10 tips to avoid bad hair days

posted on: May 8, 2012

Ah, hair. It can be a source of joy, beauty and even power, or it can drive you mad. This blog post is for those mad times. As you know, I like to think long term and focus on quality, so some of these tips require some learning time. But trust me, if you do plan ahead, 9 out of 10 bad hair days will go away. Yes, really.

1. Coconut oil.

I’ve tried so many conditioning and strengthening hair products, it’s ridiculous. The best one I’ve ever tried is something as boring as extra virgin coconut oil (I have the one called Cocosa, with the green label). I use a tiny amount to smooth flyaways and add shine, or to prevent frizz after I’ve done any kind of curls. Where coconut oil really triumphs, however, is if heated up, combed through the hair, and then left in there for as long as you can be bothered. I like to apply the oil, then braid my hair, cover it with a scarf, and sleep on it. After a shower the next morning, both my hair and scalp are super-happy.

2. Learn three hairstyles.

Only professional hair stylists need to know a whole bunch of different hairstyles for pretty much every kind of hair. You only need to learn three styles that work well with your hair. Granted, it requires a bit of time in the beginning to learn them, but once that’s done, you’ll be able to style your hair quickly and with a wandering mind. My three styles are; my natural hair, but with the ends curled inwards using straighteners; one french braid on each side of my head, with the ends pinned up to create a low updo; and a messy updo with my bangs away from my face.

3. Learn things on YouTube.

YouTube is my favourite place for tutorials. There are millions of them on every field, many of the uploaders have excellent skills, and you can pause and re-watch the videos as you please. When it comes to hair, I really like Let’s Make it Up!. Not only does she have plenty of great tutorials for specific styles, but she also does videos like The Braid Encyclopedia, what to do before you curl your hair and Bobby Pinning 101.

4. Read hair blogs (at least once in a while).

For info on hair that isn’t styling tutorials, there are lots of blogs out there. My favourites are Hair Romance, She Lets Her Hair Down and The Beauty Department’s hair section. Not only can you learn useful things here, but it’s also wonderful inspiration.

5. Know your tools.

I currently have five electrical styling tools. Actually, six, if you count the heated rollers. I use two of them – a blow drier and the ghd IV styler – 95% of the time. The more versatile a tool is, the better. With a good pair of straighteners you can straighten, flick, curl and give volume to your hair. I think I know at least three different ways just to create curls! Also, different kinds of clips/pins have different uses. If you know them, your hairstyles will look better and last longer.

6. Understand styling products.

Let’s start with volumizing mousse, shall we? I’ve yet to meet a girl who doesn’t own a can, and yet almost nobody seems to know what to do with it. If you want it to create volume, it needs heat. Same goes for salt water sprays. Remember to use enough of a product to get the best effect, and to apply it gradually to avoid using too much.  If your hair, like mine, is very smooth and slippery (hello, Nordic girls!), a product that’s very sticky can be super-helpful. I’m a big fan of L’oréal’s Studio Remix Styling Paste. It looks like it would be most suitable for short, spiky hair, but a pea-sized amound spread throughout the (semi-dry) lenghts of my hair works wonderfully. The got2b glued hair spray is also great for slippery hair, both as a finishing touch and to add texture before styling.

7. Rinse conditioner thoroughly.

I only just discovered this, and it has made such a difference. We’ve all heard that after a heavy conditioning treatment, you have to rinse properly. But my guess is you can probably rinse a bit more thoroughly even after ordinary conditioner. I’ve started rinsing about twice as long as I used to, and my hair is so much lighter than before! It doesn’t get oily as quickly either, come to think of it. Might be worth a shot if you think your hair feels a bit limp and heavy. After you’ve rinsed your normal amount, rinse a bit more. Then some more. Go on, a bit more. There you go.

8. Know what you like and what suits you.

If I forget to add a bit of extra volume on top when doing any kind of updo, I’m never satisfied with the finished look. It’s just something about my hair, the shape of my head, my face, that means I need some height on the crown. The good thing is that as I’ve realized this, all my updos now get a good start, and the chance of me liking the finished look is much bigger. If you know that you need a bit of hair loose around your face to feel comfortable, don’t start a hairstyle with scraping everything away from your face, for instance. But, if you’re willing to broaden your horizon, try to leave your comfort zone on a day you’re not doing anything important. Who knows, you might discover something lovely!

9. Tiny things can make a huge difference

Taking one extra minute to cover a hairband with a strand of your hair can make that ponytail look five times better. Messy updos always look better with somewhat curled ends, so if you don’t have naturally curly hair, spend four minutes giving your tips a bit of a curve with your straighteners. If you’re blonde, gold bobby pins will blend in with your hair for an elegant, pulled together-look – and black ones will instantly make a hairstyle look more casual. Neglecting such small touches can prevent a hairstyle from ever looking the way you want it. The devil is in the details.

10. Be realistic.

One of my biggest pet peeves nowadays is that in EVERY SINGLE TV-SHOW the “default” hairstyle for women (and even little girls!) is long hair that has been given big waves with a straightener. Pretty much 90% of hair on TV looks like that nowadays, and it’s just so boring. Also, I think it has somewhat the same effect as PhotoShop can have on how we look at our bodies/skin. We gets so used to looking at this huge, perfectly waved and glossy hair, that we forget that it’s pretty much never natural, and would require touch-ups every fifteenth minute or so, not to mention a surprising amount of extentions. Hair can be beautiful without styling it to death, and it isn’t necessary to look so bloody pretty all the time, either. We have more going for us than just that, don’t we, darlings?

  • Maja H

    Oh Maria, this post is absolutely perfect. As you know, I had no idea what to do with my hair before you taught me a few tricks. Heat with styling products? What? Coconut oil? Huh? A proper hair dryer? But I got this one for free, what do you mean it’s not good enough? I can now proudly say that I mousse like a pro, which is a good thing because without it my hair goes super-greasy in less than a day. I NEED something that sticks to my roots and makes them dry and poofy.

    My three hairstyles are:

    1. Moussed and blow-dried in the evening, slept on in a bun, wonderfully bouncy and loose by the time I wake up.

    2. Messy bun, sometimes low but mostly on the top of my head like a birds-nest.

    3. Pony tail, either super-sleek or teased and poofy.

    Then there are the hair band curls and the straighteners and the braids and the volumizer-extreme-poofy, but those don’t suit my everyday style most days. Also, I have settled for the fact that I will never have the patience to learn how to curl my hair with straightening irons – DON’T PROTEST ;)

    • Maja H

      Also, I would die a slow and painful death if ever denied access to dry shampoo.

    • Maria

      I’m so glad I could be of help! It looks like you might turn into a real hair connoisseur, darling, I’m so proud :D Also – I PROTEST! Once you’ve tried my little ghd, you’ll see what I mean…

    • neda

      what kind of mouse….my hair is oily too but i only use mouse to make my hair curly…

  • Trajena

    Awesome post! Actually, make that perfect post. I totally agree with Maja.

    This list works for any hair type, not just your own which is what makes your tips posts in general so much more appealing than another person’s attempt.

    A trick I use to prevent using too much mousse is to put a small amount on my palm and dip the bristles of my brush into the product before brushing a section of my hair, repeating as needed. It also helps spread the product out evenly.

    Though I confess, I have more than three hairstyles on rotation. I used to only have straight or ponytail, with curls on a special occasion. But then It was brought to my attention that my hair is very long and quite easy to style (as in, holds curls well and stays straight) and I thought: why the heck not?!

    My current daily rotations include:

    1) Long and Straight
    2) Headband Curls
    3) Dutch Side Braid (Katniss Everdeen)
    4) Half-updo with teased crown
    5) Braided Crown

    …etc. I’m actually sitting with my hair in pin curls at this moment.

    I also love the tip about realism. I used to wonder why my hair didn’t look a certain way when teased, but then I saw the sheer amount of extensions and “Bumpits” used to create that look. My way I’m able to just brush it out and go to sleep :)

    I do sometimes do the whole “huge, perfectly waved and glossy hair” since I discovered an easier way to make it work and last on my hair. I don’t know if it would work for everyone, but It does for me: the night before, I take a curling iron and curl all my hair into ringlets (except bangs), spray a little loose hold spray and gather it all into a low bun with a scrunchy (easier to sleep in and do not tear your hair like regular hair ties). Go to sleep. In the morning, carefully brush out your curls until they’re soft. These tend to last all day for me. I discovered this at twelve when I needed my hair in ringlets for a choir event, didn’t feel like showering before bed and just decided to brush my hair in the morning :)

    I think this comment is long enough… Ciao darling!

    • Maria

      1. Thank you! Nothing slips by you, does it? I always try to make my posts useful for many different readers, not just one type of body/hair/skin/face/look. It’s wonderful to hear that I’m getting it right :D

      2. I’m totally trying your spreading-mousse-using-a-brush-trick, it sounds like it would work really well.

      3. I’m so glad you’re working that gorgeous head of hair you’ve got to the fullest! Hair like that definitely deserves five rotating hair styles. Also, I’d love to see you with pin curls.

      4. Realism is underrated.

      5. That curling method sounds great, particularly for those lucky girls with somewhat obedient hair. If I tried that, I’d wake up with perfect ringlets on one side of my head, and a flattened, kinky mess on the other (think Snape from Harry Potter). I guess being a restless sleeper isn’t very practical when it comes to hair :p

  • Cindy

    Tælls lav hestehale, høy hestehale å ingen hæstehale som tre frisyre?:p

    Skjæmmes over at æ enda ikkje har lært mæ korsn æ lage fine flætte å at nån av hårstråan mine deles i 3-4 dela i tuppan. MEN. Æ har bidd flinkar tel å være snill me neglan mine, investert i hårstrækk utn metalldings å skal kjøpe kokosnøttolja ætter næste lønning. Museskritt:p

    • Maria

      Såklart gjør det d! Æ syns du har gjort kjempefine fremskritt, æ, så d så. Fletteworkshop tar vi når du kjæm nedover (som e snart, hurra!) ;)

  • Helene

    Thank you for this wonderful post! :D Yay.

    I maybe the one that don’t own a can of mousse. I hate it. But then again, I have frizzy hair, that poofs up when blowdrying or left to airdry.

    My default hairstyle is straightened lightly with some hairoil to smooth and defrizz.

    • Maria

      Hurrah, you like it! Sounds like you’re doing right by not using mousse on your hair type. It works best for us limp-and-feeble-haired girls ;)

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  • Tilsim

    I wish I’d found this when I had long hair! Would you make any changes to this post if you were writing for someone with a pixie cut? I love your blog by the way, I’ve read about half of it since this morning :)

    • Maria

      Ooh, interesting thought! *puts on list-of-future-blog-posts* I suppose some tips would be the same, but a pixie does indeed require some adjustments. I’ll keep it in mind! And thank you for your lovely words, I’m really happy you like my blog :D

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