Hair can become weak and prone to breakage for a number of reasons, including but not limited to: over-styling, excessive coloring, lack of moisture, and stress. Genetics is another factor that can determine whether your strands are strong or on the more fragile side of the spectrum. Whatever the case, if you're struggling with hair-snapping and scary amounts of shedding, it should serve as a sign to switch things up, stat.
There are quite a few things you can do to improve your hair health. For instance, deep conditioning on a regular basis, taking supplements such as Nutrafol, and sleeping on a silk pillowcase are three ways to make a difference in the strength of your hair. (You should also see a doctor if you think it could be serious.) But, in addition to the aforementioned, there are also some key things you should actually stop doing if you're concerned with breakage. Straight from the experts, here are seven examples of what you shouldn't do if you want your hair to get back to a healthy state.
1. Don't wash with hot water
As amazing as a steaming-hot shower can feel, water that's scorching can wreak some serious havoc on weak strands. "When your hair is fragile or been through a lot of wear and tear, you have to baby it," says hairstylist Kirsten Patterson. "Avoid super hot water when rinsing out your hair, as the heat opens up the cuticle and strips the oils of your hair, leaving it dry and brittle," she explains. Instead, Patterson suggests using cool or cold water to seal the cuticle and lock in moisture. You might be chilly for a minute, but it won't matter when you see how shiny your hair looks when you make this subtle change.
2. Never blow-dry your hair on the highest setting
A common and easily avoidable mistake many people make is blow-drying their hair on the hottest possible setting, which like using hot water, isn't the safest option for fragile strands. "When you do blow-dry your hair, always use the lower heat setting on your dryer, as it's not necessary and can really burn your hair," explains New York City-based colorist Rachel Bodt. Instead, try the warm or cool setting and be sure to keep the nozzle a decent distance away from your hair, especially the ends. It might take a little longer to dry completely, but keeping your hair healthy is 100 percent worth it.
3. Don't brush your hair from the root
Despite what you may have heard — or have been doing your whole life — you should never be brushing your hair from root to tip. According to hairstylist Laura Polko, this method can knot the hair and make breakage even worse. "Be careful to brush from the ends, working your way up, as this avoids any unwanted knitting that leads to breakage," she explains. It's one of the simplest tips out there, so be sure to stick with it to see results.
4. Don't use abrasive hair ties
"You want to avoid super-tight ponytail holders as these will pull your hair and the tension can and will break the hair," says Bodt matter-of-factly. Aim for ones that will be extra gentle on your delicate strands, such as Slip's New Slip Skinnies, which are made with the same fabric as the brand's best-selling pillowcases. These don't tug like most traditional hair ties tend to, and they're really freaking cute.
5. Avoid products with a lot of alcohol
Another pro tip from Bodt? Do your best to steer clear of products that have a high content of alcohol. "These will dry out the hair and eventually cause it to get crispy and break," she says. So, if you're scanning an ingredient list and alcohol is way up there, it's definitely in your best interest not to buy it.
6. Never brush your hair when it's wet
Sure, brushing your hair after showering might seem like the normal course of events, but it can actually result in significant damage if you're not careful, as hair is in its most fragile state when it's wet. "Always brush hair out dry before shampooing and conditioning because brushing knots out of wet hair can lead to major breakage," explains Patterson. What's more: Try using a Tangle Teezer or a wide-tooth comb, both of which are gentler on frail strands.
7. Don't sleep with your hair up
If your hair is prone to breakage, you should never be sleeping with your hair up, as this tugs at it while you snooze, resulting in more damage than most people realize. Patterson recommends leaving your hair down or in a simple braid, and investing in a silk pillowcase, which will help cut down on friction.
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