Colombia: Avocado Hair Mask
Some Colombian grandmothers pass on their recipe for chicken soup, but stylist Lutz Karpf learned this instead: Combine two egg whites with half of a mashed-up avocado; leave it in hair for 15 minutes, then wash and condition. It’s a fast and inexpensive natural remedy that leaves hair super-smooth.
Brazil: Coconut Hair Cocktail
Forget caipirinhas. Girls from Ipanema get a buzz from this shine-enhancing mixture. “Once a week, apply a cocoa butter treatment mask, let it sit for a half hour, then rinse it out with coconut water,” says pro Marco Antonio De Biaggi of São Paulo. “The combination leaves hair incredibly soft and moisturized-it’s a trick of many Brazilian women.”
Argentina: Hydrate with Aloe Vera
It’s all about length, says hair stylist Leonardo Rocco, who was born northwest of Buenos Aires. “Women in Argentina associate long hair with sensuality and glamour.” To help keep long strands in shape, he recommends applying aloe vera directly to your scalp or adding it to your usual shampoo.
Guyana: Sardines for Shiny Hair
You may want to learn to love sardines. “They are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids,” says Guyanese hairstylist Angie Hookumchand. “Eating them will make your hair grow faster and enhance its radiance.” Singer Leona Lewis, who is of Guyanese descent, seems to follow the tip with her shiny, mile-long tresses.
Mexico: Towel-Dry Tresses
Instead of using a blow-dryer, Mexican-born stylist Oliver Ifergan suggests reaching for a terrycloth towel. “Many Mexican women will wrap a towel very tightly around their hair after showering and wear it until hair is dry. It’s a simple way to make strands smooth and straight,” he says.
Mexico: Gelatin Hair Mask
South of the border, they fight frizz with a blend of 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin, 1 cup water, and 1 tsp. cider vinegar. Massage the gel-like mixture through shampooed hair, leave it in for 5 minutes, then rinse. “It’s a practice passed down for generations,” says Ifergan.
Jamaica: Ditch the Blow-Dryer
In the dog days of summer, when your blow-dryer suddenly feels like a blowtorch, you’ll thank Jamaican hair expert Denine Smith for this heat-free drying trick. After shampooing and conditioning, set hair in Velcro rollers to air-dry. “You end up with lush, bouncy, free-flowing curls,” he says.
Jamaica: Cactus Benefits
The same nutrients that allow the prickly pear cactus to thrive in the scorching Jamaican sun can help rejuvenate heat-damaged hair. “We peel the cactus and wash our hair with the oil to make it feel lush and hydrated,” says Denine Smith.
Puerto Rico: Work with Your Texture
“The island is humid and windy, and women here spend a lot of time at the beach,” says Guaynabo stylist Elizabeth Rosado. “Instead of fighting their natural texture, we help them embrace it with soft layers.” Opt for long, face-flattering layers similar to Jennifer Lopez’s, who is of Puerto Rican descent.
Canada: Cold Rinse
“The dry, harsh weather in Canada makes for thirsty, unruly hair,” says Toronto stylist Leland Olson. To combat this, she suggests trying a so-called arctic rinse: At the end of your shower turn off the hot water. “I know it sounds unpleasant, but this instantly seals each cuticle, closing up the shaft so it reflects natural light more easily and provides optimal shine and radiance.”
Canada: Effortless Waves
Get gorgeous hair in your sleep! “Wash hair at night, let it air-dry about 80 percent, then make two braids on either side,” advises Olson. “In the morning, take out the braids, and comb through with your fingers to break up the waves.” The result? Soft, natural-looking waves like Canada native Rachel McAdams.
Spain: Lived-in Highlights
In Spain, women have a less-is-more attitude when it comes to their hair color. Instead of drastic changes that require constant touch-ups, they’ll go for sunny highlights with an uneven starting point so that the regrowth isn’t noticeable, says Madrid stylist Pablo Iglesias, who works with Penélope Cruz.
Ireland: Shiny Strands
“An old trick in Ireland was to wash hair with rainwater for shine,” says Dublin stylist Shay Dempsey. “Now women rely on styling treatments like Sebastian Professional Potion 9. Apply it from mid shaft to ends before blow-drying to help smooth the cuticle so that hair reflects more light.”
“Irish women are prone to pouffy hair, due to its naturally coarse and kinky texture,” says Dempsey, who uses a “slide cutting” technique to help battle the bulk: Hold scissors at an angle and finely cut the hair an inch from the root down to the middle of the hair shaft to create softness and movement. Actress Saoirse Ronan, who calls the Emerald Isle home, creates shiny, touchable curls by working with her hair’s native texture.
Scotland: Chamomile Rinse
“A chamomile tea rinse keeps blond hair from fading. Simply boil the flower for a few minutes, cool, and strain. Then spritz the mixture on dry hair,” says Miami-based stylist Sean Donaldson.
England: Fight the Frizz
“Thanks to the wet and foggy climate, British girls have a real challenge on their hands when it comes to their hair,” says London pro Nick Malenko. “I tell my clients never to leave home without an anti-humidity hairspray in their bag because you never know when the weather will turn foul.”
England: Blond(ette) Ambition
Not quite blond but certainly lighter than brown, “blondette” is the hair color du jour in London, according to Nicola Clarke, U.K. Color Director for John Frieda. Think Kate Moss. “To achieve the look, we back-comb from the mid-shaft to the ends, then lighten only the tips with bleach, allowing them to look very naturally lightened and sun-kissed. Then we subtly highlight the rest of the head with a medium-shade blond to add tone.”
France: Hydrate While You Sleep
Parisian women know a thing or two about beauty sleep. “Overnight treatment masks are very popular here,” says Paris salon owner David Mallett. “To add moisture, many women will rub L’Occitane’s shea butter cream on their scalp the evening before a shampoo.” Another nighttime ritual: vitamins. “Women take herbal supplements to nourish their hair from the inside.
France: Air-Dried Style
In France, women seem to have perfected the art of looking chic without trying too hard. Instead of using flatirons and getting blowouts, “French women work with their natural texture, letting their hair air-dry and using their fingers to style it,” says Provence-born hair mogul Frédéric Fekkai. Think of Marion Cotillard’s easy elegance.
Belgium: Prep Strands for Heat
“To confront the windy outdoors, women rely on thermal styling products like Sebastian Professional Volupt Spray,” says Antwerp-based pro Ed Moelands. “It fixes the style in place when hot tools or heat are applied but still keeps hair shiny and soft.”
Germany: The Oktoberfest Rinse
“We’re known as a beer-loving country, so it’s no surprise that we find many uses for the brew,” says Munich salon owner Thomas Kemper. “I like to mix a half liter of beer with lukewarm water.” Pour it into a spray bottle and spritz dry hair. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse. Do this weekly to keep strands strong and glossy.
Germany: Au Naturel Volume
Auf Wiedersehen, flat hair. Manfred Kraft, who owns salons in Ottobrunn and Munich, says wheat protein is the new secret ingredient for German women who want to add body to limp locks. “At the moment,” he says, “there is a trend toward using organic products that contain natural volumizers.” We like the Ojon Volume Advance spray.
Italy: Frequent the Salon
Don’t call them high-maintenance; Italian women, like the ultra-glam Sophia Loren, do go to the salon once a week to keep their favorite look fresh. “It’s not considered vain, just good grooming,” says Sicilian-born stylist Fabio Scalia. “They also don’t wash their hair that often to maintain a youthful texture and luster.”
Italy: The Olive Oil (Hair) Diet
“A tradition that my family has passed down from generation to generation is to use olive oil in hair,” says Italian pro Giovanni Mele. A tablespoon raked through the strands once a week helps to nourish, condition, and improve elasticity, while also eliminating frizz.
Sweden: Static-Free Strands
To cut down on static, Stockholm stylist Sacha Mitic recommends local brand Sachajuan’s algae-rich Over Night Hair Repair, a water-based gel. “It contains minerals that add a moist shine to hair but won’t leave it greasy.”
Czech Republic: Pump Up the Volume
“Czech women have very fine hair so everything is about volume,” says Prague stylist Libor Sula. A popular national cure: Kérastase’s Volumactive line. “From the shampoo to the styling products, they all give fool proof body.”
Czech Republic: Onion Rinse
To achieve ideal neutral blond highlights Sula suggests this trick, which originated in the pre-hair-product era: “Boil some yellow onion skins, let the water cool, and use it as a rinse.” Boil the skin of 6 onions in 4 cups water for a blond color rinse, the secret of Czech women. We tried it; the rinse doesn’t smell.
Hungary: Combat the Elements
“Our air is dry and the water is hard, so a lot of women suffer from limp hair,” says Hungarian stylist Tamas Tuzes. Bumble and Bumble Thickening serum plus a blow-dry gives hair a nice lift and bounce.”
Croatia: Keep Your Color
Five months of frigid cold can keep Croatian women from the salon for extended periods. To preserve color during the winter, Zagreb-based stylist Ivana Spicer tells her clients to use gentle, sulfate-free products by Label.m’s organic hair-care line.
Romania: Sweeten Your Conditioner
Camelia Negrea, a Bucharest stylist, reveals how to boost highlights like a Romanian: “Add 1 tbsp. of honey to your favorite conditioner-it will make highlights shimmer.”
Greece: Keep Hair Color Rich
Greek women who are blessed with really thick, dark hair know how to keep it like that. “A shampoo that contains walnut leaf extract creates a deeper, richer hair tone,” says Athens colorist Vassilis Stratigos.
Africa: Whirl Your Hair Straight
Before the days of chemical relaxers and flatirons, South African women used a process known as whirling to straighten their strands. Port Elizabeth stylist Sandy Bishop explains the technique: “Wrap wet hair tightly around the scalp and place a stocking over the head to hold it in place. Use a blow-dryer to remove 80 percent of the moisture, then remove the stocking and wrap the hair in the other direction. Dry completely, take the stocking off, and brush the hair. It will be dead straight.”
Egypt: Castor Oil Cocktail
“In Cairo, where my family is from, a popular conditioning treatment is castor oil mixed with crushed garlic,” says N.Y.C. colorist Rita Hazan. “Add a drop of lavender essential oil to the combination and apply to dry hair overnight; rinse in the morning and you have lush, hydrated hair.”
India: Neem Oil to Nourish Hair
In a country with more than 1 billion heads of hair, there are many tricks for keeping strands healthy. Mumbai stylist Natasha Naegamvala recommends following your regular shampoo with neem oil. “Massage a few drops into the scalp, then rinse,” she says. “The oil acts as a lubricant to prevent friction and breakage.”
India: Give Hair an Espresso Shot
To get a rich espresso hue, women in India combine mehndi, a vegetable dye, with coffee grounds or tea leaves. “Mix it all into a paste, then apply to hair,” advises Naegamvala. “The longer it’s left on, the more the color deposits.”
Greece: Sun and Sand Defense
Before hitting the beach, Greek women use olive oil to slick their hair into a tight ponytail. “This protects strands against dehydration from the sun and salt water,” says Athens hair pro Ilias Zarbalis. Take a cue from Greek actress Maria Menounos, who wears her ponytail sleek with a mini-pompadour.
United Arab Emirates: Secret Glamour
“Women who spend a lot of time socializing come into the salon two or three times a week for blowouts and styling,” says Dubai stylist Natalie O’Sullivan. “Although they wear the traditional abayas, they still want their hair looking very glamorous underneath.” The Sex and the City crew demonstrated their flair for undercover glamour during last year’s big screen adventure to Abu Dhabi.
Australia: Real Surfer Style
Call it the original surf spray: “Rather than racing to wash their hair after a swim in the ocean, Aussie girls use the piecey texture that salt water provides to create tousled waves,” says New York–based stylist Sam Leonardi. “What do you expect from such a beach-loving nation?”
Thailand: Humid Hair Relief
“The climate here is so hot and humid, women need to shampoo their hair often,” says Bangkok pro Saisuda Chuawiwat. “To help restore moisture, I recommend Kérastase Chronologiste.”
Russia: Pamper Your Ponytail
Vodka, caviar and…horse shampoo? “Believe it or not, the latest craze here is surprisingly unfancy and inexpensive,” says Moscow stylist Andre Drykin, who says many Russian women use the equine-formulated Mane ‘n Tail shampoo. “It makes their hair thicker and healthier.”
China: Switch Up Your Style
To prevent thick black hair from looking too harsh, Beijing stylist Elaine Wong suggests a little cut and color to break it up. “Layers, waves or subtle highlights are very popular in China.” Soft waves, like Lucy Liu’s, are an easy way to accent long hair.
China: Take-Out Tresses
How’s this for too good to be true? You can boost your hair health by eating Chinese food. “It contains a lot of the natural herbs-such as sesame, ginger, and fleece flower root, a common Chinese herb-that are good for hair health,” says Wong. “It is the ‘healing cuisine’ for Chinese women.” To get your fix, ask for the sesame chicken next time you order take-out.
Thailand: Coconut Milk Shampoo
“There’s a local recipe that has passed among friends in Thailand,” says pro Saisuda Chuawiwat. “You grate and squeeze a coconut to get the milk, which you heat on the stove until the oil separates. Spoon out the oil and let it cool before applying it to the hair as a shampoo to provide moisture, softness, and shine.”
Vietnam: Lush Lotus Treatment
Prevent breakage with a boket, or lotus tree, treatment. “Growing up in a French-Vietnamese household, I learned that the boket, which grows in Southeast Asia is the secret to strong, shiny hair,” says Los Angeles stylist Kim Vo. For a homemade remedy, steep the leaves and use the liquid as a cleanser. Then grind the pods to a thick, buttery consistency and use as a conditioner.
Japan: Start with the Scalp
“Japanese women believe that beautiful hair begins at the roots,” says Japan-born stylist Takamichi Saeki, who runs a salon in New York. “They will often use treatments to exfoliate and deeply cleanse their scalps several times a week or before every blow-dry. The Nigelle LX products are very popular because they are gentle yet effective.”
Japan: Boxwood Combs
For centuries it was traditional for every bride in Japan to receive a set of boxwood combs as part of her trousseau. “They could be carved and decorated with blossoms,” Saeki says. “They are used to create hairstyles ranging from simple to elaborate.” Many women still use a boxwood comb daily to get silky and shiny hair.
Australia: Eucalyptus Treatment
Envy supermodel Elle Macpherson’s long, ultrashiny hair? So do many Aussie women, says Sydney hairstylist Joh Bailey. “To keep it in good shape, they massage a few drops of eucalyptus oil into their scalp as an overnight treatment. It provides moisture and shine, and promotes growth.”
Australia: Sun Shield
The intense sun Down Under can zap the moisture out of even the plumpest hair, says Brad Ngata who owns a salon in Sydney. “Anti-frizz products that also offer UV protection, like Kérastase Soleil-Mirco-Voile Protecteur, are always top sellers.”
New Zealand: Use Local Ingredients
“It’s part of our culture to embrace natural products made from native ingredients, such as manuka honey,” says Auckland stylist Mana Dave. “It moisturizes, conditions, and has hair-protective qualities.” Case in point, the Wild Ferns by Parrs line.
New Zealand: Carefree Cuts
Kiwi women prefer an outdoorsy lifestyle and a simple beauty routine. That explains the popularity of short hair, like New Zealand native Lucy Lawless. “Most cuts women get are cropped styles and variations of the bob,” says Dave. “They spend a lot of active time outside and don’t get hung up on having long hair.”