Q: I’ve noticed that hair product bottle labels always say “for best results,” use a companion product from the same brand. Does it really make a difference?
—Hannah Clay Wareham
A: We get this question a lot—not just about hair care, but also about skin care. The answer is the same in either case: No, you don’t have to strictly use products from the same line. Generally, the suggestion to stick to one line is “clever marketing,” says David Bank, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. There are, however, some times when you may want to—especially if you’re after maximum efficacy in addressing a specific issue (or you just want the ease of a one-stop shop). For example, say you spend a lot of money getting your hair colored every month; it may make sense to use one line’s shampoo, conditioner, and stylers that all help protect that particular color (for example, John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde line, which is aimed at keeping blondes looking as blonde as possible). Or say you have extremely dry hair; you may want to stick to one line’s hydrating products, which have been formulated to build upon each other (i.e., they deposit hydrating ingredient upon hydrating ingredient on your hair). But if you have normal hair and no specific concerns, mix and match away.
Q: What’s the best product for frizzy, dry, damaged, brittle hair and for keeping my hair sleek against humidity?
A: I have frizzy, dry, damaged, brittle hair, too! So you’re in luck: I’ve tested just about every frizz-fighter on the market. There are two that I particularly like. One is Fekkai Silky Straight Ironless Smooth Finish Serum ($25, fekkai.com), which is meant to be used on dry hair (just one or two pumps). It’s weightless and really keeps the fuzzy look away even on rainy days. (There’s a corresponding balm by the same name that you can apply to wet hair before blowing it dry, if you really want to fight the good fight.) The other frizz-fighter I love is Living Proof Weightless Styling Spray ($26, livingproof.com). It stops frizz without the use of silicone or oil—the traditional ingredients in anti-frizz products—which some people find too greasy for their hair.
Oh, okay, there’s one more I really like: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Lite Formula Hair Serum ($10, amazon.com). To be honest, the original formula, while life-changing, was too heavy for my hair. This version is, as the name implies, a formula for finer, thinner hair (often a by-product of damage) and won’t weigh it down.
Q: Is there any way to fix split ends or at least make them less visible?
A: You may not like what you’re about to hear, but, sadly, there is no way to fix a strand of hair once it has split. That said, there are ways of masking the frizzy effect you get from split ends, as well as methods to prevent them.
Start with a clean slate: Get a “healthy” trim (a half inch to an inch off). Then give your hair a little regular TLC: This means using deep conditioner two or three times a week. I love Fekkai PrX Reparatives Intensive Fortifying Mask ($49, fekkai.com). It’s expensive but so effective: I’ve had a tub of it in my shower for more than a year, since I need to use so little with each treatment.
A few other care tips: Don’t use a brush on wet hair; a wide-tooth comb is gentler. Don’t vigorously towel-dry your hair; instead, pat it with an absorbent hair towel. And cut back on shampooing and heat styling: Both can leave hair dry and more apt to split.
Lastly, if you’re having a beauty emergency and need to look less split-ended by tonight, consider a professional blowout. It can make hair appear smoother than your wildest dreams almost instantly.