The process of hair washing is pretty much rote: We’ve been doing it since we were small, and it seems like one of the most basic fundamentals of beauty. We all know how to wash our hair, right? Don’t be so sure! There are plenty of ways your shampooing technique could be ruining your hair, and you may not even know it. Consider these rules next time you step into the shower, and you could save yourself a whole lot of heartbreak. And by heartbreak, we mean breakage.
Saturate the hair first.
If your hair is just damp, it’s not good enough. Saturating your hair with warm water opens the cuticle so that the shampoo can really work its way into each strand to remove any product or debris.
Unless you have extremely long or thick hair, just a dime-sized amount should do, and though your shampoo bottle may instruct you firmly to “rinse and repeat,” it’s often an unnecessary—and potentially drying—step. If you produce a good lather from one wash, there’s no need to follow up with another, even if you have oily hair.
Focus on the scalp.
Washing your hair is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s really the scalp that needs to be cleaned, not the hair follicle itself. Never, ever lather shampoo into your lengths or ends—apply it only to the roots and scalp at the very top of your head and into the crown at back, then simply run the excess lather over the mid-lengths.
Use the pads of your fingers, not your nails.
If you find yourself really scrubbing at your scalp, stop! Friction can rough up the surface of the hair’s cuticle, leading to breakage-causing damage and frizz. Use the soft pads of your fingertips to gently massage shampoo into the scalp in small circular motions to increase blood flow.
Wring your hair out before conditioning.
Because water fills the hair’s cuticle, your hair won’t be able to absorb the nourishing ingredients in the conditioner if it’s too wet. After shampooing, use your hands to gently wring out the lengths of your hair until it’s just damp rather than soaking, then work your conditioner into the lengths and ends.
Pick your products wisely.
Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type is just as important as the actual washing process. Dry and damaged hair types should choose rich, moisturizing formulas, while fine and oily hair types should opt for more clarifying types. Pro tip: Moisturizing shampoos often have white pearly formulas, while clarifying and volumizing shampoos are more likely to be clear.
Try a filtration system.
It sounds a little ridiculous, but water that’s too hard can cause buildup, brittle texture, greasiness, and more, none of which are conducive to healthy hair—or good hair days, for that matter. Look into any information you can find on the water in your area, and if the general consensus is that it’s packed with minerals, consider investing in a water softening filtration system for your shower.
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