We often blame our hair for not playing ball. Calling it a “bad hair day” seems to take it out of our control, when actually there are simple things we can do to correct it. So, how exactly do you fix hair that always looks bad?
First, figure out your hair type and then figure out your ideal look. Then, speak to your barber to get a haircut that’ll help you style it the way you want to. Avoid overwashing, consider pre-stylers, and choose a hair product with the correct level of shine.
Although that’s the short answer, there’s more to it.
Here are those essential tips and tricks laid out in more detail.
1. Figure Out Your Hair Type
The first step is to figure out what you’re actually working with.
There’s a wide range of hair types out there and each of them has its own range of problems.
This is important because the steps you take to fix it will hugely depend on your specific hair type.
To keep things simple, you can broadly divide hair into the following categories:
- Greasy Vs Not-So-Greasy
- Thick Vs Thin
Add yourself to one of the categories from each of the two bullet points and you’ve got a good place to start from.
For example, someone with thin and greasy hair is likely to have the problem of their hair falling flat making it difficult to build volume and texture.
On the other hand, someone with thick and not-so-greasy hair may have the problem of puffy or frizzy hair that’s difficult to tame and add definition to.
2. Figure Out What You Want From It
Once you know what type of hair you’re working with, the next step is to figure out what you actually want from it.
This is where you visualize your ideal hair. What would you want from it if you could have any result you wanted?
Do you want:
- Volume Or Definition?
- Matt Vs Shiny?
- Textured Vs Slick?
Once you know what you want from your hair you can take steps toward trying to achieve it after taking your hair type into account.
3. Speak To Your Barber
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what you want from your hair, speak to your barber.
A good barber will really listen to what you’re trying to achieve and an even better barber will let you know truthfully whether it’s even possible or not.
For example, if you want an inch-long haircut that’s capable of slicking back, they should let you know that it’s not possible.
However, if you tell them that you want a more voluminous and textured hairstyle, they should be able to help you achieve it.
In this example, they’ll usually go for a more layered hairstyle where the hair is cut in clusters of varying lengths. This leads the clusters to stack on top of each other in layers.
Layered haircuts are easier to build volume and texture with.
If you want a slicker and more defined hairstyle, once again, they should be able to help you achieve it.
In this case, they’ll go for less layering and consider a more uniform end result instead.
The main point here is that there’s a good chance that your hair always looks bad because you aren’t getting a haircut that matches the ideal look you have in mind.
Getting the right haircut lays the foundation for being able to style it the way you want.
An effective, but often forgotten tip is to simply show the barber a photograph of your ideal look. A picture is worth a thousand words and should let the barber know exactly what you have in mind before they start cutting.
4. Avoid Overwashing
No matter how greasy or not-so-greasy your hair is, overwashing is never a good idea.
You should aim to wash your hair with water alone (i.e no shampoo) once a day. This should get rid of excess grease, dirt, grime, and anything else you accumulate over the course of a day.
But washing it with shampoo every day will usually lead to more harm than good.
In those with a drier hair type, the risk is definitely excessive dryness.
But even in those with greasy hair types, over washing with shampoo will often lead to excessive production of natural oils in order to overcompensate for it.
As you can imagine, with either outcome, the hair isn’t likely to look the way you want it to.
So, try to wash with shampoo two or three times a week at a maximum, with greasier hair types on the more frequent end of that spectrum.
5. Use A Pre-Styler
Pre-stylers are products used before the actual styling takes place.
They’re usually applied to damp hair after washing and towel-drying have taken place. They’re also often applied before blow-drying, but not always.
Pre-stylers usually perform a specific function. A couple of common functions include reducing frizz and increasing volume.
Smoothing lotion, for example, smoothens the hair and makes it more likely to lay straight and flat. It’s great for reducing frizz.
On the other end of the spectrum, volumizing pre-stylers such as sea salt spray are great for building volume and texture.
Here’s one on Amazon as an example.
No matter what look you’re trying to achieve, it’s likely that there’s a pre-styler out there to help you achieve it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the average daily hair routine, pre-stylers are often skipped entirely.
One reason for this is that they add a bit of time to the routine itself. Another is that it may seem like an unnecessary expense given that you’ll be using a styling product afterward in any case.
But they’re definitely worth using. They make the hair so much more responsive and more likely to do what you want it to once you actually start styling shortly afterward.
6. Blow-Dry With A Concentrator Nozzle
A blow-dryer is a simple and relatively cheap tool that could also help you fix hair that seems to always look bad.
When used the right way, they can be used to both build volume and reduce volume.
Using a concentrator nozzle is the first thing to consider. It’s a narrow attachment that you pop onto the end of a blow-dryer to focus the heat and pressure onto specific parts of the hair.
It gives you a lot more control.
Building volume is mainly what blow-dryers are known for. Use a round brush while blow-drying in your desired direction to produce a fuller and more defined result.
If, on the other hand, you wanted a more textured and voluminous appearance, finger-tousling while blow-drying is more likely to achieve it.
But surprisingly, a blow-dryer can also be helpful if you’re looking to reduce volume.
Flat-wrapping is a technique where you brush in the direction of hair growth while blow-drying with a concentrator nozzle in sync with the brush.
It can be tricky to get the hang of and it’s important to not hold the blow-dryer too close to the hair while doing it (minimum 7 or 8 inches away). It’s definitely worth reviewing a video tutorial online before attempting it.
But what it does is flatten the hair and keep it that way. It’s great when you’ve got puffy or frizzy hair that refuses to lay flat.
Overall, it’s just another technique you can use to get your hair looking the way you want it to.
7. Use The Right Hair Product For Your Needs
Another common reason for hair always looking bad is using the wrong styling product.
What this means is that you may be using the wrong hair product for the ideal look you have in mind.
The main question you have to ask is whether you want a matte (low-shine) finish or a shiny one.
Here are the products to consider for each of those categories:
- Matte – Paste, Clay, Cream
- Shiny – Wax, Pomade, Gel
That’s the simplest way of breaking everything up.
Modern hairstyles tend to be more textured and low-shine. Matte products would be a better option here.
Hair clay has the benefit of a strong hold and is definitely on the more matte end of the spectrum. However, it can have a heavy and gritty feel that may not appeal to some people.
Hair paste produces a similar low-shine finish but doesn’t feel as gritty or heavy. At the same time, however, it usually doesn’t produce as strong of a hold.
Shinier products such as wax, pomade, and gel are a better option if you’re looking for a slicker and more defined finish.
They’re perfect for more classic and “vintage” hairstyles such as slick backs, comb-overs, and of course, pompadours.
Pomades can be split into water-based pomades and oil-based pomades. Water-based pomades are smooth to apply thanks to a gel-like consistency. They’re also easy to wash out.
Oil-based pomades are heavier, greasier, and even slicker. There’s a bit of a learning curve to using them and they’re tough to wash out, but they do produce huge amounts of shine and definition.
If you’re looking for an easier way to achieve shine and definition, waxes and gels would be worth considering instead.
They’re easier to apply and gels are super easy to wash out as well.
Ultimately, knowing what type of hair product to use is yet another step toward achieving better hair, faster.