A horror story: You're sitting at your hot pink marbled vanity, unwinding after a long day of massages, facials, and breathing quietly. You reach for your Mason Pearson to begin your nightly routine of brushing your hair 400 times before bed. The brush glides through your roots—naturally, because it's the best, and it's yours, and you are very rich—but begins to tug at your ends. You look down at the brush and see a swath of hair come off with it; you look in the mirror, and you're bald!!!!!!! The scream you emit warps you back to reality—in your bed, in your shared studio, in a cold sweat. It was all a dream. But the bad news is this: your nightmare is (sort of) real, and it's called hair breakage.
Breakage happens when your hair is so brittle—from treatments, from the elements, from whatever—that it snaps right off. Because it's winter, your risk for hair breakage heightens; if you color it, that's another deduction; if you heat style it, oh God, forget about it. Beauty editors should not have the authority to tell you how to live your life, but if the nightmare above spooked you in the least, consider the following precautionary steps to avoid the avoidable. Your hair is the only hair you got—until it all comes out and you're forced to grow it back. Just saying!
If your hair is even the slightest bit dry, try avoiding sulfates in your shampoo, for risk of drying it out even more. Sulfates, or sufactants, can be harsher on the body as they emulsify and pry dirt and grime from your skin and hair. But eliminating them is easy: Look for the word SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) in the ingredient list. If you find it, put it down.
Living Proof's Full Shampoo is universally adored and free of sulfates—the perfect swapout for the drugstore shamp you've been using since high school. For hair that's especially dry, coarse, or curly, low- or no-poo cleansers—like Briogeo's Co-Wash—tend to be sulfate-free and are especially nourishing.
Eat More Protein
"Avocado toast with an egg is the key to life," bellows Senior Editor Emily Ferber daily. And she's right, if you swap "life" with "healthy hair." Protein-rich foods actually sustain hair growth and body. They also sustain appetite, which is unrelated, but not a bad thing. Good fats are also essential, like Omega-3s—and if you're wont to go the supplement route, Viviscal is endorsed by Caroline Trentini, Karlie Kloss, and countless others. Hair health from within, etc.
Try Hot Oil Treatments
We mentioned regular massage as an effective way to combat dry scalp last week, but hot oil does the trick, too. All you need is an oil of choice (avocado, olive, jojoba, or coconut are all fair game), the means to heat said oil, and a head full of hair. Heat the oil until it's warm—NOT scorching hot, please test it on your person first—and when it's ready, lean over your bathtub, and pour it into your scalp. It feels like pure, unfettered bliss. You are welcome.
Massage the oil from scalp to root to tip, separating out any excess stuff, and tuck your hair into a towel or shower cap. Chill for an hour, sulfate-free shampoo it out, and repeat as often as you'd like. Experts recommend once a week, but your hair, your rules.
Like this $1,300 La Perla robe wrapped around your head at all times, or this much less expensive Silke London Cap that affixes to your head, stays in place all night long, and serves major Louis Vuitton Spring 2011 vibes. Friction between your hair and pillowcase is a real thing, but sleeping on silk prevents all of that. Slip's silk pillowcase is an office favorite, but isn't a jewel-toned sleeping cap, like, 40% more glam?
Swap Hair Ties For Scrunchies
Because ponytail holders can stress out hair. Maybe! Why not? Everything old is new again.
Photo via ITG.