Hair Cycling: The TikTok Hack for Healthy Hair
By: Tajiya Holland
TikTok has become a go-to source for discovering new products, interesting theories, and helpful hacks. When a life-enhancing tip comes to our attention, we’re eager to know more and try it out ourselves.
The latest beauty hack to go viral on TikTok is hair cycling, a popular treatment throughout Asia that is worth giving a shot, regardless of your hair texture or hair/scalp concerns.
What is hair cycling?
Also known as the head spa treatment, hair cycling is a routine that involves alternating products to achieve maximum hair health. Hair cycling is about giving your hair a rest when it’s overworked and nurturing it when it doesn’t look or feel its best.
“If you’re living blow-dry to blow-dry, try taking a recovery day between heat styling,” says Matt Newman, a professional stylist who shares hair care tips on TikTok.
Think of it like switching up your skincare—for example, when it’s colder, we go heavy on moisturizer and reduce exfoliation.
The first step of hair cycling is to identify your hair concerns (build-up, dryness, thinning, frizz, etc.). Once you’ve established your concerns, you can begin implementing products and habits into your routine to fix them!
Is hair cycling right for you?
You probably have go-to products you use every wash or styling session, but they may not be what your hair truly needs, at least not as often.
Trichologist, Helen Reavey shared her expertise with PopSugar expressing, “The skin on your scalp ages six times faster than anywhere else, so it’s important to treat it with the same amount of care (if not more). Over-exfoliating or adding too much product to your scalp can harm hair follicles and increase the risk of irritation and inflammation.”
If you haven’t hair cycled before, try it out for a few weeks and see how your hair adjusts. If you already have, try being more intentional about the process. Either way, the results should be rewarding. They depend on the products used, and you’ll reap the benefits by keeping them in rotation.
The steps of hair cycling
If you’re not sure when to start hair cycling, opt for when the seasons change, as the weather can affect the hair and scalp. Or, simply look and feel your hair to determine if you’re happy with its condition?
Heard of double cleansing for your face? The same concept applies here. Detox your hair and scalp to remove build-up. This step is the same for everyone because it creates a blank slate to treat your hair.
- Clarify with a scalp detox treatment, scrub, micellar solution, or clay mask
- Follow up with a non-stripping shampoo (sulfate-free or one that reads “hydrating”) to cleanse
- Use a moisturizing conditioner or deep conditioner
- Treat your scalp with a serum followed by your styling process
This process is when you cater product claims and ingredients to your needs.
- A hydrating shampoo or co-wash will suffice
- Use a conditioner that reduces frizz, enhances curls, creates shine, hydrates, and strengthens
- Style your hair with products that achieve the same goal as step 2, reducing frizz, enhancing curls, etc.
For each wash after, you can choose another scalp and hair concern to treat until you feel it is necessary to go to the start. If you’re dealing with multiple hair concerns, hair cycling is the perfect way to tackle each without overwhelming your hair.
Hair cycling example routine
How often you already wash your hair can coincide with this particular cycle. Feel free to add more or subtract catering wash days before starting another detox day.
If you want your hair to be less brittle and appear lustrous, your routine could be:
- Wash One: Detox with a scalp treatment
- Wash Two: Treat dryness with a hydrating conditioner and moisturizing leave-in
- Wash Three: Eliminate frizz with a smoothing conditioner and style damp hair with mousse
- Wash Four: Add moisture and shine with a hair serum and oil
- Repeat the cycle: Your hair and scalp need another detox
Hair cycling tip
After your first wash, avoid hot tools or heavy gels. It’s a recovery day for your hair and scalp, so you should use nourishing products. Style your hair (depending on your texture) down, loosely in a bun, or in a protective style with low manipulation.
After the second wash, be mindful of how much and often you put certain products in your hair. Leave-ins, serums, and lightweight oils and creams feel amazing but can create build-up over time.
Pay attention to what your hair is craving to remain happy, and you’ll be pleased with its overall health and look. When will you start hair cycling?