4. Discover your shampoo type. You can't miss with a shampoo formulated for your hair type. And labels on reputable brands don't lie. So if you have fine or oily hair, choose a volume-building formula like Physique Amplifying Shampoo or Redken Solve Purifying Shampoo that will get rid of excess oils on the hair without drying it out.
If your hair is dry or chemically treated, look for a moisturizing shampoo (try Aveda Sap Moss Shampoo). Color-protecting shampoos like Matrix Biolage Color Care Shampoo include UV filters that prevent bright, bold hues from fading or dulling too fast. And someone with normal hair that feels neither oily nor dry by the day's end should opt for a balancing shampoo like Bath & Body Works Bio Balancing Shampoo that gives a light, all-over clean feeling.
Whatever you choose, make sure to switch brands every bottle or two to avoid build-up. And, FYI, you only need to shampoo twice if you've piled on a lot of styling products (despite what the bottle may say).
5. Condition wisely and sparingly. The secret to conditioning your hair depends on two variables: application technique and hair type. Unless your hair is chemically treated or particularly porous, you can focus conditioner on your ends, especially if your hair tends to get oily by the end of the day (try a mild conditioner, like J.F. Lazartigue Detangling and Nourishing Conditioner). That's because by the time you're done washing, the natural oils from your scalp will already have made it halfway down the hair shaft, according to Jamie Mazzei, creative director of the Nubest & Co. Salon in Manhasset, N.Y.
To choose between different types of problem-solving conditioners, go back and do the strand test above (see step 1). If your hair is limp and frayed, use a protein conditioner that fills in the hair cuticle like Pantene Pro-V Sheer Volume Conditioner. If it's dry and snaps off easily, use a moisturizing conditioner like Origins Happy Endings.
6. Once a week, treat your locks to intensive hair-apy. Deep conditioning treatments can calm stressed strands, but they won't solve problems like split ends or weak, frazzled locks unless you're on a regular regimen. Stylists advise deep conditioning once a week right after you cut your hair. That's because a trim is the only way to repair hair once the damage is done.
To find the right ingredients for your intensive conditioner, follow the conditioner guidelines in step 5. Some suggestions: L'Oréal ColorVIVE Dry Defense 3-Minute Conditioning Treatment for hair that feels rough and breaks easily, and Joico K-Pak for hair that lacks strength and bounce.
Or, to turn any conditioner into a deep treatment, wash hair with a clarifying shampoo (like Thermasilk Clarifying Shampoo) to get rid of excess residue, then put on the conditioner and a shower cap, and stand under a hot spray for 10 minutes or more. The heat will help the conditioner penetrate deep into the hair shaft.