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Here’s a goal we’d bet a lot of us share: We want our hair to feel soft and touchable, with great movement. Happily, no matter the type or texture—from beautiful coils to a fine-strand pixie—there are now many smart ways to make your hair feel softer. For a quick Band-Aid, you can turn to rinse-out lamellar water treatments, which fill damaged areas with repairing ingredients (typically proteins) to make strands feel much softer (and look much shinier) in 10 seconds or less. However, long-lasting results require much more time and patience experts say. “Soft hair is all in the care you give it, no matter your hair type,” says celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons.
Many factors influence softness, including overall health and the environment. “Hair tends to pull water from the environment, which is why it becomes frizzy in humid conditions,” says Leysa Carrillo, a hairstylist who specializes in curly hair and a Redken Brand Ambassador. Similarly, dry climates and environments can suck the water out of hair, making it feel more coarse and parched. Keeping your hair hydrated and healthy help prevent these environmental impacts—and, in turn, keep your hair at its softest.
Ahead, learn the best haircare tips to help you achieve soft hair. Whether you have 4C curls, fine hair, straight hair, or any texture in between, we all can benefit from these healthy hair habits.
Don’t go too long between washes
How you wash your hair and how often you do so directly impacts the look and feel of your strands. Delaying wash days greatly affects softness: “When you pile product on top of product without washing, you can clog your hair follicles and dry out your hair. Eventually it will feel very dry, and may even break off,” says Sassy Medchill, owner of Goldie & Co Salon and Covet & Mane educator. Your shampoo frequency depends on your texture, type, and concerns, but “my general rule of thumb is twice a week. Of course, that can vary depending on how dry or oily your hair is,” says Fitzsimons. If you have very dry, curly, or coily hair, then once a week or once every other week may be right for you, whereas oily or fine hair textures may need to wash more frequently.
A word about the shampoo use: “For soft hair, your shampoo should contain hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or coconut oil,” says Fitzsimons. Redken All Soft Mega Curls Shampoo contains aloe and is perfect for severely dry, curly, and coily hair. Or Tresemme Rich Moisture Hydrating Shampoo is a good choice for all hair types.
“Giving your hair moisture is extremely necessary; it prevents your hair from becoming dry and frizzy, which makes hair feel rough,” says Carillo. Really, it’s nonnegotiable if you’re someone with curly, color-treated, or chemically treated hair, which tends to be drier, adds Medchill. Always condition your hair after every wash, and make sure to use a deep-conditioning mask at least once a week, says Fitzsimons. If that advice sounds nice in theory but hard to follow in reality, know that the latest hair masks are made to work in just three to five minutes. Look for ingredients with nourishing oils, like the avocado oil in Hours Haircare In Minutes Silkening Mask or the shea butter in Fekkai Shea Butter Intense Mask. You can also try Fitzsimon’s Virgin Repair Restructuring Hair Mask, which contains ceramides and is great for repairing and hydrating all hair types.
Skip hot water and use a microfiber towel
Hot showers take a toll on your overall hair health, drying out the scalp and strands. Fitzsimons prescribes lukewarm, cool, or even cold showers (brrr...) because they enhance the hair's softness. After you turn off the shower's stream, reach for a microfiber towel or even a T-shirt. “When I see people dry their hair roughly or abrasively with a traditional towel, it makes my skin crawl,” Fitzsimons says. “Your hair is at its most fragile state when it's wet; it's so important to be delicate with it, or you risk damaging it.”
Always use a heat protectant
Drying and styling your hair with heat can zap moisture and damage strands—both of which rob hair of its soft character. But you can prevent those negative side effects with a heat protectant. We like Pattern Beauty's, which is a lightweight spray that protects and adds shine.
Tool selection matters, too. “I recommend using irons with keratin-coated ceramic plates,” says Fitzsimons. If you have curly hair, Carrillo suggests drying hair with a hooded dryer or a diffuser to avoid aiming direct heat at the hair.
Get regular trims
They'll help maintain hair health and make your ends feel soft to the touch, says Fitzsimons. After all, have you ever felt split ends? Book an appointment every three to six months to cut off any dead or damaged strands that might be preventing optimal softness.
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