7 Surprising Things We All Do That Are Damaging Our Hair

Which ones are you guilty of?
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Lilly Bozzone
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Which ones are you guilty of?

Every once in a while we all need a hair revamp. Whether it’s switching shampoos, getting a fresh cut, or buying a trendy product, we always want to try new things to solve our hair problems. But did you know that you could be causing your own hair problems? It’s true! The average woman’s daily beauty routine contains at least a few steps that are actually damaging her tresses.

Curious about which ones you’re guilty of? Read on, if you dare.

01. Styling Oils

Lots of women make the mistake of thinking that smoothing oils are healthy for your hair. After washing our hair, we like to gloss on these products that are advertised as “nourishing oils” for sleek, shiny hair, but it turns out we might actually be slathering on chemicals. Many women have complained to their hairstylists about their hair becoming dry, brittle, and dull after long-term use of products labeled as Moroccan or argan oil.

If you look at the ingredients of some of the most popular styling oils, you will notice cyclopentasiloxane, dimethiconol, isododecane, or bis-hydroxy/methoxy amodimethicone listed first. These are silicones that build up on your hair cuticles, making them lackluster and brittle.

Simply avoid excess use of these styling oils, and choose to do weekly hair masks with pure oils. Argan and coconut oil in their unrefined, pure forms are great for your hair and scalp’s long-term health. Leave the oils on overnight and wash them out in the morning for truly smooth, shiny hair that will last.

02. Dry Shampoo

It was too good to be true. While dry shampoo can save you from being late, it could cost you in the long run. Dry shampoo isn’t really shampoo—all it does is coat your hair in powder that absorbs your scalp oils. If you take a moment to look at the average dry shampoo’s ingredient list, you’ll find plenty of chemicals you’d rather not have sitting on your head for days at a time. This residue can lead to blocked scalp pores (hello, pimples and cysts) as well as buildup that causes your hair follicles to become inflamed, potentially resulting in hair loss, as one woman’s recent viral post revealed.

It’s probably fine for an every-now-and-then refresh, but don’t rely on dry shampoo as part of your regular routine.

03. Your Purse Strap

If you’ve ever had hair that is past shoulder-length, you understand this problem. Slinging your purses over your shoulder can catch your hair, causing it to be pulled out or broken. The heavier the bag, the more you have to struggle to free your hair, which causes more follicle damage and strand breakage. Simply get in the habit of pulling your hair to the other side before you put on your purse strap.

04. Brushing Wet Hair from Top to Bottom

It seems normal to brush your hair from top to bottom after getting out of the shower, but you’re actually supposed to brush from the bottom up. Why? Because wet strands are extra-susceptible to damage, so when you comb it, you’re actually stretching and breaking your hair as you yank it down. How? Water breaks down the natural hydrogen bond in your hair, which gives it strength and shape. The bonds reform when your hair is dry, but it’s important to avoid the damage when wet.

Instead of taking a brush to your wet hair, begin by detangling your hair with your fingers. Once you get out the major tangles, take a wide-tooth comb through your hair, bottom to top. Combing from the bottom up allows you to gently work through tangles rather than yanking them out.

05. Cotton Pillowcase

We’re all guilty of this one. Cotton may be breathable, but it will actually rob your locks of moisture overnight. That’s right, a traditional cotton pillowcase causes the strands of your hair to coil around each other as you toss and turn. Bet you didn’t realize that your frizzy morning hair was from your pillowcase!

A silk pillowcase is the way to go, as it won’t absorb your hair’s moisture. Plus, the slippery surface will keep the strands separated to prevent tangles. Give it a try, but make sure to hand wash it so that you don’t ruin the silk.

06. Dirty Brushes and Combs

While we like to believe that our hair and scalp are clean for the most part, we’ve all used our brushes and combs on oily or product-heavy hair. If you don’t regularly wash your brushes, you can probably see the buildup of dead skin cells, loose strands, and product grime between the brush bristles or comb teeth. So guess what happens when you use it on clean hair? It applies all that junk right back onto your hair!

Leftover product residue can be especially damaging because it contains chemicals that contribute to dull locks, while dead skin cells can clog your hair follicles. Begin by removing all hair from your brush, and then fill a bowl with warm water and shampoo. Swish your brush around and wipe it down with a washcloth. Repeat every one to two weeks.

07. Towel Drying

When you jump out of the shower, your hair is at its most vulnerable. The hair cuticles are open and susceptible to breakage, so rubbing and wrapping your hair up in a rough towel can cause serious damage. Not to mention, a towel wrapped tightly around your head can pull at your roots—no thanks! To avoid this daily mistake, try using a microfiber hair-drying wrap or even an old T-shirt.

Photo Credit: Erynn Christine Photography