Let’s begin with a simple question that has a profound impact on how we spend our time and live our lives.
How much time per day, week, and year do you think you spend doing your hair?
If you’re like the American women surveyed by beauty retailer Lookfantastic, you spend 11 hours a month—that’s more than five days per year—staring at yourself in the mirror with an assortment of heat tools and hair products. Anyone who has frizzy hair like me knows it can easily be much more than that.
Growing up, I didn’t always know what to do with my curly hair. My hometown of Dallas, Texas didn’t help; the humidity acted as a combustor, save for the few precious days of winter weather in February. As a kid, I felt like Albert Einstein. Something had to give.
Much later, as a working professional, that something was—you guessed it—a lot of my time. I used to spend thirty minutes a day blow-drying my hair. Now, however, I’ve learned how to maintain my mane without sinking a week of my year (or more) in front of the mirror. These are the tips that have helped me keep my curly hair healthy and manageable with minimal effort.
When it comes to washing
Shampoo no more than twice per week but perhaps even less often, depending on your curl type. And when you do use shampoo, avoid sulfates. Sulfates create a negative electrical charge and, as a result, frizz. Shampooing too much strips the natural oils from your hair, which causes it to get even dryer. Less is more.
On the conditioner side, look for Argan oil. Argan oil-based conditioners moisturize your hair and scalp and reduces split ends, a physical condition caused by dryness.
Before you touch a blow-dryer
Spritz moisturizing spray onto your hair after showering (I personally like COLOR WOW Dream Coat for Curly Hair). Then pat your wet hair with a microfiber towel. Microfiber towels dry hair faster and more effectively than their cotton counterparts. And because hair breaks most easily when wet, blow-drying damp (rather than wet) hair will cause less damage.
You can also let it air dry for a while—which is time you can spend doing anything else!
When you’re ready to blow-dry
Use a boar bristle brush. A boar bristle brush is one in which the filament or bristle comes from the wild boar. The soft bristles add shine and smoothness and cause less breakage compared to other types of brushes for those who have thick hair. It’s worth the investment and has worked best for me.
When it comes to the hair dryer itself, try an ionic hair dryer and diffuser. An ionic hair dryer transfers negative ions to your hair, which attracts the positive ions in water to help your hair dry faster. It also seals the cuticle, the outermost part of the hair shaft. Make sure to start from your roots and work down to the ends, pointing the blow dryer down. The diffuser disperses air, which prevents the dryer from roughening up the cuticle of the hair and maintains natural texture like curls or waves.
When you do finally sit down with your hair-dryer, turn on a podcast (or even a movie with subtitles) and listen using headphones. At least you’ll know that the time you’ve spent blow-drying your hair—whatever the tally for the year—was informative or entertaining.
To maintain your style post-blowout
A silk pillowcase helps preserve your style overnight. The gentle surface lessens friction on the hair and keeps the cuticle intact. Silk pillowcases also preserve moisture. An even more effective option—if you don’t mind wearing something on your head at night—is a silk nightcap.
I still have less-than-perfect hair days, which is why I always keep a comb and a few barrettes in my purse for a quick fix. But since I adopted these tips into my routine, my hair has become stronger, less frizzy, and more manageable.
And just as importantly: I’m spending a lot less time with my hair-dryer.