What is Hair Cycling & Why you should be doing it?
Hair cycling is the newest sensation following the "Skin cycling” Tik Tok viral craze and it's not without merit. This new term refers to a type of hair routine...one with intention and I am 100% behind it. Read on as I break down what it is and why you should be doing it.
what is hair cycling?
Unlike a typical hair routine, hair cycling, goes a step further by including
1. Hair specific products;
2. On and off days, aka rest days; and
3. Alternating products to target multiple hair concerns in the same week.
In other words, you do a cycle of products daily or weekly that tackle hair concerns and goals. Here's what I mean by each.
A key to hair cycling is choosing products that are specific to your hair texture, hair type, and hair concerns. As with any routine, you must choose your steps and products with intention if you want to see real results.
“Rest days” are an imperative part to hair cycling. These days allow your hair and scalp to rest and recharge. For instance, shampooing daily impedes the natural oils in your scalp to work their way down the hair strand and deliver the antioxidants and vitamins our body naturally produces to give us healthy hair. It also strips the scalp. By including rest days in your routine, you give your hair’s natural oils the opportunity to do their work while giving your hair a much-needed break.
Alternating products goes with the long-time idea that moderation is best. By alternating products, you are less prone to feel weighed down or experience build-up, oily hair, or scalp issues like dandruff. For example, if you use a clarifying shampoo too often, you risk over-stripping your hair. If you use hair masks or treatments daily, you risk weighing down your hair with excess moisture.
What are the benefits of Hair cycling?
Although the "hair cycling" term is new to social media, this hair routine is not a new concept. Hair care experts and stylists have been recommending this type of hair routine long before Tik Tok and Instagram existed. If you want to see improvement in your scalp or hair health, you should be doing some form of a hair cycling routine.
If you have been following my Rx for Kickass Hair, you likely are already hair cycling. Let's make this easy and break down a typical hair cycling routine for you here.
the hair cycling routine
- Use your weekly strengthening treatment - these are generally pre-shampoo treatments
- Shampoo with goal-centric shampoo
- Conditioner with goal-centric conditioner
- Use your prep product, styling product, and finishing product
Rest Day (time to rest…do not wash you hair. If you need to extend you style and are prone to greasy hair, use a dry shampoo). I prefer dry shampoo powders.
- Use a scalp scrub to exfoliate away build up and dead skin from the scalp and follicles.
- Wash with a clarifying shampoo (double cleanse if you need a second shampoo – 2nd shampoo should be with your goal specific shampoo).
- Deep condition (it is best to deep condition after using a clarifying shampoo as your hair is free of anything that can impede full absorption of the benefits).
- Use your prep product, styling product, and finishing product to style.
Day 5 & 6
If your hair is prone to feeling oily after 1-2 days, then include only one rest day between “On” days with your third wash day including shampoo, conditioner, and styling products.
This hair cycling routine is the rule, however, there are exceptions when you are dealing with scalp issues or are prone to greasy hair. When there are other factors to consider, your hair cycling program will require a more rigorous hair routine including balancing shampoos and scalp treatments. See our blog, Why is Everyone Talking About Scalp Health and Best Shampoos for Greasy Hair.
How to choose your Hair Cycling Products?
You want to choose each product with intention, meaning everything you use specifically addresses your hair type, hair texture, hair concerns, and hair goals. I have created a cheat sheet below to get you started.
1. Use a goal-specific shampoo
A shampoo that is best for YOUR hair texture, hair type, and hair concerns or goals.
2. Use a goal-specific conditioner
A conditioner that is best for YOUR hair texture, hair type, and hair concerns or goals.
3. Use a weekly clarifying shampoo or detoxing product
We all are prone to build up on our scalp and hair from products, hard water, sweat, oil, dirt, and dead skin. A weekly clarifying product or scalp scrub removes impurities from the hair follicles and hair setting the stage for a healthy scalp and healthy hair growth.
4. Use a weekly deep conditioner
Everything we do is drying to our hair and scalp: heat styling, UV rays, products, water (yes, water is actually drying), chemical services, brushing, terry cloth towels, shampooing every day. A weekly hydrating treatment replaces the hydration hair needs to fight breakage, frizz and porosity issues.
5. Use a weekly strengthening treatment
Strengthening rebuild the bonds in the hair that are broken during heat styling, chemical services, environmental stressors and UV rays making this an imperative step for everyone.
On styling days, ensure you use these vital products:
6. Use a leave-in conditioner, hair serum or hair oil
The first step out of the shower should include a prep product…a product that preps the hair for styling, detangles, as well as extends the hair care portion of your hair routine. It provides heat protection, detangles and hydrates. Which you choose depends entirely on your hair type and texture.
Here are my favorites by hair type:
7. Use a goal-specific styling product
Following your prep product, you should use a product that promotes the style you are hoping to achieve. Are you looking for volume? Do you want to calm unruly hair? Do you want to smooth frizz and add shine? Choose a styling product that’s entire focus is that goal, but is also specifically formulated for your hair type and hair texture.
8. Use a finishing or setting product
I call this a longevity product. Seal in your style and prevent frizz from humidity with a finishing hair spray like Davines Medium Hairspray. Add body and definition with a texture spray like O&M Desert Dry Volumizing Spray. Use Kavella Volumizing Teasing Powder or dry shampoo to create volume. Your product seals in your style so it lasts.
Top Volumizing Powders
Natalie Palomino is a Master Stylist, educator and Founder of North Authentic. Through advanced education and commitment to her craft, she built a vast clientele providing haircare education and hair services. In 2020, she created North Authentic, a conscious haircare retailer that puts the health of its customers and the planet at the forefront.