8 STEP HAIR CARE ROUTINE TO BEAUTIFUL HAIR
If your middle school/high schools years were anything like mine, you felt major envy and when girls walked into class with their hair still wet from their morning shower without a care in the world. Unlike me, they knew their hair would air dry to complete perfection. I would look down at my fluffy, frizzy hair, and that's after an hour of sweating through a blow dry, and think, "Wwwwhhhyyyy????".
I have always struggled with my hair and until that last ten years, it was one of the thorns in my side. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s with half curly/half wavy, coarse, frizzy latin hair, I used everything I had at my disposal from thick hair gels (e.g. Dep, eek!) that made my hair look too crunchy to silicone-rich hair oils (e.g. Frizz Ease, Yikes!) that left hair feeling heavy and greasy. All in an effort to achieve the type of hair, what felt like, everywhere around me from the popular blonde in middle school to the women in magazines.
That's me on the left...
Until I became a hair stylist in 2009, at the age of 34, I had learned to live with my hair; however, since then I have come to love my hair. Two main reasons for that is 1) I know how to accentuate the great parts of my hair and diminish my concerns and 2) we have so many more healthy options than we ever have in history. Hallelujah!
The hair industry has gone through a major transformation in the last thirty years from the introduction to ceramic, ion, titanium hot tools to natural silicone-free hair serums that combat everything from frizz to hair loss. With the vast number of new options comes overwhelm and confusion to even the most knowledgeable hair product lovers.
As a hairstylist, I’ve produced hair transformations that made women look decades younger, skin brighter, and even minimized face shape concerns. I know what a great color and cut can achieve.
However, many times my hands were tied with a new client because her hair was just not in a condition to get her to her hair inspo pic. When this happened, I gave her an 8 step hair care routine with the goal of improving her overall hair health so we could work toward her hair goals. Once she practiced this multi-step hair routine for at least a month to three months, depending on her hair damage, we were in a better place to achieve results.
In order to achieve your hair goals, it is important to put intention into each step of your hair care routine. Think of it like your skin. To tackle skin issues (like acne, lines, etc) and improve skin’s appearance you generally have to follow multiple steps: Makeup Remover, Face Wash, Toner, Moisturizer, Sunscreen, weekly exfoliating treatment and weekly mask. Your hair is no different.
After all, like your skin, you wear this accessory every day of your life. Plus, a great hair day gives confidence and a general pep in your step. It can make everything feel better from an outfit to a skin issue so why not put as much effort into it as you do anything else in your life.
Here are the steps, as well as the intention and thought that should be part of each, to get you to feeling confident and happier with your hair:
1. Goal/Concern Focused Shampoo
2. Goal/Concern Focused Conditioner
3. Hair Prep Product
4. Hair Styling Product
5. Finishing or Maintain product
6. Clarifying Shampoo or Exfoliating Scrub
7. Weekly Moisture Deep Conditioner
8. Weekly Strengthening Hair Treatment
If you put time and effort into each of these steps then you’re home free. I’ll walk you through each so you understand how to implement as well as what products to choose for each.
Goal/Concern Focused Shampoo
Not all heads of hair are created equal and for that reason, neither are shampoos. Again, due to the millions of hours put into hair care over the last 30 years, we now have products specifically geared toward our hair concerns and goals. For instance, one with fine, frizzy hair would never want to use a shampoo specifically formulated for thick, oily hair. That is obvious, but choosing a shampoo isn’t always straightforward. See my article on the different types of volumizing shampoos. (Read 5 Best Volumizing Shampoos)
Go for a chemical free shampoo (not just sulfates and parabens...there are thousands of other toxic ingredients in most hair products beyond those) that is specifically formulated for your hair type, texture, concern and wash frequency.
Hair Types: Fine, Medium, Thick
Hair Texture: Straight, Wavy, Curly, Unruly
Concern: Frizz, Lacks Volume, Hair Loss, Hair breakage, Dry Hair, Damaged Hair, etc.
Goal/Concern Focused Hair Conditioner
Like shampoo, hair conditioners are specially formulated based on what they are trying to combat and accentuate. Your hair type, texture, concern and wash frequency are vital to consider when choosing the best conditioner for your hair. If you have ever purchased a shampoo and conditioner that you didn’t love, it may be because all of these characteristics were not considered.
Just some background, every hair product on the market takes anywhere from 8 months to three years to reach the shelves from the time of a brand’s idea to it’s launch. It takes months and months of testing formulations, placing them in a freezer for months, then in high heat for months, getting the consistency right, etc. When all that trouble is put into formulating a product specifically to combat a hair concern, then wouldn’t it be great to to find the right one for you?
Go for a toxin-free conditioner that is specifically formulated for your hair concerns, type, texture, etc. North Authentic has each product organized by each (use our shopping filters) so you can simply choose your type, texture, concern, etc. to get your recommendations. Or take our Hair Quiz for all your results to get sent directly to your inbox.
HAIR PREP PRODUCT
This step focuses on the first step out of the shower. Hair Prep Products include leave-in conditioners, hair serums, or hair oils and act as a support product to your shampoo and conditioner as well as to your styling routine. These products generally are formulated to add hydration and protect the hair from pollutants and damage. Regardless if you plan on using hot tools or air drying your hair, a hair prep product is an imperative step to your hair care routine.
Generally for fine hair types, go for hair serums and lightweight leave-in conditioners like Briogeo Don't Despair Repair Damage Defense Leave In Conditioner. If you do opt for a hair oil, go for lightweight oils that absorb quickly, like jojoba over heavier oils like coconut.
For medium hair types, hair serums, leave-in conditioners and hair oils are all fine, but again, stay away from heavier oils like coconut or argan oils as it may make you feel oily and weighed down. I recommend Naturally Drenched Watermelon Dreams Oil.
For thicker hair types, go for heavier leave-in conditioners like Oway No Rinse Moisture Conditioner or hair oils like Silk'n Glow Anti Frizz Serum.
HAIR STYLING PRODUCT
Your styling product generally tackles your specific hair concern while helping you achieve hair goals. For instance, someone that is dealing with flat, thinning hair. Your prep product may include a scalp treatment like Cult and King Tonik Scalp and Hair Purifier while your styling product would be Oway Volumizing Root Spray or Kavella Volumizing Mousse to create volume.
In this instance, your styling product is working to create fullness and volume, while your Prep Product is laying a healthier foundation with the goal of tackling hair concerns. Make sense?
HAIR FINISHING OR MAINTAIN PRODUCT
Your finishing or maintain product generally delivers one of two things or maybe even both. It includes hairsprays, dry texture sprays, dry shampoos, split end menders, balms or shine sprays.
Finishing products, like hairsprays, are used to lock in and hold a style. These are great for those trying to achieve volume or trying to minimize frizz as they seal the hair cuticle.
Dry texture sprays add texture to the hair and can be used day two to create volume where you go flat. If you have a layered haircut that you would like to show off or just need to add more definition to your beach waves, dry texture sprays, like Reverie Mare Mediterranean Sea Salt Spray or Original Minerals Dry Desert Volumizing Texture Spray, are your best best.
Dry shampoo or dry shampoo powders are great maintain products. They can be used day one to create volume or plumping and day 2-6 to absorb oils, sweat and dirt maintaining that blowout or style through the week. Oway's Plant & Mineral Refresh is one of our most popular dry shampoos.
Split end menders are a perfect maintain product as well. They can be used day one to smooth your ends and tame fly aways which is also highly necessary for days 2+. I always recommend using a split end mender or shine hair serum with your dry shampoo for days 2-5+ to combat oil at your roots while taming frizz and flyaways on your ends caused by multiple nights of pillow talk. ;) My go-to is Oway Nurturing Drops.
Balms are a go to for medium to thicker hair types. They can be used day one to smooth frizz and create definition in your beachwaves or day 2+ to smooth frizzy ends or flyaways. I love Cult and King’s Balm, which bonus! Also is great for the skin or as a beard balm for you men out there. Reverie’s Rake Balm is also a go to for this as well as for you curl girls.
Shine sprays are pretty new but wow, do they pack a punch. They offer a glossy shine without the heaviness of a hair oil. I recommend Davines Shimmer Mist, a fan favorite that also smells amazing! It smooths frizz while deliver optimum shine. You guessed it, shine sprays are also the perfect couple to dry shampoo for days 2+ to smooth ends.
HAIR DETOX SHAMPOO OR EXFOLIATING SCRUB
By choosing toxin-free, clean hair products, you are already in a great position for avoiding build up on the hair and scalp, however you still are susceptible to other sources of build up like hard water, soft water filters, pollution, chlorine, etc. If you wash your hair less than once every 2 days, then this step is crucial as even clean products can start to weigh down the hair if they are not washed out thoroughly.
Depending on the rate of shampoos, you will want to use a clarifying shampoo or exfoliating scrub once every week or every other week to remove build up and impurities from your scalp and hair. Not only does this crucial step keep your scalp clean and breathable producing healthy oils, but it also sets your hair up to receive optimum benefits from your weekly deep conditioning treatments.
Weekly Moisture Deep Conditioner
Our hair is susceptible to dryness from hair coloring, heat styling, hard water, swimming or even hot yoga (think of all that salty moisture in the air). Just like our skin, our hair needs support in receiving moisture to stay healthy and shiny.
Similar to our shampoo and conditioner, hair masks or deep conditioners are not created equal. For instance, there are hair masks like Briogeo Don't Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask which smooths, hydrates and nourishes dry, damaged, thicker hair types. This would be way too heavy for those seeking hydration without weight.
There are multiple hair treatments on the market that do not operate as a regular deep conditioning treatment. One sign, is you still need to use a conditioner after their use. For instance, Davines Nourishing Hair Building Pak delivers restructuring and hydration. You use it after a shampoo, just like a hair mask, but if you require the smoothing, shine and taming of a moisture-rich heavier mask, then you would still need to condition after its use. On the other hand, for someone with fine hair, who runs from conditioners but still needs hydration, would love this building pak all on its own.
Ensure you choose the right deep conditioner for your hair type, texture, etc because when it delivers, you will use mark your calendar to use it every week as prescribed.
WEEKLY STRENGTHENING HAIR TREATMENT
Finally, last but definitely not least, step 8 includes hair strengthening treatments. When we color, heat style, roughly brush, or use other chemicals on our hair, we cause damage. There are two important facts about our hair that you must know. Hair is made up of 80% protein. When we color or bleach our hair, we break down that protein.
Second, our hair is made up of disulfide bonds (little couples) that give our hair its strength. Strength to hold hair styles, absorb conditioners, hold color, have shine, etc. When we damage our hair through styling with hot tools, hair color or bleach etc, those bonds break up. This leads to hair breakage, high hair porosity, flat hair color, and many other issues.
Strengthening hair treatments, like Naturally Drenched Rebalance Pre-Conditioner Treatment, help those bonds get back together. Protein rich treatments, which should be used sparingly, help return the protein in the hair that has been lost. Neither approach the issue of moisture or provide nutrients. They are specifically for returning your hair’s strength. Hence, the need for both treatments in your 8-step hair care routine.
These 8 steps may seem like alot, but once you implement your routine, it will become second nature. Remember, like everything else in life, it takes a little bit of effort and intention to achieve the goals we want and that includes hair goals. Good luck!
All North Authentic products are free of: Sulfates, parabens, EDTA, 1,4 Dioxian, and many more all provided in our Hair Crimes List. While we work with our brands to become even more conscious, we identify additional "Free Of" ingredients on every product page.
Shop "Free Of" ingredient preferences using our Filters. You can also take the North Authentic Hair Quiz to get your personalized hair care prescription of the best products for your hair curl type.