We throw around a lot of buzzwords when we talk about hair, asking for shine, reflective color, and basically to look like we’re having an excellent hair day every single day without minimal effort. In all that discussion about making hair look good, don’t forget about how it feels!
If you’re dealing with dry, brittle hair and craving softness, we’ve got some news for you: It may be as simple as swapping out your shampoo and conditioner—no kidding! Clear off a corner of your bathtub because you’re going to learn how to get soft hair whether you’re working with a dark brown or platinum blonde mane.
What causes dry or brittle hair?
To get soft hair, you have to understand the obstacles holding you back. Rodney Cutler, Redken ambassador and celebrity stylist, has seen hundreds of women at wit’s end with their annoyingly brittle strands over the years. He thinks that a lack of education is what keeps so many women feeling unhappy with their manes. First, it’s crucial to identify the problems your hair is facing.
'Dry’ hair refers specifically to a lack of moisture, while ‘damaged’ hair can include a range of issues, from split ends, fragility, and breakage to dryness...When you damage your hair, you compromise its integrity.
According to Cutler, dry hair often happens as a result of external stressors like climate while damage can happen as a result of color application, hot tools, or styling techniques gone wrong.
In order for hair to look and feel soft, it must be properly moisturized and cared for...which brings us to our soft hair styling tips. You’ll want to jot these down.
How can I soften my hair at home?
Start with the right brush.
Have you ever tried to cut an apple with a butter knife? Whether it was an act of desperation because all your paring knives were dirty or due to sheer laziness (been there!), you may have attempted to slice the crisp fruit with a dull knife blade. We’re willing to bet you didn’t have much success because a butter knife just isn’t designed to take on apples. The same idea goes for hair brushes. Paddle brushes enable quick drying, while round brushes hold hair in place and provide tension for blowouts. Picks create volume, but combs detangle. Each tool has a specific purpose.
“[The wrong brush] angles and pulls at the hair while drying, causing it to stretch and break,” Cutler says. If you’re in doubt about the brushes needed to maintain and style your cut, your stylist is an excellent source of knowledge. Make sure you know what’s needed before leaving the chair.
Know what’s in your hair care.
Chad Wood, Redken ambassador, makes his living styling celebs and fields plenty of questions about how he gets his girls looking so polished. They care about what he puts on their hair—and so should you!
“Your hair needs to breathe and when it’s filled with all these chemicals and things it cannot do that,” he explains. “The more you strip down your hair to its natural state, the more you’re going to get what God gave you: that natural, beautiful wave, that shiny, glossy movement, texture.”
Before you run out to purchase a whole new shampoo and conditioner set, take a second to think about paring back your routine. You won’t need to use as many products to achieve shiny, healthy-feeling hair if they’re working double-time toward your hair goals.
“I don’t want people to buy more. I’m Marie Kondo-ing my life," Wood says. "I sold my sofa, I have nothing in my house right now. I just want simple...I have so many shampoos and conditioners and I just want one that smells good. I want it to make my hair feel soft after. I want it to feel hydrated and not irritate my scalp and I want it to not feel frizzy.”
Same here, friend!
Use a hair care system that’s designed for maximum softness.
Wood has a favorite duo that help makes soft hair possible: Redken Nature + Science All Soft Shampoo and Conditioner, which is formulated with birch sap for softness and hydration and features amino acids, sugars, and enzymes. The best part? No sulfates, silicones, or parabens—a feature Wood's celeb clients are obsessed with in an increasingly health-conscious beauty world.
“All Soft [is] for my girls who have curly hair, textured hair, fine hair, whatever—everyone needs hydration,” he says. “I never meet anyone that’s too hydrated! If they are I’d be like, put it on your ends.”
For cleansing, softening and replenishing moisture, Nature + Science All Soft is the way to go.
Play it safe with styling.
Only rookies think that hair care ends once you’ve stepped out of the shower. Styling is where the real work of changing habits begins.
“Poor styling habits and techniques are the most damaging and distressing for hair,” Cutler explains. “Preventing damage and moisture loss is key!”
Start by applying a heat protectant, ensuring that it protects up to the temperature you’ll be drying at. Then, work with a paddle or round brush to dry your hair. Cutler advocates a technique called directional styling. Essentially, you’ll be using the concentrator nozzle on your hair dryer to blow the air down the shaft instead of directly at it. This ensures a closed hair cuticle, which means softer-feeling, shinier-looking hair.
Treat your hair to TLC.
Cutler is quick to note that not all brittle and dry hair is caused by mistakes you’re making—some people just have naturally dry hair. If that’s the case, a regular deep conditioning treatment can make all the difference in the softness of your strands.
“Dryness is the result of a lack of moisture in the hair,” he says. “A deep conditioning formula like Redken’s All Soft Mega Mask is key to both treating and helping to improve the look of dry hair. I recommend using once a week.”
If you need more than just a mask, Cutler recommends All Soft Mega Hydramelt, a moisturizing lotion leaves hair moisturized but not weighed down. The lightweight formula provides increased softness, manageability, control and shine.
Armed with these tips, you’ll face the world with softer—and more beautiful—hair.
Interested in treating your hair to some extra care? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.