Today there are countless ways to modify your hair to achieve your ideal look and most of us are guilty of it to some extent. We can color our hair, straighten it, perm it, and style it in any number of ways on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many things we do on a regular basis are actually damaging our hair. Many of us are aware that these practices are not the best for our hair, but it’s so hard to resist when it gives us the look we want. Here are nine things we habitually do that are causing serious damage to our hair:
1. Using Old and Dirty Styling Tools
When we don’t regularly clean our brushes, combs, and other tools, they develop a build-up of product residue and germs—neither of which are good for our hair. To keep tools clean, it is recommended to remove hair from brushes once a week and to clean tools with a mixture of baking soda and water monthly. This removes oils and product build-up from the products and helps keep hair healthier.
2. Using Rough Elastic Bands
A lot of women, myself included, are guilty of this one. I always have at least one elastic on my wrist in case I need to get my hair out of my face and off my neck. Unfortunately, rough elastics can pull hair, irritating strands and causing breakage. It is best to use elastics covered in fabric. Tight hair styles can also cause breakage, so it is recommended to use looser styles. If you are just trying to get the hair out of your face, try using bobby pins or clips to gently pin it back.
3. Treating Hair With Too Many Chemicals
Most of us are aware that chemicals are not great for our hair, but there are so many different treatments available, it’s hard to resist sometimes. Color, bleach, keratin, and perms all damage our hair because they change major components of our hair. Bleach, for example, infuses the hair cuticles with chemicals and removes the pigment from your hair. Using keratin or perms to straighten or curl your hair is using chemicals to alter the structure of your hair. Too many chemicals used at once on your hair cause breakage and damage; it is best to keep processes to a minimum. You should also use preemptive care before certain treatments, like a scalp mask or shampoo treatment. It is important to make sure you are using the proper products after a treatment. For example, if you color your hair, use shampoo and conditioner that are intended for color-treated hair or that are at least color safe.
4. Using Too Much Heat
Too much heat strips hair of moisture, leading to dry and brittle hair. If you must blow dry your hair, don’t set it above “medium”. A good trick for determining if the heat is too high is to test it on the back of your hand. If it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, it’s probably safe to use on your head. You should also let your hair air-dry a little before styling so you are drying it when it’s damp instead of soaking wet. Less heat is always better. It is also crucial to remember to use heat-protectant products, a step many people like to skip. Heat-protectant products prevent excess breakage and lock in moisture. This ensures your hair suffers as little damage as possible.
5. Going Too Long Between Haircuts
This is a very common mistake, especially for those of us with long hair or people trying to grow their hair out. We tend to suffer from the delusion that frequent haircuts will stop our hair from growing out. The longer you let your hair grow in between cuts, the more split ends you will get and you will just end up with dead ends; dead ends do not add to the length of your hair so it is for your benefit to get them removed on a regular basis. To keep hair healthy, cut ½ inch off the ends of your hair every month or every other month if you are trying to grow your hair long or maintain a long length.
6. Brushing Hair From the Roots Down
Brushing your hair from the roots to the end can cause snags and breakage, especially if you are doing it in a hurry rather than brushing gently. It is best to divide your hair into sections and grip each section with one hand a few inches from the bottom. Brush the section below your hand gently and then slowly move your hand up until you are brushing from the root to the bottom. By taking the time to gently brush your hair in this manner you prevent breakage.
7. Using Too Many Products in Your Hair
Many of us think the more products you use, the better your hair will look and the more protected it will be. Unfortunately, using too many products can strip hair of oils and moisture and weigh it down. Too many products cause dry hair by over-coating the cuticle and preventing moisturizing serums from getting to the center of the strands. Even for thicker hair that can generally tolerate more products it is best to start with minimal product and slowly build up as needed.
8. Not Changing Shampoo When Hair Changes
Some people think that you should regularly change shampoos to keep your hair healthy. This is completely false, however it is important to change shampoos when the condition of your hair changes. If you color your hair, make sure to switch to color-protecting shampoo. If your hair starts to thin out, switch to a thickening shampoo. You want to make sure you’re using the most appropriate shampoo for your hair to keep it as healthy as possible.
Many women like to wash their hair every day so they feel clean and refreshed, but in most cases washing hair daily is actually bad for hair. This strips hair of natural oils, which results in overproduction of oils from the scalp. While some people with exceptionally thin or oily hair do need to wash every day, it is generally better for the hair to wash it every other day or so unless it gets dirty.