How I dealt with random beard baldness

Hair loss has been a fear of mine since I was old enough to start worrying about my looks.

According to my family history, there are signs it could be on the horizon. My own father is balding but not yet bald. There’s a crucial difference between ‘bald’ as a verb and as an adjective: one is the process and the other is the result. How you navigate between the two is up to you.

The thing that really bugs me about hair loss is the lack of control. You can do everything right—cleanse, tone, moisturize, repeat!—and still lose your hair. This is exactly what happened three years ago when I finally embraced my own hairiness and grew a beard.

SEE ALSO: How to be your own quarantine barber

I enjoy having a beard for a number of reasons. I like how facial hair frames my face and complements my dark features. Plus, George Michael (my style icon and general hero) had one. Nowadays, there’s a whole subculture around beard maintenance. Having a beard is not a personality trait per se, but dealing with random beard baldness can definitely build character. I would know.

I had developed a pretty reliable routine in shaping and trimming my beard line (neck beard maintenance is its own type of hell) when I noticed a small bald patch right under my jawline. The spot was no bigger than a coin but still fairly noticeable. Weird! I thought. But my body had been through weirder things and always sorted itself out. I thought these little bald spots would do the same.

This wasn’t the case. One bald spot soon became two, which then quickly expanded to four giant craters on my neck. The hairless spots were so clean, too—it was as if overnight someone had placed random patches of Nair around my beard line like a cruel sleepover prank. It made my overall beard look super uneven and patchy, and made me feel generally unsexy. Hoping to find the cause and a solution to this mysterious hair loss, I booked an appointment at Spring Street Dermatology to deal with the crop circles that had invaded my beard.

The author at his appointment at Spring Street Dermatology.

Alopecia, aka spot baldness, is a fairly common condition in “which hair is lost from some or all areas of the body.” Instead of gradual hair loss, it’s as if clumps of hair fall out overnight and then refuse to grow back for months.

“The common mechanism is that the immune system essentially goes haywire and instead of attacking foreign pathogens like bacteria and viruses, it sets its sights inwards against the hair follicles,” Dr. Nikhil Dhingra, a dermatologist (and lifesaver) at Spring Street Dermatology, explains over email. It affects around 200,000 people per year in the US and there is currently no cure.

There are different types of alopecia, but some of the most common include androgenetic alopecia, AKA male pattern baldness, and alopecia barbae, which affects the beard. The latter is what I had the pleasure of being formally diagnosed with.

There’s no exact known cause of alopecia, but stress is believed to be a major factor. “The predisposing factors aren’t well known; genetics may play a role, but stress has been associated as a trigger for many patients, potentially via a spike in cortisol which can upregulate circulating immune cells,” says Dr. Dhingra. “For someone predisposed, this heightened immunologic surveillance may lead to a sudden episode of hair loss.”

Unsurprisingly, this random hair loss can be quite jarring, which in turn has the potential to cause more stress and further perpetuate the severity of the condition. Essentially, hair loss plus stress related to the aforementioned hair loss equals more hair loss. Alopecia can be a cruel, self-fulfilling cycle.

The good news is that the condition isn’t usually symptomatic of a larger health problem, and Dr. Dhingra says most cases will “spontaneously improve in 12-18 months.” Tragically, this wasn’t the case for me. But for those who lack patience, there are a few treatments available.

The most common treatment is steroid injections which are administered directly into the affected areas. “The steroids themselves don’t boost hair production, but diminish the cause of the loss,” Dr. Dhingra explains. Once applied, patients can expect to see hair growth improve naturally over time. For best results, repeat this treatment every month. It’s common for the hair growth to be light at first before resuming its normal frequency in approximately 3-6 months.

If you’re not into needles, there are other options available. “Topical steroids can sometimes be used, and off-label use of a laser with UV light has been effective for combating the inflammation that causes hair loss.”

I’ve received steroid injections intermittently over the past three years. Since alopecia is an actual medical condition, the treatment was covered by my health insurance. (The one silver lining in this whole ordeal.) “Otherwise, it’s like $50,” says Dr. Dhingra. 

The author after receiving one steroid treatment to treat beard alopecia.

As much of an aesthetic headache as it is, alopecia is not the end of the world. It’s also much more common than you think. Once I was diagnosed, I started noticing more and more people with random beard baldness. I was tempted to show solidarity with my beard-bald brethren, but if you know someone dealing with random hair loss, it’s probably best that you don’t bring it up.

Three years and over a dozen steroid injections later, my alopecia has waned and my beard is as full as ever. Since I don’t plan on giving up a life of stress anytime soon, it’s possible that the beard patches will return, but at least this time I’ll know what I’m dealing with. Until then, it’s just one less thing to worry about.

Haircut at home? Grab these must-have tools

So, the time has come to tame the beast: your quarantine hair.

Even though our social exposure is at a near zero, the possibility of stumbling on your own reflection has increased tenfold – and there’s only so much unruly poof our pride can take before a haircut is mandated. The catch is, of course, when stuck at home we can’t pay a professional to tidy things up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve a clean haircut all on your own.

SEE ALSO: Let’s talk about sex (in self-isolation)

Nonetheless, if you’re an amateur attempting an at-home haircut, you’re going to need to be prepared. Most hair stylists aren’t exactly endorsing taking your tresses into your own hands well in self-isolation (the concern being that you might make a mistake, try to correct it, and eventually resemble a hedge hog emerging from a house fire), coloring should be absolutely avoided, but if you’re desperate to get cutting, there are ways to make it work.

The first thing you’ll want to do is as much research on your hair type as possible, if you can get advice from a barber familiar with your hair, do, and secondly recruit someone with a delicate touch to help you navigate the more difficult areas (if they’re comfortable with doing your whole hair, let them). Otherwise, if you’re working alone make sure you have a great mirror set-up so you can do the back to the best of your ability. You’re also going to need tools — no, we repeat, NO kitchen scissors should come near your hair — to give yourself a haircut that you might have paid money for. You might not need all the tools, but we rounded up the best, just in case.

The best haircut cape

haircut cape

Courtesy of amazon

Okay, this may seem a little extreme, but if you’re stuck indoors with no access to an outdoor area or roof and what to avoid a whole heap of sweeping, vacuuming or discovering mini-hairs for months to come, this is a game-changer. Pop her on to protect your neck, clothes and floors — for $6, it’s worth it.

BUY HERE, $6

The best buzz-cut clippers

Conair Trimmer

Photo courtesy of Amazon

So you want to maintain a sharp, close cut without the whole to-do? You’ll be a Jason Statham lookalike in seconds with this little number, a handheld clipper that’s waterproof so you can touch-up in the shower. If you’re embracing facial hair in quarantine and want it in 5 o’clock shadow territory, permanently, this might just be your best friend.

BUY HERE, $50

The best neck hair guide

Neck hair guide

Photo courtesy of Ebay

This is for those of you weathering the pandemic solo (or with anyone reluctant to come near with your hair). Pop on this headband-esque contraption and enjoy the cleanest line that money can buy.

BUY HERE, $7

The best multi-directional trimmer

Multidirectional trimmer

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Ditto for this product, you’re going to want to get your mitts on this ASAP if you don’t have an extra pair of hands to work on the back for you (pulling a trimmer up the back of your scalp is no easy feat). This cordless wonder comes with four comb guides so you have options for hair length, and lets you get at your cut from all directions. Genius.

BUY HERE, $52

The best intricate razor

Hair engraver

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Oh, you’re fancy huh. If you’ve become accustomed to an expert fade with an engraved design that stops traffic and simply cannot bear for it to grow out, there’s a way you can stay looking sharp without the stylists touch. Proceed with caution, though, without a steady hand things can quickly get out of control with this trimmer, so make sure you’re ready to contend with whatever the outcome may be.

BUY HERE, $10

The best beard trimmer

Beard trimmer

Photo courtesy of Amazon

We can’t overstate this one, this beard trimmer is the industry’s Cadillac — and priced at over $150, we know it will last you a lifetime. It boasts expert precision, neck-clean-ups and all-round evenness. This may just be the sole tool to get you through self-isolation.

BUY HERE, $162

The best beard template

Beard template

Photo courtesy of amazon

Listen, there is no excuse for a wonky line — even if you haven’t seen your barber in weeks. This handy tool with keep your beard cut with absolute precision, serving as a stencil for you to shave down from your cheekbone. It comes in two different shapes (curved and straight), so whichever way you wear your beard, you can keep yourself looking clean.

BUY HERE, $15

The best cut template

Haircut template

Photo courtesy of Amazon

And speaking of stencils, never worry about keeping your cut even again with this little number. From aligning your part, to keeping your earline in tact to maintaining your taper for maximum blend, this purchase will halve your haircut time and is perfect for those who are on their own. Did someone say MVP?

BUY HERE, $34

The best cut kit

Remington haircut kit

Photo courtesy of Amazon

If you want to skip the nonsense and go back to basics, this haircut kit pretty much encompasses any needs when it comes to a trim. With a cordless trimmer, 11 different guard sizes (so you can avoid that too short cut) and clips to boot, anyone with this kit and a penchant for YouTube tutorials can give themselves a pretty passable haircut. Hey, you might even look pretty good.

BUY HERE, $47.50

The best clip guard

2 inch clip guard

Photo courtesy of Amazon

Across most clip guard kits, just one size (arguably the best size) is often overlooked: the two-inch. This is ideal if you want to tame the top without buzzing it all off. It may seem ridiculous to purchase a solo guard on top of a comprehensive kit, but trust us, once this puppy is in your hands — and on your head — it will be worth it.

BUY HERE, $10

We have all the secrets to Timothée Chalamet’s tousled, sexy hair

While we may be currently gripped in the coron-unknown, summer slows for no pandemic — enter: our mandatory re-embrace of bedhead.

Beachy, lived-in, I-stayed-in-bed-all-day hair has been dominating the runway as of late and we’re pretty sure they’re inspired by none other than actor Timothée Chalamet. If you’re stuck indoors self-isolating, don’t worry, there’s no need to shear your head — simply grow it out like Timmy, the spring inspo we all need.

Timothee Chalamet tousled hair

Timothee Chalamet on the cover of L’Officiel Hommes, grooming by Jessica Ortiz

His New York-based groomer, Jessica Ortiz, affirms to Very Good Light that the style is trending pretty much all over. We’re witnessing a resurgence of pre-millennium skate and surf fashion, she says, with both street style gurus to celebrities jumping on board.

“I think a lot of men are looking to Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt and Keanu Reeves who are looking youthful and still rocking long hair,” Jessica tells us. “Right now, I have a lot of clients who are in the process of growing their hair out and I think that evolution is coming from 90’s nostalgia; looking to the past for low maintenance hair that reminds us of a carefree era.”

SEE ALSO: What bob? Meet the ‘Dora the Explorer’ movie actor with the scene-stealing hair

That said, not everyone is blessed with naturally wind-whipped locks, and even Chalamet needs a helping hand to achieve the hair that looks permanently styled by a Barbados beach. Below, we get all the tea when it comes to every one of Timmy’s hair secrets. Jessica gives us her do’s and don’ts and everything you need to “accomplish that second-day bedhead that everybody wants.” No leaving your apartment, required.

DO: Know your hair type

Before you start anywhere, you’re going to need to know what you’re working with before you start putting in, well, work. For curly hair you’re going to need high moisture and low hold, so as to “best define,” claims Ortiz. If we’re dealing with Chalamet-like waves, try something with a higher hold that emphasizes texture.

THE GO-TO: Oribe Curl Gelee (curly), Oribe.com — $44, Fatboy Sea Salt Promade, Fatboy.com $21 (wavy)

DO: Use foundation spray

Like most things, regardless of what exactly you’re trying to achieve, you’re going to need to lay a strong base. What do you need to do so when it comes to hair styling? Two magic words: foundation spray. If you’re taming a particularly unruly mop, says Ortiz, foundation spray is your new best friend. Take a good foundation spray to damp hair and “finger comb” the product, then it’s up to you whether or not you want to really dive in with tools to create the ultimate canvas.

“I section the hair and twist around my finger while using a blowdryer on high heat and a low setting,” Ortiz reveals. “Once you have gone around the head you want to break up the pattern with a finishing product that will define and hold your style.”

THE GO-TO: Baxter Clay Effect Style Spray, amazon.com – $27.

DON’T: Overheat

This is the most common mistake men make, Ortiz explains. Lower the air intensity setting on your hair dryer and take it slow, we can guarantee it will make the process a whole lot easier when it comes to style control and save you frizzing out your natural wave. Oh, and a lower heat is going to save you from unnecessary damage. “Learning to use tools like a professional can cut your styling time in half,” she adds. 

THE GO-TO:Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000, dermatstore.com – $169.

Do: Know when to define

If your experiencing an off-day and your Prince Charming-waves just aren’t cascading the way you’re used to, never fear — there are tricks of the trade to make it work despite the circumstances. While this may be a little advanced for styling novices, there’s no time like the present to up your game.

Defining your tresses is made easy by setting clips, Ortiz recommends. “Pin your finger twisted sections with clips, like the Harry Josh Wave Setting clips, then attach a diffuser to the Harry Josh blow dryer to set the style.” Just be aware of the social distancing implications that may arise from the hoards of screaming girls when you ascend to Chalamet-level sex hair-greatness. 

THE GO-TO:Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000, dermatstore.com – $169

Those painful bumps on your head are more than just pimples

As if cystic acne on your face, back, or chest weren’t bad enough, there’s still your scalp you have to worry about.

Ugh.

Yep, if you’re an oil-producing human-being with a head, chances are, you’ve experienced or will experience painful bumps on your scalp aka “scalp pimples.” These are bumps that seem to sprout overnight, are painful or itchy to the touch, and seem impossible to get rid of. Turns out, these aren’t pimples after all, rather something call folliculitis, a common skin condition in which hair follicles become inflamed. It’s caused by bacterial or fungal infections and can spread into bigger sores if untreated.

“The scalp is unique because its ‘pores’ are the openings of the hair follicle with thick, terminal hairs growing out of them,” explains Dr. Terrance Keaney, a dermatologist who also serves as Dove Men+Care’s skincare expert. “Given the presence of scalp hair, the scalp cannot get acne like blackheads but the hair follicles can get inflamed leading to scalp folliculitis or hair can get embedded into the scalp.”

But there are simple solutions for this – and you most likely won’t have to get a prescription (or see a derm, sorry, Dr. Keaney!) to treat your head bumps. Below, are great suggestions of what to use to soothe your skin and kick those bumps to the curb.

Try tea tree oil

This powerful essential oil is a natural antibacterial and will kill bacteria and fungus while healing the skin. In a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, tea tree oil and its Terpenin-4-ol compounds was said to increase the activity of white blood cells, which help to destroy viral or bacterial invaders. In another study, 5% tea tree oil was said to be just as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide for acne.

You can either get natural tea tree oil and rub it into your scalp, or try a shampoo that has some in it. Dr. Keaney recommends Dove Men+Care DermaCare Dandruff Defense 2-in-1 Shampoo +Conditioner. It’s infused with eucalyptus to soothe with tea tree extracts to defend against bacteria. 

BUY HERE, $4.89

Add some salicylic acid

Your hair builds gunk overtime – and that’s pretty normal. Not only does it have to shed dead skin cells (aka dandruff), excess products, and natural oil, it’s constantly trying to breathe from all that hair. That’s why it’s good to clear it out sometimes. A shampoo from Neutrogena called T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo-Scalp Build-Up Control will do just that, while soothing the scalp and treating it at the same time. Yep, this is a multi-hyphenate. With 3% salicylic acid, to boot, it will help relieve itchy, flaking skin and get rid of your bumps in no time.

BUY HERE, $19

Apple cider vinegar

We’ve never tried this, but it’s been written about extensively on how it heals the scalp just by balancing out your pH. We cannot stress enough about how pH is essential to the health of your skin. Too acidic or alkaline and it’ll go out of wack. Using an apple cider vinegar, then, balances it out while also naturally disinfecting the area. Mix with water and gently massage into your hair.

BUY HERE, $7.92

The best beauty advice going into 2019

cameron fuller

(Photo by Jessica Chou/Very Good Light)

2018 came, conquered, did its thing and now … #thankunext.

Now who’s ready for 2019? If you’re like any of us, you’ve realized this year has been one filled with highs and lows. But what’s for certain is that in the midst of it all, our skincare is something that we can always have as a constant. Though we can’t necessarily control how our skin looks every day, we can treat it whenever it throws a left curve (or, uh, bursts into cystic acne – screaming as I type this). Here’s a few things that you can think about going into 2019 to treat your skin in the best way possible! Let’s ring it in GLOWING like that Chrissy Teigen’s forehead. It glistens.

Pat instead of slapping

See any of those videos of men slapping skincare into their pores? Ouch! Turns out, your facial skin is more sensitive than you thought. And so slapping on that toner or essence isn’t going to necessarily bring your complexion back to life. Instead, gently pat, pat, pat it in. It’s something our editor, David, discovered in Seoul on a skincare trip last year. He noticed that all aestheticians gently pat in skincare instead of slapping it mercilessly. So instead of being cruel to your pores, be a little (okay, a lot!) gentler to it.

Toners do make a difference

Okay, so maybe doing 10-step K-beauty is on its way out. This may be a good thing for the lazies out there (we’re talking about ourselves, ahem!). But the one thing that shouldn’t be replaced is still a toner. As we know, toners balance out the pH levels of your skin after cleansing (your water is alkalized!) and a toner brings your face back to its acidic state (that’s 4.5-5.5 on a pH scale). It also allows your moisturizer (that is, if you use a moisturizer, tell us you’re using a moisturizer??), to soak through into your instead of sitting there on top. Toners are the unsung heroes of skincare it’s something you should definitely consider. <3

Skipcare may be good for you

There’s a huge trend in Seoul where men and women are going on the “Skincare Diet.” That is, a diet that includes skipping out on products like essences or serums. The thought behind this is to allow your skin to breathe and to recalibrate on its own. So says the makeup artist, Maki Ryoke to us, who’s been a MUA for high fashion brands and magazine covers fo decades. It’s also the thought that too much skincare might actually hurt your skin barrier and cause more problems than good. And so, skipping on some of your skincare steps – or using a smaller portion – may be great for you. You don’t need a dollop of cream for your face, nor to you need an entire droplet of oil – portion control, guys, portion control.

Your SPF could be breaking out your skin

The worst part of SPF is that gray cast that some leave behind. This, especially for those with deeper skin tones. Which is why chemical sunscreen (that is, the more liquid-y form of sunscreen). These include ingredients like: oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, and avobenzone. While a physical sunscreen protects your skin almost like an umbrella from UVA/UVB rays, chemical translates UVA/UVB rays into heat, soaks into the skin and emits it back out. That means that a lot of the times, chemical sunscreens will cause inflammation and break you out. If you’ve been religiously glopping on sunscreen (which is great!) but have seen your skin breaking out (which isn’t so great!) perhaps change to a good physical sunscreen for the new year.

Hate sheet masks? There’s a solution

If you’re literally opposed to sheet masks (it’s too cold! It’s too messy! I have no patience!), that’s totally okay. Instead, try using a sleeping mask – one that feels like a moisturizer – before bed. Sleeping masks seal in your skincare products, soak your skin with delicious nutrients and also allow you to GLOW the next morning. All you have to to is, well, sleep. Try sheet masks in the new year – it’ll do WONDERS. And yes, you’ll look like Chrissy Teigen’s forehead the next day.

Salves double as highlighters

For your best Rihanna glisten, you don’t NEED Fenty (sorry, Rih Rih!). All you need is a salve or balm. Or, as we learned at Tom Ford’s fall 2018 show, beard oil! That’s right, these can also act not only as moisturizer, but highlighters to make your skin shine under any and every spotlight.

Lotion can serve as … hair cream?

We were slightly shaken as well when we heard this from celebrity hairstylist Kristan Serafino. The stylist behind the looks of Shawn Mendes, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Craig, Jake Gyllenhaal and more, told us at our boy beauty masterclass that yes, you can use lotion as hair cream. If you think about it, lotion is simply soothing ingredients for your skin. And what’s better than using soothing skin products than for your own hair? Might seem weird at first, but Kristan says that lotion can be an excellent hair styling product – it moisturizes, heals, protects, too!

These are the Best Hair Products of 2018: Lightning Awards ⚡️

Hair is as beautifully diverse as you.

Whether it’s thick and stick straight, kinky and curly, wavy and super soft, big and voluminous, hair is the unsung hero to your entire vibe. And that’s why we take hair so seriously at Very Good Light. This year, we’ve added many diverse categories to serve most, if not all of our readers. We hope that this very methodical list full of creams, pomades, hair gels, oils and masks, will truly represent most of you guys. It’s a list we stand behind and know you will, too.

BEST SHAMPOO – Oribe Serene Scalp Shampoo

Sure, this shampoo is technically formulated for dandruff, but it has benefits for everyone. After all, a healthy scalp means healthy hair, right? The formula has salicylic acid (yes the same kind as in your acne cleanser) so it gently cleans your hair but also helps preserve the skin underneath. That’s something we could all use.

BUY HERE $44

BEST CONDITIONER – Verb Ghost Conditioner

The hero ingredient in this conditioner is Moringa Oil, which hydrates and smoothes your strands but doesn’t weigh them down. For a formula this moisturizing, it’s not heavy which makes it ideal for even fine or thin hair. Added UV protection from Sunflower Seed Oil and strengthening from Quinoa protein only add to it’s appeal for every body.

BUY HERE $15.99

BEST HAIR MASK – Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Hair Cap System

A hair mask that requires the use of a plastic shower cap seems so extra, but this is by far the most effective mask I tried. If you have dry or colored hair, the repairing properties of the mask can’t be argued with (thanks to the argan oil, panthenol and biotin in the formula). You can leave it on for at least fifteen minutes, but the full hour left my hair feeling like it had never even heard the word “dry.”

BUY HERE $36

BEST HAIR CREME – Baxter of California Grooming Cream

Picking a grooming cream is a little like being Goldilocks: too much hold, not enough hold. This version is just right. Not only does it smooth and hydrate your hair, but there is enough hold to keep your style locked in but natural-looking. It’s the best way I’ve found to get that perfect balance between polished and woke-up-like-this.

BUY HERE $20

BEST WET POMADE – Rudy’s Shine Pomade

It’s hard to argue with the appeal of a classic shiny look and the most important part of that is a shiny pomade. This version works for a corporate playboy or a rebellious greaser look, but bucks tradition by giving you shine with none of the shellacked feeling you get from the old guard.

BUY HERE $18

BEST MATTE POMADE – Ouai Matte Pomade

Matte pomades tend to make already dry hair feel even dryer, but not this one. It has enough oil that it’s not only easy to put on without forming clumps, but it won’t leave your hair rough. You get a natural look with a matte finish and just enough hold. It even has a faint scent of roses which is surprisingly nice in a hair product.

BUY HERE $24

BEST CLAY POMADE – Arrojo Clay

Have you ever spent what felt like an hour trying to warm up hair clay in your hands so you could actually get it into your hair? I have, but I won’t ever need to again. This clay comes in a tube so it’s ready to put in straight from the container, but gives you just as much texture and hold as the traditional kind, great for getting a piecey look.

BUY HERE $25

BEST CREAM POMADE – Fatboy Sea Salt Pomade

Cream pomades tend to fall flat and weigh down fine hair. The sea salt in this formula solves that problem by adding texture and volume the same way your hair always looks better after a day at the beach. I would have never thought to add salt to a cream pomade, but I’m sure glad someone else did.

BUY HERE $21

BEST HAIR GEL – Kiehl’s Clean Styling Gel

I know gel gets a bad rep, but it’s mostly because it’s so easy to use too much of it (hello, crunchy curls). This version is light and clean, meaning if you want that gelled look you can get it, but it’s not the default. It’s especially effective on wet hair, which helps hold your style without crispiness.

BUY HERE $18

BEST HAIRSPRAY – L’Oreal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hairspray

If you’ve ever been on a photo shoot or backstage of a fashion show, chances are the hairstylist is using this hair spray. There’s a reason it’s been the professional go-to for decades – it just can’t be beat. It delivers exceptional hold without any of the crunchiness or stickiness of other versions and lasts all day until you brush it out (easily).

BUY HERE $11.96

BEST SALT SPRAY – Byrd Texturizing Surfspray

Why do surfers have such enviable hair? It’s the salt. A sea salt spray can deliver that same textured look without the surfboard, especially on fine or thin hair. While some can leave your hair feeling rough and dry, this formula has coconut oil to keep your strand moisturized (which also helps with the summery scent).

BUY HERE $15.99

BEST MOUSSE – Bumble & Bumble Thickening Full Form Soft Mousse

Forget the crunchy, heavy mousse that your grandmother used to lock in her curls. This new modern formula is velvety smooth and adds volume and curl without weighing down your hair or giving you helmet head. My curls held their shape hours after I used it but still felt smooth and moisturized.

BUY HERE $31

BEST DRY SHAMPOO – R+Co Spiritualized Dry Shampoo Mist

The problem with dry shampoos is that even if they soak up oil and clean well without water, they can leave your hair feeling (and worse, looking) powdery. This magical version doesn’t use aerosol and instead comes in the form of a mist, so it doesn’t have that same overly-powdery feeling. It’s also easier to target problem areas like your hairline and natural part, where you want the oil-absorbing qualities without risking the rest of your style.

BUY HERE $28

BEST HAIR OIL – Naturelab Perfect Shine Oil Mist

You don’t have to have dry hair to reap the benefits from hair oil. Good oils can not only smooth and shine, but help control overly aggressive oil glands. But it’s easy to go overboard. Not with this formula though, since the mist makes it easy to get full coverage with just a few spritzes without weighing down your locks.

BUY HERE $15.20

BEST HAIR DRYER – Paul Mitchell Neuro Halo Touchscreen Dryer

Sure, it looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s actually one of the most advanced hair dryers ever. It uses turmaline ions to smooth hair, has a touchscreen to easily change between the multiple speed and heat settings and had one of the quietest motors I tried. On top of all that, it was one of the few that came with a diffuser in the box, which makes it suited for all hair types straight away.

BUY HERE $255

BEST RINSE – dpHue Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

Overwashing fine or color treated hair can do more damage than good, so using a hair rinse can improve the health of your hair while still giving it a cleaning. The apple cider vinegar in this formula gives it its distinct scent (which goes away with a rinse) but also it’s oil-neutralizing and cleansing properties.

BUY HERE $57

BEST CO-WASH – Hairstory New Wash

Co-washing seems counterintuitive (washing with a conditioner?) but the benefits if your hair are prone to dryness or frizz can be huge. It’s especially good for curls and this is the best one I tried for mine. It cleans just enough and never leaves my hair feeling stripped or “too clean,” instead it retains its moisture and natural oils.

BUY HERE $47

BEST SCALP SCRUB – Christophe Robin Cleansing Thickening Paste

For the same reason you use a mud mask on your face, this scalp cleansing paste uses rassoul clay to draw damaging impurities out of your scalp. A healthy scalp means healthy hair and this scrub can help control excess oil, curb dandruff and volumize fine or thinning hair.

BUY HERE $53

BEST COLOR TREATMENT – Rita Hazan Weekly Remedy Treatment

Taking care of damaged hair takes more than just the deep conditioner you get at the salon. Using this two-part weekly treatment not only helps strengthen and repair damaged strands, but also seal in the color so it won’t fade as fast. Think of it as a protecting your investment.

BUY HERE $42

BEST LEAVE-IN CONDITIONER – Kevin Murphy Leave-in Repair

If you are prone to dry or over-styled damaged hair, leave-in conditioner is a must. Using this gorgeous smelling formula on damp hair helps retain moisture and add shine without adding weight. It does double duty as a protectant against heat too, so use it before you blow dry to keep your hair looking its best.

BUY HERE $33.49

BEST CO-WASH FOR NATURAL HAIR – Hair Food

If you didn’t know that shampoo can strip natural hair of moisture, now you do. That means a good co-wash should always be lining your shower shelf. Hairfood is our tried-and-true winner that detangles, moisturizes and leaves hair noticeably softer after each wash.

BUY HERE, $9.99

BEST NO-‘POO SHAMPOO FOR NATURAL HAIR – Curls

Curls: Naturally, natural hair needs a good thorough washing every so often to get rid of product buildup, oil, etc. and a good moisturizing shampoo is key. Curls has hit it out of the park with its activated charcoal Hair Bath that smells great, feels fab and lathers into a perfect cloud of clean leaving fragile natural hair soft, not squeaky.

BUY HERE, $15

BEST EDGE CONTROL FOR NATURAL HAIR – Creme of Nature

Hell hath no fury like untamed edges. Fortunately, this actual gem is out there to help us slick back and tamp down in all weather, all seasons and for all occasions. We don’t throw this around lightly, but Creme of Nature is, perhaps, the G.O.A.T.!

BUY HERE, 

BEST HAIR MASK FOR NATURAL HAIR – Bumble and Bumble

Wash day got a shake up when we discovered this genius little jar of wonder that helps prep moisture-seeking natural hair for the weekly deluge. Slather it on from root to tips about 15 minutes before your shower and then let it work its magic before rinsing out. Pretty sure we’ll never wash our hair again without hitting that B & b balm first.

BUY HERE, $43

BEST STYLING MOUSSE FOR NATURAL HAIR – Cantu

Cantu: We bow down at the altar of this ultra-moisturizing, grease-free, sweet-scented mousse that’s become a must-have for our flexi sets, twistouts and 2nd (well, let’s be honest, 3rd, 4th and 5th) day curl refresher routines. It’s the kind of drugstore favorite we’re willing to call/beg the manufacturer for if they ever make the cruel mistake of discontinuing. (Please don’t!)

BUY HERE, $5.89

BEST ANTI-FRIZZ HAIRSPRAY FOR NATURAL HAIR – Living Proof

Environmental moisture + natural hair = Actual nightmare. Jennifer Aniston fave Living Proof is a surprise champ – and it gets the job done. A few sprays help tame any existing frizz while also creating a shield that protects in even the most oppressively disgusting weather.

BUY HERE, $23

BEST HAIRSPRAY FOR NATURAL HAIR – Drybar

 “Money Maker” is simply the G.O.A.T. when it comes to hairspray that doesn’t flake, crunch or leave annoying residue behind. It provides crazy hold — whether you’re natural or blown out — that’s soft to the touch and features Drybar’s signature scent. Total 100 from top to bottom. No contest. Doubt it? @ me.

BUY HERE, $26

Is it time to wash your hair?

How many times have you gone to a professional hairdresser and had them tell you your hair is WAY too clean?

I, for one, have run into so many issues of professionals telling me that my hair needed to have leftover product, extra oils and be super dirty so that I can get my best hair possible. Of course, I’ve been adhering to their advice and try not to wash my hair so often. But in the summer months, I can’t help but realize how sweat and oil mixed together makes my scalp really itch. Like, ~really~ itch, to the point where I feel having good hair isn’t worth the annoyance of having to scratch my head every two seconds.

SEE ALSO: This is the one hair step you’re not doing

Itching is really normal because there’s so much going on under your hair, says Dr. Terrence Keaney, a dermatologist and men’s skin expert with Dove Men+Care. “The scalp is a unique surface,” he tells Very Good Light. “It protects your head from UV rays and sun from your hair but also, because it has so much hair, it’s the oiliest part of your body.” It does so, he says, to keep it supple and hydrated. But unlike your face, where skin cells turn over quickly, the oil actually traps dead skin cells and worse, provides a food source for bacteria and yeast to grow.

Say what?!

If this sounds like a horror movie of some sludge-like creature taking over your body, it’s because it is. Not washing your hair often enough will allow “certain bacteria and yeast to overgrow,” Dr. Keaney repeats to me over the phone. That can lead to things like flakiness, which we know as dandruff.

Dandruff is the dry, white flakes of skin that come from your head. The common misconception is that we produce dandruff because or actual scalp is dry. This couldn’t be further from the truth. “The quite the opposite,” Dr. Keaney says. “It’s the least dry part of your body. That’s the yeast component I’m talking about.” Skin cells grow and die too quickly from an unhealthy head leads to dandruff, which is why Dr. Keaney says there needs to be more shampoo-ing during the week.

(Fact: There could be an overgrowth of yeast and bacteria on your scalp. now. eeps! Photo by Carolyn Teston/Very Good Light)

Over 51% of men have dandruff, Dr. Keaney says, and a big contributor is that guys just aren’t shampooing enough. I, for one, have been guilty of that. More than anything else, it’s more of a vanity-type thing for me. Shampooing, I feel, strips my head of its natural oils and overdries it, leaving me with hair that seems dead and difficult to style.

“The problem is your hair doesn’t feel great when it feels dry,” he agree with me (for once!). “That’s what people complain about. We’re talking scalp health and hydration. You’re right when you say your scalp can get super dry with cleansing. But that’s when you learn what works for you, whether it’s cleansing daily or a few times a week.”

I suppose the doctor has a point. Just as we’d wash our faces twice a day, it does make sense that we’d also cleanse our faces. After all, scalp skin and face skin are right next to each other.

“It’s funny you want to talk face and body washes for cleansing but you don’t talk about the oiliest part, where you should clean it more than any other skin surface,” he tells me. “Thing get built up in the scalp.” Especially because hormonally, testosterone accelerates sebum and oil especially in men. Other than yeast eating your head, under-cleansing can lead to scalp acne, aka acne keloidalis nuchae. Fortunately, for most guys, your hair hides the scalp blemishes. Simply cleansing your hair more often can cure this, he says.

For those of you who are into the no ‘pooing, or for those who don’t wash your hair altogether, the news above may be difficult to swallow. Same for those who shampoo every day, leaving your scalp super dry. But scalp health is just as important as your face or any other part of your body, so we should definitely be treating it with as much love. From what Dr. Keaney says, I’ve deduced that you simply have to do what’s best for you. If your scalp has a lot of buildup from your products or natural oils, try shampooing it and scrubbing your scalp. If it’s too dry because of over-washing, give it a rest. Ultimately, it’s all about balance. That’s something that I’m definitely going to keep in mind for the fall seasons ahead.