24 Hairstylist Secrets That Will Make Every Day a Good Hair Day
Small hair tips that make a big difference
Every day can be a fantastic hair day—yes, every day. How, exactly? The secret lies in learning a few easy hair tips from the experts. Hairstylists, with their vast experience, have a deep understanding of what it takes to keep your locks looking healthy, bouncy and beautiful. Of course, they know the right products and the best hairstyles for you, whether you’re over 40 and want to look younger or you just want a flattering hair color. But perhaps their biggest secret is knowing how to make tiny tweaks that make a huge impact.
“As stylists, we look at hair care as a series of manageable actions that, when combined, result in hair that has sheen, body and a certain vibrancy,” says hairstylist Devin Rahal, founder of Devs Does Hair in Brooklyn, New York. “It’s not about grand transformations, but rather small, smart tweaks that really pay off.”
We asked top pros to share their tips and tricks so you can apply this info on a daily basis—and avoid some common hair mistakes along the way. This is hair-care wisdom at its best, and with this expert know-how, achieving and maintaining salon-fresh hair at home will become your new normal.
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Minimize washing to maximize color
If you color your hair, you know it can be a real challenge to maintain the vibrancy of the shade. According to celebrity hair colorist Sharon Dorram, owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger NYC, the answer lies in washing every few days rather than every day.
“Even though your dye is permanent, shampoo combined with water can still strip some color off your hair cuticle,” she says. Research shows that sulfate-based shampoos, in particular, can cause color to fade faster; they open up the hair cuticle, allowing some of the color to escape. When you do wash, pick a sulfate-free shampoo and use cooler water, which is less likely to open up the cuticle. On the non-hair days when you still want to wash off, Dorram suggests wearing a shower cap to protect your strands from the moisture.
Tame flyaways with hairspray
One of the most common hairstyle mistakes? Thinking serums will prevent those annoying hairs that seem to have a mind of their own. “While serums are great to help with frizz in general, frizz is different from flyaways,” says MariLynne Cosmillo, a professional hairstylist in New York and founder of the hair-care line hOURS. “Serums nourish, but they don’t provide any hold or control.” Hairspray, on the other hand, will work some serious magic.
Even if you’re not big on hairspray, it’s absolutely worth it to have a bottle on hand for this job. “Spray a medium-hold hairspray directly onto your fingertips, then gently smooth down the strays,” advises Cosmillo. “Applying hairspray in this way and then moving the hair where you want it will fix the problem, and it won’t leave you with excess product everywhere.”
Choose a bob for thicker hair
If you have fine hair, you might be looking for ways to give it a little more oomph—and a bob is the stylist secret that can do just that. No, it won’t actually change your strands, but it will make your hair look thicker. The sweet spot for length is just above the shoulders, says Rahal. “Cutting the ends super sharp and angular will make all your hair stop at the same point, creating the illusion of width,” he explains. “And if your hair is super thin, ask your stylist to add some layers that you can zhuzh up and give lift while still keeping that blunt cut razor-sharp.”
Shield your curls in the summer
The summer humidity isn’t always friendly to curls, says hairstylist Niani B., owner of Beauté Anthologie in Detroit. Heat expands the hair cuticle, which can cause your curls and waves to get fuzzy. It’s the world’s easiest hair tip, but use a heat-protectant spray when it’s muggy out to keep your curls intact. “My go-to is Amika’s The Shield Anti-Humidity Spray,” says Niani. “It basically creates a shield for your hair that keeps it smooth and makes your style last much longer. Use it daily!” Simply spray it a little onto damp hair before styling, or on dry hair if you’re not using styling tools.
Create easy, breezy beach waves in minutes
Those soft, flowy, undone waves provide a naturally sexy look that’s perfect for summer. And you can create them at home—no beach necessary! Celebrity hairstylist Marilisa shares the trick: “Spritz a touch of a holding spray onto slightly damp hair, then weave into a very loose braid. Give it half an hour, and let it free. You’ll have beautiful beachy waves in a totally I-woke-up-like-this style.” She recommends Cake’s vitamin-enriched, frizz-fighting The Hold Out for this job. You can also try these heatless curlers to create easy waves while you sleep.
Always have “hair makeup” on hand
One day your roots look fine, and the next … not so much. It may sound obvious, but it’s worth a reminder that root touch-up kits extend the time between your color appointments and can save your look in a flash. And even stylists fake it till they have time to do their own hair. “These typically contain pigments that stick to your hair—whether you spray them on or brush them on—and blend in seamlessly to match your shade, providing temporary coverage just where you need it,” says Dorram. “Think of it as makeup for your hair. You can just wash it out the next time you shampoo!”
Treat dry hair overnight with vitamins
Dorram swears by vitamin E to treat dried and fried locks. An antioxidant, vitamin E helps repair damaged hair follicles and encourages healthy hair growth, and you can apply it directly to hair. “Break open a vitamin E oil capsule—the kind you’d normally ingest—and comb it through your hair, then go to bed,” she says. “Throughout the night, your strands will drink in the oil, and you’ll wake up with hair that’s shiny, more resilient and elastic.” That pliancy is exactly what you want when playing around with different looks. By the way, vitamins have an important place in your skin-care routine too.
When braiding, moisturize as you go
If you have textured, thick or course hair, celebrity hairstylist Myss Monique says the secret to the best braids and cornrows is softening and moisturizing strands with a nourishing hair butter as you work. (Don’t do this if your hair is fine—a butter will weigh it down.) She likes The Mane Choice’s The Alpha Daily Hair Dressing. “Use your fingers to dab a small amount of butter onto your hair, massaging for a second to rub it in, as you interweave the sections,” she says. “This process detangles and relaxes the hair, helps avoid breakage and adds beautiful shine and luster to your braids.”
Use body powder to soak up oil
When your hair needs a pick-me-up but you don’t have time to shower, a very fine body powder will save the day. “Apply a small amount with your fingers to the key areas that get oily—the nape of your neck and the roots. Let it absorb, and if you still look a bit oily, apply a bit more,” Dorram says. “The fine powder doesn’t get clumpy or sticky, and it works excellently to absorb grease and give your hair more body and a fresh look.” Just make sure to choose a talc-free body powder, since there are potential health risks associated with talc. Dorram’s go-to is Dr. Hauschka Silk Body Powder. You might also want to check out these dry shampoos.
Hide baby hairs with serum
Baby hairs are those thin, wispy and super-annoying hairs that grow around your hairline. These hairs stick up due to their thinness, creating a not-smooth, fuzzy frame around your face. Dorram says the trick to dealing with them is using a product that’s actually meant for the other end of your hair: split-end serum. Since it’s made with light, repairing oils, this serum will supply just enough weight to keep the baby hairs down but isn’t so heavy that it will make your hair look greasy.
“Use a pea-size drop of a product like Virtue Lab Split End Serum or K18 Peptide Prep on damp hair,” Dorram suggests. “Apply it just to the finest baby hairs around your hairline, then style as usual.”
Refresh with a targeted wash
We all have those days when we just don’t have time for a full hair wash despite our strands looking a little limp. In these cases, while doing your speed shower, tie up your hair, leaving a small section loose at the nape of your neck, and wash just those strands. “This area accumulates oil the fastest,” says Dorram, “and washing only this part adds back some bounce, refreshing your whole look without requiring a complete restyle.”
Use two hair ties for your pony
Achieving a smooth bun or pony is difficult—once the hair tie starts to twist, your roots get bumpy. Cosmillo’s hair tip to avoid this? Divide and conquer. “Use your fingertips to carve out an inch-deep section of hair around your forehead (like you’re creating imaginary bangs), and pull or pin it to the side so it’s out of the way,” she says. “Next, pull the bulk of your hair back, and secure it into a ponytail tightly with your first elastic. Don’t worry if it’s bumpy on top, you’re going to conceal that. Now brush that front section of hair so it’s smooth, and pull it back over the bumpy terrain and secure with your second elastic. Behold—polished and bump-free!” You can leave it as an elegant and smooth pony, or twist the length into a bun.
Energize your scalp for better hair growth
“When you invigorate your scalp, you rev blood flow to the follicles, bringing more oxygen to your strands, a process that slows down as you age,” says Rahal. “That will help encourage stronger hair growth.” While you can buy a scalp brush specifically designed for this purpose, Rahal says you can also use a simple paddle brush. “Just move the brush in circular movements around your head,” he says. “The bristles will both invigorate your scalp and exfoliate to remove dead skin cells and product buildup, so your hair has a clear path to receive nutrients.”
Never deviate from the three-month rule
When you see yourself every day in the mirror, it’s easy to lose sight of the state of your hair. Over time, the strands are getting longer, losing their shape, becoming more tangly and starting to get dry at the ends … all so slowly that you don’t notice, until one day, when it’s drastic enough, you suddenly do. According to Niani, that danger zone when your mane goes rogue is around the three-month mark. “Be consistent with your trims,” she says. And that’s every three months—no exceptions. Get regular shape-ups and you’ll never go down that awkward road.
Hydrate, then define curls
Curly hair can be unpredictable, feeling crispy some days and going too fluffy on others. One of the best hair tips for keeping curls soft and defined is adding a moisturizing step before styling. “It’s helpful to understand that hair is porous, and while the roots might be healthy, moisture can get lost the longer your strands are,” Cosmillo says. “When hair is damp, prime your curls with a leave-in conditioner, hair oil or hydrating lotion. Let it sink in for a few minutes, then move ahead with a product with hold, like a gel or mousse, and style. That base moisturizing layer balances out the porosity of your hair—and then the hold product creates a more evenly defined, and softer, curl.”
Disguise roots with clever styling
This is definitely one of our favorite hair tips because it’s so simple. If you’re dealing with visible roots, switching up your hairstyle helps mask the two-tone, says Dorram. For starters, part your hair in a different spot. “This will instantly add lift, giving you volume and making your hair appear fuller, which can amazingly blur the roots,” she explains. “And though it’s counter-intuitive, pulling your hair off your face into a high ponytail can draw attention away from your roots.”
Get a wolf cut if you have thinning hair
“If your hair is thinning or you’re battling a receding hairline, know that length is not your best friend,” says Rahal. “Especially if you have straight hair—the longer it is, the less body it will have. Without that oomph, you won’t be able to hide any areas where you can see scalp.” Instead, Rahal suggests going with a wolf cut to camouflage this issue. This modern short shag is structured with choppy pieces toward the bottom and layers around the crown to add volume instantly.
“This cut is loose and flowy, so it’s universally flattering, and ideal for covering up thinning areas and a creeping forehead,” says Rahal. “Just make sure to have a solid fringe around the bottom rather than wispy razored strands that hang only in the back so it doesn’t become a mullet.” FYI, this is also a great cut if you’re looking to grow out gray hair, since the movement blends your different hair shades.
Use quickie hair masks
The idea of doing a hair mask can be daunting. We think we need to set aside ample time to apply and let the stuff sit on our strands, so we push the whole process off until we have a free evening, or even an hour, which is … never. But this is a hair myth—you don’t need to devote a ton of time or energy to this task. According to Cosmillo, just two minutes is enough time to let a good mask do its thing.
“Honestly, you can transform your hair to soft, silky and shiny in a couple of minutes, then go straight to blow-drying and styling,” she says. “The hOURS hair mask is literally called In Minutes, to drive home that very point. Just use it in place of your regular conditioner in the shower every few weeks when you need some extra hydration. It acts super quick and does as good a job of conditioning your strands, working just as well as something you’d [put on your hair] overnight.”
Control frizz with a round brush
Doing a blowout at home can give you great hair that defies gravity … or it can cause a lot of frizz that makes your strands look stressed and damaged. Well, the secret to frizz control is apparently a round brush, according to Dorram. “Wrap sections of your hair in the brush (I love the Ibiza brand), and hit it with the blow-dryer. The round brush distributes the heat evenly so certain areas don’t get overexposed and start to fry,” she says. “But then here’s the real secret: Continue to hold the hair in the brush for a count of six seconds after you remove the heat. This creates tension as hair cools, which helps to smooth your strands.” Voila!
Use the right-size tool for the job
Stylists are like surgeons—they know exactly what instrument is needed to get the job done right. There’s an easy formula for this, says Cosmillo: The bigger the brush, the straighter the hair. And conversely, the smaller the brush, the more bend, bounce, wave or curl you’ll be able to achieve. “If you’re looking to change up your style, this can be really helpful,” she says. “Just swap out your usual brush, and use the new size with your blow-dryer. It’ll be much easier to create more curl or go straighter for a fresh look.”
Rethink the strength of your shampoo
If you’re a frequent hair-washer because you get greasy fast, step back for a moment and assess the strength of your shampoo. “It’s easy to assume that greasy hair requires strong shampoo, but harsh cleansers leave your scalp dry, which then triggers an over-production of oil to restore moisture. So you shampoo again—it’s an ugly cycle,” says Cosmillo. “Instead, the best shampoo to switch to is a more mild, gentle cleanser, which will get the health of your scalp back in check.”
And that’s not all: Once or twice a month, Cosmillo suggests using a clarifying shampoo first. These are formulated to remove any product buildup without stripping your strands and allow your regular shampoo to perform even better. Just note that if you over-use them, they can rid your scalp of necessary, good-for-your-hair oils.
Cocktail your products
Curls look fabulous, but they require more labor than straight hair. And for all its various needs (moisturizer, nourisher, curl-definer), a single product isn’t going to cut it. But layering isn’t ideal either, since you don’t have an endless amount of time to work product after product through your strands. That’s why Monique says the best solution is to create a cocktail. Ahead of any styling, she suggests mixing a curl-defining cream with a moisturizing butter. You can blend a dollop of each, or go ahead and mix the full bottles together.
“This way, you don’t lose steam and skip a step, and you get the most luscious and defined curls,” she says. Her technique? “After shampooing, apply a leave-in conditioner to damp hair, then comb your blend through the strands. Finger-curl your hair by twisting small sections, then air-dry or blow-dry with a diffuser while scrunching the sections with your hands. Shake and go!”
Learn the trick to a droop-free pony
Cosmillo has a simple but brilliant method for keeping your ponytail or bun in place without sagging or buckling above your neck: When securing your elastic, tilt your head up. “We tend to look down when reaching back, and this causes that droop at your nape. When you look up, you’re able to put the area under the elastic taut and smooth, so it stays put.”
Cosmillo says it also helps tremendously to prep your hair with a texture spray before you style. “It’ll keep heavy or slick hair from losing its shape when pulled back,” she explains. “It’s better than hairspray.”
Get volume fast with your blow-dryer
Here’s the simplest trick in the pro hairstyle book to get supermodel hair, according to Rahal: Blow-dry in the opposite direction of where you want your hair to lie. “Separate your hair into sections, and direct the dryer away from your hair’s final resting place,” says Rahal. “You’ll provide a lot of lift at the roots.” Va-va-voom!
Now that you know these expert-recommended hair tips, find out the makeup-artist secrets that will help you look gorgeous every day.
- Devin Rahal, hairstylist and founder of Devs Does Hair in Brooklyn, New York
- Sharon Dorram, owner of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger NYC
- MariLynne Cosmillo, professional hairstylist in New York and founder of the hair-care line hOURS
- Niani B., hairstylist and owner of Beauté Anthologie in Detroit
- Marilisa, celebrity hairstylist
- Myss Monique, celebrity hairstylist