With such a wide variety of styling tools and hair care products available, trying to keep track of what's good for your hair can lead to a frizzy mess.
You likely already know the potential danger associated with heated styling tools, but did you know things like your towel and your pillowcase can cause just as much damage?
When it comes to dry shampoo, should you choose spray or powder? Are detangling brushes or wide tooth combs better for getting those knots out? We’ve answered these questions and more and — after consulting our hair-care experts — included some of our top recommended hair products and tools so you can have everything you need to keep your hair looking and feeling healthier than ever.
Typical shampoo vs. clarifying shampoo
The verdict: For the healthiest results, it’s best to use a mix of both regular and clarifying shampoo. Balance is key.
Healthy hair starts in the shower, but with such a vast variety of shampoos all promising stellar results, it can be tough to find the right one for you. As a general rule, look for a typical everyday shampoo that uses cruelty-free ingredients and is free of toxic sulfates. Our expert recommends the Pureology Strength Cure Shampoo.
But even high-quality shampoos can cause some damage. If you struggle with dandruff or find your hair limp, it could be a result of routinely washing with the same product. Regular shampoos cause build-up on the scalp over time that can leave hair in a less-than-ideal state.
Clarifying shampoos like the Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo can cut through build-up, remove unwanted dirt and oil, and leave you with squeaky-clean hair. The downside is that these can strip your hair of the natural oils it needs to stay healthy when overused.
Regular pillowcases vs. silk pillowcases
The verdict: Switch your pillowcases for silk. If you’re hesitant to do that, opt for a microfiber pillowcase, as it’s better for hair than normal cotton.
Did you know you might be causing harm to your hair just by going to sleep at night? Regular cotton pillowcases tug at your hair as you move, which can lead to excess frizz and even breakage.
Silk pillowcases, on the other hand, offer a smooth surface for your hair to slide across without resistance. If you want to avoid bedhead, we suggest the high-quality Slipsilk Pure Silk Pillowcase.
But, if you can’t imagine sleeping on a silky surface, try these hypoallergenic microfiber pillowcases. While not as effective as silk, they still provide a relatively smooth surface and are highly recommended for those with allergies.
Brushing with wide-tooth comb vs. detangling brush
The verdict: This comes down to individual preference. For the best results, use your wide-tooth comb or detangling brush in the shower while your conditioner is still in.
Brushing your hair while it’s wet can easily cause damage if you’re not using the right tools. The close bristles on a regular hair brush pull too roughly on the hair resulting in breakage. That’s where a wide-tooth comb comes to the rescue. Combs like the Pure Glo Wooden Detangling Comb detangle your hair in a much gentler way, reducing frizz and static at the same time.
However, if you prefer the brush style, you can find numerous detangling brushes with soft, flexible bristles that minimize hair and cuticle damage as well. We love the Tangle Teaser for its effectiveness and ergonomic design or the Wet Brush for its gently detangling bristle structure.
Drying with heat vs. without
The verdict: If possible, opt for a mostly heat-free drying option. If you are going to use heat, however, make sure to choose a tool with ion technology.
It’s no secret that overusing heated styling tools can seriously damage your hair. The heat from your blow dryer alone will dry out the hair cuticles, eventually leading to frizzy, brittle hair and plenty of breakages.
For a nearly heat-free dry, we love the Dyson Airwrap Complete Styler. In addition to the numerous styling attachments, this model uses airflow with minimal, controlled heat to quickly dry and style luscious locks.
If you prefer the traditional hairdryer method, be sure to opt for one with ion technology like our favorite, the Express Ion Turbolight+ Hair Dryer. Ion hairdryers work faster than traditional models and produce negatively charged ions that are gentler on hair and less likely to cause heat damage.
Towel turban vs. regular towels
The verdict: Avoid using a normal body towel for drying your hair. Opt for a hair turban, which is smoother and dries hair more quickly.
If you want to play it safe and avoid heat altogether, you may opt to towel dry your hair when you get out of the shower rather than using a dryer. While there’s no denying the luxurious feel of hotel-quality towels, drying your hair with a regular towel is a big no.
Your hair is especially vulnerable when wet and even the softest bath towels can be too coarse, leaving you with split ends and unhealthy looking hair. Instead, opt for a hair turban like this microfiber hair turban. Not only are these turbans kinder to your hair, but they also increase drying time significantly and leave your hair feeling soft and looking full.
Dry shampoo spray vs. powder
The verdict: Dry shampoo is a great way to keep hair looking fresh between shampoos. Powders and sprays are both effective and what you choose depends on personal preference.
Washing your hair every day can be harmful, but depending on your hair type, it might feel necessary. If you’re someone with oily hair, dry shampoo can help combat that extra grease on days when you don’t do a full wash.
But which is better, an aerosol spray or a powder dry shampoo? At the end of the day, both products will work to combat grease and prolong your next hair wash. If you find you need a little volume boost, opt for a powder. Our personal favorite is the Captain Blankenship Mermaid Dry Shampoo because of its sweet rose scent and natural, cruelty-free ingredients.
The downside is that some powders can make your hair feel dirtier, even though it looks freshly washed. To avoid an itchy scalp, we recommend the Living Proof Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo. Unlike most, this aerosol spray actually cleans hair, leaving no irritating build-up behind.
Leave-in daily conditioner vs. deep conditioning treatment
The verdict: Leave-in conditioner is ideal for everyday use, especially for those who style their hair. A deep conditioner is a great solution for dry hair and can be used as needed.
Leave-in conditioners are lightweight moisturizing products for the hair often composed of mostly water. You apply these conditioners to damp hair after you get out of the shower without having to rinse the product out. We recommend the Sexy Hair Tri-Wheat Leave In Conditioner because it provides a shiny base which makes brushing and styling much easier.
If your hair is feeling particularly dry, however, a leave-in conditioner won’t cut it. Deep conditioners like tgin Honey Miracle Hair Mask Deep Conditioner are heavier and provide relief from dry, brittle hair. You wash this conditioner out, but only after it’s soaked in your hair for a long period of time, from an hour to overnight.
Straightening with an iron vs. volumizer brush
The verdict: Those with straight or thin hair should use a volumizer brush, while people with curly or thick hair will get better results with a straightening iron.
Volumizer brushes like the Revlon One-Step Volumizer Hair Dryer are perfect for most people with thin or damaged hair. Most of these brushes use less heat or ion technology and are therefore safer and gentler to use.
However, if you have thick or curly hair and want the pin-straight look, a flat iron will do a better and more precise job. The BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Ultra-Thin Straightening Iron has a sleek design and multiple heat settings. The smooth iron plates allow you to straighten more hair faster as well. If you’re going the flat iron route, be sure to treat your hair with a protective spray or oil first.
Scrunchies vs. spiral hair ties
The verdict: What you choose is up to your personal style, but it’s always best to stay away from elastic hair bands.
Both scrunchies and spiral hair ties are significantly better for your hair than the standard elastic bands we all know and love. Both products are less likely to leave the dreaded ponytail indent and won’t tug at your hair.
The added fabric on scrunchies combined with their slightly weaker elasticity makes them less likely to pull out your hair when you’re letting it down. We love these Kitsch Black Satin Sleep Scrunchies because their silk covers are about as gentle as a hair tie can get, making them suitable for use during the day or at night.
A scrunchie can be quite the fashion statement, though, so if you’re looking for something more subtle, then a spiral hair tie is the way to go. We recommend the Invisabobble Hair Ring.
Pro Tip: If your spiral hair tie is getting too loose, simply place it in a cup of hot water; it will retain its original shape shortly after.