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Be Realistic

Know what your hair can and can’t do. If you have very curly hair, it will need some layers -- but not too much, says Scott Buchanan, owner of Scott J Salon Spa in New York. "If you layer the heck out of it, it will become too round," he says. "On the other hand, you do need to have some graduation or layers to let the curl form. If you leave it all one length, it just becomes a big pyramid frizz ball."

Think about the maintenance. If you get your hair heavily colored, you’ll need to be back in the salon every few weeks. If you don’t have time for that, are you OK with your roots showing? "You’ll look good for the first 3 weeks, and the next 9 you’ll look awful," Buchanan says.


Don’t Overcolor

You got your hair lightened for summer, and you really liked it. You liked it so much that you thought you’d go a little lighter. And then a little lighter still. "Every time you take a permanent color that’s lighter and pull it through somebody’s ends, you’re removing a lot of the natural oils and condition that are already there," says Rowena Yeager, owner of Studio Wish in Streetsboro, OH. "Over time, the hair will get drier and drier, and lose its luster." As with heat-damaged hair, you may be able to fix some of the problem with oils and conditioners, but the only real remedy is to cut and grow out the straw-like strands.

Don't Overbraid

You may like tight braids or cornrows, but your hair and scalp may not. Regularly wearing your hair in this style can lead to a form of hair loss known as traction alopecia. “I treat many women, especially those of African descent, with thinning hairlines due to excessive tension from hairstyles associated with traction,” Alexis says.

Get Regular Trims

Yeager still remembers a friend she had in fourth grade, a girl with waist-length locks. The girl moved away, and then came back in sixth grade, with hair only halfway down her back. "You got your hair cut?" Yeager asked the girl. "No, Mom will never let me cut it," she replied.

Yeager realized that the girl’s hair had simply become so ridden with split ends that it had broken off on its own. "It was really tattered and torn and brittle-looking," she says. "Split ends are nature’s way of trimming. We need regular trims, especially as we get older and our hair has gone through years of blow drying, flat irons, curling irons, and wear and tear in the sun. The maximum time between cuts should really be 8 weeks, especially if you blow-dry and go out in the sun regularly."