Most writers will tell you that they are also avid readers. I am no exception to the rule. Interestingly, one book that has informed my understanding of hair care is not really a hair care book at all. It’s a little book called, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. In the book, Hardy states that, “Success is not doing 5,000 things really well. Success is doing a half dozen things really well— 5,000 times.” And it’s true. When I heard this, it immediately made me think of the very well intentioned but over the top, bank-breaking hair care regimens and routines I’ve seen over the years. We are doing too much, and we get to this point because we really don’t know or want to accept the basics of healthy hair care. Let’s face it— the basics are boring. Cleanse, condition, moisturize and keep my hands out of my hair can’t be all, right?
So what happens? We indulge in distractions. We build unnecessary complication into our regimens. We end up following 5 different hair care gurus’ regimens hoping that something (or some magical new combination of things) will be “the thing” or “the product” that allows us to break from the pack. We’ll have 4 different moisturizers and more rare, exotic oils than BP and Exxon combined. (Is Kentucky Bluegrass Oil really better than Polynesian Fairy Island Oil or does Bohemian Muskrat oil top them all?) We’ll have enough vitamins and supplements to make GNC and the FDA nervous. We’ll deep condition for 2 days straight, rinse, repeat, try a new honey-avocado pre-shampoo growth mixture, apply a clay mask, work in some henna and do 3 different length checks in a span of 72 hours all because someone in a book, behind a screen or behind a chair told us to. Perhaps I’m exaggerating here, but you get the point. It is all fluff. We’re “maximizing the possibilities” and that makes us feel good. But does your hair really need 4 different oils in your oil mix to make your hair softer? No one ever really had healthy, vibrant hair before the Internet, right? We might see some progress doing these 5,000 hair care must-dos and using the 5,000 more product must-haves, but the problem with this method of regimen building is that it is unsustainable long term. In an effort to do 5,000 things right, we don’t realize that it’s really the handful of basic things done well every day that carry the regimen forward—not the fluff and complication we add in. Doing a few basic things simply and repeatedly IS sustainable, and that’s how we achieve success in hair care.
So, what are the basics you should do simply and really well?
No rocket science here. Regular cleansing is essential for hair and scalp hydration. Add additional moisture to this step by using a sulfate-free cleanser or light conditioner. Reduce unnecessary manipulation to your tresses by managing your hair in sections throughout the process. Whether to pre-shampoo with oil or conditioner is up to you— but it is not a requirement for healthy hair.
Conditioning follows naturally after cleansing. Never mind the 20 different ways to deep condition your hair—just keep it simple. Take a moisturizing conditioner product of your choice and leave it on your hair until the desired softness is achieved. The end. Adding oils, other conditioners, honey and other extras we tend to want to mix in our conditioners—is purely optional. Your hair will still thrive without the mixology. The key is to simply be consistent with whatever you’ve chosen to do. If you’ve decided to condition weekly— make sure it happens every week. Keep your focus and momentum.
Like conditioning, your individual product choices and time frame for conditioning are dependent on your own head of hair. The key is to simply be sure that your product is a hydrating product and that you remain consistent with its application to keep your balance in check. Moisturizing and sealing go hand in hand—so an effective moisturizing routine will always have an oil or butter to seal the hair.
- Low Manipulation
I talk at length about keeping the manipulation down as much as possible. Simply reducing your contact with your hair overall, done many, many times will improve the health of your hair. I subscribe to a holistic interpretation of protective styling where the entire spirit of the regimen is protective. See my previous posts on building more protection into your regimen where I give 7 Key Steps for protection that range from cleansing protectively, to selecting hair tools that are protective, and coloring the hair protectively.
Whether it’s improving hair health, losing weight, or saving money— the process is simple. You must identify the handful of basic things that matter and execute them flawlessly many, many times. I once tweeted that other people’s regimens should be templates, not mandates for your hair care, and it’s true. Start with the basics, execute them well, and strive to make them habits without the fluff.