Hair masks, oils, styling creams, mousses. If you’re the type of woman who gets overwhelmed in the hair-care aisle (after all, how many products can one head of hair really need?), then we have some good news for you: You don’t have to follow a ton of involved steps to get envy-inducing strands: Just adopt an “I Woke Up Like This” approach. Here are the essential rules you need to follow—and the only rules you need to follow—to get strong, healthy, gorgeous hair.
Quality Over Quantity
If you want to save time and effort, it’s worth it to spend a little extra to ensure you can skip steps. Don’t want to do a hair mask? Invest in high-quality shampoos and conditioners with ingredients that will leave your hair deeply hydrated. Jim Markham, stylist and founder of ColorProof Evolved Color Care, says to look for products that are sulfate- and salt-free to prevent stripping hair of its moisture. Look for options with ingredients like organic botanicals to balance, nourish, and protect. It might cost you a little more, but that’s money well-spent. Try E.V.A. Unbreakable Hair Keravis Shampoo ($9.00, Walgreens).
Try a Wet Brush
If you’re in a hurry, you might reach for whatever old brush is laying around and run it through your wet hair. Unfortunately, this is a surefire way to cause breakage because wet strands are extra-weak and snap more easily. Rheanne White, celebrity stylist, says that The Wet Brush ($8.99, thewetbrush.com) is “hands down the best.” It will glide through your wet hair, separating the strands and detangling knots without the blow-dryer.
MORE: 5 Hair Products Every Woman Should Own
Use Multitasking Products
Look for hair-care products that have multiple benefits to minimize steps and maximize benefits. White recommends Layrite Original Pomade ($15 for four ounces, layrite.com) for maximum hold and shine for unruly, frizzy ends. Markham suggests using ColorProof CrazySmooth Extreme Shine Treatment Oil ($42, ColorProof salons), which nourishes, repairs, and strengthens hair while also giving you luminous strands.
Take a Multivitamin
Both Markham and White recommend taking vitamin supplements to ensure you get the strong-hair nutrients your diet may be missing. Look for one that includes vitamins E and A, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids. GNC Women’s Ultra Nourish-Hair ($12.99, GNC) packs all of the above.
MORE: The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Gorgeous Skin
When you’re heat-styling your hair, it’s essential to protect your strands from damage. Applying heat directly to your hair damages the integrity of the strand and can make it brittle. “Heat protectants are essential when using hot tools such as hair dryers, curling irons, hot rollers, and flat irons,” says Markham. “When heat is applied to hair, it opens the hair shaft, leaving it susceptible to damage and even color loss.” Try Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Hair Spray ($4.79, Walgreens) to protect hair while adding shine.
MORE: 16 Hairstyle Ideas for When You Have No Idea What to Do with That Mop on Your Head