Are your locks lacking luster? Try as you might to revive them, you may be actually doing damage unknowingly. So instead of piling on the products, take a look at your hair care and styling habits first.
Here are 8 things that hair experts say can totally ruin your mane—and you probably had no idea. How many do you do on a daily or weekly basis?
1. Your hair tie
Your hair tie is that thing you’re always losing and helps keeps those pesky strands off your face… but it’s also a major culprit of hair damage says PHYTO National Educator, Christyn Nawrot.
“Stay away from elastics covered with nylon woven fabrics,” she warns. “They are the worst and cause breakage almost every time they are removed from the hair! Look for hair ties made up of Terry cloth and Lycra—these gentle hair ties allow pressure to be evenly distributed around the entire circumference of the ponytail, creating less friction.”
For those needing a more secure hair holder, try these brass bun pins from CA Makes that will keep your tresses in place without breaking your strands.
2. High ponytails
According to Micki Charles, senior stylist at Cutler Salons, “constantly putting your hair in a high ponytail can cause stress on the front hair line, causing the hair to weaken and possibly snap off in the front.” Yikes! She says this is especially true for blondes and finer-textured hair types. Try a bun, braid, or low pony instead.
3. Towel drying
Schwarzkopf ULTIME celebrity hairstylist, Richard Collins says that hair is actually 50% more susceptible to breakage when it is wet (crazy, we know). This common misconception leads so many of us to brush our hair post-shower, thinking it’s totally kosher.
However, towel drying your hair can be just as bad, if not worse, for your locks. “Don’t ruffle the towel through your hair; this also causes friction fractures and can easily damage the hair,” Nawrot advises. “Gently squeeze moisture out of the hair with your towel or wrap it up in a turban and allow the moisture to naturally absorb into the towel for three to five minutes instead.”
4. Using a “naked” blow-dryer
That little attachment that comes with your hair dryer—called a concentrator— isn’t just that random thing that rolls around in the bottom of some bathroom drawer—it’s actually crucial for maintaining healthy hair.
“The front end of your blow-dryer has metal prongs that get extremely hot after only a short amount of usage time,” Charles says. “If you don’t use an air concentrator and you touch the blow-dryer to the hair, you are instantly burning your hair.”
However, air-drying your mane isn’t totally safe either, especially if you have over-processed hair. “Most women think it’s best to not use a blowdryer or heat-styling tools when their hair might be a little dry from highlighting or other chemical services,” Charles explains. “Unfortunately, leaving your hair to air-dry leaves the cuticle in a more ‘open’ position and prone to damage.”
Instead, she advises properly blowing dry your hair so the cuticle lays flatter and has less chance to snag and break off.
6. Too much flat iron pressure
“Everyone thinks of heat styling as a stressor to hair—but excessive pressure when using a flat iron dehydrates the hair,” Nawrot says. “Be sure to glide the iron through the hair gently so there is not too much stress on the tress.” And, of course, always use a thermal protectant, like PHYTOSPECIFIC Thermoperfect 8.
7. Your shampoo
Over time, hair can develop build-up from hard water minerals, styling products, and even impurities in the air, says Jim Markham, ColorProof Evolved Color Care Founder and CEO. This leads to hair that’s brittle and more prone to breakage.
“Therefore, it is extremely important once a week, or as needed, to shampoo with a clarifying shampoo—such as ColorProof’s ClearItUp® Detox Shampoo to remove build-up, hard-water minerals, and chlorine from hair, ” he explains. “Weekly clarifying treatments revive and soften hair, allowing your radiant color to shine through.”
8. A lack of UV protection
We all know how important it is to use sunscreen on our skin, but did you know you’re also supposed to sun protect your hair, too? Not only can UV range cause damage on natural hair, but the sun will ruin hair that has been colored, so it’s important to protect it like you would your skin, Collins says. (Try Schwarzkopf Essence ULTIME Diamond Color & Radiance Shine Boost Tonic, which contains UV filters.)