So just how do you make sure your hair is happy and unknotted?
Long or short, light or dark, straight or curly, the number one rule of healthy hair is keeping it tangle-free. Seriously, is there anything worse than painstakingly—and painfully—working a knot out of your tresses only to look down and see strands of your gorgeous hair on the bathroom floor? No, there’s not. It’s terrible and it’s sad and it hurts.
So how do you make sure your hair is happy and unknotted? And should your routine change when winter hats come into the picture? After all, winter hats mean it’s cold out, which means it’s also dry, which means your hair is probably dehydrated and prone to breakage, which means those super-cute wool beanies are basically hair death traps!
Overreaction aside, it is super-important to take extra-good care of your hair during hat season. Not only are the cooler temps bad news for the hydration level of your hair (you know how dry your skin gets in the winter? Same thing is happening to your hair), but combine the friction of hat against hair and scalp with whipping winds, and you’ve got a one-way ticket to Tangle Town. (Sorry.)
Luckily, there are a few tools you can keep in your haircare arsenal that will go a long way in preventing the dreaded hat season/tangle combo. See ya later, Tangle Town. (Again, sorry.):
A gentle shampoo.
Whether you’re an everyday or once-a-week shampooer, healthy hair starts with a great base: shampoo. But you’ll want to be careful here since many conventional shampoos contain harsh detergents and chemical agents that may leave your hair feeling clean, but are actually doing a lot of harm by stripping your strands of the natural oils needed to keep hair hydrated and shiny.
What’s more, a gentle, natural shampoo will prime your locks for the major dose of thirst-quenching conditioner you’ll deliver next. The Balancing Hair Wash from Sans [ceuticals] is a great option here as it’s lightweight enough that it won’t weigh your hair down or coat your strands, and the natural ingredients help balance the pH levels of your hair and scalp, which means a healthy environment for hair growth. Another favorite for hat season is Rahua’s Shampoo, especially if you’ve got color-treated hair. The formula is packed with superfood ingredients that gently cleanse while nourishing.
A great conditioner.
Once your hair is clean and primed, conditioner is where it’s at. “Why is conditioner so important?” asked no one ever, but just in case, here’s why: not only does conditioner serve to restore and lock in moisture, it also helps the hair cuticle lay smooth, which in turn prevents tangles. That’s right, your hair has a cuticle. It’s the outermost part of the hair shaft and it’s formed of overlapping layers of dead cells (fun!) that form scales to strengthen and protect each strand (important!).
Think of it like the cuticles around your nails: when you’ve got a hangnail, that piece of skin sticks up away from the rest of your nail bed and can easily be ripped. When you are hangnail-free, no rips (or for the sake of this metaphor, tangles). Same goes for your hair. Seriously, if you’re only going to take one piece of advice from this list, please let it be conditioner. Your hair will thank you.
Ready to take the leap? Rare El’ements’ Essential Lite Conditioner helps to repair and rebuild hair through ultra-hydrating oils and plant extracts. (Plus, it’ll leave your hair crazy shiny.) The INTEGRITI Replenishing Conditioner from AHNESTI Haircare is also great and it’s silicone-free, which means what you see is what you get since there won’t be any synthetic residue or buildup left behind.
And if you’re really ready to commit, here’s a bonus for you: leave-in conditioner is the hat wearer’s best friend. Forget what you think you know about the stuff…it’s not just for kids who hate having their hair brushed. On the contrary, leave-in conditioner all but ensures your hair will be happy, healthy and tangle-free all day long, especially if you spritz in the morning. As the name suggests, YAROK’s Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner will indeed feed your hair all the health and hydration it needs to keep itself out of trouble.
The right treatments.
You’ve showered and washed and conditioned…good for you! But your work isn’t done. For hair that really loves the person it belongs to and wants to show its appreciation by cooperating, you’re going to need to treat it to a treatment or two. Just like you’d add a hydrating or calming or cleansing mask to your skincare routine every few days, hair treatments like rinses, oils and masks serve to backup the work you’re doing in the shower.
If you’re a DIY-er, good old coconut oil — like this one from Kapaluan — slathered on your strands will do the trick. For something that packs a bit more of a hydrating punch, the Hydrating Hair Mask from Haconut lives up to its name, delivering deep nourishment and shine thanks to a blend of coconut, macadamia and sweet almond oils, all of which work to moisturize your hair and then keep that hydration locked in. In between mask days, make sure to use a clarifying rinse like this one from Little Barn Apothecary. The raw apple cider vinegar helps to remove any buildup that may be keeping your tresses from reaching their tangle-free potential.
The right tools.
You know that old saying about how a woman’s hair is only as good as the tools she uses to take care of that hair? No? You’ll just have to take my word for it. But the point I’m trying to make here is that you can use all the best shampoos and conditioners and treatments, but if you’re using crappy styling tools, all that work will be for naught.
That 15-year-old sticker-covered brush you’ve had since middle school? Toss it. You’re a grown up now with grown up hair; you deserve a grown-up brush that will work with you to guarantee unknotted hair. Things to look for in a grown up, anti-tangle brush: wide-set, flexible bristles or a wide-toothed comb, and some form of the word “detangling” in the name, like the Soft Touch Detangling Shower Brush from from Swissco. (See how easy that is?! It’s spelled out for you.)
The wide-set bristles/comb teeth work incredibly well to detangle hair, and are able to gently work through knots without ripping your hair out. If you want to get fancy, Mason Pearson’s Handy Hair Brush is made in England from premium-grade boar bristles, which exfoliate the scalp while stimulating circulation to hair follicles. Be careful with this one though: the bristles are closer together, so only use on once-brushed, dry hair.
And always remember: be gentle and patient if you’re dealing with a rat’s nest when you pull your hat off. But if you’ve followed the advice here thus far, it should never be a problem again.