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Test Drive: Hair Treatments

We love hair products just as much as the next girl, but hair treatments have always been somewhat of a mystery. Between ones that you can do at home like hair masks and hot oil (VO5 anyone?) to in-salon services, how do you know what’s right for you? We met with Kelly Finneran, a Kérastase consultant stylist at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York, to break down the benefits of hair treatments and try out a super-luxe one ourselves.

Hair Necessities

Hair needs two things: protein and moisture. Every strand is made up of the cortex, the interior that contains all the protein, keratin, and nutrients, and the cuticle, which surrounds the cortex and locks in moisture. Hair treatments, whether they’re masks, oils, or in-salon therapies, work to restore protein, nutrients, and moisture using targeted ingredients and heat. “Whether it’s warm water in the shower or sitting under a dryer in the salon, anything hot is going to open up the cuticle and let the restorative products you’re putting on your hair go deeper,” says Finneran.

Weekly Dose

Almost everyone can benefit from hair treatments, since they simply improve the health of your hair. “Some clients need more protein, others need more moisture,” says Finneran, “but generally, I recommend that clients take home a treatment that they can do overnight at least once a week.”

Finding The One

Choose a treatment that matches your hair texture. “With finer hair, moisture-packed oil tends to work better,” says Finneran. But careful which oils you use, since anything with lots of silicone derivatives will just make hair look pretty and not really treat it. Instead, look for something like camellia oil. “It’s the fastest absorbing oil by the hair,” she says. “It’s a good thing to sleep with in and then rinse out in the morning.” For coarser, curly hair or anything with frizz, Finneran switches to thick, protein-rich masks with a “cream cheese-like consistency.” With these, she recommends applying the mask to dry hair (which is when the hair follicle is the most porous), leaving it for 45 minutes, and then rinsing out.

Haute Hair Care

If you want to up the ante of your hair care, head to a salon to get a professional-grade treatment. On our visit to Butterfly Studio we discovered an entirely new slice of heaven: Kérastase’s Chronologist ritual. This super-sciencey service involves taking small pearl-like spheres filled with potent active ingredients, mashing them up, and adding them to a creamy, nourishing mask. “You have to apply the formula within five minutes of breaking the pearls open,” explains Finneran “because that’s when they are at their highest concentration.” Working quickly, she works the mixture into clean, towel-dried tresses by pulling it through the hair section by section. This process is called “ribboning,” and allows the stylist to really push all the beneficial ingredients into the hair follicle and seal the cuticle down. Once it’s nicely massaged in, all you do is sit and let the concoction work its magic. After a half-hour under a micro-mister, we had shinier, softer, visibly healthier hair. Forget the at-home treatments—we wish we could Chronologist it up every week!

To garner inspiration for fun and easy hair looks, check out these information-packed stories.

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