Forget Combination Skin–Do You Have Combination Hair?
Most of us do, experts say. The bigger question is what type of combo. Once you discover that, find out how to adjust your routine and bring out healthy, silky, shiny hair.
Whether it's oily roots and dry ends, a damaged top layer and greasy hair underneath, or flat strands in some areas and frizz in others, the majority of us have more than one thing happening on our 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. "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 is easy. "The secret is to address separate issues at the same time," Kingsley says. 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 (these are steps you can take to protect your hair from sweat damage). 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. One that contains an anti-inflammatory like the bisabolol in Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo ($26; philipkingsley.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 like Nexxus City Shield DD Crème ($15; target.com) before you head outside or reach for hot tools to tamp down flyaways and absorb the impact of any harsh elements.
Oily 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," Rummo says. "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, such as Phyto Phytocedrat Shampoo ($26; sephora.com). Then, once a week, multimask: Before you shower, smooth a silicone-free clay mask, like L'Oréal Paris Hair Expert Extraordinary Clay Pre-Shampoo Mask ($6; target.com), on your roots to absorb grease and a nourishing mask, like System Professional Hydrate Mask (from $40; systemprofessional.com for salons), on your ends. Rinse them both out after five minutes.
Flaky Scalp + Dry Ends
We all have a yeastlike fungus that lives on our 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," Kingsley says. 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, Rummo says.
Your custom plan: You'll want to shampoo daily until your dandruff is under control (avoiding these 8 hair washing mistakes). Try Dove DermaCare Pure Daily Care 2 in1 ($5; walmart.com), which has dandruff-fighter pyrithione zinc plus sunflower and soybean oil for your dry ends. "Really massage it into your scalp using small, circular motions. This increases circulation and speeds healing," Rummo says.
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 ($28; renefurterer.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," Rummo says. For smooth hair all over, blow-dry using two brushes: A round brush adds volume to flat areas, Rhys says, and a paddle brush controls the frizzy areas.