5 Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Hair

Wendy Rodewald

The best hair advice we ever got was to treat our locks like we do our laundry delicates: with a gentle touch and plenty of TLC. Still, lots of us are harming our hair without even knowing it. Are you guilty of these damaging don’ts?

Woman brushing her hair

Photo: Getty Images

1. Doubling up on hot tools. If you blow out your hair and then flat iron or curl it, you’re doing twice as much damage.

Do this instead: Learn how to create the texture you want with your blow dryer alone. Blowing out hair with a flat paddle brush will help you get it straight; using a round brush on the ends will create waves. Or use a heat-free styling technique, such as braiding hair while it’s damp and letting it dry into a wavy texture.

2. Brushing wet hair. Hair is more fragile when it’s wet, since the water swells the cuticle and stretches it out. Any tension you apply to wet hair — by brushing, combing or pulling — can cause strands to snap.

Do this instead: Detangle hair gently using a wide tooth comb after you’ve applied your conditioner in the shower, and any knots will slip right out without damaging your ends.

3. Using the wrong shampoo and conditioner. If your hair feels dry all the time, you may need to switch to more moisturizing products. Shampoos that leave your hair feeling squeaky clean can strip its natural oils.

Do this instead: Choose a shampoo and conditioner that say “moisturizing” on the bottle.

4. Wearing your hair up every day. If you’re pulling your hair back into a tight bun or ponytail daily, the tension can cause strands to break where they’re being held by your elastic or pull out at the root.

Do this instead: Alternate loose styles with tighter ones, and use a soft elastic that won’t pull on strands.

5. Skipping haircuts. You can try to hide split ends, but the longer you wait to trim off the damage, the worse it gets. The split can actually travel higher up the hair shaft and cause breakage that can only be remedied by cutting it off.

Do this instead: Get a trim every six weeks, even if it’s just a “dusting” where your stylist snips off the very ends.

Read more: How to Wash Your Hair — The Right Way