Very few people want to cause harm, especially when it comes to their beloved locks. But despite their best intentions, people end up adopting a slew of bad hair habits that dry, break, and otherwise damage their precious tresses.
In some cases, people don’t realize that their harming their hair. With so many sites spewing contradictory hair care tips, it’s hard to know which ones are actually worth adding into your daily regime. (FIY: Washing your hair with orange Fanta actually does amp up the volume.) Other times, people know that they are damaging their hair, but continue with their routines in hopes of mastering the DIY blowout or attaining the perfect work hairstyle. Honorable goals, yes, but not ones that worth ruining your hair. No matter how badly you want beach waves in the winter, it’s important to take care of your hair by using the right products, tools, and techniques.
In an effort to set the record straight on good and bad hair habits, I spoke with Kym Prager-Wilson, owner and stylist at the Medusa Salon in Brooklyn, NY, about bad hair habits to find out once and for all what’s good for your locks and what’s most definitely not.
1You Shampoo Too Much
As much as you might like that sudsing your locks every morning, stick to two-to-three times a week. “Shampooing too much can dry the hair out, especially if you use cheap shampoos,” warns Kym, who explains that the damaging ingredient in the aforementioned shampoos is sodium chloride. “It is basically salt, which dries the hair and pulls the color out of dyed hair.”
2You Don’t Shampoo Enough
You’re afraid of shampooing too much, so you go in the opposite direction. Fair enough. Just don’t take your anti-shampoo campaign too far. Although “less is more” aptly applies to shampooing, Kyms notes that “hair should be shampooed at least every one to two weeks to keep the scalp clean and stimulated.”
3You Use Shampoo With Sulfites
Snapping up one of those sweet-smelling, bottom-shelf bargains at the local pharmacy seems like a score, but Kym suggests checking the ingredient list before you lather up. “The worst thing people do is use shampoos that contain sulfites, which contain salts and dry, damage, and pull the color out of dyed hair.”
4You Brush Your Hair When It’s Wet
If your aim is to break and damage your hair, by all means brush it when it’s wet. What’s that you say? You don’t want breakage? Then never, ever brush those locks when they’re wet. “[Wet hair] is weak and extra-prone to breakage,” says Kym, who recommends using a wide tooth comb instead because it, “will detangle and not pull.”
5You Iron Your Hair When It’s Wet
Running an iron over wet locks? “That is like cooking your hair,” Kym says, which damages the hair shaft and results in frizzy, damaged, brittle locks. Kym does note, however, that if you’re in a rush it’s okay to iron slightly damp hair provided you use a heat protectant like Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Primer by Bumble and Bumble ($27).
6You Use Bleach
Instead of counting the ways that bleach can damage your hair (it inundates your hair with chemicals, strips the natural pigments, and weakens the hair shaft) let’s stick to one very convincing image. “If [your hair] is overprocessed when using bleach, the hair will literally melt off your head,” Kym explains. Do we really need to go into any other details?
7You Use the Highest Heat Setting On Your Dryer
“If you use the highest setting you must always keep the dryer moving and not get too close to the hair or scalp,” Kym explains. She adds that this is hard for someone to do one themselves, so it is a technique best left to the professionals. But if you just can’t resist cranking the heat, Kym suggests putting “the heat on high and the fan on low.”
8You Buy Your Dye at the Store
The results of using boxed hair dyes at home can be anything but nice and easy. In fact, Kym says it can be the worst habit of all. “You can't just put a pre-formulated color on different heads and expect a good result,” Kym explains. “You need to consider that everyone has a different base color and if the hair was previously colored and you’re trying to go lighter, the hair will not lighten. It’s so much more involved then it seems, so people tend to make a mess of their hair.” Of course, these mistakes can be fixed with a visit to the salon, but it will be expensive and may require bleach to remove color build-up. Best to go to the pros the first time around.
9You Don’t Get Your Hair Cut Enough
Whether you have a stylish short bob or long, Rapunzel-like locks, Kym warns that without regular trims, the dry ends of your hair will begin to split and the damage will spread to the healthier parts of your hair. Kym recommends that those with shorter hair get a trim every five to six weeks, and that people with longer locks get a cut every eight to ten weeks.