Fiddy’s Simple Hair Care Tips for Silky, Glossy, Healthy Tresses
We all know Jude Chao, aka beauty influencer extraordinaire Fiddy Snails, has amazing skin, but we’ve been noticing her super glossy, super healthy glass hair lately. So we asked her to spill her hair care secrets. Turns out, it’s totally do-able.
Hair. For many people, it’s as much a beauty concern as skin. In some ways, it’s easier — hair is dead keratin, amenable to all kinds of styling tricks and not susceptible to the vagaries of allergies, sensitivities, and general living-tissue fuckery that skin is. In other ways, though, it’s harder. It can deviate from what we want it to be in so many varied and exciting ways, and even dead keratin subscribes to the YMMV unpredictability of product recommendations to a certain extent. Also, once you screw your hair up past a certain point, it’s generally not fixable.
I’ve been sharing a bit about my hair care here and there, mostly on my Instagram, but never in one place before. So when our beloved Beautytap editor in chief Anna asked me to write a hair-focused article, I jumped at it. I’ve been paying much more attention to my hair over the last year or so than I did before, and I’m excited to talk about what I do!
My hair care requirements
My vanity knows no bounds, but my time, energy, and budget do. So when it comes to non-face beauty concerns — like my hair — I need my routines to provide maximum results for as little time, labor, and monetary investment as possible. That means I don’t go in for lengthy hair routines or a plethora of product. I’m willing to spend, but a pricey product has to produce significant impact.
First things first: Just as with skincare, knowing the hair type of the person you’re reading advice from is important. I’m (as far as I know) 100% East Asian, with straight, fine hair. My main hair concerns are an oily scalp, which can cause my hair to go even flatter than it otherwise would, and heat damage from occasional use of hot tools.
My hair goals are simple. I want my hair to look as silky, shiny, and healthy as possible with a minimum of effort. I also want to minimize breakage and hair loss, because, frankly, I don’t have that much hair to begin with, so what I do have really needs to stay on my head. Finally, since I get my hair colored with a “demi gloss” treatment every month or so, I need to protect the color as much as I can.
There’s plenty of debate about this in the beauty world, but I personally need to wash my hair every day. I’ve tried the “no poo” and “co-washing” trends. I can’t do it. I cannot stand the smell of my own unwashed scalp. My scalp’s oil production never scaled down as the trends’ proponents say it will (I suspect because, as with skin, there is no actual feedback mechanism from hair to oil gland that can tell your oil glands to chill out). My hair looked more and more like Professor Snape’s as time went by.
So, yeah. I’m a daily shampooer.
My feelings on shampoo are similar to my feelings on facial cleansers: As something that rinses off, it doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to cleanse well without being overly harsh. I’m not opposed to sulfates, but I need my shampoo to be low pH — your scalp is skin, too, and can suffer from the same damage as your face if you used a harsh high pH cleanser!
My current shampoo of choice is Pantene Pro-V Radiant Color Shine Shampoo, which, conveniently enough, is often on sale at the drugstore I frequent. I’ve found it cleans my hair nicely without drying it out or stripping my color. It’s also pH 5.5, which is pretty much ideal.
Conditioner is where we start to get into more serious business.
Here’s the thing. Hair is just keratin. It’s not alive. Most of the extra nutrients and add-ons in conditioners aren’t going to do much for it, because it’s not alive. The main function of conditioning agents — and most therefore conditioners — is simply to coat and lubricate it so that it looks and feels better. So any conditioner that makes my hair feel silky without making it go all Snape-like works.
For that reason, on days when I haven’t heat-styled my hair, I just use the super cheap Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Shine Conditioner. It doesn’t cost a lot, it makes my hair nice and shiny, and it also doubles as a decent shaving lotion in a pinch.
On days when I have heat-styled my hair, however, the investment hair care comes out. Investment hair care, for me, means a bottle of the Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner.
Here’s the thing about Olaplex: It is literally the only haircare product I’ve ever used that has actually repaired my hair, instead of just smoothing over existing damage until the next wash. Michelle over at Lab Muffin has the diagrams and details. For the purposes of this article, I’ll just say that the active ingredient in Olaplex, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, re-forms broken protein bonds in hair.
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That’s important because when I heat style, I have to really heat style. Highest heat settings on the curling iron, high heat on the blow dryer. Those of you who are blessed/cursed (blursed?) with the super straight Asian hair know my pain. Anything less than the nuclear setting means the style will hold for about 10 minutes before falling flat again. Unfortunately, all that heat means mega damage over time.
Ever since I started using the Olaplex conditioner a few times a week, my hair has stopped ever feeling fried, even at the ends where the most heat damage occurs. And I can tell it’s not just a “conditioned” effect, since my hair remains healthy-feeling and unbroken even after washing.
Olaplex conditioner isn’t cheap, so I reserve that mostly for the first wash after I’ve heat styled. That works well enough for me.
Towel choice matters
The next piece of the hair care puzzle is towel choice.
How you dry your hair can have a huge effect on its texture and appearance. Rubbing and tugging at hair with a regular towel roughs up the strands, leaving it duller and less silky than it could be and potentially breaking more of it off. The less rubbing you do, the better.
Instead of using a regular towel, I’ve been using turban towels for years. These are made to twist wet hair up easily and use extra absorbent material — usually microfiber — so that hair dries with no rubbing and very minimal pulling. They’re also lightweight and far easier to use than wrapping hair up in a heavy bath towel.
I had the same Turbie Twist from about 2013 until last month. It worked fine. Then I grabbed an Aquis Rapid Dry Lisse Hair Turban from Sephora on a whim and am now a total devotee of this fancier version of my old turban. The Aquis version is bigger, so it can hold longer hair comfortably. It’s also elasticized around the edges, which prevents the tugging at my hairline that I often experienced with my Turbie Twist. Aquis recently sent me a second of the same turban that I’d originally bought, so I’m all set on hair turbans for the next decade or so.
Extra tips and tricks
My low pH shampoo, damage-repairing conditioner, and really good turban towels comprise the vast majority of my hair maintenance routine, but I have a couple more tricks.
The biggest of these tricks is the cold water rinse at the end of the shower. I think I read about this in Seventeen magazine approximately a million years ago, and it actually works: running ice-cold water down the length of hair right at the end of the shower closes the cuticles in a way that makes my hair extra glossy and smooth.
Using acids on my scalp once a week or so, as explained by my friend Tracy over on Fanserviced-B and as I demonstrated on my IGTV, does wonders for my general scalp health and the liveliness and volume of my hair. As I mentioned before, the scalp is skin. It can therefore suffer from clogs and oil and dead skin buildup, all of which will affect the appearance of hair. I use The Ordinary’s Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution for this, since it’s cheap, effective, and comes in a big bottle with a narrow nozzle that dispenses product perfectly for this purpose.
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I’ve also found keeping a nice moisturizing face mist on hand can help with random flyaways and minor frizz. 107 Rose Vinegar Water works especially well on my hair. I just spritz it on the problem area and brush it through. As a bonus, it leaves a lovely soft rose scent behind.
Finally, a word of warning. It can be tempting to want to try supplements like biotin to improve your hair. Be warned that per the FDA, biotin can mess with blood test lab results. Anecdotally, many people also experience cystic acne while taking biotin supplements. I’m not a doctor and neither are the vast majority of beauty bloggers you’ll find online, so I won’t give nutrition advice, short of saying that a well balanced diet full of plenty of nutritious whole foods is probably your best and safest bet for internally affecting your external beauty.
And there it is! I used a lot of words to explain it, but my hair routine is fairly quick, simple, and effective. The best thing about that is that it leaves me plenty of time to fuss with my skin instead.
How do you take care of your hair? Do you have a hair care routine? Let us know your tricks in the comments!