Forget Combination Skin — Do You Have Combination Hair?
Probably, at least according to experts. Find out how to adjust your routine to transform your, say, oily scalp and dry hair to healthy, shiny, *and* silky strands.
Whether it's an oily scalp and dry ends, a damaged top layer and greasy hair underneath, or flat strands in some areas and frizz in others, the majority of people have more than one thing happening on their heads. In fact, active women can be especially susceptible to combination hair because they sweat, wash, and heat-dry so frequently, which can affect how hair looks and feels — and also mess with your scalp's condition. (Sound familiar? These products can help with your exercise-induced greasy, dry hair.)
"Your scalp is skin, just like your face, and its health has huge implications on how the hair grows," says Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley. The good news: No matter what your combo, creating a new routine to cover all your needs. whether a flaky scalp and dry hair or an oily scalp and dry hair, is easy. "The secret is to address separate issues at the same time," says Kingsley. Find your key moves here.
Damaged, Dry Top Layer + Oily Underneath
Sweating heavily during HIIT or hot yoga causes an oil buildup on the underlayers of your hair, especially where moisture gathers at the nape of the neck. Add in lots of outdoor fun plus any color treatments, and you'll find that "your top layer is damaged because of its direct exposure to UV rays, heat styling, and bleaching," says Jet Rhys, a hairstylist in San Diego.
Your custom plan: To combat greasy underlayers, aim dry shampoo into the underside of the hair before your workouts to soak up oil. Okay, so what's the best dry shampoo for oily scalp and dry ends? One that contains an anti-inflammatory such as the bisabolol in Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo (Buy It, $30, dermstore.com) will also soothe your scalp. To prevent damage: "Ask your colorist to add a strengthener to the color formulation she uses," says Mika Rummo, a stylist at Salon AKS in New York City. And apply a frizz balm with UV filters before you head outside or reach for hot tools to tamp down flyaways and absorb the impact of any harsh elements. (And if you're still dealing with greasy, dry hair it might be time to finally break that shampoo cycle.)
Oily Scalp or Roots + Dry Ends
When you work out a lot, you sweat a lot, and the scalp releases natural oils. While that sweat and oil mix doesn't affect the health of your hair, overwashing does. "It dries out the scalp, which kicks your sebaceous glands into overdrive, making them produce more oil and forcing you to cleanse again," says Rummo. "All that cleansing means that those natural oils never travel down the length of your hair shaft to moisturize it, and blow-drying zaps moisture even more." Underwashing brings its own problems: Your ends may be less dry, but your roots stay greasy.
Your custom plan: Wash every other day with an oil-controlling shampoo. In this case, one of the best shampoos for oily scalp and dry ends is Phyto Phytocedrat Shampoo (Buy It, $26, dermstore.com). Then, once a week, multimask: Before you shower, smooth a silicone-free clay mask, such as L'Oréal Paris Hair Expert Extraordinary Clay Pre-Shampoo Mask (Buy It, $8, cvs.com) on your roots to absorb grease and a nourishing mask, such as System Professional Hydrate Mask (Buy It, from $40, systemprofessional.com for salons), on your ends. Rinse them both out after five minutes and you bid your greasy and dry hair adieu.
Flaky Scalp + Dry Ends
Everyone has a yeastlike fungus that lives on their scalp, but when you don't wash your hair often enough or you happen to have a scalp that's either too oily or too dry, then you exacerbate that fungus, causing dandruff. "The fungi feed on all the oil and dead skin cells," explains Kingsley. And since the pores on the scalp are blocked from oil and dead cells, sebum is unable to make its way from your sebaceous glands down to your ends, so they get dry, says Rummo. So, instead of an oily scalp and dry ends, you have a flaky scalp and dry ends — ugh.
Your custom plan: You'll want to shampoo daily until your dandruff is under control (avoiding these hair washing mistakes). Try Dove DermaCare Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo (Buy It, $5, target.com), which has dandruff-fighter pyrithione zinc plus coconut oil for your dry ends. "Really massage it into your scalp using small, circular motions. This increases circulation and speeds healing," says Rummo.
Straight & Flat In Some Spots + Wavy or Wiry In Others
Sometimes hair seems to have a mind of its own — certain sections lie perfectly straight and flat, while others coil and frizz uncontrollably.
Your custom plan: If you want to go all wavy, apply a curl cream like René Furterer Sublime Curl Curl Nutri-Activating Cream (Buy It, $28, dermstore.com) to damp strands, scrunch, then air-dry. "Wrap any remaining straight pieces around a small 1/2- to 3/4-inch curling iron to give them body," says Rummo. For smooth hair all over, blow-dry using two brushes: A round brush adds volume to flat areas, says Rhys, and a paddle brush controls the frizzy areas.