Most of us know that our makeup case needs regular overhaul—mascaras get tossed every three months (the funky smell’s always a telltale sign) and so on. But when it comes to your hair care, you need to be diligent about giving it the once over, too, so that your arsenal of hair products and tools continue to work as they should. Learn some insider lesson’s here on what to keep, toss and tend to.

Do look at the consistency of the product

Before using most
hair products, giving them a shake before using them is a good idea, says Greg May, owner of Greg May Hair Architects in Toronto. A bit of separation of some products will happen for many products (“Usually the more natural the ingredients are,” he says), but hair care products do have a shelf life. The more chemical-based products will last about two years, says May, adding that you should check the small print on the product packaging as for when it expires. Aerosols typically can last for much longer compared to other products. For all your products, store them out of direct sunlight.

Don’t try to save products that are no longer good

Although you may want to try to salvage that pricey treatment you bought that appears to have gone bad, it’s better to just replace it. “There could be chemical reactions, bacteria and more and so the best thing to do is get rid of it,” says May. None of which we want on our hair, thank you very much.

Do invest in good brushes and combs

“If you spend the extra money, buy the right tools and take care of them, they can last you for years,” says May. “I have a Mason Pearson brush from many, many years ago. I still love it,” he adds.

Replace worn brushes and combs

Check your hair tools for heat damage to the bristles, says May. For example, check if the bristles have melted and formed hooks at the tips, which can damage your hair. If you’ve dropped your brushes and combs too many times, you may notice scratches and nicks that can catch your hair and pull on it.

What hair brushes do you absolutely need in your repertoire? Find out here!

More ways to clan up your hair care act (And what hair products to keep and toss) on the next page …
Maintain your brushes and combs

Once you’ve made the investment, make sure you help your tools last longer by taking care of them. “Pick out debris and then clean them with a mild shampoo,” says May, who adds you should be gentle with them. If you want to give your brushes an even more thorough clean, soak your brushes first in some water with a bit of baking soda (this, by the way, will help soften the natural bristles of a brush at the beginning, too, if you’re finding you want them a little more pliable).

Ditch any products you’ve had for ages to take advantage of newer improved formats

Even if that bottle of hairspray you’ve had kicking around forever is still technically just fine to use, you may be losing out on the better results you’ll get with a more current product. While May believes all products have a time and place, technological advances and increased knowledge makes way for improved products. “Perhaps gel could be replaced in part by newer, more malleable clays, creams or pastes,” he says as an example. “More current, contemporary products will make your hair look less dated or "fixed" in place.” Also,
hair care brands have been taking alcohol out of gels and fixatives that don’t need the alcohol (which can cause your hair to dry out). Other ingredients being examined and being removed from certain brands and products: sulphates, sodium chloride, parabens, metallics in colouring products, heavy ammonia-based colours with paraphenylenediamine.

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