Hair, hair, hair, hair. Whether you’re embracing what you were born with, or wielding a flat iron in an epic battle against nature, chances are that you think about your tresses a lot. And no one starts out by imagining their hair as a nest of over-processed, straw-like flyaways. Unfortunately, though, it’s what some of us end up with even if we’re forgoing the heat styling and just innocently experimenting with different styles. Because hairstyles that damage the hair are sneakier than you may have thought. You might suspect that all that bleaching and coloring wasn’t the best idea ever, but did you know that a simple ponytail can have its dangers, too?
Luckily, there are more antidotes than ever to the common mistakes we make in search of our dream hair (or this month’s fantasy of our dream hair.) First off, you have to know where the dangers lie. “If you're going to be consistently wearing damaging hairstyles, the number one most important thing to consider is otherwise taking care of your hair,” says Brooke Jordan Hunt, owner and head stylist of The Bird House studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn, New York. Are you using protection in the form of high quality products, oils, and deep conditioning? If so, then give yourself a pat on the back and go for those braids, darn it! But if not, know what measures you can take to ease the damage you’re doing when you do up your locks in one of these 11 potentially hair-ruining styles.
1. Rapunzel-esque Long Hair
There’s nothing wrong with having super-long tresses, but you have to know how to keep your hair healthy. You’re no doubt familiar with the concept of trimming your hair to reduce split ends. “What most people don't know is that it doesn't just split once and break off a little at the end,” warns Hunt. “It could potentially split all the way up the hair shaft, as well as split in multiple places, causing your hair to break at mid-shaft. This is often why you'll get those annoying fly-aways throughout the length of your hair.” Hunt recommends trims every three to five months for super-long hair.
2. The Daily Ponytail
Gals with long hair know how easy it is to sweep up those locks into a ponytail, but that do doesn't do your hair any favors. “This is damaging because you're putting consistent wear on the same hairs over and over again, causing them to break,” says Hunt, who suggests trading your hair ties for clips or corkscrew pins. You can alternate the style, too, by experimenting with different kinds of ponytails.
3. Styled When Wet
Twisting freshly showered hair into a tight bun or braids can be tempting, but it’s not a good idea. “The hair is weaker when it's wet, so if your hair has already sustained damage," Hunt says. "I wouldn't recommend doing this very often."
4. Tight Braided
Those tight braids are so on-trend, but they can cause some wear and tear on your strands, especially if you have fine locks. “Coarser hair can stand up much better to the braids,” notes Hunt, who notes that th shorter pieces that have come loose may have been broken by the style .
5. Pin Straight Hair
You may have been born with sleek, shiny straight locks. But if you weren’t and you’re using a flat iron, know that you may be damaging your hair. “I would recommend ceramic or tourmaline tools because they heat the hair from the inside out,” Hunt suggests. “That being said, I definitely don't recommend flat-ironing on a daily basis.”
6. Curly-Whirly Hair
Your can grow your own Rapunzel-like tresses, or you can simply purchase them for a price. But that price tag may extend beyond your wallet if you choose the wrong type of extensions. “It's important to remember not to get extensions that are heavier that your own hair,” Hunt warns. “If they're too heavy, they can damage and break your hair.” Jordan Hunt suggests protective measures such as reducing the frequency of heat styling on your extensions, using a thermal protecting spray, and enjoying a weekly deep-conditioning treatment.
8. The Slicked-Back, Gelled Look
If you’ve got short hair or a bob, it can feel great to slick those locks back into a Ruby Rose style. And it’s actually okay for your hair, provided you are cautious. Hunt says, "as long as you're not running your fingers through, or brushing through the hair when it's slicked,” then the do is fin. She also advises against using a low-quality gel, and the alcohol levels will dry out your hair.
9. Bleached Blonde
Bleach. It’s bad for our hair. And we know it. But if you insist on going the way of the double-process blonde, Hunt recommends Olaplex ($24). “It repairs the disulfide bonds in the hair, before they have a chance to oxygenate and permanently split," she says. Sounds very scientific, but anything that can ease the brutal, sometimes traumatic process is worth investigating.
10. The Ballerina Bun
After repeated viewings of Black Swan, you’ll no doubt be compelled to rock a tight ballerina bun. Hunt warns wearers of this do to use caution. “If your hair is already super damaged, make sure you're not putting the hair in the bun while it's still wet." And since a bun can cause strands to break or even pull out by the root, this should not be a daily look. You can also go with a loose, messy bun, as it creates the same look without causing as much tensions as the ballerina variety.
11. The Color Chameleon
So you love to color your hair à la Kylie Jenner. But if you’re intent on switching those shades up on a frequent basis, Jordan Hunt recommends reaching for the Olaplex again. “It's not going to completely ensure that you'll never have damage from color services, but it's definitely an insurance policy against breakage.”