Solutions for Oily Hair

If you are a busy mom, not shampooing your hair every day can be a huge time-saver. Unfortunately, though, if you have an oily scalp and hair, you probably don’t have that luxury; for your hair -- and you -- to look and feel beautiful, you probably need to wash away the oils daily.

What’s worse, even when you do shampoo every morning, excess oil can build up throughout the day, leaving hair limp and greasy-looking by evening. “Strands can literally drown in their own oil, and your hair goes flat really fast,” explains Edward Tricomi, co-owner of Warren Tricomi salon in New York City.

What Causes Excess Oil
It may not seem like it, but in most cases, an oily scalp is as normal as having oily skin or brown eyes. Sebaceous glands inside hair follicles produce what’s called sebum, an oily, waxy substance. Sebum is then released onto the scalp, in a similar way to the pores on your face releasing oil onto your skin. No one knows why, but your glands simply produce excessive sebum, which migrates more into your hair and gives it that greasy look and feel, says Dr. Heidi Waldorf, a dermatologist and associate clinical director of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Although you can’t permanently change your scalp’s composition or your hair type, there are a few things you can do to help control oil and get hair that looks fresh and healthy:

1. Consider your hormones.
Hormonal fluctuations can increase sebum production. So, during your menstrual cycle, your scalp can feel greasier. Birth control pills may help normalize the hormones and balance the oil, says Waldorf. Talk to your doctor if this is an option for you.

2. Switch shampoos.
Waldorf suggests using a shampoo that contains zinc pyrithione or salicylic acid, which are found in some dandruff shampoos. These ingredients may help keep the oil on your scalp in check, she says.

3. Lather, wait, rinse, repeat.

Don’t rinse out your shampoo right away. Instead, lightly massage it into your scalp and wait at least 30 seconds before rinsing. This gives the suds more time to break down excess oil. Then lather up again if needed to clear away additional residue. This way, you are sure to start the day with an ultra-clean scalp and hair. 

4. Give your roots a boost.
The key to infusing oily hair with more volume is to style right after you towel dry, when there is no or little sebum on hair. Try these tricks:

  • Use a volumizing spray or hair spray. Apply to damp hair and aim your application only at the root area.
  • Blow-dry hair upside down. This helps train hair to stand up at the roots from the get-go. Use the high heat button to dry, then right before you finish, blast roots with the cold setting to get fullness and lift that lasts.
  • Tease roots with a comb. Hold up a section of your hair, place a fine-tooth comb into strands at your roots, and comb up and down with short, quick strokes. Afterward, spritz each section with hair spray. Then stash the comb in your purse for quick touch-ups throughout the day.

5. Try hair powder.
Also called dry shampoo, this powder-based product absorbs oil and can keep hair from falling flat. (In a pinch, you can use baby powder, but sprinkle it sparingly to avoid giving strands a whitish hue.) You can use hair powder when you don’t have time to shampoo or during the day if oil starts to build up. You might also apply it immediately after washing and styling hair as a preventive measure, to keep oil at bay, suggests Tricomi.

To apply, part your hair in different spots and lightly sprinkle it on your scalp. (Always use less than you think you need; too much could clump.) Massage in the powder, then gently run your fingers through the hair at your scalp.

6. Cut hair short.
“Long hair can weigh itself down,” says Tricomi. “A shorter, layered cut will give you more lift at the roots, and hair won’t look as greasy.” You may even consider a gamine pixie cut (think Halle Berry). It’s the ultimate wash-and-go style.

Whatever haircut you decide on, talk to your stylist about how it will work best for your face shape, hair type and personality.

Quick Tips for Beautiful Hair

Whether you’re rushing out the door for an afternoon outside or you’re running from meeting to meeting, hairstyling is often low on the priority list. But even if you don’t have time for a full blowout, you can still look great and have beautiful hair.

Every woman should have a few quick hair tips in her arsenal, says Kristan Serafino, a celebrity hairstylist who’s worked on the tresses of Naomi Watts and Elizabeth Berkley. “Put away your styling tools and embrace your hair’s natural texture with confidence,” she says. Check out these tips for how to bypass your blow-dryer and get beautiful hair fast.

Air-dry Hair in Style
As long as the temperature’s warm enough, air-drying hair is quick and can make you look beautiful. Take these steps to create a pretty, beach-inspired look in a flash:

For straight hair:

  • Part damp hair down the middle and divide into four sections (two on each side). Braid each section and let them air-dry. To speed things up in the a.m., you can shampoo at night and sleep in the braids.
  • Once it’s dry, undo the braids and tousle your hair with your fingers. A tip to combat frizz is to rub a small amount of shine serum between your palms and rake through your hair.

For curly or wavy hair:

  • Apply curl cream to hair, coating from roots to tips. Next, twist pieces of hair around your index finger, leaving them coiled as you slide out your finger.
  • Resist touching your hair again until it’s completely dry, says Serafino. Rustling strands can lift the cuticle (your hair’s outer barrier), which can invite frizz-causing humidity.
  • Once your hair is dry, gently massage your scalp with your fingers to tousle and get lift at the roots.

Embrace Headbands
Hair accessories, especially headbands, take seconds to put in and give instant style. “They keep hair off your face on hot days, and by pulling hair back and taut around your face, it looks smoother and more polished,” says Serafino.

In lieu of a traditional headband, you can also try a scarf knotted at the nape of your neck. (You can even braid three skinny ribbons or scarves together.) Wear the scarf an inch or two back from your hairline. If it shifts around, crisscross two bobby pins over the scarf in an X just behind each ear to secure.

Make Over Your Ponytail
Ponytails are the ultimate go-to when you’re in a rush and need a quick hairstyle, but if you rely on them day after day, it’s easy to get stuck in a style rut. Instead of your usual ponytail, try a more polished version by incorporating a pretty scarf: Pull hair straight back into ponytail. Then, wrap a scarf around the rubber band, knotting underneath the ponytail and letting the ends hang loose. If your hair and scarf are long enough, braid them together by dividing your ponytail into three sections, adding the scarf to two of the sections and braiding as usual.

Get creative with tips like these, and styling your hair quickly and beautifully will be easier than you think!

Repair Winter Damage -- Fast! -- With These Beauty Tips and Tricks

Winter’s here -- and so are all the beauty challenges it holds. Cold, dry outdoor air and overheated indoor environments make for limp, static-y locks, tight, uncomfortable skin, chapped lips and cracked soles. So not appealing.

The good news? Our beauty tips and tricks will help you repair winter damage fast.

Hair
To fight dry hair and split ends, choose products with rich conditioning ingredients, says board-certified New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe. “Look for products containing wheat protein, which targets and repairs hair’s most damaged parts without a greasy buildup near the scalp.” The other ingredients you want to see in your shampoo and conditioners? Powerful natural hydrators and masks such as oat protein, dimethicone, macadamia nut seed oil, green tea extract, olive oil, algae extract, shea butter, argan oil, glycerin, wild mango butter and sunflower extract. Cetrimonium chloride also has conditioning and anti-static properties.

Scalp itch and dandruff typically worsen in the winter. “Try using dandruff shampoo,” says Elizabeth Tanzi, a board-certified dermatologist in Washington, DC. “If that still isn’t enough, visit your dermatologist for a scalp solution prescription.”

Face
When skin doesn’t produce enough sebum (or oil), it can get rough, irritated, inflamed, sensitive and flaky -- and wrinkles are more pronounced, explains celebrity aesthetician Renée Rouleau. Winter’s dry air steals even more moisture from your face.

To avoid damage, don’t use harsh scrubs. Wash your face with lukewarm or cool water and a low-lather, creamy cleanser containing soothing ingredients like green tea, aloe vera extract or chamomile. Apply a hydrating serum with marine extract, vitamins C and A, azulene, hyaluronic acid and lipids; then follow up with a good moisturizer containing flower and nut extracts (rose hips, lavender, geranium, macadamia, grape seed), dimethicone and glycolic acid. At night, adds Rouleau, use a humidifier in your room to rehydrate your skin.

Soft, smooth skin comes from the inside as well. Eat plenty of cold-water fish such as tuna, sardines, cod, mackerel, herring and trout, which have the essential fats your skin needs. And remember to drink plenty of water.

Lips
Rule number one: Don’t lick them! Wear lip balm with dimethicone and petroleum, and reapply often.

Body
To relieve dry skin and eczema, Tanzi recommends taking only one bath or shower daily and using a moisturizing body wash with lavender or oatmeal. As soon as you get out of the tub, treat your whole body to a thick lotion or cream with shea or cocoa butter, sesame oil, petroleum and ceramides to lock in hydration.

Elbows and Heels
Exfoliate rough patches with urea-rich healing creams, applied every night. “Then use a pumice stone or washcloth to gently remove the dead skin, and follow up with a ceramide moisturizer in the morning,” says Tanzi.

Feet
Try this bedtime foot treatment from Stafford R. Broumand, a board-certified Manhattan plastic surgeon: Apply a thick layer of plain petroleum jelly all over your feet, and cover them with cotton socks. “When you wake up and remove the socks in the morning,” he says, “your feet will be soft and smooth.”

Hands
All the soap and sanitizers you use to prevent colds can also dry out your hands and nails. Instead, “use a gentle cleanser to wash,” says Tanzi, “and before bed, smear on petroleum jelly or a thick hand cream [honey and shea butter are excellent ingredients], and cover up with cotton gloves overnight.”

For ragged cuticles, apply cuticle oil before the hand cream; you want one containing vitamin E, shea butter and oils such as jojoba, argan and sweet almond. Then follow Bowe’s example and keep a tube of soothing hand lotion by the bathroom and kitchen sink so you can apply a dollop every time you wash your hands.

Photo: Corbis Images

The Top 5 Foods for Healthy Hair

For most of us, when it comes to taking care of our hair, the usual maintenance routine involves frequent washing, conditioning, styling and going for regular cuts at the hair salon. But your diet can play a big role in the looks of your hair. Try adding these foods for healthy hair to your diet. 

Healthy hair starts with a well-balanced diet, says Willow Jarosh, a certified dietitian-nutritionist at C&J Nutrition in New York City. Specific nutrients in foods play key roles in healthy hair growth and maintenance, and if any are missing from your diet, your strands could suffer, she says.

Check out this guide to the top five foods for healthy hair, and start feeding your follicles at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

No. 1: Spinach, Chicken and Red Peppers
Load your plate with spinach and chicken for their health benefits to hair. Both these foods are great sources of iron, a mineral that helps red blood cells carry oxygen to hair follicles. This flow of oxygen is essential for promoting healthy hair growth and strong strands, says Jarosh.

Aim to get your iron from both plant and animal sources, advises Jarosh. Because vitamin C increases the amount of iron your body absorbs, try to eat iron-rich foods with a fruit or vegetable, such as red peppers or strawberries, she says.  

Serving suggestions: Chicken breast with spinach and red peppers is a perfect example of an iron-packed meal, delivering about one-third of your daily 18 mg requirement. Get the remainder throughout the day from other good food sources, including fortified cereal, lean beef, fish, lentils, beans and such vegetables as tomatoes and beets.

No. 2: Oysters
The notorious aphrodisiacs actually deliver much more than an amorous feeling. Oysters are one of your best sources of zinc, a mineral that is vital for many functions in the body, including the cell division necessary for healthy hair growth. "Low levels are associated with slower growth and hair loss,” says Jarosh. In fact, dry scalp and thinning hair are two symptoms of a zinc deficiency.

Serving suggestions: Oysters pack the most zinc per bite -- just one provides your entire day’s zinc requirement (8 mg). But you’ll also fulfill your zinc needs with three ounces of lean beef or pork. Or just fill your breakfast bowl with fortified cereal.

No. 3: Sweet Potatoes
These and other orange veggies owe their place on the list of foods for healthy hair -- as well as their rich color -- to a high concentration of beta-carotene. In your body, this carotenoid converts to vitamin A, which helps regulate cell production and turnover, says Bethany Thayer, M.S., a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. Regularly sloughing off old cells and replacing them with new ones contributes to healthy hair growth, plus a smooth and healthy scalp.

Beta-carotene is also a powerful antioxidant. It protects skin -- including that on your scalp -- from damage caused by UV rays.

Serving suggestions: Try a baked sweet potato for a hearty dose of beta-carotene. Carrots, squash, cantaloupe and apricots also supply ample amounts. A good rule of thumb: For your recommended five servings of fruit and veggies a day, choose a variety of colors, including at least one that’s high in beta-carotene, to get healthy hair.

No. 4: Eggs
Eggs deliver multiple nutrients needed to maintain healthy hair. First, they’re a good source of protein and amino acids, protein’s building blocks. Because hair is made primarily of keratin, a type of protein, getting adequate amounts in your diet is necessary for hair growth and strength, says Jarosh. “We naturally shed hair each month, and diets low in protein could slow the rate at which strands grow back, causing hair to look thinner,” she says. Likewise, eating too little protein may contribute to weak or brittle strands.

In addition to protein, eggs provide zinc and iron, plus B vitamins, which aid in the metabolism of food, says Thayer. They help convert what you eat into the energy your body needs for its various functions, including a healthy hair growth cycle. Specifically, think of vitamins B-6 and B-12 “as messengers that deliver the nutrition from your healthy diet to hair follicles,” says Jarosh.

Serving suggestions: Jarosh advises three to five eggs per week. You’ll also get protein and B vitamins from poultry, lean meats, fish and lentils.

No. 5: Salmon
Fish is a favorite food among nutritionists, and salmon is a superstar they mention frequently thanks to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. For healthy hair, these good-for-you fats act like internal conditioners, helping to keep your scalp and hair moisturized, shiny and healthy. Salmon also contains other strand savers like B vitamins, protein and iron.

Serving suggestions: Experts recommend eating salmon or other fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout and sardines two to three times a week to get your fill of omega-3s. Not a seafood fan? Sprinkle two tablespoons of ground flaxseed into your oatmeal or smoothie.

These nutrients and foods for healthy hair are some of the same that give your body a boost. So try increasing your intake, even if it means snacking on carrots or ordering a side of spinach once in a while. You know the saying “When you look good, you feel good”? You’ll see just how true it can be.

Love Your Body in a Bathing Suit

If you’re like most women, getting into a swimsuit probably isn’t at the top of your favorite-things-about-summer list. So what’s the trick to bathing suit confidence? You need to love your whole look. That means finding a flattering swimsuit, of course, but also creating a pretty (and easy!) beach-inspired hairstyle and perking up your skin. These tips will have you looking and feeling great all summer long.

1. Find a flattering swimsuit

Certain cuts, styles, colors and patterns can turn the ugh of bathing suit shopping into a happy aah, says Nicole Brewer, a style expert in New York City. Carve out plenty of time and try on several options to find one that makes you feel best. Here’s how to:

  • Slim your waistline. Look for a crisscross or gathered fabric (called ruching) at your waist. This gives the appearance of cinching -- and slimming! -- your midsection.
  • Find the perfect fit. Many women are one size on top and a different size on the bottom, making it a challenge to find a one-piece that fits. Instead, look for tankinis: You can usually buy the top and bottom separately, which means you can get a suit that fits and flatters everywhere.
  • Look tall and trim. Swimsuits with empire waists, which sit just below your bust, will help elongate your torso and make you appear thinner and taller.
  • Draw attention to the good (and camouflage the bad). Try to use well-placed colors, patterns and details to your advantage.  Bright colors and patterns draw attention, while dark, solid colors camouflage. So if you want to minimize your bottom half, look for a suit that accentuates your bust with bold hues but is black, brown or navy below. The same holds true for little extras like keyholes, drawstrings and ruffles, which all say, “look here, not there.”

2. Create a pretty, carefree hairstyle
When your hair looks great, you feel more confident no matter what you’re wearing. Forget the usual ponytail and try loose, beach-ready waves. This effortless style works on all hair types and looks sexy and casual, says Matt Fugate, a stylist at Sally Hershberger Downtown salon in New York City. How to get the look:

  • Apply anti-frizz cream or texturizing spray. If your hair is frizz-prone, rub a small amount of styling cream between your hands and rake it through towel-dried hair, from roots to ends. But if your strands tend to go flat, spritz on a texturizing spray instead. Next, flip your head upside down and blow dry until your hair is about half dry.
  • Create coils. Twist several random sections of hair around your index finger to make ringlets. Then let your hair finish air-drying.
  • Tousle and go. Once hair is dry, ruffle the coils with your fingers to break them up or let them naturally unravel in the wind. 

3. Get glowing skin
Sun-kissed skin is always in, but baring your bod to UV rays isn’t the healthiest solution. Instead, try gradual self-tanning lotions, which can deliver skin that’s soft, smooth and even-toned, helping you feel more confident, says Meredith Baraf, a makeup artist for Victoria’s Secret. These daily moisturizers contain low levels of DHA (a skin-tinting agent), so they’re easier to use than regular self-tanners and give a subtler result.

Before you apply the self-tanner for the first time, exfoliate head-to-toe in the shower so the lotion absorbs evenly. When rubbing in the lotion, keep your fingers together to prevent streaks, suggests Baraf. Reapply every day until you reach a color you like. It’ll last about five days; after that, exfoliate and start again.

Using these easy tricks to look and feel your best means you can focus on what’s most important: spending time with your family. 

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/cdwheatley