Our expert advisor: Pantene spokesperson Justin German of Toronto’s Shagg Salon
Protein hair masque
Great for: Strengthening hair.
Mane contestant: Fine or weak hair that breaks easily.
Putting it to good use: Post-shampoo, comb the masque through from roots to ends. Then, pull on a shower cap and let it sit for 20 minutes—the warmth that builds up under the cap will open the cuticles, allowing for better penetration into the hair follicles. Rinse.
Look for: Keratin. This protein is what gives your hair muscle (like what spinach does for Popeye).
Caution: Treat your hair to a protein-based masque once a week for a month, then give it a break from this strength booster for the next four weeks. If you don’t give your hair a hiatus, it will absorb too much protein, which will then produce the opposite effect: instead of making your strands soft and strong, the keratin overdose will make hair hard, brittle and dull.
Moisturizing hair masque
Great for: Hydrating dry hair.
Mane contestant: Thick, coarse, curly hair or colour-treated locks.
Putting it to good use: Same as for a protein-based masque, comb it through evenly from roots to tips on freshly shampooed hair and cover with a shower cap for 20 minutes.
FYI: While thick, curly hair tends to be the coarsest and, therefore, the driest, fine, straight hair can also reap the rewards of a moisturizing hair masque; just make sure to select the formula designed for your hair type.
Great for: Soft, shiny hair in a hurry.
Mane contestant: Thick hair, curly or straight. Not for fine-haired gals, unless you want a flat, limp do.
Putting it to good use: If you’ve been neglecting your hair-care routine and need immediate results for a party, use an oil treatment a day or two before the event. With your hands, apply a coat of the oil to your hair, starting at the ends (which always need more TLC), then use a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute the treatment. The slight residue that remains after rinsing is what makes your hair feel shinier and softer right away, and by working less product into the scalp area, your hair won’t be limp and weighed down—just don’t expect any long-term benefits from this quick pick-me-up.
Great for: Detangling, reducing frizzies, protecting the hair shaft from the heat damage of curling irons and flatirons
Putting it to good use: Once you’ve rinsed out your regular conditioner, work the leave-in evenly through your hair with a wide-tooth comb. Use a touch more for a thick, curly mane—you won’t need to use any other products before you blow-dry. Or, for a little bit of hold but a whole lot of natural curl, mix some gel into the leave-in, then let your hair air-dry.
Bonus: Use your leave-in as a styling aid, in place of your regular gel or volumizer. It’ll keep your hair in check while conditioning all day.
Great for: Reducing frizziness and creating bouncy, defined curls.
Mane contestant: Wavy to curly hair.
Putting it to good use: Work a small amount of product into your wet hair with your hands, then comb it through to ensure even distribution from roots to ends.
How much: A dime-sized squirt for fine hair; a quarter-sized dollop for long, thick manes.
Great for: Adding shine to dull hair.
Mane contestant: Damaged, lacklustre hair.
Putting it to good use: If you’ve got fine hair, after blow-drying, emulsify the serum in the palms of your hands and, focusing on the outermost layer of your hair, work from the ends of your hair toward the roots. Finish with a quick smooth-down of flyaways. If you’ve got thick or curly hair, you can either add a couple of drops to your leave-in conditioner or apply it from ends to roots just before you blow-dry (add an additional few drops once your hair is dry if you find you need more shine).
How much: One or two drops will do the job. A small bottle should last you at least three months.
Great for: Stimulating scalp circulation and balancing oil production.
Mane contestant: Dry scalps or greasy hair. Pick the formula for your condition.
Putting it to good use: Apply a few drops to your scalp and, using a big, flat brush, make circular motions to massage it into your dry hair before you shampoo.
Bonus: The pretty scent and the relaxing massage.
Cheap trick: Skip the treatment and cut down on your daily shampooing to reduce the oil slick in your hair. Each time you wash your hair, you strip your scalp of the natural oils it produces, which alerts it to produce more. Try washing your hair every other day, working toward a frequency of twice a week. Best of all, this solution will save you time and money.
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