At Home Hair Care (Tips From A Stylist)



It’s a well-known phenomenon that has likely happened to all of us at some point in our lives. We get our hair cut and styled, and we love everything about it! We watch intently as our hairstylist works her magic. We ask poignant questions about the products used, back-combing techniques, and even take note of the exact angle of which the blow dryer is held. We get home, and wake up the next morning looking nothing like we did the night before. We pull out an arsenal of hair products from the bathroom cabinet, but nothing seems to give the lift that the stylist just the day before so effortlessly managed. Was it the lighting? The glass of wine that turned into two?

If the above sounds oh-so-familiar, don’t worry–you’re not alone and I can help. I interviewed some of the best stylists to get the dirt on at-home hair care. What do stylists do that makes our hair look so good? Let’s delve.


Starting from the shampoo you use to the finishing spray, the products your stylists uses on your gorgeous coif are of the highest quality. Stylists use products that are tried and true, as well as that which is tailored specifically for your hair needs.

Myth: Shampoo is shampoo, right? False. From one of our stylists: “For those of you who have been under the impression that not shampooing (no poo) your hair and replacing it with something organic or something like baking soda and apple cider vinegar to have healthier hair with less chemicals, let’s talk!! Your hair has a PH around 4.5-5.0. Which makes out hair somewhat acidic. To maintain healthy hair you have to keep the PH of your hair balanced at this acidity. Baking soda is a 9 on the PH scale making it an alkaline substance. I’ve heard that you use water to dilute the alkaline and bring it to a lower PH so it’s safe for your hair. FALSE. You can add a gallon of water to a tsp of making soda and the PH will still be 9. That being said, apple cider vinegar (3.0 on PH scale, slightly more acidic than hair) is often used as a conditioner to neutralize the effects of the alkali. Bring your hair from its PH to an alkali state and then a more acidic state will destroy the cuticle of your hair as it would constantly be opening and closing the cuticle, and in turn will make your hair dry and brittle. You are doing more damage than good to the lengths and ends of your hair! Getting rid of shampoo all together is a bad idea. Trying to go longer between shampoos will allow your scalp to produce natural healing oils and keep you from drying out by over washing! NOW that you know this! This is also why it’s so important to buy professional hair care products from the salon where we know the PH of your hair, the shampoo and conditioner, and can make HEALTHY recommendations while caring for the integrity of your hair!”

Myth: Conditioner weighs down my hair and makes it look limp. False! When you shampoo, you’re removing all of the oil and dirt from the hair. If you don’t redistribute moisture (by conditioning), your hair will be brittle and thus break more easily. If you produce a lot of oil, skipping conditioner does nothing to fix the problem…which comes from your scalp. All it does is dry out your hair–not good.

Finishing and styling products can be just as specific. You may think that all hairspray is basically the same, but some give lift while others give shine. Some allow the hair to remain flexible, while others are all about holding power. While your stylist is styling your hair, ask what products are being used, but also inquire about the brands. If you’re wanting to get the look but save a little money, just ask. Your stylist may just know of a product that’s similar, but can save you a little.


So you’ve made sure the products are all identical but your hair is still not cooperating? Take a look at the tools as well! Just like shampoo and styling products, hair styling tools can be just as important! A mistake I’d been making for years had to do with my round brush choice. I just could not figure out how my hairstylist was able to blow out my hair perfectly, and yet it wasn’t blowing out as smoothly for me when I tried at home. It finally occurred to me that the brush I was using at home was wooden, and the one my stylist was using on my hair was metal. The metal round brush conducts heat and was the tiny difference that took my hairstyle to a salon-worthy level! Blow dryers, styling wands, and straighteners are also not all created equally!

Hair Care

While shampooing your hair isn’t bad for you (see above!), it can be drying if you’re unnecessarily sudsing up the ends and neglecting to condition fully. Some of our stylists recommend weekly “ponytail masks” to maintain softness without making the roots go flat. After shampooing hair, put a loose ponytail in wet hair and apply a restorative or repairing mask to the ends only. Ask your stylist which mask is best for your hair. Be sure to ask how often, how long to leave on hair, and where to apply, since all clients are going to be a little different.


For more tips on at-home hair care, contact your favorite stylist at Mary Cates Salon!

Written by Michelle McDowell for Mary Cates Salon. Michelle is wife to one lucky guy and mom to three of the best kids ever! If you have any questions about the blog, would like to contribute to our site, or leave a testimonial, contact us here. We'd love to hear from you!