Having healthy hair and skin doesn’t have to cost half of your paycheck each month. Try these simple changes in your beauty routine. You could be making a common mistake that is irritating or damaging your skin or hair.

Avoid shampoo with detergents and fragrances.
One of the worst things you can do for your hair is buy shampoo that’s full of detergent, says Jane Phillips, owner of Avanti Hair Salon downtown. “You can tell right away when someone is using a product with a lot of detergent in their hair,” she says. Detergent-laden hair is loaded with sulfates and foams up easily, she says. In general, all synthetic products and ingredients are detrimental to color-treated hair, adds Avanti Stylist Amber Dietz. That includes fragrance. “Natural products aren’t just making the shampoo smell pretty. They’re doing something for the hair,” she says.

If you’re trying to avoid artificial ingredients, Sue Beck Currie, owner and creative director of Salon Beck downtown, suggests Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree line. The salon also offers a Keratin Complex treatment, a new process that Currie says takes away 95 percent of the frizz in curl. It takes three to four hours for the average length of hair and lasts three to five months at a starting price of $250. “It’s healthy for the hair,” she emphasizes, “because instead of chemically altering the hair’s structure, you are infusing keratin into the hair (which is smoothed on with a flat iron).”


Avoid contact with pools after your hair is color treated.
“A lot of people don’t realize that after you do a wonderful color service on their hair, it’s best to avoid jumping in the swimming pool,” says Theresa Lenarsich of Bella Hair Styles in the Mount Washington/Anderson area. Lenarsich suggests wetting down your hair with tap water before jumping in so that the chlorine isn’t absorbed into the hair as easily. Applying a light conditioner is another good idea. It will protect the hair from chlorine and sun exposure, which result in over-processed-looking hair and faded color treatments.


Don’t style your hair until it’s almost completely dry.
Using a bristle brush on wet hair is a common mistake, Currie says. Instead, wait to style until it’s “99.9 percent” dry. “Heat on wet hair does more damage, a lot more damage,” she says. “And really, it’s not going to curl or bend until it’s dry anyway.” Speaking of heat styling — don’t run that flat iron over the same strands of hair multiple times. And remember, a professional can show you the correct way to use styling tools, especially if you’re considering changing your look.


Get advice when choosing hair products.
“So often, people pick products up, and they’re not for their hair type at all,” Currie says. Professionals know how to evaluate the texture and density of your hair, and they can combine that knowledge with your lifestyle and hairstyle needs to come up with the perfect products for you.
Wait between color treatments.
No style is going to look good on damaged, brittle, over-processed hair, Currie points out, but that’s what you’ll have if you get highlights or color treatments more often than every 10 weeks. Currie says some of her clients even request to come in every six weeks for highlights, but she insists on the 10-week minimum. Constant color treatments make it a lot harder to get new growth. “We don’t want to overlap the color,” she says. Ultimately, the hair’s health will suffer if it’s treated too frequently.

Don’t sleep with makeup on. Get a quality cleanser.
Mary Rice of Bella Hair Styles emphasizes that going to bed with your makeup on causes blackheads, whiteheads and skin irritation. “Cleanse with the proper cleanser based on your skin type, morning and night, religiously. That is one of the most important activities that anyone can incorporate,” she says. And don’t settle for just any cleanser. Rice suggests getting one with a proper pH balance, on the 6 to 6.5 scale. The correct pH can help correct irritation, sensitivity and acne.

Avoid sun exposure.
Try to use a sunscreen that employs titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. “They are a true broad spectrum blocker, and they don’t irritate,” Rice says. Also seek a sunscreen with antioxidants and avoid products with lanolin, which clogs pores. You’ll have to pay more for quality sunscreen because it costs more to formulate and produce, but it’s worth it. “Quite frankly, women will spend easily $150 to get their hair cut and colored many times a year. You tell them you want them to spend $30 for a sunscreen and they look at you like you must be crazy,” she says. “Hair grows back. Skin may turn over, but it takes a long time to recover from the damage. If the skin is in really poor condition and someone gets a facelift, it doesn’t last. If you want to look young and vital and alive, there’s work to it.”

Don’t smoke.
You’ve surely heard this one before, but it’s worth mentioning again. “There are two things in our environment that do the most damage to the skin and cause premature aging, the first being the sun, the second being smoking,” Rice says. Smoking is bad for your skin, your hair, and your health overall, so quit if at all possible.

Don’t over-scrub.
Rice is used to her clients complaining of skin sensitivity. But when she uses her expertise and cleans their faces with professional products, their sensitivity disappears. “Sensitivity prevents you from doing other things to correct your skin,” Rice points out, so taking sensitivity down is a high priority for her. It helps to use a cleanser with the right pH, and it helps to know when to stop. “The skin has its own immune system, and with that immune system, it’s very necessary to be able to protect it. Many women think that if they scrub more their skin will look better, so they over-scrub their skin,” she says.