Healthy Hair, the Cool Way

Please don't scorch your hair into submission. Instead, take a break from hot tools to make it healthier, shinier, and easier to deal with in the morning. With our totally unplugged solutions, you'll still get the texture you love.

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If you've ever gone a little crazy with the flatiron or curling wand, you know the distinct aroma of burned hair and the nasty damage that goes with it. One study shows that blow-drying with high heat can cause the hair's outer cuticle layer to crack. Crack! Then, when you start brushing or combing, you can actually rip away whole chunks of protective cuticles, leaving hair dry and brittle.

No, you don't have to swear off heat forever; using a great protecting spray and dialing down the temperature will limit wear and tear. But you gotta give your hair a break every once in a while. That's where these expert ideas come in: They'll help you transform your texture, add volume, and smooth frizz, all while keeping your hot tools in the drawer. Whether you want to divorce your blow-dryer or just give it the day off, healthy, beautiful hair is possible.

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Body Without a Blow-Dryer

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"All it takes to get some nice volume at the crown are Velcro rollers and the little bit of heat that naturally radiates from your head," says New York City–based hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins. The longer your hair is, the larger your rollers should be. If it's medium length or shorter, look for rollers that are 1 inch in diameter; medium-to-long hair needs 2 inches or more.

Divide and prep. Starting with dry hair, grab a section that's the same width as your roller. Place the roller over the end of your hair and roll up-ward toward your scalp. Mist the section with a volumizing spray or light-hold hairspray and brush through it to smooth the cuticle layer and prevent frizziness.

Divide and prep. Starting with dry hair, grab a section that's the same width as your roller. Place the roller over the end of your hair and roll up-ward toward your scalp. Mist the section with a volumizing spray or light-hold hairspray and brush through it to smooth the cuticle layer and prevent frizziness.

Roll it all up. The section of hair you're rolling should cover the entire width of your roller. Clip each roller in place where it makes contact with your scalp—they should sit snuggly at the roots. Repeat with as many rollers as it takes to cover your whole head.

Loosen it up. Keep the rollers in place for at least 20 minutes or overnight before unraveling and shaking it all out.

Tools to try: Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Volumizing Plump Hold Hairspray ($5, drugstores), Goody Simple Styles Beach Waves Kit ($6, Walmart)

Overnight Curls

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To go from limp, straight hair to a head full of spirals, Hawkins suggests setting curls with fabric rags before you go to bed. "It's a very old-school but extremely effective way to wake up with curls," he says. "Once you get good at it, you'll probably be able to do it sitting in front of the TV before bed."

Organize your supplies. Slice a T-shirt into foot-long strips of fabric. Twenty should do the trick.

Prep hair. Run a styling cream through damp hair and grab a section. "The bigger the section, the looser the curl," stylist Nathaniel Hawkins says. To start, try one that's 2 inches wide and deep.

Curl, curl, curl. Brush through the section of hair and wind it tightly around one of the fabric strips. Roll the fabric to your scalp and tie the ends together. Repeat all over your head and keep the fabric ties in overnight. Shake out in the morning.

Tools to try: Tony Odisho Large Mixed Bristle Paddle Brush ($42, tonyodisho.com). Toni&Guy Classic Wave Memoriser($15, Target)

Soften Tight Curls

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Flatirons and chemical relaxers are the only way to make super-kinky hair straight, but both are damaging. "Braiding your hair is a healthier way to get a looser curl," says Ursula Stephen, a hairstylist with the brand Motions. "Aim for about four braids in total." To maintain the texture, repeat every night.

Prep and section your hair. Before bed, work styling cream through damp strands or a leave-in conditioner through dry hair, then divide it into two to four sections. Secure each section with an elastic. The more braids, the looser your waves will be. An easy way to divide your hair: Make two sections in front and two in the back.

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Braid each section. Don't pull the braid strands too tight as you plait; that gives a more crimped-looking result. Tie them with elastics, and sleep in them.

Separate those waves. The next morning, take out the braids and flip your head over. "Shake out your hair with your fingers to get rid of all the parts," says stylist Ursula Stephen.

Tools to try: Scünci No Damage Hair Elastics ($3, CVS), René Furterer Absolue Kératine Sublime Renewal Leave-In Cream ($40, salons nationwide)

No-Heat Style Cheats

These looks work with unwashed, damp, or just plain can't-walk-outta-the-house-like-this hair.

The Crisscross Pony

A simple tweak from L'Oréal Paris hairstylist Mara Roszak elevates the humble ponytail from gym-only to polished style. "This technique is perfect for fine, thin hair because it helps make a puny tail appear thicker," Roszak says.

Create your tail. Pull your hair back as if you're making a ponytail but divide it into three sections. Secure the center section into a tail with an elastic. You should be left with two loose sections on either side.

Finish it off. Take the section of hair on the left side of your head and cross it over and under the center ponytail; pin it discreetly into the elastic from below. Repeat with the other side.

Tools to try: DCNL NoCrimper Elastics ($3, sallybeauty.com), RickyCare U-Pins ($6, rickysnyc.com)

A Sideways Braid

Taming thick waves or curls can suck up your entire morning—unless you pull your hair back into this chic braid from Stephen. "Textured hair helps make the braid look thicker and cooler," she says.

Use the right product. Create a side or middle part. Mist texturizing spray through fine hair, or work styling cream through curly hair.

Get braiding. Start the braid at the center back of your head, incorporating pieces into the plaiting as you go. Pull the braid to one side as you move toward the end.

Secure with clear elastics. Tug on the plaiting to loosen for a more casual look.

Tools to try: Schwarzkopf Essence Ultime Omega Repair & Moisture 11-in-1 Hair Beautifier ($7, Walmart), Blax Snag-Free Hair Elastics ($4, amazon.com)

This story originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.

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