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Hair Care: Easy Basics
Wendy Gough

We all know that having a good hair day can make a world of difference in the way we feel about ourselves. Many women (and men) are convinced that large amounts of time and hard work are necessary to achieve "great hair", and this is far from true. The biggest reason we have a hard time getting our hair "just right" is most often due to the cut. I cannot stress this enough: A great cut is crucial to achieving beautiful looking hair!

Additionally, many people fight the hair type they were actually born with. If you have naturally curly hair, trying to achieve a stick straight look on a daily basis is not very practical. However, with the right cut, you can make those curls (or waves) your beauty trademark, while spending very little time working at it! How do you know if you###ve got a cut that works for you? Easy. Your hair should look great by simply air drying. If you have to fuss and beg it into looking presentable, you need to find a different look. The key is finding a stylist that truly knows how to work with individual hair types. If you don###t know of one off hand, start asking people whose hair you admire who does it. Even strangers! I###ve actually done this before, and the person is always very flattered and more than happy to refer their stylist. PRODUCT SELECTION: DO I HAVE TO SPEND A FORTUNE? I###m constantly asked which hair care products are best, and if inexpensive products perform as well as their costlier counterparts. My answer is, "It depends." While many of the drugstore products are quite good, oftentimes cheaper products contain harsh detergents which strip the hair, creating dullness. At the same time, cheaper shampoos remove product buildup very effectively. Without a doubt, personal taste plays a large part in which shampoo is "best". Some people simply feel that cheaper brands work well for them, while others will pay for their favorite salon brand, no matter the cost. Note: If you like a particular "high end" brand but not the price tag, consider diluting the shampoo 50/50 with purified water. Many expensive shampoos are very concentrated. You will still get perfectly clean hair, without breaking your budget. I would suggest trying many products until you find one that works for you. And there is no rule that says you can###t alternate! I###m always wanting to try new products, and I###m no different with shampoos. I have found though that naturally based products are usually the best for my needs, keeping my long locks in tip top shape. Here are some ideas to keep your hair looking its best, without spending a fortune. * Invest in a good cut. As I mentioned, the cut makes all the difference in the way your hair performs on a daily basis. * Don’t wash your hair every day. My stylist swears that over washing and styling is the quickest way to ruin your hair. Don###t over-use styling products, as these can create dullness and make your scalp itchy. * For extra shine, rinse your hair with distilled water. I learned this trick many years ago, and it really works! * To prevent frizzies, try applying a little conditioner to the ends of your hair BEFORE you shampoo. * Beer (or champagne, for those not on a budget!) gives dull hair a lusturous look. Simply wash your hair as usual, and use the beer as a finishing rinse. You don’t need to worry about the smell, as it evaporates quickly. * To deep condition, warm a quarter cup of olive oil in the microwave for a few seconds and apply to dry hair. Let sit for up to three hours (30 minutes at least) then shampoo thoroughly. * Natural color enhancers are ideal if you just want a color "boost". Try chamomile tea for light hair, or strong coffee for darker shades. Apply either brew to wet hair as a final rinse. Or, for a more dramatic effect, apply and sit in the sun for half an hour (wearing sunscreen, of course). * Massage your scalp every evening before bed. This increases circulation, helping hair to grow more quickly and stay it###s healthiest. * To brighten complexion, add highlights around your face and the top of your head. I recommend having color done professionally, as a good colorist will know exactly which shade will be most flattering to you. By considering these simple and effective ideas, you###ll be sure to keep your hair looking its absolute best!