In the Shower
Go natural. "All shampoos contain cleansers," explains Christyn Nawrot, a regional educator for Phyto. But those with naturally derived cleansers are less apt to rob your hair of vital oils. (Phyto, Lavett & Chin, Ojon and Aveda use natural cleansers in all of their shampoos.)
Use products properly. For maximum benefits, before applying shampoo or conditioner, emulsify them in your hands. Then massage onto roots (where hair is most porous), crown and finally, down sides of hair.
Don't overwash. "Shampooing every day is drying to your hair and scalp," says Rodney Groves, a stylist at the Vartali salon in New York City. Instead, aim for two to three times a week - and on off days, rinse with water and condition only your ends.
Do deep-condition. "If you heat-style regularly, you must deep-condition once a week," says Caroline Greyl, president of the hair-care company Leonor Greyl. If your hair is very damaged, try using a concentrated hair mask in place of your daily conditioner (from midshaft down), suggests Eva Scrivo of the eponymous New York City salon.
Try: Aveda Damage Remedy Intensive Restructuring Treatment, Leonor Greyl Masque Fleurs de Jasmin, Matrix Color.Smart Intensive Masque
Ban the burn. "While the professional-grade blow-dryers that everyone's buying these days for home use do speed up the drying process, they were designed to be held high above your hair [presumably by a stylist] and moved around a lot so as not to cook one spot directly," says Irene Meikle, international artistic director of hair-care company Graham Webb. How to ensure that you don't fry while you dry? "Remove the nozzle," suggests Nawrot. As long as you're pointing your dryer downward, you'll get the same effect, but the heat will be more diffused. Also, treat damp hair with a heat-protectant spray before blowing dry.
Try: Tresemmé Instant Heat Tamer
Avoid resistance. When blow-drying, "use your fingers to style your hair until it is about 80 percent dry," advises Meikle. Then, once it can glide through your hair without resistance (i.e., tugging), bring out the brush.
Stop suffocating your strands. While silicone products (such as Silky Sexy Hair Frizz Eliminator) are great at preventing frizz and enhancing shine, do not apply them before heat-styling, or they can fuse to your hair and have a "shrink wrap" effect, sapping all the moisture from your strands, notes Nawrot.
And the best bristles are... all sources interviewed for this story agree: natural (boar) bristles. They distribute your scalp's oils, keeping your locks well-lubed.
Try: Marilyn brushes
In the Kitchen
"If you diet and lose hair, it usually means one thing: Your diet is inadequate," says Greyl. The best follicle fuel? Omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold-water fish like salmon) and protein (think nuts and cheese), says Oz Garcia, a nutritionist in New York City.
At the Salon
Time your color touch-ups.
Though it sounds counterintuitive, dyeing your hair more often (every 28 days, advises Andrew Bartfield, vice president of education at L'Oréal Professionnel) can actually help prevent chemical damage. Since the ends of your hair will be less likely to fade, your colorist won't have to leave the dye on as long, explains Bartfield.
To avoid fade, try not to shampoo for 72 (yes, 72) hours after getting your hair colored, says Scrivo. And use only color-safe products.
Try: Back to Basics Color Protect Shampoo and Conditioner, and L'Oréal Color Show Liss Smoothing Cream
Plan for your processes.
Which chemical processes can really wreck your hair? From least damaging to most: temporary color; semipermanent color; demi-permanent color; permanent color; high-lift color or bleach; permanent wave; and relaxer, thermal reconditioning or straightening. Consult your stylist about the type of care your chemically altered mane will require pre- and post-treatment - or face hair-raising consequences, says Nawrot.
To temporarily but quickly mend frayed ends, hair pro Rodney Groves spreads Kérastase Serum Nutri-Sculpt, a leave-in treatment, through dry tresses, then blasts them briefly with a hair dryer.