Common Hair Mistakes You Might Be Making
We all make mistakes—and occasionally, we make the same mistakes over and over again without registering that they’re mistakes in the first place. We’re the first to admit when we’ve made a beauty blunder, which is why we’ve rounded up some most common hair mistakes to spare you from having the same slip-up time and time again. We’ve learned from experience.
1. You’re holding the brush wrong when you blow-dry. If you hold the hairdryer with your dominant hand and work the brush with the weaker, you’re not alone—but you are wrong. While it feels more natural to hold the larger, heavier item with your stronger hand, you need the better dexterity of your dominant hand to better control the brush and get the job done in less time and with less exertion. Retrain yourself to do it the right way, and you’ll see better, smoother results with less dry time overall.
2. You’re only conditioning the ends of your hair. It’s a widely-held belief that we should only be conditioning the lower half of our hair from the midlengths down, especially if it’s fine and tends to fall limp, to avoid hair becoming weighed down by conditioner. In reality, however, fine hair is very fragile and needs the extra support of a daily conditioner. “Hair is weakest when it’s wet, and can stretch up to 30% more, which makes it prone to breakage,” explains Pantene Principal Scientist Emily Overton. The solution is to use a light conditioner from roots to tips that moisturizes and strengthens hair without weighing it down.
3. You’re rubbing hair with a towel to dry. Using a bath towel is considered the standard way to dry off the hair after washing, but if done incorrectly, it’s basically the fastest route to breakage and frizz. Instead of hopping out of the shower and twisting hair to release excess moisture, then rubbing dry with a towel—both things you should not do—use your hands to gently squeeze out extra water in large sections, then do the same with a towel, blotting and squeezing the hair rather than rubbing or wringing.
4. You’re blow-drying hair with the wrong temperature. A blow-dryer that’s not nearly hot enough has its own set of issues, sure, but we’re especially concerned with a dryer that’s too hot. In an effort to dry your hair faster, you could be totally frying your strands without even knowing it, plus triggering frizz and split ends. You should begin blow-drying your hair on the lowest heat setting possible—nine times out of ten, you won’t end up needing anything hotter than that, so don’t get ahead of yourself by jumping straight to the max.
5. You’re using too much dry shampoo. Go too long without a wash, and “the product will mix with the oils on your scalp, and will create a paste-like substance which doesn’t look or feel good,” says Davines Master Session Ambassador Joseph DiMaggio. The biggest danger of overdosing on dry shampoo? Clogged pores. That’s right: it’s not just something you need to worry about on your face. The pasty dry shampoo/oil mix will prevent the hair follicle from breathing, and once clogged, the pores on your scalp will go into overdrive to flush out the product with more oil. Remember: dry shampoo can only absorb so much oil, so please, don’t count on it to do the work of a proper shampoo—eventually you’re just layering more and more product on top of your grease. Pass.
6. You brush your hair when it’s wet. Your hair is at its most fragile when wet, which is why brushing or combing just after the shower is a major no-no—it can compromise even healthy hair to the point that it snaps from tension. To avoid breakage but still get the knots out before styling, use your fingers (and a leave-in spray, if necessary) to detangle and part your hair after towel-drying.
7. You’re blow-drying your hair when it’s too wet. Believe it or not, hair should be about 60% dry before you start going in with the blow-dryer. The longer your hair is exposed to the heat, the more damage is likely to occur, and sopping wet hair is more likely to develop frizz as you attempt to dry it. Try to absorb as much moisture as possible with a towel or cloth before you pick up your blow-dryer and wait a good 15-20 minutes post-shower to give hair a chance to dry.
8. You’re shampooing too frequently. Rodney Cutler, owner and creative director of Cutler Salon, recommends only washing hair a maximum of three times a week to avoid stripping the hair of natural oils, which can lead to dryness, damage, and breakage. For those who exercise frequently, or just “miss the feeling of washing it,” he assures us that we can still rinse well with water and condition the ends between shampoos.
9. You’re skipping heat protectant. Even if you don’t consider yourself to have damaged, vulnerable hair in need of protecting, a heat styling product is an absolute must. Not only do they protect the hair from incurring damage as a result of heat exposure, but they also help to optimize the performance of hot tools, which means you get safer, healthier hair and a better style overall. It’s a win-win, so don’t even think about skipping this step.
10. You’re using the wrong brush to blow-dry. Here’s the thing about using a metal brush when you blow-dry your hair: metal overheats. This can not only cause worsening damage, but it can actually burn the hair, too. Always opt for a brush that’s made to be used in conjunction with heat tools, like those with boar bristles, which provide great grip without overheating.
11. You’re not being gentle enough. Though healthy hair can feel like it’s practically indestructible—braid it, curl it, flip it around, whatever—being rough with your strands can be exactly what’s causing breakage. If you’re a hair twirler, surprise! That twisting and tugging motion puts stress on the roots of the hair, yanking them out from the scalp. Overall treatment factors into this, too; roughly brushing dry hair or tossing and turning on rough cotton pillowcases are similar recipes for breakage.
12. You aren’t using product after you wash. Part of the allure of air drying your hair, aside from avoiding the potential damage from heat styling, is the effortlessness of a natural, “I woke up like this” texture, but that doesn’t mean you should skip product. All hair types should follow up towel drying with a detangling leave-in conditioner and use a wide-tooth comb to break up knots and smooth out the hair before adding product. You know best what your hair needs, whether it’s volumizer, curl-enhancing cream, or a texturizing spray, but we recommend starting with a frizz-fighting serum and a light-hold styling cream.
13. You’re blow-drying without sectioning your hair. Why properly section your hair when you can just flip your head upside down and blast it all with the blow-dryer? Because unless you dry section by section, you’re going to end up with frizzy, inconsistent texture and a seriously sore neck. Use claw or duckbill clips to secure several medium-sized sections horizontally around the head and dry one at a time before releasing and moving onto the next.
14. You’re skipping weekly deep conditioning treatments. “Women aren’t using a daily conditioner properly, so it’s important to use a weekly deep treatment to help compensate for that and maintain healthy, shiny hair,” says Overton. The surface of a hair strand is made up of overlapping hair cuticles, similar to how tiles are layered on a roof. When hair is damaged, these tiny cuticles get lifted up or broken off, which causes frizz, breakage and dullness. A deep conditioning treatment will help fill in any holes and repair roughed up patches so hair is soft, shiny and manageable.
15. You’re pulling your hair downward when you blow-dry. Blowing and brushing hair downward sort of seems like it would enable better smoothing of the hair, but pulling the hair down actually zaps any and all volume for a flat, lackluster results. Instead, extend your arm up and out when you’re drying at the root for body and bounce, then let your arm fall once you’ve reached the ends of the hair with your brush. This technique will give hair both movement and sleekness, no sacrifices necessary.
16. You’re using silicone-based products. Silicone creates the illusion of healthy, shiny hair while actually further drying out the hair from the inside, which is exactly as sinister as it sounds. “Silicone coats the hair shaft for a sleek, shiny finish, but it prevents the real nutrients from conditioners to penetrate the hair shaft,” says Nunzio Saviano, owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in NYC.
17. You’re using a hair tie when your hair is still wet. Hair is at its most fragile when it’s wet, so pulling it back into a ponytail or bun as it’s drying is a huge cause of breakage. Using hair ties will also result in strange kinks and texture once hair has dried… and furthermore, sleeping on wet hair that’s also in a bun to get waves is a recipe for disaster. If waves are what you want, try using a balm or styling cream and twisting hair in sections as it dries so that you don’t put stress on your strands.