Smooth, shiny hair has never been my reality—and that's fine. I love my curls in all their glory. But, I have started to worry about the general health of my hair. Thanks to a fortuitous combination of genetics, a subpar product lineup, and general laziness, I had resigned myself to the fact that for me, shiny, hydrated strands were nothing more than a Kardashian-fueled pipe dream. So I did what any rational, responsible person would do: I decided to go blonde. Regular bleaching is good for remedying damaged strands, right? Just kidding.
Needless to say, I’m very fortunate my work in the beauty space led me to the caliber of talent that a) had no problem telling me to get my act together and b) was simultaneously game to give me the color I want—with the caveat, of course, that I actually take care of my hair for a change. So when my very talented colorist Matt Rez absolutely insisted I make an appointment with his colleague Tania Whittier (both work out of Mèche salon in Beverly Hills), I obliged—especially when he explained to me that she was the ultimate expert on nontoxic smoothing treatments, which would prolong the life of my color with minimal upkeep on my end. Sold!
It’s not a coincidence that in the year or two since I first sat down in Whittier’s chair (more on that in a minute), my hair is the healthiest it’s ever been since I first began coloring it a decade ago—and only with a marginal uptick in effort on my part. That’s because Whittier, Rez, and other experts I’ve encountered in my travels have armed me with a prescriptive routine that’s as effective as it is minimal (which is to say, a lot). Better yet: It also runs the spectrum of monetary investment, making smoother hair possible at any budget.
What to get: Pura Luxe Nontoxic Smoothing Treatment (available at select salons)
Let’s just say that I’ve logged my fair share of semi-permanent smoothing treatments—from the decidedly unhealthy Brazilian blowouts of my teenage years to the decidedly ineffective “natural” versions that have cropped up more recently. But Whittier implored me to put history aside in the name of a nontoxic treatment she swore would eliminate my frizz while simultaneously allowing me to maintain my natural waves. This was the epitome of “too good to be true,” right?
I was pleasantly surprised when I walked away from Mèche with impossibly sleek hair, only to be fully convinced of Pura Luxe’s efficacy when I washed my hair the next day and it air dried to rumpled perfection. Whittier emphasizes that this ability to tailor the treatment to a customer’s individual needs is a much-needed departure from the “one-size-fits-all” approach of keratin treatments in the past—enough that we can expect it to become the new standard of the future. “We don’t use one color formula to color everyone’s hair,” she says. “So why would we use one treatment formula for everyone’s hair texture?”
Better yet, this treatment earns the seal of approval from Rez: It don’t mess with his color handiwork, another aspect that always irked me about smoothing treatments I’ve tried in the past. Expect it to last anywhere from four to six months, depending on your texture.
What to get: An in-salon Olaplex treatment (available at select salons)
While your go-to stylist can likely point you in the right direction of a great in-house conditioning treatment, there’s a reason hair experts far and wide swear by the virtues of Olaplex in particular. “I love when clients use anything Olaplex,” says Whittier. “It’s a bond multiplier, which means no keratin is added—so I know the hair is not only pH-balanced but also strong and cared for.”
In other words, Olaplex helps protect against the damage inflicted by regular hair color, weather, pollution, and all the other general trappings of negotiating life as a beauty-loving individual in 2020. The best colorists swear by it, because in addition to allowing them to work without the worry of inevitable damage, it also extends the life of the color itself. And if you’re simply after a silky pick-me-up between color appointment, many salons (including Meche) offer the treatment independently as a conditioning treatment.
What to get: Silke London Poppy Hair Wrap ($65)
A word to the wise: Drenching your hair in leave-in conditioner, piling it on top of your head and letting it soak beneath a silk hair wrap is the best way to attain shiny strands without professional assistance. Bonus points for feeling very fancy (and functioning as a long-term investment).
What to get: Christophe Robin Moisturizing Hair Oil with Lavender ($47)
Pro tip for the perennially lazy: Work deep conditioning into your routine in a way that you don’t really have to think about it. For me, that means coating my hair in this oil-cream combo when I’m due for a shampoo. I slick it back into a low chignon, wear it to work, and wash it all out when I get home.
What to get: Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 ($28)
You could take the public’s word for it—this at-home Olaplex treatment boasts nearly 2000 5-star reviews on Amazon. Or, you could consider my own locks as exhibit A: I’m fairly confident I wouldn’t have maintained blonde hair for this long—three years!—without insistence from my stylists that I use it regularly. Rez can always tell when I’ve been skimping on it between color appointments. Typically, those are the visits that end in a trim of my fried split-ends.
Since it uses the same bond-repairing technology as its in-salon counterpart, consider this a must if you color your hair regularly, rely on heat tools, or spend prolonged time in the sun.
What to get: Verb Ghost Oil ($18)
It was almost a year ago that LA-based hairstylist Mikhayela Curry sent me home with this tiny vial of oil, prescribing it as a daily treatment for my split ends. It has lived in my bag ever since—lest I never forget to hydrate my strands on the go. In addition to boasting a particularly moisturizing blend of argan oil, bamboo extract, and moringa, it also happens to smell amazing—to the point that my boyfriend has been known to steal a dose or two for his own strands (which, it’s worth pointing out, put mine to shame).