Don't let your locks be a casualty of your active lifestyle. Los Angeles-based celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims, who has coifed the manes of celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Queen Latifah, Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez to name a few, offers tips for achieving stronger, healthier, more beautiful hair.
Break the Breakage CycleSweat, sun damage and tight ponytails all contribute to brittle hair. "Athletes' hair tends to be a bit drier from excessive sweating," Sims says. "Often times, you'll see breakage along the hairline or mid-strand from tight ponytails." Always opt for metal-free, cloth-covered hair elastics when pulling hair back. We like Scunci Large Thick No Damage Elastics ($3, drugstores). Another culprit is using too much tension on hair when it's wet. "Hair is at its most fragile state when wet," Sims says. "It's important not to rip through hair while attempting to untangle knots." Also, refrain from pulling wet hair back in an elastic band.
To help repair damage, Sims suggests Smooth 'n Shine Scalp & Breakage Miracle Leave-In Treatment Conditioner ($4, drugstores), which nourishes with lipopeptides, coconut oil and wheat protein. "It strengthens and protects hair from damage," Sims says. "It also adds moisture while sitting in the steam room or sauna after a workout." For a monthly treatment, try ApHogee Two-Step Protein Treatment ($28, aphogee.com), which infuses lost protein back into hair, fortifying the cuticle against future damage.
Havoc From Heat and Sun
From obsessive flat-ironing to high-powered blow-drying, it's time to cool it with the heat styling. "Overexposure to heat can easily weaken your hair strands," Sims says. Excessive amounts of thermal styling can result in dryness and breakage. Once your hair is scorched from thermal styling, you basically have to cut the damaged ends or it will eventually break." Try Dove Heat Defense Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner ($4, drugstores), which protects against heat damage and strengthens hair against breakage and split ends. For hair that needs more than a daily conditioner, the emollient-rich Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Deep Conditioning Protein Pack ($2, palmerworks.com) intensely nourishes damaged hair with pure coconut oil and coconut milk to seal in moisture and protect hair follicles. Next time you heat-style, Sims recommends setting your styling tools to a moderate heat. "Your thermal styling tools don't always have to be turned to the highest temperature to achieve great results," he says.
And don't forget about UV protection for your hair. "Sun damage can be just as harmful as damage from thermal styling," Sims says. Too much sun exposure can result in a change of hair color, texture and dryness." He recommends Kerastase Cr?me UV D?fense Active ($34, kerastase-usa.com), which is formulated to protect against and treat UV rays and exposure to sun, wind, chlorinated and salt water.
Bringing Shiny Back
Ditch the lackluster strands and breathe new life into your hair with these simple steps. First, avoid any alcohol-based styling products and steer clear of shampoos with drying sulfates, which can strip hair of moisture and shine. Instead, look for natural ingredients on product labels, such as aloe vera, Shea butter, coconut oil and other botanical extracts. We like Burt's Bees Super Shiny Grapefruit & Sugar Beet Shampoo and Conditioner ($8, burtsbees.com), containing 98.2 percent natural formulas that use essential oils from citrus fruits to boost shine. Another favorite is LUSH Jasmin and Henna Fluff-Eaze Hair Treatment ($21, lushusa.com), which controls frizz with henna, jasmine, olive and Brazil nut oils--no drying serum necessary. The most budget-friendly option for healthy-looking hair? "The secret to shiny hair is to rinse your hair with cool water after a great conditioner," Sims says.
Based in New York City, Marisa Walker is a health and beauty writer.