No matter what kind of hair you’re rocking – whether it’s short or long, curly or straight, dyed or natural – you likely want to know exactly how you can keep it looking and feeling its healthiest. The good news is there are plenty of ways you can work with your hair’s natural texture to get it looking great nearly every day.
The bad news? You’re probably making tons of mistakes with your locks every day without even realising it, leaving them prone to serious damage and breakage.
Here are the top mistakes you’re likely making with your hair and how you can get it back to its healthiest ever.
You’re washing too much — or not enough — for your hair type.
As schedules get busier and phenomenal dry shampoos continue to flood the market, there’s been plenty of debate about if you really should wash your hair every day. Many top stylists argue that during our normal day, our locks are exposed to dirt and oil buildup, pollution, and product … not to mention sweat from summer temps or a gruelling workout, so you need to clean it daily.
Others swear that washing every day strips your hair of its natural oils, and your shampooing habits could be doing major damage to your hair as a result. But every person’s hair is different, so you should find the routine that’s just right for you depending on your hair type, activity level, and amount of damage from hot tools and treatments … even though it says “rinse, lather, and repeat” on the back of your shampoo bottle, you probably don’t actually need to.
You’re not washing thoroughly enough.
If you’re short on time, it’s easy to hop in and out of the shower without giving your routine much thought. But not washing thoroughly enough might lead to missing spots altogether, stepping out of the shower with product still left behind.
Make sure to evenly distribute shampoo and conditioner, said Pantene celebrity stylist Danilo Dixon. Dixon told Good Housekeeping the best technique, advising to “Squeeze it into your palms, then use your fingers to work it from your scalp to the ends.”
He adds, “Rinse until you don’t feel any residue to ensure that it’s totally clean,” preventing further product buildup after your shower.
You’re wrapping it up post-shower in a towel.
Walking around with wet hair draped around your neck is uncomfortable, but doing the towel-dry after you wash is doing your tresses no favours. When you rough up your strands with a standard towel, you’re setting the stage for tons of frizz … which is likely the last thing any of us wants.
Instead, gently blot hair with your towel to speed the drying process, or better yet, use an old cotton tee, which is less harsh on your hair.
You’re brushing your strands while they’re still wet.
Wet hair is extremely weak and thus more vulnerable to breakage than dry hair, so tugging at your tresses with a brush or a comb post-shower to de-tangle is one of the worst things you can do.
Waiting as long as you can to work through those tangles (and also using a high-quality hair brush when you do) is a good idea for all hair types, even if it requires a little more extra patience.
You sleep on wet hair.
If you prefer to wash just before bed or simply don’t have any other time during your day, we’ve got some bad news: Sleeping on wet strands leaves them more prone to friction, and thus, more prone to frizzies, tangles, and knots while you’re dozing away in dreamland.
Though it’s understandably so easy to take a soothing hot shower or bath and climb right into bed, you really should give locks enough time to air dry, or style them accordingly before letting that head hit the pillow.
Waking up with frizz will just mean more A.M. styling time, so you’ll ultimately save yourself time and precious z’s by going to bed with dry hair. You can also buy a satin pillowcase, which not only feels super luxurious, but causes less friction on your mane as you toss and turn through the night.
You grab the blow dryer right after your shower.
Again, we know how short on time you are, but grabbing the hot tools immediately after hopping out of the shower is a definite no-no. For starters, the longer your hair is exposed to high temps from styling tools like a blow dryer, flat iron, or curling iron, the more damage you can create.
If you can swing it, let your hair air-dry for at least an hour before touching it at all, and you’ll cut down on styling time and heat damage all at once.
You’re using the highest heat settings on your tools.
You might think that an easy way to minimise styling time and heat damage is by keeping tools on the highest heat settings, but this is a seriously bad idea. No matter what your hair type, you should always keep your tools on the medium settings … even if temps can reach up to 450 degrees.
For example, Bustle recommends keeping your curling iron at 275 to 360 degrees, which will give you that perfect curl with much less damage.
You aren’t thoroughly drying your hair.
We know, we just told you that committing the mortal sin of blow-drying too quickly and using the high heat settings can cause some scary long-term effects on your locks, but the opposite is also true: Skimping on drying time is equally bad for your strands.
When you blow dry and leave hair damp, you’re giving it a one-way ticket to frizzville as the hair becomes exposed to the elements when you walk out the door.
And if your hair isn’t fully dry before you straighten or curl it, you’re putting it at serious risk for breakage. Ever heard that telltale sizzle when you use a hot tool on wet hair? According to SELF, “Ironing wet hair causes the moisture to burst out in little steam explosions. This causes a bubbling and buckling of the cuticle that appear as tiny hair blisters under magnification.” Yikes.
You’re not styling section by section.
If you’re just grabbing that blow dryer and going to town on your head, carelessly blowing in whatever direction you can, you’re unknowingly leaving your hair in a state of distress, which is no good.
In fact, you’re likely missing some hard-to-reach spots entirely and then overdrying others, inadvertently leading to damage. Pros like Alli Webb, who founded Drybar, recommend working in 1-2 inch sections, clipping them as you go to make sure you give each section enough drying time.
You skip heat protection … and sun protection.
Experts agree that no matter how often you style with hot tools, you absolutely have to protect your hair first by using a heat protecting spray or cream. As Erika Wasser, founder and CEO of Glam & Go told Greatist, “It’s like asking if you need an oven mitt to pull something out of the oven.”
You definitely wouldn’t try that, so don’t use your beloved blow dryer without protecting your strands first. It will help cut down on damage and frying, while also keeping your mane soft and polished looking.
And if you’re spending any amount of time in the sun, you should also use a sun protective spray. The same way that you should protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, you also need to protect your scalp and strands, too. Wearing a hat helps, and coating tresses with a spray designed for sun exposure will prevent colour from fading and hair from drying out.
You’re using too much product.
There’s a plethora of high-quality hair products out there, and it can be so tempting to go wild in the hair care aisle, grabbing every pretty bottle on the shelf. But too much of a good thing becomes, well, not such a good thing.
Most hair types benefit from a dime-sized amount of shampoo, conditioner, and styling products, according to Constantine James, a celebrity hair and makeup expert. James told Greatist that using too much product is simply a waste of money and does nothing for you.
“If you’re using a half-dollar size of product, you will definitely be spending a lot of money on shampoo and conditioner and not doing much for your hair,” according to James. So remember: a little goes a long way.
You’re applying product directly to roots.
With the exception of root volumizers and mousse (and, of course, shampoo which is meant to clean your roots), you shouldn’t be applying products to the tippy top of your head. Most products are designed to be applied from mid-shaft to ends, and this includes serums, oils, and creams. Adding products to your roots will only lead to them looking greasy and flat, which no one wants.
You’re using the wrong products for your hair type.
This one takes some trial and error, but it’s worth it to do some research before adding new products to your hair care regimen. Get samples or trial sizes when you can, and be sure to choose products based on your hair’s needs.
If your hair is dry or damaged, look for words like “hydrating,” “moisturizing,” or “nourishing.” If you frequently colour your hair or expose it to chemical treatments, pick products that are colour-safe and also prevent colour fading. If your hair is thinning, look for buzzwords like “volumizing,” “thickening,” or “clarifying.” And if you’re frizz-prone, look for “smoothing,” “anti-frizz,” and the like.
You style it in a tight pony or bun every single day.
For those of us constantly on-the-go, ponytails and top knots often save us hours of styling time, giving us a polished look without hot tools and tons of product. But wearing your hair in the same way every day is pretty bad for it, causing breakage along your hairline and mid-shaft.
Hair ties, as convenient as they are, can lead to breakage, flyaways, and frizz, which isn’t great for the long-term health of your hair. Give locks a break as often as you can to protect your scalp from unnecessary stress and tightness, so it will look great no matter what style you’re rocking these days.
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