How to Soften Hair: 12 Tips From Hairstylists


@tylauren / Design by Zackary Angeline

You know how it is: you leave the hair salon after a cut and style, and you just can't stop touching your hair. It's soft, shiny, and full of body, and as much as you know your stylist would hate you tugging on it, you just can't resist. What kind of sorcery are they using to get your hair to feel like that, and why do your efforts always fail when you try to recreate that feel at home? How can clients of almost any hair type achieve that soft, salon-quality hair? The key to healthy shiny, hair has many steps and even if you're no professional, these tips from the experts can help you get closer to a salon-perfect style at home every time.

Meet the Expert

Keep scrolling to learn how to get the soft and shiny strands of your dreams.

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Maintain a Healthy pH Balance

According to Dear, for your hair to achieve its best results it is important that you maintain the hair at a healthy pH balance. "The healthy pH balance for hair is a range from 3.6-5.5. If hair gets to a more alkali level or uses products with alkali ingredients, that will cause the hair follicles to expand and release needed moisture," she says. "This affects the moisture and shine, making the hair brittle and dull, so products that are pH-balanced for the hair are a must."

She recommends the House of Dear Wash and Rinse on a daily basis for its gentle-cleansing, strengthening, and hydrating properties and maintaining a healthy ph balance.

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Use the Right Shampoo and Conditioner

Wash and Go Hair Conditioner


The amount of times you wash your hair—with the right products—is also key. "Don’t over wash your hair—try to go two to three days of not using shampoo between washes," says Kyriakos. "You can rinse your hair every day and use conditioners but over-shampooing can dry out your hair and scalp. Natural oils help the shine and condition of your hair." For a great shine, he recommends Fekkai’s Brilliant Shine Shampoo ($20) and Conditioner ($20).

If you haven't used a clarifying shampoo in a while, it may be time to, in order to rid your hair of all the product buildup and impurities that it collects day-to-day. Because these kinds of shampoos strip the hair, limit your use to just once a week or when you otherwise really feel like you need a deep clean.

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Remove Moisture from Hair Before Blow-drying

Once you've stepped out of the shower and applied your skincare regimen, it's time to focus on your hair. Kyriakos emphasizes the importance of towel-drying your hair as best as possible to remove as much moisture as you can. We love microfiber towels as they keep frizz at bay when towel-drying.

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Choose a Good Hair Brush

Instead of ripping a hairbrush through the tangles and knots with reckless abandon post-shower, take a cue from your stylist, and softly squeeze excess water from your hair. Then, gently work your way from the ends of your strands to the roots while brushing. We recommend a detangling brush or a wide-tooth comb. The more gentle you are when combing and brushing your hair post-shower, the less breakage and frizz you'll create, and the smoother and softer your hair will feel. 

When hair is dry and ready to be styled, Kyriakos recommends a boar bristle brush with a metal barrel. "A good brush is number for me. When the barrel heats up, it acts like a curling iron or flat iron smoothing the hair as you blow it dry," he says. "Using a boar bristle brush helps promote healthy hair growth by massaging the scalp, increasing blood flow, and unclogging the hair follicles," adds Dear.

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Use Hair Serums

john frieda frizz ease hair serum

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

Shampoo and conditioner are very important, but you also need to pay close attention to the styling products you use when looking for soft, shiny hair. Of course, everyone's hair needs a different product combination, but a great place to start is with three main products: hair oil, frizz reducing/smoothing serum, and blow-dry spray. Use them all, or stick with just one, depending on what your hair needs. 

Hair oil hydrates, softens, detangles, reduces frizz, and tames unruly hair. Apply it after towel drying and before touching your hair with a comb or any other products. Apply hair oil primarily to the ends of your hair, using a very small amount in the mid-shaft area and toward the scalp. If your hair has a tendency to get oily or greasy, keep the product away from your roots.

Even if your hair isn't terribly frizzy or unruly, a smoothing serum can make all the difference in your blowout. Apply your smoothing serum on freshly combed, slightly air-dried hair. To do so, rub the product between the palms of your hands and work it through your hair with your fingertips. Comb through to make sure the product is evenly distributed.​

After applying serum, apply a few sprays of blow-dry spray to your hair for added moisture and shine. Concentrate the product at your ends and comb through to evenly distribute.

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Use Products Based on Your Hair Texture

Dear highly recommends using proper products for your hair texture and points clients to a questionnaire at that helps inform you of which products are best for your specific hair texture and desired results.

"For curly or textured hair moisture is the key to healthy-looking curls," says Kyriakos, who recommends Eva NYC Curl Cream thanks to aloe leaf and cactus flower to help hydrate hair.

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Invest in Quality Styling Tools

Getting a great salon-perfect blowout is mostly the result of great products, and the right tools are a part of that. Whether you prefer to wear your hair curly or straight, invest in a professional quality hair dryer (with a diffuser attachment for curls) for the times when you heat style your hair.

Dear prefers the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer because it's "engineered to protect the hair from extreme heat damage and help increase smoothness, increase shine, and decrease frizz and flyaways."

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Consider Supplements

In addition to incorporating a healthy dose of vitamin C into your diet, which helps the overall health of your hair and skin, Kyriakos recommends the supplement Nutrafol. "It helps your hair from the inside out," he says of the supplement which aids in stronger, thicker hair and reduces thinning.

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Don't Over-process Your Hair

bold blonde highlights


According to Kyriakos, if you color or highlight your hair, do-not over process it. "Talk to your colorist about reducing the frequency of your visits," he says. If your hair needs to be stripped of buildup and residue, try Fekkai's Apple Cider Detox Rinse ($28), a favorite of Kyriakos's.

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Use Heat Protectant Products

If you think that cranking your flat iron up to the highest heat will make your hair straighter, think again. Use the medium settings on your hot tools and curling irons and always use a heat protectant product before styling. "Use a hair primer or heat protector on damp hair before blowing out. I really like Kérastase products. They are a bit expensive but you can use less of the product because it’s so concentrated," says Kyriakos. "Résistance Ciment Thermique Blow Dry Primer ($35) and Genesis Défense Thermique Blow Dry Primer ($39) are my two favorite products for prepping the hair."

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Blow-dry Hair in the Right Direction

woman blow drying hair with diy heat protectant


Don't make the mistake of blow-drying your hair to "dry it more" before styling. Not only does that add extra heat, but it's also not the best way to achieve that silky smooth finish. "When you blow-dry your hair, try to angle the blow dryer in a downward motion," says Kyriakos. "You want the air to flow downward so that the hot air smoothes the hair shaft."

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Complete the Look

Once you're happy with your blow-out, finish the hair with an oil or serum for extra shine. "One of my favorite products to use is Fekkai Shea Butter Intense Oil. After I blow-out the hair I like to take a few drops in the palm of my hands and smooth over the top layer of hair," says Kyriakos.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Gavazzoni Dias MFR. Pro and contra of cleansing conditionersSkin Appendage Disord. 2019;5(3):131-134. doi:10.1159/000493588

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