It felt like a fulfilled prophecy.

Somewhere in 2013, I was a college graduate who had just moved back home and was trying to find a job. Everything in my life felt very out of my control so I did the one thing I’ve seen women in movies do when they face a crisis: I changed my hair color.

I went from brunette to blonde and it felt like everything just fell into place.
That decision also came with a set of responsibilities I never had to adhere to before. Dark hair hides damage but color-treated hair, especially for people who lighten their hair, becomes damaged faster. In order to lift color, a hairstylist will use bleach or ammoniated color to highlight hair, which causes the hair cuticle to swell for the color or lightener to do its job. This can cause the hair’s bonds to break. Add in heat styling, weather, environmental stressors and more and my hair needs all the love it can get. These are some of the techniques and products I use to keep my hair healthy, shiny and strong.

Skip washes

Even when my hair was dark, I very rarely washed my hair every single night. Washing your hair strips it of its natural oils, fades color-treated hair faster and can lead to more damage. Now, I wash my hair about every third day but everyone’s time between washes has to suit them. To keep my hair fresh, I’ll use a dry shampoo such as Dove Beauty Refresh + Care Fresh Coconut Dry Shampoo or IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo on my roots and blast it with a hair dryer or brush it through my hair to work it in. My ends tend to look a little funky in between washes so I also will use a light styling cream on them such as IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm.

Limit heat

Gone are my days of flat-ironing my hair to the gods but there’s plenty of other ways to cause heat damage. I limit my blow-dryer use but, if I do, I take a page from my mom’s book. I let my hair air dry as long as I can before I hit it with the blow dryer for about 5 minutes to get the last spots dry. Also, Jonathan Van Ness from “Queer Eye” equated sleeping on your hair to keeping your hair on a 98.6 degree-flat iron for eight (or more) hours at a time. So I take a satin scrunchie (which doesn’t cause creasing) and pull my hair up like a pineapple on the top of my head.

Protect it

If I need to use a heat tool, I’ll spritz my strands with OGX Protecting + Silky Blowout Quick Drying Thermal Spray or It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product to keep my hair safe. It’s not just curling irons to watch out for, though. The sun can cause damage, too, and that’s where products such as OGX Orchid Color Protect Oil with UVA/UVB filters and nourishing oils can help.

Treat it

After I wash and condition my hair, I’ll squeeze out excess water with towel and apply a leave-in treatment such as OUAI Leave In Conditioner, Oribe Run-Through Detangling Primer or Healthy Sexy Hair Soy Tri Wheat Leave-In Conditioner.
Everyone needs a good hair mask. For quick masking, I’ll reach for rich, nourishing products such as dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Masque, Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask or Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner. I really love an overnight treatment, though. My first go-to is Save Me From Chemical Conflict, formulated with a special medicinal spice and a concentrated blend of bioactive compounds, this helps to repair damage and make hair stronger and shiner, as well as nourish the scalp. Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3, is an at-home treatment that contains the same active ingredient as its salon-only counterparts which relinks broken bonds caused by chemical, thermal or manual damage to the hair. I will apply it to damp hair and sleep in a shower cap to let it get to work.(If I don’t have the time before bed, I’ll at least leave it on for 30 minutes.) Speaking of Olaplex, I know my salon, The Salon at Lavish, offers Olaplex treatments. About every other appointment (I go every six weeks), I ask my stylist, Marina Diakatos, for the treatment to give my hair a little boost. I also get regular trims to keep it healthy.