Will today be a good hair day? Unfortunately, many of us have to ask that question each day, hoping that all life's variables—when we last shampooed, how grown-out our hair is, how humid or dry the climate is, the products we're using, etc.—work in our favor.
Don't let it be a guessing game anymore, and don't resort to a buzz cut just because you can't deal with the daily upkeep (no shame to buzzcuts; the best thing about them is that they're carefree). For advice on how to have a good hair day every day—and to take complete control over those variables—we spoke with hairstylist and celebrity groomer Anthony Joseph Hernandez of Cutler Salon in NYC.
His top advice? "To have great hair every day, you need to be willing to put in at least a little effort," Hernandez says. "And honestly, a little goes a long way for men." He says it can be as easy as deploying a leave-in conditioner, a little styling product, or a 10-minute blow dry—more on these and other "good hair day" tips below.
1. Consistently Condition Your Hair
There's more to hair care than shampoo and conditioner—specifically, multiple conditioning products can help keep your hair in a constant state of calm. Hernandez suggests using a leave-in conditioner for all-day nourishment and a hair mask for intense moisture boosts. Keeping your hair in a continuous state of maximum moisture makes it less susceptible to environmental variables, meaning each hair's cuticle stays closed, resulting in fully hydrated hair—no matter how humid or dry the climate you're in may be.
2. Get Haircuts at Consistent Intervals
Hair growth can sneak up on you, which means that what worked yesterday might not deliver the same results today. The shorter your hair, the more you'll notice these changes, says Hernandez, especially considering that hair grows half an inch monthly. So, he recommends getting a haircut once every month to have the same day-to-day rubric over your haircut of choice—before it evolves into some slightly longer style. "For medium lengths, you can go a little longer, like every six weeks," he says. If you're actively growing out your hair, it can be hard to navigate these gradual changes; the awkward stages are part of the experience, but they can be mitigated by having a tidy-up at the barber or salon every eight weeks
3. Familiarize Yourself with Hair Product Nomenclature
Rarely is there a one-size-fits-all regimen for hair routines, especially regarding the products you use. That's because no two people are working with the same head of hair hair: "Hair care and styling products are like skin care products," Hernandez says. "What works amazingly for one person may not work for another."
The best favor you can do yourself is to understand your hair's needs, which typically boils down to your strands' texture (coily, curly, wavy, or straight) and density (thick, fine, or thinning). These factors will point you toward products tailored to your needs and can also determine how much product you need. Together, the two help to determine the type of product you should use, along with how much you need.
For example, if you have fine hair, you'll likely need to use less product altogether, and the product that will give you the best results will be something “volumizing” or “thickening," whereas if you have thick, straight hair, you may need something “smoothing” to help your hair lay better. If you have curls or coils, you will likely need something, “moisturizing." Usually a quarter-sized amount of product is standard, but you can tweak based on how much hair you have. Understanding the nomenclature can help you to get better results on repeat.
4. Never Sleep on Wet Hair
It’s okay to shower and rinse your hair before bed, but never go to sleep with wet hair, says Hernandez. “Wet hair is prone to more damage when it’s wet,” he notes. On top of that, the bedhead scenarios that you could wake up with abound. So, if you're looking to save time on your morning routine, sleeping on wet hair could actually take more time when you're trying to get out the door in the morning.
5. Only Shampoo When Your Hair is Dirty
While our general advice is to space out your shampoo every second or third day, tailor your wash cycle to how dirty your hair is. Hernandez says to wash hair only when it's dirty and needs that detergent. "For some, that's every other day because they use a lot of product," he notes. Frequent gym-goers, too, need to wash more often. "But for others, that's just once a week because they use very little or no product." And if that feels gross to you, know that a daily rinse—and a conditioner-based co-wash, even—can help bridge the gap between shampoo cycles so your scalp never feels gnarly.
6. Let Your Hair Texture Dictate Your Conditioner Needs
Conditioning cadence is also typically determined by your hair texture. "Everyone needs to condition their hair at least once a week," Hernandez says. "But the coarser the hair, the more you'll need." That's because conditioner can smooth coarse hair and help moisturize it, whereas finer strands might become lifeless and flat under all that nourishing weight.
Our approach is to use conditioner more frequently than shampoo unless you tend to be greasy. Hernandez suggests always following a shampoo with a conditioner. Shampoos contain surfactants which lift up the cuticle to get rid of dirt and grime. Conditioner helps the cuticle to lay down flat so that everything looks smooth. Plus, remember Hernandez's first tip above, to use leave-in conditioners daily. "It can work as a styling product and have many benefits for the hair," he says.
7. Choose Styling Products Based on Your Desired Finish
When picking a hair styling product, it's all about testing what works for you. Products—even those in the same category—perform differently, so you need to find out what works for you. Pay attention to things like a product's finish: Some products have added shine, while some are matte. "Decide what finish you want and go from there," Hernandez advises. After that, you'll consider the hold (how firm the product holds your hair), texture, and volume you want it to have.
If we could have it our way, every guy would have a few hair products in his arsenal to achieve various looks based on different occasions. Hair creams, pastes, and clays are the most universal in that they offer varying degrees of hold, texture, and shine and transform when applied between dry or wet hair. Hernandez suggests having hairspray, too, since it can help lock anything in for a full day or even tame flyaways for a lightweight, natural-shine finish.
8. Then, Apply Those Products Properly
Often, a product's performance changes when you apply it to dry versus damp hair, so follow the script based on what you hope to achieve. Hernandez adds that you need to distribute the product to achieve desired results. "For tactile products like pomades and creams, always rub them into your hands and then apply to the hair, so they're evenly distributed."
If the aim is lightweight control or to tame flyaways, target the mids and ends of hair. If the goal is to craft a style with volume, body, and texture, then target the roots to control the strands at the base of the hair shaft. As for anything you might spray on, Hernandez says to relegate those to the end of the styling regimen. It can also help brush them through the strands for even distribution.
9. Invest in a Hair Dryer—And Use It Correctly
According to Hernandez, a top-tier hair dryer is one grooming device you want to spend decent money on. "It makes a huge difference, and high-quality dryers will last many years." Further, get one that safely and quickly dries the hair without opening up the cuticles and depleting strands of their internal moisture. Ionic, ceramic, and tourmaline hair dryers can manage this task without causing the strands to frizz, fray, and break—and they do their job quickly.
As for using a hair dryer for better hairstyles: "Always dry from roots to ends," Hernandez advises. "For styles with natural movement, blow dry hair back and forth, then forwards and backward." If you want to help a hair product "set" after blow drying, you can also use the device's "cold air" function at the end of the blow drying.
10. Have a Humidity and Heat Defense Plan
Your environment plays a massive role in your hair's day-to-day cooperation. If your environment is too dry, your hair might lose moisture in the air around you. If it's too humid, your cuticles can also open up and frizz. UV rays and heat can do the same thing and diminish hair's long-term health and resilience. All of this to say, you need a daily defense against these elements, namely heat and humidity shields.
Hernandez again recommends a leave-in conditioner as a great universal option since it coats the strands and protects against the environment around you or a hair oil, which can coat the strands and repel unwanted humidity in the air. People with frizz-prone hair can use smoothing shampoos and conditioners. There are many spray-on and cream-based heat and UV shields, which also help protect hair during blow drying.
Originally Appeared on GQ