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    You work hard to make your hair look fabulous. So make sure the steps you take -- like styling and coloring -- aren't working against you.

    Heat from blow dryers, curling irons, and flat irons can make hair brittle and cause breakage. Chemical processing -- think color and straightening treatments -- can rob hair of natural moisture, leaving it dry and frizzy.

    These gentler styling techniques will help you get the look you want while warding off damage.

    Treat Wet Hair Tenderly

    Go easy on your hair when it’s wet. Wrap it in a towel. Don’t rub it dry. That causes frizz.

    Use a wide- tooth comb instead of a brush on wet hair. If it’s straight, let it dry a bit before combing. If it's curly, comb when it's still damp.

    Don't tug or pull wet or dry hair. One hundred strokes a day? That’s an old wives’ tale. Too much brushing can cause split ends.

    Take a Holiday From the Heat

    Let your hair air dry when you can. Heat-free days boost its natural recovery process.

    For shiny hair without heat, wash it at night and sleep on it, says Patrick Melville, co-owner of the Patrick Melville Salon in New York. His clients include Heidi Klum, Halle Berry, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. “After your shower, brush your hair out and put a braid in it," Melville says. "Don’t blow-dry the braid.”

    Turn Down the Heat

    When using a blow-dryer, start on the lowest setting and gradually turn it up. If you see steam, you’re probably scorching your locks. Keep the dryer moving and hold it 6 inches from your hair.

    Work fast. “The quicker, stronger, and faster you are, the better it is for your hair and the less damage you create,” says Jonathan Antin, star of the Bravo TV series Blow Out and co-owner of Jonathan & George Salon in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Divide your hair into sections, Antin says. Focus on drying each section for about 3 minutes, then clip it and get it out of the way so it’s not exposed to extra heat.

    THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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