Mother Nature Had Great Hair! continued...
"The formulas of some shampoos are so similar to dishwashing liquid, it's frightening," says Lamas.
Of course not everyone agrees that chemicals are bad for the hair. Juan says that leave-in conditioners containing chemical ingredients such as silicone will help coat the hair, repel damaging elements, and are actually good for your hair.
Meanwhile, Baker says the best products are those that successfully marry nature and science.
"It's true that some of the best hair care ingredients are found in nature but you have to get them to penetrate the hair so they can do their job," she says.
Either way, if your hair is damaged, our experts agree that some of the best natural ingredients you can look for include soy proteins, egg lecithin, wheat germ oil, carthum oil, safflower oil, rice and wheat proteins, as well as vitamins like B5 (panthenol); and also botanicals such as chamomile, comfrey, and goldenseal.
The Way You Do the Things You Do
When it comes to styling your hair, what you use, in term of tools, as well as how you use them also matters. The golden rule of thumb: The more damaged your hair, the less heat you should apply.
"The hotter the tool, the more you can damage your hair, since heat forces the cuticle to split open," says Lamas. If you want to blow dry, he says, use the medium or cool setting to keep the outside layer as smooth as possible.
Heated rollers, and curling and flat irons can do equal damage. If you find your hair is taking longer to curl, or won't hold your style for very long, then it's a clear sign you are using too much heat.
If you must set your style, Lamas says mesh rollers are best, and "always use end papers to protect the hair." Rollers to avoid, he says, are the self-stick loop-and-tape variety, which increase the risk of breakage.
What can be great for hair -- damaged or not -- is vigorous brushing, particularly with a natural bristle brush. While any kind of hairbrush will help distribute oils from the scalp to the ends where it's most needed, those with natural bristles can grab the oils more effectively and distribute them faster and easier.
"A lot of women avoid vigorous brushing because they fear hair loss, but actually brushing can be good as it helps stimulate the scalp," says Baker. If your scalp is also dry, she says, you can still brush, just do it more gently and use a brush with soft bristles.
While there's no question that you can make even the most damaged hair look and feel a whole lot better, our experts also say that for many women the real answer is a great haircut -- particularly if your hair has suffered heavy summer wear and tear.