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6 Damaging Hair Habits to Break Now

Looking for a healthy mane? These tips will get you there!

Like many other skin care addicts, I spend way too much time looking after my face and way too little time on the hair around it. Every time I approach the hair salon, I’m riddled with fear and guilt because I know my hairdresser will tell me off for not looking after my mop of hair properly.

If you’re also a bit lost about hair care, here are some tips for keeping your hair healthy and glossy between hairdressing sessions.

1. Don’t straighten your hair while it is wet

If styling your hair while it is dry already causes considerable damages to your strands, doing it while it is wet is even worse. 

Hair consists of the cuticle, made up of hard overlapping scales, and a soft, spongy inner cortex. This inside cortex soaks up to 1/3 of its own weight of water through the gaps in the cuticle when it’s wet and, as soon as you press your hair with a hot iron (which temperature can get close to 400 degrees, far above the boiling point of water!), all the water trapped inside will blast out through the cuticle explosively, damaging it permanently in the process. Quick translation: Get ready for some serious snagging, split ends, breakage, and brassy color.

Instead: Wait until your hair is dry before straightening. If you’re too impatient to let it air dry, you can still use you hair dryer, preferably in a low temperature. Since the heat from a hair dryer is much lower, the water will evaporate less explosively, causing less damage.

2. Use water-free heat protectant products

Even though you probably already know that you should be using heat protectant to shield your hair from heat styling, chances are that this guy may can be causing your strands some damage too. Remember what you just learned about styling wet hair? Well, if your thermal protector contains water, that means you’ll get the same explosive evaporation.

Instead: Unfortunately, most heat sprays on the market are water-based, so you’ll have to hunt a bit to find one that is not. Most spray-type heat protectants are water-based, but serums like John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum and Crème of Nature Argan Oil Heat Defense Smooth & Shine Polisher have banished hair-killing water.

3. Don’t let your hair get sunburnt

Sun burns aren’t just for skin. UV rays not only alter the appearance of our hair (faded color, brittle hair and loss of shine are some of the consequences), but can damage our scalps as well.

Instead: Wear a hat when you go into the sun, which protects more than your strands, but your scalp and face as well. Alternatively, you can use an SPF-rated hair spray like Paul Mitchell Sun Shield Conditioning Spray, which works just like sunscreen for your body—meaning you need to reapply it if staying into the sun for long.

4. Opt for a sulfate-free shampoo

Sulfates like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium laureth sulfate (ALES) are the most common cleansing surfactants in shampoo and that’s simply because they’re fantastic at lifting oil and dirt. However, your hair, such as your skin, also needs some oil to stop it from drying out. If your strands don’t have enough oil to begin with, sulfates will just strip your hair and turn it into a crunchy, breakage-prone mess.

Instead: If you have dry or damaged hair, go for gentle shampoos containing alternative surfactants like sodium lauryl sarcosinate or decyl glucoside instead. If your hair is healthy though, sulfates may actually be helpful in removing grease and build-up. We like Briogeo’s Blossom & Bloom™ Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Shampoo.

5. Loosen your ponytail

High-and-tight ponytails and buns may make you look like a kick-ass HBIC (and give you a mini facelift too), but they also cause traction alopecia, which is when prolonged tension breaks your hair off or pulls it out completely, giving you a receding hairline and thinning hair. And if you do it too much, the repeated trauma can make the hair loss permanent!

Instead: Give your hair a break. Limit tight hairstyles to once a week, and use soft hair ties with a bit of give instead of grippy rubber bands. Change your hairstyle up frequently, like adding side and low ponytails to your rotation so you can spread the damage.

6. Avoid brushing and combing while your hair is wet

Here it comes again: Wet hair = weak hair. Water makes the protective hair cuticle stand up, so they snag more easily. If you vigorously comb or brush your hair while wet, the scales will snap off and your hair loses its strong outer shield.

Instead: To prevent shower-induced snarls, brush your hair before hopping in the shower. If your strands are more prone to tangling, you can comb in the shower. The best way to do it is first applying conditioner, then untangling strands with your fingers, and using a wide-toothed comb before rinsing. Remember to not force the comb through the knots and, please, stay away from the hairbrush. If you can’t avoid but combing your wet strands, make sure you use a smooth, wide- toothed comb and a hair smoothing product like a hair oil to help reduce the damage.

+ What is the biggest hair care mistake you think you might be doing? Tell us in the comments below!

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