and I find that using a comb in the shower is really helpful to distribute product and make me slow down my routine,” she says. If your hair is curly or coily, Dr. Burg recommends using a wide-toothed comb to “detangle and tease out any knots” when it’s wet. Crown Affair The Comb ($38) is a beautiful, display-worthy option, as is Cricket Ultra Smooth Coconut Detangler Comb ($5).
Also useful: Here’s how to know when to use a scalp scrub on your hair. And these are the best scalp serums to stock up on for a healthier scalp (which will also benefit your entire head of hair).
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