Everyone knows that certain major things can be extremely damaging to hair: constant exposure to heat, bleach, rubbing it all over with sandpaper (okay, we made that last one up). But it’s not just the major things that can wreak havok on your hair—you can actually damage your hair more with constant, little things than with once-in-a-while major lock-traumas. If you’ve been noticing more hair loss and breakage than usual, it’s time to consider the little things. Here are 5 surprising daily habits that could be ruining your hair.
1. Bad shower habits.
You probably already know to avoid using scalding hot water on your hair, and you probably don’t shampoo it every day—both excellent ways to avoid major damage. So what else could you be doing in your bathroom that ruins your lovely locks?
It’s actually a mistake that many people make: scrubbing their hair with a towel to dry it off. This causes way too much damage and breakage, especially when hair is wet and already fragile—which is the same reason why you shouldn’t brush your hair when wet; use a wide-toothed comb instead). Instead of rubbing your wet hair with a towel, press gently to absorb any water. You’ll prevent even more damage if you use a softer material for your hair. Swap out the typical bath towel for a a microfiber towel, like these luxe options from Aquis ($17.99, Bed Bath and Beyond), which not only help your hair dry faster, they’re so soft that they’ll specifically give your hair the TLC it needs.
2. Sun damage (even in winter).
Yes, your hair can sustain damage from the sun, just like your skin. UV rays can fade color, increase dryness and give you—horror of horrors—split ends. Whenever you know you’ll be out in the sun for an extended amount of time, bring along a hat. It’s chilly enough now for hats anyway. If, for some reason, you’re not a hat person there’s other options. Try a SPF spray for hair such as Fekkai Pre-Soleil Hair Radiance and Protection Mist ($19.99, Target). It will make your hair shiny and soft while protecting it from the sun.
3. Top knots.
As popular as top knots (and man buns) are these days, you should think twice before pulling your hair up into a tight bun. Experts say that it can cause traction alopecia, or hair loss. In fact, any kind of extremely tight hairstyle is no good for your hair. The friction and tugging delivers too much stress to your delicate strands, especially if you tie your hair up regularly. Try to avoid any tight top knots, buns, ponytails, or similar styles. Instead, treat your hair gently whenever you have to put it up. Scrunchies are great because they’re much gentler on your hair than elastics, and—good news!—low ponytails and loose chignons are super-chic for fall.
4. Sleeping on it.
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you start sleeping upright to avoid damaging your hair. But you should take more care in how your hair is treated while you sleep. If you sleep on a regular cotton pillowcase, your hair is likely suffering much more wear and tear than necessary. Hair loss, dryness, and frizziness are all likely results of crushing your hair on a rough pillowcase while you toss and turn every night. One of the best things you can do for your hair is switching to a silk pillowcase, like this beauty from SpaSilk ($19.99, Spa Silk). The silk allows your hair to glide easily across the pillow while you sleep, greatly reducing damage.Bonus: if you’re prone to breakouts or dry skin on your face, silk is also much gentler on your skin.
5. Damaging hair products.
Finally, you should take a look at the ingredients of all of your favorite hair products. Many of them contain startling amounts of alcohol, artificial fragrances, parabens, sulfates, and other harsh ingredients that can damage your hair. Everyone wants their hair to look good and be manageable, but you don’t have to use damaging styling products to achieve that. Instead, look for hair products that limit the amount of harmful ingredients, such as Hask Monoi Coconut Oil Nourishing Shampoo ($5.99, Ulta) which contains Monoi Oil (a blend of Tahitian gardenias and coconut oil) to soften and nourish hair instead of stripping it dry. You can also look to natural DIY treatments to give your hair some TLC, such as a coconut milk and honey mask. Your strands will be in better shape in no time.
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