How can I make my straight hair look clean?
January 24, 2013 9:05 PM   Subscribe

Pretty much every day of the past year has been a bad hair day for me. Please help.

My hair is thin, straight, and currently in a chin-length bob. Immediately after I wash it, it separates into strands and hangs limply, almost as if it hasn't been washed at all. This has made me self-conscious and miserable on many occasions, and I'd like to fix it.

More detail: I am female, around 30, and have always had a fairly simple hair-care routine of shampoo and occasionally conditioner. I wash my hair every morning and blow-dry. I also color it with henna about once every six weeks and have been doing that for years. After first noticing a problem (a hairstyle change made it very obvious at the time), I figured it could be due to extra oils in my hair or shampoo residue. So I tried different brands of shampoos - regular drugstore, salon, the more natural ones, and those promoted as 'clarifying'. I tried washing my hair less often and going without conditioner, using the conditioner on just the ends of my hair, using it for the whole length. I tried shampooing once, twice, or not at all. All of that was to no avail. One hairdresser suggested a shampoo+conditioner combo (no results), and a second a light styling glaze. I scrunch a bit of it into wet hair and blow-dry. The styling glaze is the only thing so far that was able to alleviate the problem a bit, but not enough to stop me from being self-conscious. What I have also noticed is that after I color my hair with henna (that involves a wet henna compress that I hold in place for two hours), I will have a couple of good shiny hair days, and then my hair will go right back to separating into those hateful strands.

I would really appreciate any advice.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (43 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You mention that you tried washing your hair less often, but how much time did you spend trying to get your hair to adjust to that? I wash my hair every three days usually, and it gets greasy every three days. I used to wash it every two days, and it got greasy every two days. Hair has a tendency to adjust to what we do to it, and it can take a while to change that.

I'm not advocating a no-shampoo routine, though I know that works for some people, and it may be worth looking into (baking soda + water is a popular shampoo substitute). However, just taking a few weeks to get your hair to adjust to less-frequent washing could be helpful.

Additionally, if you ever need a short-term hair fix, I've used talcum powder on my hair in the past when it was greasy & I couldn't wash it.
posted by littlegreen at 9:10 PM on January 24, 2013

Are you cleaning your brushes and combs regularly to remove oil and residue? Do you touch your hair a lot? Brushes and hands can re-introduce oils and make for limp hair.

I've noticed that my hair looks thicker and swingier if I don't blow-dry every day and if I get a good trim every two months. I think the heat was killing it and making it limp.
posted by mochapickle at 9:14 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

How often do you comb your hair?

My hair is exactly like yours, and also tends to "separate into strands" even when freshly washed and blown dry. Mostly I just let it be, if I'm not going anywhere and have nobody to impress*. But I find that brushing it out after blow drying helps a lot, when I want to look more put together.

Agree on regular trims. I also find that putting my hair up helps me to touch it less, which means that your particular haircut, the chin-length bob, might be exacerbating this for you.

I would not attempt to wash less. Total waste of time on hair like ours.

*I've been working a lot on the notion that other people don't notice this stuff nearly as closely as we do, and trying to worry less if I don't have hair model perfect hair at all times. How often do you notice the perfection or lack thereof of others' hair?
posted by Sara C. at 9:30 PM on January 24, 2013

Use non-lauryl sulfate shampoo!

This was miraculous for me, with very thin strands.

I only wash... When needed. Sometimes I rinse water, no shampoo or conditioner.

My stylist believes in product, but respects that I hate it (it weighs my very thin hair down.)

I get frizzies. I use a very very scant amount of jojoba oil on my wet hair - OR - whatever silicon stuff I have from my stylist that smells like almonds... Still have the same bottle of that over 3 years.

Over-washing is your problem.


I don't know what they are called, but you can roll your hair with these foam roller thingies for shape when damp, but for fuck's sake, DO NOT blow dry your fine hair.

Your blow dryer is destroying whatever natural body your hair has. Let it grow out and recover. Then develop a hair plan. Really.
posted by jbenben at 9:34 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Could you describe your blow-dry technique? Do you just point the hairdryer at your hair until it's dry, or do you do it in sections using a round brush?

I have fine hair which looks awful if I let it dry naturally. I blow-dry my hair in sections using a round brush, taking each section and stretching it out as I run the brush down the strands, angling the hairdryer downwards and focusing the heat on each section until it is dry. This is basically the standard blow-out technique that hairdressers use. It makes all the difference - my blow-dried hair is smooth and has body, rather than hanging limply.

I wash my hair every day and so does my hairdresser - if you have fine hair that also gets oily then sometimes you just have to. My hair won't hold a style overnight, as it just doesn't have enough substance.

If you don't already have a high quality hairdryer then that's also something that might help. Drugstore brands are generally pretty crappy. Parlux hairdryers are the best, although very expensive.
posted by RubyScarlet at 9:35 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Henna coats the hair surface. I suspect that the coating's stickiness is part of your problem. It looks good for a few days after you henna, because it's a fresh, smooth coating.

Would you consider stripping the henna and using an alternate form of hair color?
posted by 26.2 at 9:50 PM on January 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Um, no. Blowdrying can be an excellent way to overcome texture issues like the separating strands you are talking about. I think RubyScarlet has it - blowdry in sections with a round brush, Since your hair is straight (mine is fine too but very curly) you might want to try blow drying it with your head upside down until it is about 80% dry as this will add volume. I don't do this because it would make me look like an 80s hair metal groupie but for straight haired folks it will add volume.
posted by sweetkid at 9:51 PM on January 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

Yes, as a straight-and-fine-and-oily haired lady, blowdrying upside down is a lifesaver. I'm sure it would be "better" if I did the round brush section thing, but I'm not coordinated enough.

I start by drying my bangs and each front section right side up (so that they don't get blown into a strange shape), then I flip my head upside down until it's about 80% done. Then, if I want it to look really smooth and not stringy, long term, I comb it, and then dry that last 20% right side up. Possibly followed by another comb-out if I need it to be absolutely perfect.
posted by Sara C. at 10:07 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you for the answers, much appreciated! To address a few questions, I clean my brushes and combs every week. I have changed the frequency of hairwashing for a couple of months at a time (that even included a desperate period when I tried to wash my hair once a week only). I am not sure if I'm touching my hair too often, but the puzzling thing is that it doesn't feel oily, and it's immediately after it is dried that it separates into strands. I comb it about 3-4 times a day. I have tried not to blow-dry, which seemed to make my hair even limper, but I will keep experimenting with it. I use a round brush with bristles of about 1cm when blow-drying, but without much system: for instance, I don't wait until a strand is dry before going on to another one. Never tried blow-drying upside-down.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:11 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Use a dollop of mousse (maybe half the volume of a golf ball?) on wet hair, comb through with a wide-toothed comb, then blow-dry upside down. Give it a spray of Loreal Elnett hairspray (gold can; I do not vouch for other brands of hairspray) when it looks the way you want it to. Comb max twice during the day.

I've found people who have good hair often use product. (Not everyone; some people are good-hair freaks.) I thought product looked like glue; applied right, it looks like great hair. I did not figure this out until embarrassingly late.
posted by purpleclover at 10:33 PM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

In my opinion, you need more product. Your hair is stringy not because it's oily, but because it's thin and fine -- you don't have the physical volume needed to prevent stringiness, so you have to help it along.

I too have very fine hair and it looks TERRIBLE if I air dry it. I air dry if I'm not going anywhere because it's better for it in general, but if I want to be presentable, I blow it dry. Sara C has the technique down, but you should also put product into your hair when you blow dry it for it to sort of hold it together.

I also advise going sulfate-free, in general, but DO NOT use a combo shampoo/conditioner. Those are great for people with perfect hair but they're kind of a racket otherwise and I am surprised your stylist recommended it. (Also, you don't need a clarifier more than once a week -- that is probably stripping the moisture and making your scalp create more.)

Personally, I use variety of shampoos (right now, a Revlon sulfate-free from the drugstore that I like; but I've used a lot of other volumizing ones as well), and conditioner from about the ears down. Condition FIRST and then wash -- you still get the conditioning, but washing it last keeps it from weighing you down. Then, I use a Kerastase heat-protectant leave-in so that I don't fry it too badly, and to help comb out the tangles. I also use a volumizer (right now I'm using a Revlon alcohol-free volumizer because I have extensions in to combat said fineness, and too much alcohol in a voluminizer is bad for them). A "styling glaze" sounds like a bad idea because it's probably too slick and silcone-y, and is weighing down your fine fine hair -- you should be using something like the classic Phytovolume. A spray voluminzer will give you oomph but without the slickness of a glaze.

I also agree that the henna is not probably helping. If you want to color it, use actual hair color (it doesn't have to be permanent), which has the advantage of giving your hair some texture, which is probably what it needs. Honestly, I suspect you also could possibly benefit from a slightly tweaked haircut. Is it a blunt bob? Because that is glorious for a thick haired woman, but those of us with finer hair need some layers to give it movement so that it doesn't just hang there all sad.

I hope that didn't come out YOU ARE DOING IT ALL WRONG, but to be totally frank, as a fellow fine-haired lady some of the stuff your stylist told you seems whack. I say this as someone who has devoted MUCH OF HER BRAIN POWER to making her fine, sparse hair look thick and glorious. You can TOTALLY IMPROVE this situation. I promise.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 10:37 PM on January 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

I also have hair like yours. I stopped using conditioner, and use moroccan argan oil. Just a few drops after I wash my hair, worked into the ends. Stopped the stringy factor, and the frizziness from blow drying.

I also keep a hair pick with me. A quick comb-through reduces stringiness, but doesn't get frizzy.
posted by shinyshiny at 10:37 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also have straight hair with a tendency towards oily. Blow drying upside down has helped me a lot, and the other thing that has helped is using a coal tar shampoo (like T/Gel or generic), and then washing it a second time with a regular clarifying shampoo (I just use the 99 cent Vo5 or whatever). This keeps it from separating for about 2 days typically - using regular shampoo or washing once will only keep it from separating for a day or less after the shower. Then I wear it up in a ponytail for another couple of days before washing it again because well.... I'm lazy with hair and a ponytail covers up the separation issue.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:40 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I kind of have this hair. I use that "dry shampoo" stuff (I like Dove brand) every day, even if I just washed my hair. I just have freakishly oily hair, whether I go no-poo or double-poo or uber-poo... dry shampoo fixes it, making me like a normal person. Unless I use dry shampoo, my hair will not hold a curl or have any volume.

Oh, I also create "fake" volume by wearing my hair kind of like this girl does (skip to about 2:00; the presenter-lady is... a little... well, she's not my cup of tea, but she taught me how to do my hair, so I'm grateful and I skip to 2:00): hair poof
posted by samthemander at 10:47 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you have straight, limp hair, blow-drying is not going to make it limper. The thing that happens with overdrying is that the cuticle of each strand of hair, which should be covered in these flat scallops of dead cells, gets all messed up. The cuticle doesn't lie flat, it starts to stick out. Overdried hair looks frizzy and kind of crispy; damage from heat styling can also cause long hair to split at the ends and break (this is not generally a problem with chin-length hair). Frankly, it sounds like you could use a little bit of crispiness/frizz, so I wouldn't worry about blow-drying being damaging.

Going SLS-free is a very YMMV thing. Sulfate-free shampoos make my hair limp and faintly gummy.
posted by purpleclover at 10:58 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Question: can your hair stylist style it (ie, after a haircut) so it looks good for more than one day? If so, what product or technique is she using?

Thin, fine hair benefits from haircolor; highlights (tinfoil method) are another option.

Consider cutting your hair in really short layers all over. Before you dismiss this as too drastic, think of the time savings of never having to comb your hair (!). Use gel/wax/mousse to get it to stick up in any direction you want.

Try this product. It's a powder that creates incredible volume without making your hair sticky. Only takes a small amount applied at the hairline.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:28 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also have very fine hair, wavy and long, that needs washing every day or my scalp gets oily.

Moroccan Oil has done amazing things for the texture of my hair. Pricy, but worth every cent.
posted by Salamander at 11:40 PM on January 24, 2013

My mother has similar sounding hair to you - fine and thin and oily. She washes daily with 'volumising' shampoo, doesn't use conditioner, and blowdries upside down. I think she might use a diffuser. She also has a short, choppy cut to help keep it light and textured, I think she uses a little wax on it, and she frequently bemoans the lack of hairdressers who know how to deal with fine hair.

My hair is thick and prone to frizz, and copying her haircare routine led to me pretty much having an afro all through school.
posted by corvine at 2:16 AM on January 25, 2013

I have similar hair to you. I have also had the experience of hair going stringy even when clean. I think fine straight hair is just like that.

Having said that, a general principle is that people either use the wrong product or overload on the right one. The henna may also be contributing. You are using the conditioner only on the ends, right?

Have you ever tried washing your hair twice a day, morning and evening? Have you also tried washing your brushes and combs every time you wash your hair? Could your hair be brushing against your face and picking up oil from your skin?

But in the end, I do think that fine straight hair is just like that. The only ways (that I've found) of avoiding stringiness have been the Eton crop and, conversely, growing my hair long enough to wear it up, all the time. Either cut it off, or nail it to your head, is my advice.
posted by tel3path at 3:34 AM on January 25, 2013

I have always found that 80% of the time, using shampoo makes me hair frizzy, limp, and gross (and then not using it, my hair is just greasy and gross).

My current solution is this: conditioner every single day for all the hair, but shampoo only once every three days or so. Comb hair every single day. I think it is the best routine I've had yet!
posted by molecicco at 4:35 AM on January 25, 2013

Thin, fine hair benefits from haircolor; highlights (tinfoil method) are another option.

Came in to say this. Highlights are the only thing that really helps my very similar hair. Using a volumizing product before blow-drying also helps a little, though not nearly as much as regular highlights. The two in combination work best. But you might have to try a lot of products to find one that doesn't weigh your hair down.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 4:54 AM on January 25, 2013

1. Root lift mousse. Not too much, and just at the roots.
2. If the issue is build up/residue, I would use the Nutrogena Ani-Residue shampoo. I use it once or twice a month and man alive, what a difference.
3. No touching/combing/brushing your hair during the day. At. All.
4. I suspect the henna is contributing. I would go a different route for your hair colour.
5. Dry shampoo (in a can) could help. On the days where I'm trying to get a second wearing of my straightened hair, it can look really greasy and icky at the roots. Some dry shampoo at the roots helps tremendously and my hair goes back to how it was. Magical.
6. Agree with DestinationUnknown. A friend of mine had long, mega limp, greasy roots blonge hair. Getting regular highlights, for whatever reason, gave her hair new life.
7. Consider getting silicone-free products.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 5:24 AM on January 25, 2013

Has your diet changed in the last year? I had a bad hair half decade until I made some lifestyle changes that had nothing to do with shampoo or cut. Make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet and that you're sleeping adequately.

Also, sadly, fine limp hair sometimes gets more so as we grow older. An excellent cut can help with this, especially an excellent SHORT cut. I bobbed my hair a couple of years ago after resisting it for years and haven't looked back. There was no recovering from the straggle if I'd kept my hair shoulder-length.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:27 AM on January 25, 2013

This is fascinating. A lot of people are giving advice that I associate with getting curly hair to separate into strands, which is the opposite of what you're asking for -- namely condition-washing, not touching it at all ever, etc.

So assuming what you want is the opposite of what a curly wants, and given my experience with my fine-and-straight-haired daughter: Switch to a boar-bristle brush (when your hair is dry). You say you comb your hair about four times a day -- give it a good brush-through after it's dry, brush instead of combing thereafter, and see if it makes any difference.

As a curly, I'm used to using a wide-toothed comb because brushes declump the hair. On curly hair, this induces frizz madness. On someone with straight hair (like my kid), it smoothes and glosses. So not fair.

Good luck!
posted by Andrhia at 6:07 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know you're getting a ton of contradictory opinions, but just to throw my $.02 in -- I have similar hair as well, and what has worked for me is:
1. An excellent haircut, where I make clear to the stylist that I want lots of layers and movement and volume
2. Shampooing and conditioning daily with a volumizing shampoo
3. Letting my hair airdry
4. NEVER brushing or combing it -- this seems to make the biggest difference for me, as soon as I comb it the whole thing flattens like a pancake
5. No product other than a few drops of hair oil in it, like this one, and kind of scrunching it around with my hands to give my hair some volume
then 6. not touching it for the rest of the day.
posted by EmilyFlew at 6:21 AM on January 25, 2013

We have similar hair it sounds like and I have had similar problems. Here is what has helped:

Clarifying and/or bodifying shampoo (I switch between Aveeda rosemary mint & Paul mitchell lemon sage)

This is best product I have tried for fine hair

(edited to fix link I failed to paste in)
posted by pointystick at 6:56 AM on January 25, 2013

Dry shampoo! Miracle product.
posted by 4bulafia at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have hair like yours, and this is what I do:

1. No product. My stylist can get my hair to be nice and full with product. I can't. Anything I put in it weighs it down and makes it flat and greasy.

2. Blow-dry my hair with a specific technique my stylist taught me. If I let it dry naturally, it goes flat against my head, and if I just blow at it willy-nilly until it's dry, it ends up looking weird.

3. Wash my hair every 2nd or 3rd day--it gets dry if I wash it more often. Usually the 2nd day is fine, although flatter. If it's too greasy or not cooperating, I'll either wet it and blow-dry, or wash it with conditioner only and blow-dry. That gets enough of the dirt out of it to get a it fluffier, although not perfect.

To dry my hair, first I towel-dry it, then I comb through it with a wide-toothed comb to remove any tangles. Then I blow-dry it willy-nilly for a short time to get some more moisture out. Then I pick up a wide (2" diameter) round brush, and brush as much of my hair as I can over to one side. I attack it in sections, starting from the bottom of my scalp, taking new sections of hair each time until I reach the crown of my head. I gently roll the section of hair over the brush and hold it straight out from my head. I hit the roots with a few waves of the dryer, then follow the brush out along the hair shafts of that section of hair until I reach the end. Then I get the next section up, and so on. I don't worry too much about the ends, because they're going to dry faster anyway and I have no need to over-dry them. The roots are what's essential, because all lift comes from the roots.

Once I get to the crown of my head, I tilt my head the other way and do the same thing on that side. I attack the back of my hair in a similar fashion, only I can't see what I'm doing back there so it's mostly guesswork.

The keys are to (1) dry the roots while gently pulling them straight away from your head with the brush, and (2) NEVER brushing your hair with the brush afterward. Use a comb if you need to work out tangles, because the brush can and will flatten out all that lift you carefully put in, especially if you brush it with the brush on top of the hair strands (unlike the brush-underneath version above, when you're drying it).

WARNING: ART MADE WITH A TRACKBALL! Here's a quick-n-dirty sketch of the steps, because my words are probably not clear.
posted by telophase at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have your hair too. Make sure none of the products you use have silicone in them, and try full from living proof. I've never used henna, but agree you should try using a different formula for color and see if that helps.

Also, don't blow dry while your hair is soo wet, towel dry and wait until it is more on the damp side.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:57 AM on January 25, 2013

Some of us look like Snape if we don't blow dry.

I have hair like yours and a Mason Pearson brush has completely changed my hairstyling process. I use a wide-tooth comb when wet, blow dry with a round brush, and then throughout the day I brush my hair with the Mason Pearson. I have the smallish combo version (so it has boar bristles and nylon bristles).

I think they have "instructions" but it's been while since I bought it. Basically, run the brush through your hair, always starting at your scalp and pulling the brush all the way through the ends. Long, slow strokes. Brushing upside down adds volume.
posted by peep at 9:00 AM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

WEIRD, I also had a year like that where one huge section of my hair --just the one section, WTF?-- was just *gross,* even immediately after showering. Nothing I did made any difference, and luckily it was long enough that that shit lived in a bun for 52 damn weeks.

Then I got it colored, just because I was bored of the color, and bam, fixed. It was like it reset something. Mostly now it's okay, unless I don't rinse very well or use too heavy a conditioner. So step one, maybe go get a pro coloring done, instead of the henna.

Other things that I tell myself were helpful but who the hell knows:

1) I stick with color-safe shampoo 4 days a week, clarifying 3 days.

2) Getting some layers cut in was a big help--it's less noticeable if one section starts to wig out.

3) n'thing dry shampoo. John Frieda makes a good aerosol one, if you prefer spray to powder.

Not blow-drying is not an option. It's 10 goddamn degrees outside, I am neither going to wait in my house for 2 hours til my hair is dry, nor go out there and grow some icicles. :)
posted by like_a_friend at 9:11 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Velcro rollers and air drying (though sometimes I speed things up with the blow dryer after my hair is rolled). My hair is like yours and I'd have no body at all if I didn't do this.
posted by apartment dweller at 10:11 AM on January 25, 2013

Adding to my comment above: I also use EVO's Gluttony shampoo and Bride of Gluttony conditioner.
posted by telophase at 10:23 AM on January 25, 2013

Some types of silicone in hair care products can create a build-up on hair, at least according to a variety of sources (here is one). The symptoms of silicone build-up sound just like what you are describing in your hair.
posted by Brody's chum at 10:49 AM on January 25, 2013

Popping back in to note that the Mason Pearson boar bristle brush is the only beauty tool that I think is really worth the price and the hype, especially for fine hair.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Aveda Rosemary Mint. I try not to be a brand whore or fall for marketing hoo-ha, but man, Aveda Rosemary Mint is one of my all time favorite products, and the only shampoo that makes dealing with my hair not a constant battle.

Re dry shampoo, one thing I'll say is that you need to make sure you really get it out of your hair in the shower. I once used it while traveling to extend the time between washings, and after a couple days it built up into a nasty, almost dandruffy mess when combined with my scalp's natural oiliness.

If I were you, I would only use it regularly if I were going to wash with shampoo during my next shower.
posted by Sara C. at 12:11 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have similar issues with my fine, straight hair. People always say to stop washing it daily but I can't stand having super greasy hair, even for a day. What's worked for me is to first add some layering to the cut, which helps create a little body in and of itself.

After washing, I scrunch mousse into the roots of my hair and blow dry with a big round brush to flip out the ends of the layers. Once everything's totally dry, I flip my head upside down and use a little hairspray at the roots.

I'm too cheap for salon-grade products but I've found success with an Herbal Essences line of products for those cursed with our plight. It's called Body Envy, comes in orange bottles. I use the shampoo, conditioner, mousse and hairspray in the above routine.

Also, I'm an advocate of emergency dry shampoo in a little travel bottle in my makeup bag for especially long days. The brand Tresemme has a dry shampoo called "FreshStart" that is light, smells nice and absorbs a lot of oil at the roots.
posted by woolly at 12:40 PM on January 25, 2013

Also wanted to add that dry shampoo comes in different colours. You can match it to your hair if your hair is dark (e.g. coloured with henna). I like the Batiste stuff.
posted by 4bulafia at 3:01 PM on January 25, 2013

I also have thin, straight hair. What helps: color. This dries it out and gives it some texture. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true.

Even if I don't color, what really helps: an excellent hair cut. Layers, texture, the whole thing. No matter what products I use, if it's straight and one length, it's not going to look all that good.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:59 PM on January 25, 2013

I thought more people would have mentioned it already: dry shampoo. My friend gets this one cheaper for me with her salon-store discount, but I would pay regular price. I swear by it, and I have hair like yours.
posted by chela at 7:09 PM on January 25, 2013

Hello, fine-haired lady here. I have fought a long battle with my hair over the years, and have resorted to perms, mousse, blow dryers, curlers, hair spray, you name it. And I gave it all up. I haven't touched a hair dryer in a long time (though it is dried two or three times a year at the hair cutter's). I don't color, don't use product, and have cut back to washing two or three times a week. Conditon once a week. My amazing hair cutter gave me a layered style so that it would be able to be jammed under a hat or bike helmet or both and not look horrible. And it looks as good, if not better, than it has in years. I simply don't care enough about looking styled to spend hours out of my day working on my hair, so maybe my advice won't apply to you. But I would say, take a break from everything and see what happens.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:16 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Apologies if I duplicate responses; I read most of them, but this is a popular topic.

I have long, fine, baby-fine, hair. There is a lot of it on a per-inch basis, but it's filament. Air-drying just means I have flat, dull, quickly greasy looking hair.

1) Good hair cut. I can tell I need one right now, actually, because all the volume around my face is gone. A REALLY good hair cut can last a long time, because it grows out well. Find a good stylist. If you are in the Atlanta area, I am more than happy to introduce you to the woman who has cut my hair for . . at least 10 years. She is fantastic.

2) Wash the roots, condition the ends. I shampoo at the roots, and wash the soap down the length of my hair. I put the conditioner on the ends, and work it halfway up the strands, more or less. I wash my hair first and then put it up with a soft hair tie while I do everything else in my routine. Rinse conditioner out last. ASK your awesome stylist about what kind of shampoo and conditioner they might recommend for you. Be open to the idea that Henna might not be helping you out.

3) Product. I use a smoothing cream basically like I use conditioner - a tiny amount on the ends and about halfway up the strands. Then I use some kind of volumizer near the roots and on the upper half of my hair.

4) Blow dry upside down and/or with a round brush - I do a sort of mix of these two things, just try not to aim at your scalp.

Good luck. :)
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:26 AM on January 26, 2013

Seconding the Mason Pearson brush. I lost my brush years ago and could only afford a cheap replacement, and every one I tried *actually caused pain*. Literally.

I don't know if it's *enough* to solve your problem, but I think it's necessary. In any case you'll never need another brush as long as you live. My mother has had the same Mason-Pearson brush since before I was born.
posted by tel3path at 1:19 PM on January 26, 2013

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