I’ll let you in on a secret: I never had a haircare routine until well into my 20s, even though for most of my adolescence I had long hair down to my waist. It’s not because I didn’t care about my hair—I cared quite a bit about my hair—I just didn’t know where to start. The only real semblance to a haircare routine was that every few weeks I put coconut oil in my hair, which ended up weighing it down more than it truly added moisture.
Now that I’ve had a few years in the beauty space, I have a tried-and-true haircare routine that I follow. Spoiler: my hair looks much better, is less unruly, and is easier to style. Haircare routines don’t have to be difficult—they should be simple enough that you can truly commit to one. I talked to stylists to find out the best haircare routine for everyone, whether you have thin, thick, straight, or curly hair (and everything in between!).
First and foremost, shampoo and conditioner are the bedrock of all haircare routines. Graham Nation, celebrity stylist and ambassador for Unite Hair, recommends shampooing once or twice a week, or three to four times per week if you have thinner hair that tends to get oily quickly.
When shampooing, Nation recommends focusing on the roots—don’t worry about the ends of your hair. Always follow up with a conditioner, which you can apply from the midway part of your hair to the ends. From there, moisture is key for everyone. “Right out of the shower, always use a leave-in conditioner or detangler,” says Nation.
“If you’re a person with thin hair, I feel that it’s really important to find products that are lightweight and moisturizing but won’t clog the hair follicle,” says Brown. “Also being sure to not use heavy stylers or conditioners in the crown area to avoid weighing down the hair which could make the hair look flatter and thinner.”
A good dry shampoo is also important for thin hair. Nation says it will help mitigate excess oil in between wash days while also giving you plenty of volume and lift.
Anyone with thick hair knows that haircare can be a daunting task. Before you do anything else, invest in a brush designed to use on wet hair. “Thick hair can absorb products more easily, so you want to make sure you are brushing the product throughout your hair to evenly distribute it,” says Nation. “Using a wet brush to evenly distribute the product will help ensure your finished style looks great from every angle.”
Moisture is extremely important for thick hair, so be sure to opt for products that deliver a hit of hydration. Brown recommends taking extra time to deep condition, detangle, and style thick hair, as it will pay off in the long run.
“Hair masques, curl creams and leave-in conditioners are going to be your best friend,” says Nation. If you have curly or textured hair, you should be sure to apply hair products when hair is still sopping wet to help maintain your curl pattern. At night, consider sleeping on a silk pillowcase to keep your style intact. Curly or textured hair can get dry easily, so while moisture is important for everyone, it’s particularly important to keep curls luscious.
It’s also important to be gentle on your curls. “We typically will find ourselves taking our day out on our hair when it comes to detangling,” says Brown. “Curly hair has more hair bonds, so use a bond-building hair product like Olaplex that is scientifically proven to strengthen and repair delicate strands.” Brown also recommends seeking advice from a curl specialist to let you know if there’s anything your hair might need specifically.
“If you’re someone with color-treated hair, then you want to do your best to preserve the investment,” says Brown. “This means using sulfate-free shampoos, a product with UVA and UVB protection, and also an environmental pollution protectant. We’re not always thinking about all of the things that can break down your color faster, but these are the main culprits.”
Nation notes that washing color-treated hair too much can cause color to fade faster. You can mitigate this by washing your hair with cold water to keep the cuticle sealed.