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The battle for beautiful hair is not without its victims. It's ironic that the very things we do to add color, shine, and texture to hair can ultimately damage and destroy it. Here, we review the most common hair travesties -- and how-tos for damage control:
The problem: While changing your color often might be fun, the process of applying, taking out, and redepositing pigment to the hair is, in simple terms...damaging.
The solution: Always opt for a professional salon colorist when possible, especially if you're going from dark to blonde. One of the biggest problems with at-home coloring is overlapping -- recoloring all of the hair as opposed to just covering the regrowth -- which makes hair look dense and dull when it's dark, worn out and broken when it's blonde. If you are going to color at home, remember semipermanent colors are always less harmful than permanents. Look for formulas with low or no ammonia.
The best products: KMS Color Vitality Intensive Treatment Leave In, $9.99 Garnier Fructis Fortifying Deep Conditioner 3 Minute Masque, $3.39
The problem: A major misconception is that hair must be shampooed daily. Overwashing hair dries it out, which can cause breakage.
The solution: Clean does not always mean good condition. A shampoo every other day is more than enough. Instead of washing hair daily, simply rinse hair and condition. On the days when you do use shampoo, it is important that you choose one specifically for your hair type, as all shampoos are not created equal. Your scalp's natural oils are best for your hair, so after detangling hair -- best done with a Boar-bristled brush like Mason Pearson -- brush from roots to ends to distribute the natural oil throughout.
The products: Mason Pearson Handy Natural Boar Bristle Hair Brush, $125 Kérastase Nutritive Hydra Toning Shampoo, $17 Aveda Curessence Damage Relief Shampoo, $17
The problem: Uncut hair equals split ends and dry, damaged hair.
The solution: For optimum hair health, hair should be cut every 8-12 weeks. Keep split ends at bay by detangling the right way: When hair is wet, start brushing at the ends and slowly move up towards the roots. Otherwise you'll be tearing through tangles and knots, breaking hair as you go. Use a vent brush or wide tooth comb to minimize breakage. Elastic bands and hair clips are other culprits, especially clips with metal clasps as they actually saw hair in two with each snap. Try some leave-in conditioner on your ends to keep hair moisturized and less prone to breakage.
The best products: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Daily Nourishment Leave-In Fortifying Spray, $4.29 L'Oreal Vive Smooth Intense Conditioner for Dry, Frizzy or Rebellious Hair, $3.99
The problem: Gels, sprays, pomades, finishing creams...overdosing on styling products results in dulling buildup. Tools like hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons fry not only ends, but also the length of the hair shaft.
The solution: It's always best to work with your natural hair texture. When blow-drying, avoid holding the dryer too close to the hair; always keep it at least an inch away from the hair and never place it directly on the hair. Avoid pulling on the hair too much, as that causes breakage and frizz. Coat hair with a hair straightening serum, which will make drying easier and will seal out the humidity which causes frizz. Always keep dryer and flat iron moving so as not to overheat any section of the hair. Cut out the middle step altogether with the new wet-to-dry flat iron.
The best products: KMS Flat Out Relaxing Balm, $18.99 L'Oreal Studio Line Straight Up Ironing Gel, $3.19 Frédéric Fekkai Luscious Curls Curl Enhancing Lotion, $16.50 John Frieda Frizz-Ease Dream Curls Curl Perfecter, $5.79