My Healthy Hair Secrets

This post is long overdue, mainly because hair and photography are two things I could go on about for days. Since I've covered the second topic at length, I thought I would share all my hair tricks here as well. Before I dive into these "secrets", I'll share my main theory on healthy hair: It's really not necessary to go overboard on expensive hair products or styling tools because it’s more of a lifestyle choice. This is much like choosing to consistently eat healthy and exercise instead of following the latest trend diet. There's no magic product that will solve everything, no way to cut your hair to make it grow faster, and no fabulous hair colorist I'm hiding from everyone - ask my hairdresser, Gabriel, who's been cutting my hair for the past 8 years (@blameitongabriel). There are, however, a few things that I do that I think truly make a difference in the health of my hair, which I am sharing below.

**An obvious disclaimer is that what may work for me, might not work for someone else. That being said, I think many of these points can appeal to any type of hair!**

Number 1 - COLOR - I don't dye my hair. I don't highlight it. Ever. Period.
I'm of course flattered but also a little discouraged when I get the question, "Who does your color?" because I have completely natural blonde hair and have ever since I was a little girl. Having someone assume that something natural about you is not can be disheartening but at the same time I know it doesn't come from a bad place. The same is true for my dark eyebrows... I'm Norwegian, so while it's not common to have light hair and dark eyebrows in the rest of the world, it is there! Mine are completely naturally dark, and very thick. I do not pencil, dye, fill in, or do anything besides occasionally tweeze. 

I really wish I still had this outfit.

I really wish I still had this outfit.


I years ago, once, made the mistake of dying my hair dark brown just to see what it would be like and ended up having to get the color stripped out because I hated it so much. This destroyed my hair for a period of time so I don't ever recommend doing that :(

My hair easily picks up natural highlights when I am in the sun and in and out of the ocean, but it also changes to a slightly darker blonde in the winter months. I don't mess with it through the "darker times" and for that reason, it stays really healthy and strong. I think embracing your natural color is the biggest step in REALLY healthy hair. That said, if you are a honey-blonde naturally, getting anything slightly abrasive in your hair in the summer (ocean water, lemon, etc) will give you natural highlights via the good old fashioned sunshine! 

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Number 2 - WATER QUALITY - I recently moved from San Francisco to LA and noticed immediately how hard/bad the water is in LA. If you live on the east coast - you are likely blessed with soft water straight from your tap and this concept is foreign to you (lucky)! I won't get into a full explanation of hard water vs. soft (read more about that here) but I will say that hard water can impact hair negatively. Because hard water also greatly affects my skin, we had a water softening system installed in our house. I've struggled with eczema my whole life and this is the closest thing I've found to a cure (but that's a different topic)! It's big and ugly and has multiple tanks that had to be installed on our deck but it was totally worth it and actually quite economical to sign up for a service option through Culligan. Really hard water leaves hair sticky, full of product (your shampoo and conditioner cling to your hair instead of washing clean), and very dull looking. It's not an easy thing to do, and probably impossible if you live in a rental building, but having a water softening system installed will leave your hair much healthier. The next point I mention, however, is a fabulous and super-cheap alternative if softening your water is not an option.

Number 3 - CLARIFY - Product will eventually build up in your hair and leave it dull and lifeless. It's par for the course even if you only use shampoo. A really effective way to get it all out is to do a wash with apple cider vinegar. While this works REALLY well, I wouldn't recommend doing it any more than once a week since it can be a little drying.  
**DISCLAIMER* I have absolutely NO idea how this would react in color treated hair so ask your colorist before you try it.*
I usually buy Bragg's brand and mix 1 full cup of the apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. I put the mixture in a bowl and take it into the shower with me. At the very end I rinse my hair completely with the mixture and let the ends soak in the leftover mixture for about a minute. It doesn't smell very good but doing this once a month or so really leaves my hair so bouncy and shiny by removing any and all product buildup. My mom has great hair and funnily enough, she used to wash her hair with beer to get the same effect. 

Number 4 - CUT - or really, DON'T cut! I think it's beyond silly when I hear people saying that you need to cut your hair to make it grow faster. This is complete nonsense considering your roots have no idea what is going on with your ends (or any independent thought capabilities for that matter). Yes, your ends will eventually split and break and trimming them might make your hair appear like it is growing faster but it's not. I usually go about a year between haircuts and only regularly get my bangs trimmed for the hairstyle that I have. I also try to stay away from getting lots of layers as this just makes it look thinner overall. I do not have hair extensions, I just literally never cut it. 

Number 5 - PRODUCT - I do try and switch my products up and experiment with new things but I've truly never found a product that works more beautifully than Oribe's Signature Conditioner. I've been using it for years and it's the only hair product that really makes a visible difference in the health of my hair. They have a great product line in general but this one is just a standout in my book. 

I find that people smell your hair before really anything else (arms, clothes, neck, or the general areas you would normally spritz perfume) so I also always spritz my perfume into the ends of my hair. Hair seems to soak up scents and have them linger longer and to me, it seems healthier than spraying directly on your skin. 

Number 6 - STYLING - I'm guilty of wand-ing my hair every now and then because sadly, I am not blessed with the beach-wavy mermaid hair that I so wish that I had - like Daryl Hannah in Splash. My hair does dry with a natural wave if I do nothing to it but the second I blow dry it, it's straight as a board. Since my hair will sometimes take up to a day to dry on it's own, blowdrying is a necessary evil. I think choosing a ceramic hair dryer does make a difference if you have to use one and I always quit drying before it becomes fully bone-dry. My hair dryer isn't super fancy but I actually really love it! I linked it below. 

The more you can let your hair air dry, the better. It's simple but incredibly true. I also try to use scrunchies as much as possible over thinner elastic hair ties. It's not the best look, but it won't break your hair as much. 

I get my bangs trimmed so that they are feathered at the ends. I always blow dry my bangs first with a small round brush up and away from my face. Maybe I will make a little video about bang styling because trying to explain it is difficult. The way to do it seems counterintuitive to the way you actually want it to fall. 

Jen Kay Hair Secrets

That's it and that's all! I hope these tips are useful but I'm always open to keep the conversation going - comment below or email me at ! 

These are a few of my favorite tools and products I mentioned above:

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