There are few things we haven’t done for our skin. We’ve cleansed, toned, masked, and moisturized. We’ve exfoliated, steamed, and put in our time with the facialist and the derm. So can we blame our hair and scalp for feeling a little neglected by comparison?
Indeed, according to Los Angeles–based hairstylist Sascha Breuer, we could all be paying our manes a little (or a lot) more mind. Just like your yearly visit to the dermatologist for mole mapping and sun damage assessment, Breuer suggests penciling in an annual consultation with your hairstylist—especially if you color regularly. “When you change your hair color from darker to blond and back again, your locks become more stressed and lose elasticity, bounce, and shine,” he explains. “The good thing about skin is that it repairs itself and regenerates, but hair is composed of keratin rather than living cells—once it’s damaged, it’s damaged.”
Below, Breuer, who works with the flawlessly coiffed Jaime King and Ellen Pompeo, breaks down the importance of giving your hair and scalp the same TLC you lavish on your face. Read on and follow his suggested steps to see problem hair get good and great hair get even better.
Breuer has clients bring in all their shampoos, conditioners, styling products, and treatments so he can understand their regimen. (Common mistakes include using too much or the wrong type of product, and under-rinsing.) “Ideally, set up a separate consultation from your cut and color during your lunch break so you have time to think about your hair options,” he explains. “I suggest coming prepared with some images that translate to what you like about your own hair or what inspires you.” During such consultations, Breuer asks questions like, “Does your shampoo work?” “Are you actually happy with the result?” “Are you happy with the conditioner?” “Often, clients are either using [the product] incorrectly or it’s no longer the right fit for them,” he adds. “They may have had short hair and now it’s long and they don’t know what to do with it. I then suggest solutions for their hair type, styling abilities, and needs.”
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
Below, Breuer notes the best queries to bring along to your initial consultation with your stylist.
1. If you could do anything to my hair, what would you do?
“This way you can establish if he or she is the right person for you and understands what you want.”
2. What is your long-term vision for my hair?
“Asking this will help you to establish a goal to work toward.”
3. What hair color would look best with my haircut and skin tone?
“Now you are getting into what separates an okay hairstylist or colorist from a top-notch one, because he or she can tell by your features what will best fit your persona.”
4. How often should I come in to keep my hair color looking fresh?
“This will allow you to decide if the suggested shade actually works for your lifestyle. For example, going platinum blond requires higher maintenance because you’ll have to touch up the roots every couple of weeks.”
5. How can I replicate this style at home?
“Your hairstylist will now have to come up with some options and explain how to get the best out of your style so you’ll love your hair every day—not just after leaving the salon.”
THE ISSUE AT HAND:
“If you have thin hair, or your hair color is very light, then it is likely that your scalp gets sunburned, especially along the part,” notes Breuer. “A sunburn here can result in consequences from mild blister formation to burning and tingling or even acute scalp irritant dermatitis,” which presents as inflammation and small red bumps.
Breuer recommends incorporating products with UV filters, like those from Wella’s Sun Care range. He suggests the Hair & Skin Hydrator, a soothing cream that provides long-lasting moisture to the hair and scalp after sun exposure. The stylist also likes the Protection Spray to defend hair against UV rays and hydrate it through a vitamin complex.
For hair, just like for skin, it’s important to make sure you’re not allergic to the color or product (including shampoo and conditioner) that you’re about to apply. Reactions can include anything from itchiness or atopic dermatitis.
If you’re trying a new formula, test a very small amount of the color on the inside of your elbow area or behind the ear to make sure your skin can tolerate it. “Within 24 hours you will see if your skin is reacting,” says Breuer. This test is ideal for traditional at-home hair dye, but if you’re super sensitive, I recommend going to your salon a few days before your scheduled appointment so your stylist can administer the test.”
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER:
“If you want beautiful hair for the rest of your life, you need to maintain it,” asserts Breuer. “Women start losing hair for multiple reasons. It can be hereditary, and it can be caused by stress or sunburn. Hormonal changes that come with stopping or starting birth control pills can also lead to increased shedding.”
“Eat well, especially during times of stress, as deficiencies in nutrients such as vitamins D and B, iron, zinc, magnesium, protein, and essential fatty acids can exacerbate the problem,” he says. Breuer is also keen on exfoliating your scalp to maintain your mane. “Exfoliating helps cleanse, tone, moisturize, and improve the condition of the skin,” he says. “Hair grows best from a clean and healthy scalp, and this can also help support the growth of new hair. If you suffer from dandruff, weekly scalp exfoliation can help minimize flaking.” Click through for Breuer’s top hair- and scalp-care picks.