The Secret to Soft and Shiny Hair

What to do when your hair has seemingly turned to straw? Three experts weigh in. By Megan Deem, REDBOOK.

The hair colorist says: "Coloring your hair can feel like a trade-off: Most permanent dyes contain ammonia, which makes hair drier and less shiny, but semipermanent color, though gentler, washes out in six weeks and can't lighten hair. Now, a number of salons offer Inoa, an ammonia-free permanent color that really lasts." Or try Garnier Olia, $9.99, an ammonia-free home kit. Regardless of the type of color you use, a nourishing treatment before and after your dye job can reduce hair damage. The night before coloring, "microwave a tablespoon of coconut oil-two tablespoons for very damaged hair-for 15 seconds, then spread it through dry hair. Keep it on overnight and wash it out in the morning. Then, at the salon, ask for a deep conditioning treatment after your hair is colored." If you're coloring at home, apply a deep conditioner like Nexxus Humectress Ultimate Moisture Deep Conditioning Treatment, $14.99, right after you shampoo out the dye, and leave it on for 10 minutes. -Kyle White, head colorist at the Oscar Blandi Salon in New York City, whose clients include Mariah Carey

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The hairstylist says: "Blow-drying and ironing wear away hair's cuticles, so it becomes dry and frizzy and can break easily. To cut back on heat exposure, try an ionic dryer, which dries hair faster than a regular one. Always hold the nozzle at least two inches away from your head, and keep it moving so you don't scorch strands." Just as you wouldn't grab a hot pan without an oven mitt, don't use a curler or flat iron without applying a heat-protecting spray (such as John Frieda Frizz-Ease Heat Defeat Protective Styling Spray, $6.49). Plus, look for a model that's ceramic (a flat iron should be 100-percent ceramic), which distributes heat evenly; we like FHI Heat Technique G3 Ceramic flat iron, $79.99, or Sedu Revolution Clipless Curling Iron, $120. And remember this: "If you have split ends, it's time for a haircut, because no product can mend them for good." -Juan Carlos Maciques, senior hairstylist at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez and Emmy Rossum

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The scientist says: "You can't reverse cuticle damage, but you can make your hair look better and protect it going forward. First, use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner-sulfates suck moisture out of hair-and make sure both your shampoo and conditioner have hydrolyzed proteins listed in the ingredients. These make strands stronger and healthier over time. A new protein, keravis, is one of the most effective." (It's found in Black 15in1 Miracle Shampoo and Conditioner, $18 each.) "Also, rinse your hair with cold water at the end of your shower, which closes the cuticles so hair looks shinier. Once a week, apply a deep conditioner-it can make hair smoother for days." Try L'Oréal Paris EverPure Color Moisture Deep Restorative Masque or, for very coarse hair, EverCrème Deep Nourishing Masque, $8.99 each. -Joseph Cincotta, Ph.D., a cosmetic chemist who has developed hair-care products for John Frieda


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