Hair damage is one thing that seems to plague all of us at one point or another! Do you feel the same way?
In my younger days, I definitely used to put it through the ringer. Semi-permanent dye out of a box (although, never permanent), flat irons, hair dryers galore. Helllooo split end party.
But then a few years ago, I made some easy changes that lead to huge benefits in keeping it shiny and strong. Here are the four mistakes I corrected that were literally killing my hair.
(Are you making them, too?)
1. The problem: You blow dry your hair daily
Blow drying is one of the worst things you can do to your hair. And if you’re like most women, your daily routine mirrors the following cadence: 1. showering, 2. blow drying and styling your hair 3. doing your makeup, and 4. getting dressed and out the door.
However, over time, this can lead up to MAJOR damage to your tresses–split ends, dryness, breakage, and the like. Styling your hair when it’s wet is essentially like making it boil from the inside out. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve used my blow dryer in the past year, and it makes an immense difference.
The solution: Air dry as much as possible
The common response to this solution is “I just don’t have the time to let my hair air dry”–is that the case for you? The trick is to switch up your schedule! Wash your hair when you get home at night, and you’ll have plenty of time to let it air dry. There’s also nothing wrong with sleeping with it wet. If you have fine hair and fear waking up with bed head, put it into a braid and secure with a plastic elastic. Even if you wake up with a few cow-licks, that’s nothing a little styling can’t fix. If you do have to pull out the blow dryer to style your bangs (I mean, sometimes there’s no way around it, right?) that’s still way better than blow drying your full head of hair! Once it has air dried, then you can style it as usual. (See more on that below.)
If air drying is not an option for you, at least let your hair dry as much as possible before blow-drying. The wetter your hair, the more damage you’ll cause. (Think about it, the more moisture in your hair, the longer you have to blow scalding hot air on it to make it dry.) So instead of doing your hair straight out of the shower (which I used to do all the time) do everything else first (i.e. get dressed, do your makeup, eat breakfast, and so on) to give it time to air dry partially. Blow dry roughly with your fingers (make sure to point the nozzle down to reduce frizz) and finish by using a thermal round brush to style, which ensures even heat distribution and allows the air to flow through it, cutting down on your blow-drying time.
2. The problem: You’re using a straightener
2. The problem: You’re using a straightener
Straighteners are the grim reaper to healthy hair. I don’t even own one–I threw it out years ago! In my opinion, curls are just as pretty (actually, I think they’re prettier!) and your curling iron doesn’t cause nearly the same amount of damage.
Hair can burn just like skin can, but once the damage is done, it’s impossible to repair, because strands are already dead once they grow out of the scalp.
You know that burning firey smell that comes with straightening your hair? Yep, that’s the sweet scent of damage, my friend. The steam that escapes when you run your straightener through it? Damage. That’s either water, or hair product boiling out through your strands. GAH. NOT GOOD.
The solution: Curl your hair instead
Curling irons aren’t nearly as damaging as straighteners. They’re only on a portion of your hair for a hot second, and there is truly no “ironing” involved. I absolutely love my Beachwaver curling iron, which can act like both a curling iron and a wand, and it curls my whole head lightning fast.
However, if you don’t like the look of your hair curled, or just don’t want to give up your straightener, keep these tips in mind:
- Irons with ceramic plates (like this one) are less damaging than metal ones.
- Don’t go over a section of hair more than once. If you have to, the sections you’re ironing are too thick.
- Hair should be 110% dry before you straighten. Also, make sure to apply a thermal protectant to hair beforehand. (But again, make sure it’s TOTALLY dry before you pick up that straightener!) This is also useful prior to curling your hair!
3. The problem: You wash your hair too often
Just because you shower every day doesn’t mean you need to wash your hair that often. If you don’t have greasy hair, you can likely go 2-3 days in between washes (!) The more you wash your hair, the more you have to style it, and the more damage you’ll cause. Plus, shampoo strips your hair of moisture. (Think about how dry your hands get whenever you wash them several times per day. It’s just like that!)
Think of it this way, even if you didn’t make any other changes to your hair routine, just washing it every OTHER day instead of daily would cut potential damage in half.
Another tip: when you do shampoo, make sure that you’re only getting the roots–shampooing the ends can lead to unnecessary dryness! And if you find your hair is too thin or greasy to go more than one day, try simply rinsing your roots with water every other shower (instead of shampooing) and apply conditioner to the ends.
Which brings us to…
The solution: Wash as little as you can get away with
Dry shampoo is my best friend–it makes second or third day hair look even better than freshly washed. I love Bumble and Bumble’s Pret A Powder, as well as this drugstore version for brunettes (which won’t leave that white residue that so many other dry shampoos do!) and this drugstore version for blondes. They also add amazing texture for updo’s like topknots and messy ponytails. (Which save you a ton of time, too!)
4. The problem: You’re not conditioning correctly
We covered shampoo, which brings us to our next point–conditioner. If you condition all of your hair from root to tip, you can make it dull, flat, and limp. Also, make sure you’re using the right conditioner for your hair type!
The solution: Apply conditioner ONLY to ends, and use a deep conditioner
Only apply conditioner from mid-sections to ends, and you’ll be in good shape! Also, make sure to invest in a deep conditioner, and use it as often as necessary. If your hair isn’t too damaged, once a week might be enough, or if it needs some extra TLC, use it a few times per week. I love Dove’s deep conditioning treatment, which is super affordable! Sephora also has endless options based on your hair type!
What other haircare tips do you have for healthier hair? I’d love to hear them!
Shop this post: