Jared Leto. David Beckham. Zayn Malik. Harry Styles. Brad Pitt. Patrick Dempsey. Zac Efron. Simon Baker. Conan O’Brien. Steve from Stranger Things.
These and other celebrity hair gods have given us major mane envy over the years. Whether it’s good genes or superstar stylists behind their strands, we yearn to follow in their impeccably groomed footsteps.
So we clean, condition, blow dry, brush, comb, trim, dye, bleach, style, and pray for the perfect locks of our hair heroes… and in the process, we do more harm than good.
Your grooming habits may be putting your hair through the ringer, causing problems ranging from split ends to dry scalp to uncontrollable frizz. It may even be accelarating the natural signs of aging. If your regular routine includes any of these 10 things, your cluelessness may be causing hair damage that could turn permanent with no intervention.
While clean hair is a plus in anyone’s book, washing too often strips your scalp of the natural oils that protect it and keep your hair shiny and healthy. Wet hair is also more prone to breakage, and if you dye it, frequent shampoos will fade your colour quickly. Experts recommend washing your hair every two to three days, rather than daily. Invest in dry shampoo to extend the time between washes, and if you regularly work up the kind of sweat that requires a rinse, try skipping shampoo on some days in favour of plain H20, a good scrub to the scalp, and a small dash of conditioner on the ends only.
Ultra Hot Showers
James Bond is a fan of cold showers and you should be too. There’s scientific evidence that turning down the heat leads to a number of physical and mental benefits, including reduced stress, improved mood, and increased energy. Also on that list is healthier skin and hair – because hot water is especially prone to stripping your body’s natural oils, it can cause dandruff and encourages your scalp to overproduce oil to compensate. Greaseball is no one’s best look.
Not Getting Necessary Nutrients
What you put in your body has a huge effect on what your body is able to put out. Deprive it of essential vitamins and nutrients and it’s impossible to feel, function, or look your best. Your hair is made of a protein called keratin, so make sure sufficient protein is part of your diet. Omega-3s, iron, zinc, biotin, and plenty of water are also vital for hair health. Nuts, fish, legumes, fruits, and greens should be on regular rotation in your kitchen.
When you’re caught up in the morning rush, it’s tempting to hop out of the shower, run a comb and some product through your hair, and dart out the door at record speeds. Resist the temptation. Wet hair is weaker than dry hair, so when you assault your sopping strands with a brush or comb, you risk breakage or tearing them out altogether. If you must detangle, use a wide-toothed comb and work from the ends to your roots to minimise damage.
The negative effects of smoking go far beyond your lungs. Smoking allows free radicals to accumulate in the body and damage cells, including the follicles that produce hair. Lighting up also constricts your blood vessels, restricting oxygen flow to the scalp and depriving your hair of the nourishment it needs. Studies have even linked smoking to premature thinning and greying. Toss the tobacco unless you like having dull, brittle tresses that are prone to breakage and smell like a stale ashtray.
Less is more when it comes to your mane. There’s no need to use an excessive amount of shampoo or conditioner, nor should you layer product upon product when you get out of the shower. Using too many at once only weighs down your hair, prevents moisture from reaching the hair shaft, and turns your scalp into a greasy, dirty mess. At most, choose one styling product and one finishing product. Use them sparingly, and only apply from the mid-shaft to the ends.
Vicious Towel Drying
There are better ways to take out your stress than to treat your head like Buddha’s belly. All that rubbing as you towel dry may feel like an effective way to soak up the wet, but in the process you’re roughing up the cuticle and causing frizz. Air drying or gently blotting with a towel is healthier for your hair. Some experts even recommend blotting with paper towels for maximum gentleness.
The only real way to remove damaged hair is to cut the section in question. Visiting your barber for regular trims keeps split ends at bay, and prevents any damage from spreading up your strands. Even if you’re growing your hair out, have it snipped about every six weeks (just tell your stylist that you only want the bare minimum removed).
Exposure To Environmental Hazards
Like your skin, your hair needs protection from the sun to maintain optimal health. Ongoing exposure can damage or dry it out, so wear a hat or look for products with UV protection if you know you’ll be spending time outdoors. Chlorine can also wreak havoc on your locks, so try to limit pool time and when you do go swimming, shower first and leave your hair wet (or apply a leave-in conditioner) to prevent it from absorbing the offending chemicals.
Man Bun Addiction
The modern era’s most controversial hairstyle may be causing premature balding. A man bun – or a ponytail, or any other tight style – could trigger ‘traction alopecia’, a gradual hair loss caused by a continuous pulling force on the hairline. Hair ties can also irritate hair strands and cause breakage. An effortlessly cool loose look is safest if you want your locks to last.