Marie Kondo talks a good game about living rooms and basements. (Do you really need a box set of No Doubt CDs that you haven’t played since 1999? Didn’t think so, especially since Don’t Speak streams free on YouTube.)
But while “tidying up” your living space can yield major benefits, binning half your haircare products in search of inner peace (or at least more space in your bathroom) could be a losing battle… at least if you want your hairstyle to “spark joy” every day.
“I’m all for efficiency—and sanity—with a daily hair routine,” says Travis Parker, a L'Oréal Professionnel stylist who trains professional hair artists worldwide, and whose eponymous California salon has welcomed everyone from movie stars to supermodels. (Check out his recent ‘60s riff on Emily Ratajkowski.) “But you can’t just throw out a bunch of products and brushes and think suddenly your hair will get easier. In fact, it’ll probably get harder because you don’t have the tools you need to do your best.”
But if you’re feeling cluttered in your daily haircare routine for dark brown hair or blonde, there’s definitely hope, and even a few tricks we can steal from Mrs. Kondo herself. Here’s the official Hair.com guide to “Tidying Up” your haircare routine—Marie Kondo for hair, if you will—while still looking great… or maybe even better…
HAIR KONDO, STEP ONE: GET A HAIRCUT
Remember, simplifying your hair care routine is a long game. That means you’ve got to do some legwork in the beginning to see real results—including maintaining your ideal hairstyle.
“If you want to save time and use less products daily, the first thing you need is a great haircut,” Parker tells us from his studio in California. “Have a conversation with your stylist about cutting the hair to a natural fall—basically, to fall into the natural parameters and realities of your natural hair. That way, even if you do nothing, and regardless of whether you’re straight, curly, anywhere on the curl-pattern spectrum, a good stylist will know how to cut it so that it can still fall into the right shape.”
You should also discuss your actual everyday life with your stylist. Are you in the gym every day? Short bangs might get in your way. Do your kids like to pull your hair? Maybe more length isn’t the answer. Are you frequently in a pool or ocean? Certain colors might fade faster.
“It’s totally okay to ask your stylist, ‘Hey, if we cut it this way, can I still do a ponytail? How do I get my hair out of my face when that’s important to me?’” says Parker. So seriously, don’t be shy.
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HAIR KONDO, STEP TWO: SHAMPOO IS YOUR FRIEND
“There’s a myth that you have to wait a week before shampooing your hair,” laughs Parker, “which is often crazy. Like a lot of people, I have fine straight hair, so my acceptance on how many days I go without shampooing is limited because after 3 days, it looks gross and stupid. You’re going to save more time in the shower by quickly and efficiently shampooing your hair than by trying to save time without it, then spending forever trying to style overly limp or oily hair.”
For maximum results with thin, straight hair like Parker’s, lather shampoo well in your hands and really massage through your scalp, then rinse—twice—with water.
“If you have drier or coarser hair, the buildup of oil in your scalp can actually help. It decreases frizz, it gives texture more malleability, it’s good. But you should still be rinsing your hair to get rid of sweat and debris, then adding conditioner. You can always condition without shampooing, which seems like a common-sense thing but it still blows people’s minds. Yes, it’s okay. Do it.” (And of course, use a wet-dry brush to gently bring the conditioner through your hair and restore its natural shape before rinsing.)
QUIZ: WHAT’S YOUR IDEAL HAIR CARE ROUTINE?
HAIR KONDO, STEP THREE: BREAK YOUR DRY SPELL
“Ideally, you should start blow-drying your hair every morning before you even use a brush,” says Parker. “We call it ‘Power Drying,’ and it can really cut down on your prep time. Then once you get it 95% to 100% dry, take a round brush on the surface, wherever your part is. Polish the surface by blow-drying in a downward motion and brushing your hair smooth, then let everything underneath the crown of your head fall unfinished.
The other thing I’d experiment with though, is letting your hair air dry, or dry a little with a diffuser and then just letting it sit. Curly hair is super trendy right now, but I don’t think it’s a microtrend. I think it’s a real movement. We’re living in a world where people are busier and more able to multitask than ever before, but we’re also in a world where putting down our phones—even to dry hair—can be really hard! Style is always based on practicality and economics. That sounds weird but right now curly hair is an easy way to go. Ask your stylist to show the right way to ‘scrunch’ your hair, which should be a gentle movement with your fingers, and you can do it in the car or on the train to work. You just want to be able to break that eggshell feeling that newly-dried curls can have right after they dry. Make them a little softer.”
Of course, all hair textures can also default to a super-fast ponytail when crunched for time. “Get it dry, throw it into a pony, pull a few pieces out around your face, smooth out those pieces, and you’re done,” he says, noting the ponytail height can be whatever you want, and a few bobby pins can also transform it into a bun.
As for the best tools, Parker says it depends on your own skill level and the needs of your hair. “But a lot of my clients have started swearing by the Dyson dryers. I have no experience in the vacuums yet, but as consumers who just want an easier time blowing out their hair, they love them.”
HOW TO MAKE YOUR HAIR GROW FASTER, ACCORDING TO EXPERTS
HAIR KONDO, STEP FOUR: MAKE YOUR PRODUCTS MULTI-TASK
So yes, there is a way to cut down on your daily product intake, but it’s not as simple as holding every bottle and asking, “Does this bring me joy?”
Instead, ask the experts, “What does this product do and how often do I need it?” The answer could be every day, once a week, or even less depending on your style goals and hair type.
“I think one of the most versatile product you can have is a hair oil or serum,” says Parker, noting a product like Kérastase’s Résistance Masque Thérapiste Treatment Hair Mask may be a smart pick. If you’re less concerned with shine and more concerned with smoothness, try a product formulated with argan oil like L'Oréal Professionnel's Mythic Oil Huile Radiance.
“You can follow up with a defining product like a holding spray or a curl cream,” he says, “but sometimes on days when you just want to go natural, all you need is that one perfectly formulated product to get you out the door.”
UP NEXT: WHAT IS A SCALP OIL AND DO I NEED ONE?