There’s nothing quite like a good hair day—and with the right maintenance and care, they don’t have to be a rare occasion! When it comes to hair care, we believe that simplicity is key (similarly to the way we see skincare). You don’t need a medicine cabinet full of products and tools to have healthy hair. But you do need to be diligent about your routine.
Of course, the hair care routine that works best for you might not be the ideal one for another person—your hair texture and specific hair concerns play a role in determining how you should best take care of it. Here we’ll explain what a good hair care routine should generally entail, and why you should tailor your hair care routine to your unique needs.
There are some fundamental hair care practices that can be universally beneficial, but your routine will vary depending on your hair type or texture, your specific hair concerns, and your hair goals—like if you want to grow it longer or you’re more focused on keeping it strong and healthy. Here are some things that will be helpful to keep in mind as you build a hair care routine.
There are generally four main hair types or textures: straight, wavy, curly, and kinky.¹ Your hair type plays a role in how you should take care of it—someone with kinky hair will have different needs than someone with straight hair, and someone with wavy hair will have different needs than someone with curly hair, and so on! While there are nuances within each hair type that can vary based on the tightness of your curl pattern and the thickness of your strands, you can generally figure out what your hair type is by looking at it in its natural state!
Straight hair air dries without any bends or curves.
Wavy hair dries with S-shaped curves.
Curly hair dries with spiral-shaped curls that can vary in tightness.
Kinky hair, also known as textured hair, is most seen in people of African descent. This hair type is characterized by tight zig-zag curls that are prone to “shrinkage”—aka, the hair looks significantly shorter in its natural state versus when it’s straightened.
Certain hair types may be more prone to specific hair concerns than others.² Still, understanding your biggest hair concerns will help you craft a simple hair routine that enables you to target and treat them. Here are a few common ones you may experience:
Hair loss can arise because of a wide range of factors, which can include genetics, hormones, and stress. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women. Telogen effluvium is a type of diffuse hair-thinning, which may be caused by a stressor event.³
Dry hair lacks sufficient moisture and oil (similar to dry skin!). This can make hair more prone to damage. Dryness and resulting damaged hair can be caused by a number of factors, including excessive hair washing, blow-drying, dry air, hormones, poor nutrition, and a number of medical conditions.⁴
Dryness and friction can damage the hair cuticle, which can often result in frizz and flyaways—those pesky strands that don’t lie with your normal hair texture.⁵
Oily or greasy hair is the result of the scalp producing excess sebum.⁶ Certain hair products can also contribute to an oily or greasy feeling.
Split ends are what happens when the ends of your hair get damaged, resulting in the “splitting” of individual hair shafts at their tip. While all hair types can experience split ends, more fragile hair types (like kinky hair) are especially prone to this kind of damage.⁷
The products you use on your hair can also play a role in damage—namely, the use of certain hair dye, bleach, or chemicals.⁸
While your hair volume may be determined by your genetics—which play a role in the natural density and texture of your hair—hair thinning can lead to decreased volume of your hair.⁹
Every basic hair care routine contains some important steps: cleansing, conditioning, moisturizing, detangling, styling, and treatment. While the frequency at which you follow these steps will vary depending on your hair type and concerns, these are universal components of a solid hair care routine!
Your hair type will determine how frequently you should wash your hair. Those with drier hair types (like textured hair) should typically cleanse less often than those with oily hair, as frequent hair-washing can contribute to further dryness. Color-treated hair also tends to be dry, so should not be washed as often. As you wash your hair, focus your lathering on your scalp.¹⁰
Using a conditioner after washing your hair helps to strengthen hair, in addition to making it look shinier and feel softer to the touch. Because conditioner can weigh down the hair, apply it to the ends of your hair, rather than to the scalp.
Especially if you have dry hair, a leave-in conditioner can further hydrate your hair, helping to make it stronger and easier to detangle. It’s typically applied to damp hair and not rinsed out.¹¹
Use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle your hair—and avoid brushing it while it’s wet to help prevent damage. It’s best to comb your hair while it’s damp if you have curly or textured hair, and when it’s partially dry if you have straight or wavy hair.¹²
The way that you style your hair is a matter of personal preference! That said, if you do use heated tools like a blow dryer, curling iron, or flat iron to style your hair, be sure to use a heat protectant or styling product to help reduce damage.
If you’re dealing with hair loss, a daily treatment can help you to regrow healthy, fuller hair. Curology’s Hair Formulaᴿˣ is formulated by dermatologists to help target hair loss with active ingredients such as minoxidil, if medically appropriate.
A solid hair care routine doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, a few simple tips can easily level up your overall hair maintenance.
Your hair stylist isn’t lying—more frequent haircuts can keep your hair healthier in the long run. Why? Because trims help prevent split ends from getting worse and causing even more damage.
As amazing as a hot shower may feel in the moment, hot water can make your hair drier by stripping it of its natural oils—just like how hot water can lead to drier skin!
A well-rounded diet is important for your overall health, and it can also play a role in your hair health; research shows that nutritional deficiency can play a role in both hair structure and growth.
Scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis can result in hair concerns like dandruff—so pay attention to your scalp health! If you have concerns about any scalp conditions you may be experiencing, consult with a healthcare provider.
Hot tools, like curling irons and straighteners, can dry out hair and cause damage. Limit their use if possible, and if you do decide to use them, always use a heat protectant to limit their potential harm.
Hair care is incredibly personal—depending on your hair type, concerns, and goals, the right routine for you will vary. But no matter what your hair needs may be, an expert can help. If you’re experiencing hair loss, Curology’s licensed dermatology providers are here to help. They can answer questions you may have about how to best tackle certain conditions, and if you’re looking for a treatment for hair loss in particular, they can prescribe a custom Hair Formulaᴿˣ designed for your specific needs.*
Curious if Hair Formulaᴿˣ might be right for you? Take our hair quiz to find out!
The right hair care routine for you will depend on a number of factors, including your hair type, concerns, and goals. However, most hair care routines should involve cleansing, conditioning, and detangling. Depending on your hair type and preferences, your routine may also involve moisturizing with a leave-in treatment, protecting and styling your hair, and treating concerns like hair loss with a targeted formula.
Generally speaking, the first step in a hair routine is cleansing, followed by conditioning, moisturizing with a leave-in product, detangling, protecting, styling, and treating, if applicable.
A good hair care routine for straight hair involves cleansing, conditioning, and detangling hair, before styling it. Use a heat protectant if you’re using hot tools to style your hair. If your hair is dry, consider using a leave-in conditioner before detangling, and wash your hair less frequently. If your hair is oily, consider washing your hair more often.
Healthy hair habits include washing it in warm, not hot, water, avoiding over-washing, limiting the use of hot tools, using a heat protectant when you do use them, and conditioning hair each time you wash it.
The right products for your hair care routine will depend on your hair type and preferences, but should generally include a cleanser of your choice and a conditioner. If your hair is dry, you can also use a leave-in conditioner, and if you use hot tools, we recommend using a heat protectant. You can use additional styling products if you wish.
The frequency of your hair wash days will depend on your hair's dryness or oiliness. If your scalp tends to produce a lot of oil, making your hair feel “greasy,” you can wash your hair every day or every other day. If your hair is dry, you should wash it less frequently.¹⁴
Bad habits for hair include over-washing, frequently using hot tools without heat protection, not using conditioner, brushing hair while it’s wet, lathering shampoo into the lengths of your hair instead of the scalp, and frequently wearing hair tightly pulled back.¹⁵
Easy hair care tips you can follow include conditioning your hair after shampooing it, detangling it with a comb instead of a brush, limiting your use of hot tools, getting regular trims, and following a hair care routine suitable for your hair type and concerns!
Before going to bed, make sure your hair is fully dry. If you have longer hair, you can put it into a protective style, like a braid, to reduce friction that can contribute to damage. Silk or satin bonnets and pillowcases may also help reduce damage.
Your hair care routine may not look the same every day if you don’t wash your hair every day—which is fine! That said, you should always condition your hair each time you shampoo it, always detangle hair with a comb when it’s damp, and always use a heat protectant when styling your hair with hot tools. If you’re treating hair loss with Hair Formulaᴿˣ, you should use the treatment every day for optimal results, making sure to follow the instructions of your licensed dermatology provider.
1. Michelle K Gaines et al. Reimagining Hair Science: A New Approach to Classify Curly Hair Phenotypes via New Quantitative Geometric and Structural Mechanical Parameters. Acc Chem Res. June 6, 2023.
2. Maria Fernanda Reis Gavazzoni Dias. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. Int J Trichology. (January 2015).
3. Ji Qi and Luis A. Garza. An Overview of Alopecias. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. (March 2014).
4. Mt. Sinai Health Library. Dry hair. Mr. Sinai. (n.d.).
5. Maria Fernanda Reis Gavazzoni Dias. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. Int J Trichology. (January 2015).
6. University of Florida Health. Oily hair. University of Florida. (n.d.).
7. Maria Victória Quaresma et al. Hair Breakage in Patients of African Descent: Role of Dermoscopy. Skin Appendage Disord. (August 15, 2015).
8. Yongyu He et al. Mechanisms of impairment in hair and scalp induced by hair dyeing and perming and potential interventions. Front Med (Lausanne). May 18, 2023.
9. Remo Campiche et al. An extract of Leontopodium alpinum inhibits catagen development ex vivo and increases hair density in vivo. Int J Cosmet Sci. June 6, 2022.
10. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Tips for Healthy Hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
11. Maria Fernanda Reis Gavazzoni Dias. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. Int J Trichology. (January 2015).
12. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 Hair Care Habits That Can Damage Your Hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
13. Emily L. Guo and Rajani Katta. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatol Pract Concept. Jan 31, 2017.
14. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Tips for Healthy Hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
15. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 Hair Care Habits That Can Damage Your Hair. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.).
Elise Griffin is a certified physician assistant at Curology. She received her Master of Medical Science in physician assistant studies from Nova Southeastern University in Jacksonville, FL.
*Subject to consultation. Active ingredients have been studied separately. Results may vary. Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information.
Elise Griffin, PA-C