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Quiz: Do You Know How to Fix Problem Hair?

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Rubbing a dryer sheet on your head can tame flyaway hair. 

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Rubbing a dryer sheet on your head can tame flyaway hair. 

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Like clothes, hair has static electricity when it develops a positive charge. This makes the hairs repel and "fly away" from one another. Fabric-softener dryer sheets temporarily change the charge in your hair.

 

Damage from chemical hair treatments and flat irons can cause flyaways and frizz. Another quick fix: Smooth your hair down with light hairspray, pomade, or polishing cream after blow-drying it.

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Which won't help give thin or fine hair a good lift?

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Which won't help give thin or fine hair a good lift?

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"Slightly dirty hair holds your hairstyle so much better!" says Privé Salons creator Laurent D., whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, and Johnny Depp. He suggests these steps for styling less-than-clean hair:

  • Mist small sections at the roots with root lifter or light hairspray before blow-drying.
  • For curls, mix tight curls with slightly larger, looser ones.
  • Use a little pomade or styling wax to define hair ends, curls, or layers.
  • Flip your head upside down and lightly mist hair with a flexible hairspray. Then flip it back and use your fingers to further define ends and curls.

 

A layered cut can also help. "A blunt bob shape with layering on the interior will give the illusion that your hair is much thicker," says Huy Le, owner of San Francisco salon Revamp, one of Elle magazine's Top 100 Salons in 2011.

You wanted straight Zooey Deschanel bangs. But your cowlick interferes. What can help?

You wanted straight Zooey Deschanel bangs. But your cowlick interferes. What can help?

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Cowlicks are contrary tufts of hair that grow in a different direction from the rest of your hair. They may stick out awkwardly no matter how much you try to push them down.

 

To lick them, when your hair is damp, blow-dry the tuft opposite the way it grows. So if your cowlick hair grows backward, blow-dry it forward from the roots. Continue to blow-dry it back and forth, finishing with the way you want the hair to go.

Pulling your hair back can thin your hairline.

Pulling your hair back can thin your hairline.

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Regularly wearing your hair in braids, weaves, tight ponytails, and cornrows can put too much stress on the hair around the hairline, says Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist who specializes in hair disorders at Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo, Calif. If you notice your hair breaking or starting to pull out, try one of these fixes:

  • Alternate hairstyles.
  • Use clips instead of rubber bands for less pull.
  • Cut fringe bangs to give the hairline hair a rest.
  • Alternate braiding patterns in cornrows and weaves.
  • Sweep hair into a soft braid instead of a ponytail.
  • If you use a ponytail to keep hair off your face, try a headband instead.

 

Your straight hair has no bounce. What can help?

Your straight hair has no bounce. What can help?

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Many shampoos and conditioners -- even volumizing products -- contain silicone or polymers, which coat the hair to make it fatter, Laurent D. says. But they can also weigh down fine hair, making it look flat and greasy. Shine products are also notorious flatteners.

 

"If you can't live without one, spray it on a big blush or powder brush and sweep that lightly over your hair," he advises. "You'll get the effect without the weight."

 

He and Le suggest using inexpensive Velcro or hot rollers to volumize straight hair. Use a heat-protection product first and mist hair with a light hairspray after. For most women, curlers are less painful and easier to use than a curling iron -- and the body lasts longer.

Which works better to camouflage a few strands of gray?

Which works better to camouflage a few strands of gray?

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Highlights can camouflage here-and-there silver strands in blonde to medium-brown hair. If you have a lot of gray or your hair is dark, highlights can also tone down the contrast. The highlights leave the gray as is while lightening the dark hair for a more even overall look.

 

If you are dyeing your hair all over to cover more gray, avoid single hues, which look less natural. And go a little lighter if your hair is naturally dark to make wrinkles and lines less noticeable.

 

Or ditch the dye altogether and embrace your gray. "A short, fun, stylish haircut with gray hair can be very cool," Le says. To keep the gray from washing out your face, wear a little makeup for color and accent.

 

Brushing frizzy hair makes it frizzier.

Brushing frizzy hair makes it frizzier.

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If your naturally curly hair tends toward frizz, ditch your brush. That's how Laurent D. handles the hair of "Smash" star Debra Messing. "I only comb out her hair when it is wet," he says. "Brushing curly hair when it's dry makes it frizzy. It can also stretch hair, leading to breakage."

 

To tame Messing's natural curls, he also uses dry volumizing shampoo as a styling tool to add texture and fullness. Then he blow-dries her hair with a round brush to define some of the curls for added volume and ends with a finishing spray for hold and shine.

Which can repair split ends?

Which can repair split ends?

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If only it were as easy to unite the ends of your hair as it is to split them. But there is no way to put split ends back together again. Products that claim to do so may make them look better, but the only way to treat split ends is to treat yourself to a trim. To prevent future splits, cut back on heat styling too.

Apply eye shadow to touch up fading hair color.

Apply eye shadow to touch up fading hair color.

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Brushing eye shadow on your part where your hair is growing out gray can keep you from sporting a skunk-like stripe until your next color job. Just dampen a makeup brush, dip into the powder, and dust it on.

 

Other fixes for fading color include hair mascara -- which is applied with a wand, like regular mascara -- and spray-on hair powders. The color may last a few days and washes out easily with shampoo. To keep dyed color from fading, use a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner.

 

Your home perm went bad. What should you do?

Your home perm went bad. What should you do?

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Before you do anything else, let a hairstylist evaluate the perm and the health of your hair. In general, you should give your hair a rest between chemical treatments. If you need hair repair, using a protein- or ceramide-based mask for a while at home can help. It's best to get an anti-curl service or another perm at a salon, but evaluating the health of the hair first is key, Le says.

Aspirin and water can get rid of chlorine green.

Aspirin and water can get rid of chlorine green.

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Taking aspirin with water won't help, but rinsing your hair with aspirin dissolved in water will, according to Manhattan dermatologist Amy Wechsler. It's actually the copper in chemically treated pools, not chlorine, that makes blonde swimmers' hair go green. The acids in aspirin and water, as well as in tomato and lemon juice, can neutralize copper, helping get the green out.

 

To prevent further greening, before swimming rinse hair in cold water to tighten the cuticle, then put on conditioner and a swim cap. After swimming, wash hair with swimmer's shampoo, which binds to the copper on the hair to remove it.

All keratin straightening treatments are now safe. 

All keratin straightening treatments are now safe. 

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In 2010, several keratin hair treatments were found to include unsafe levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen – even some that claimed they did not contain formaldehyde. Though some keratin products are safe, there's no way to know which ones are. Even stylists may get false information from the companies that make them.

 

Curl relaxers (which may contain lye) are a safer option, though they can weaken hair and irritate your scalp. Be careful not to leave them on hair longer than instructed.

 

Temporarily straightening your hair with a blow dryer, curling iron, or flat iron is safest. But they can weaken your hair, so use them on lower heat settings and as seldom as you can -- especially if you've used a curl relaxer.

A 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner is usually enough to rejuvenate color- or heat-damaged hair.

A 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner is usually enough to rejuvenate color- or heat-damaged hair.

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For hair damaged by chemical treatments, flat-ironing, or blow-drying, hairstylists recommend action on several fronts:

 

  • Consider a haircut that gets rid of the damaged hair.
  • To prevent further drying out, wash your hair with gentle shampoo only when it needs it (depending on how oily your scalp is).
  • Use a light, leave-in conditioner every day, which improves the appearance of dry hair.
  • Once a week, massage a reparative mask or deep conditioner into your hair from roots to ends. Then tuck the hair under a plastic cap and leave it on for 15 minutes or more. Rinse with cool water and avoid styling with heat.

 

It's better to correct color mistakes at a salon.

It's better to correct color mistakes at a salon.

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Your home dye job turned orange. But it can't be that hard to get it to a warm shade of auburn, can it? Yes, it can, hairstylists say. You may end up doing repeated "quick fixes," further damaging your hair and paying more than you would for a color correction at a good salon.

 

When you go in for a correction, bring photos of the color you want and tell the colorist about any chemical services or dyes you've used, including relaxer or henna. The colorist will use that information to formulate the right color for the right result.  

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