Hair is considered the pillar of beauty, which is why hair care products are a multibillion-dollar industry.
Everybody, be it men or women, loves to have healthy, shiny and strong hair that reflects one’s personality. For many, a bad hair day equals a bad day, and it can seriously affect a person’s self-esteem.
For centuries, people have looked for ways to keep their hair healthy. Although a few people are lucky with naturally luxurious locks, many people complain of hair problems like hair loss, dull and brittle hair, lifeless hair and so on.
While genetics and health problems have a direct connection to your hair’s health, there are many things that you may be doing in your daily routine that are damaging your hair.
Here are the top 10 bad habits that damage your hair.
Stress not only affects one’s mental and physical health, it can even cause hair loss.
When you are under stress, hair can go into the telogen (fall-out) phase. In fact, hair loss can occur up to three months after a stressful event. However, after the initial hair loss, it usually grows back in six to nine months.
A 2003 study published in the American Journal of Pathology states that hair follicles represent an important target for stressors.
The effect of neurohormones, neuropeptides and neurotransmitters during stress may significantly influence the cyclic activity of hair follicles.
Later, a 2007 study published in the American Academy of Dermatology confirmed that stress can cause dermatologic problems, such as acne, brittle nails or even hair loss.
To fight stress, try some simple stress-buster exercises, meditate, practice deep breathing and take steps to remove known stressors from your life.
2. Poor Diet
What you eat has a direct impact on your skin and hair health. Hair needs various vitamins, minerals and proteins to remain healthy.
A 2002 study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology highlights the connection between nutritional factors and hair loss. The study shows the role of essential amino acids, protein, iron and serum zinc for hair growth.
Hence, it is important to follow a healthy diet to enjoy healthy hair.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science suggests that iron plays a certain role, especially in premenopausal female pattern hair loss.
In order to have healthy hair, you must include healthy and natural foods that are rich in protein, vitamin E and iron in your diet. You must also include foods rich in trace minerals, such as zinc and copper.
Do not survive on junk food and avoid following a severely restrictive crash or fad diet, as it can lead to nutrient deficiencies that can cause hair loss, thinning, and dull and brittle hair.
3. Hairstyling Tools
Nowadays, most of us tend to experiment with our hair and end up using hairstyling tools frequently.
Even the daily use of a blow dryer causes significant damage to your hair. The heat from the dryer strips the serum from your hair, making it look dry and dull.
To reduce damage to your locks, set your hair dryer on a low setting and constantly move it in up-and-down motions. However, it is always better to allow your wet hair to dry naturally.
A 2011 study published in the Annals of Dermatology reports that using a hair dryer causes more surface damage than natural drying. In fact, using a hair dryer at a distance of 15 cm with continuous motion causes relatively less damage.
Other styling treatments like straightening and curling contribute to more hair loss when done frequently. When using a hair straightener or curler to style your hair, the less heat the better. Too much heat can cause serious damage including breakage.
4. Infusing Hair with Chemical Products
To keep the hair healthy, many of us rely on commercial shampoos, gels, serums and other hair styling products. But not all the products available in the market are healthy for your hair.
Many products contain harmful chemicals that can cause great damage to your hair, which may not be reversible.
Chemicals like hydrogen peroxide and ammonia found in hair dye can cause thinning hair and hair loss. Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is another harmful chemical found in shampoos that can contribute to hair loss.
In hair relaxers, the primary chemical of concern is sodium hydroxide, which can weaken the hair and cause a scalp infection.
Avoid overloading your hair with harsh chemical-based products. Instead, opt for herbal products and homemade recipes for hair masks or hair dyes that use natural ingredients.
5. Swimming in Chlorinated Water
Swimming is one of the best activities to help you stay fit and healthy. But swimming in a chlorinated pool is not good for your hair
There are more than 100 chemical by products in pools that use chlorine as a disinfectant. These byproducts are not good for your health as well as hair. In fact, chlorine buildup in the hair causes it to become frizzy and fragile.
Also, chlorine can remove the natural oil that covers hair shafts, which results in loss of shine and flexibility, as well as making your hair more susceptible to breakage.
In a 2000 study published in the Journal of Dermatology, researchers examined 67 expert swimmers and 54 non-swimmers and found that 61 percent of the swimmers exhibited symptoms of hair discoloration as compared to non-swimmers.
If you like swimming, try to swim in chlorinated pools only occasionally. Preferably, wear a swim cap. Make sure to shower and shampoo your hair immediately after swimming. Do not allow the pool water to dry up in your hair.
Reckless teasing or backcombing your hair is highly damaging as it tangles your hair. In fact, it can lead to split ends and hair breakage for months.
While teasing, when you lift up the cuticles, it greatly damages the natural fibers of protein that constitute the cuticles.
Similarly, aggressive brushing or over brushing is also not recommended as it causes too much friction and makes hair weak and brittle.
If you are still unwilling to give up teasing, do it only occasionally and use a fine-toothed comb. Also, remember to be gentle with your hair while teasing and do not try to do too much at once.
At the end of the day, make sure to gentle comb out the teasing, working from the ends all the way up to the roots.
7. Wearing Tight Hairstyles
If you love styling your hair in tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns, you’ll want to think twice next time. These hairstyles can be the cause of your damaged hair.
Tight hairstyles put excessive tension on the hair follicles, which can lead to hair breakage and even hair loss. This can also lead to traction alopecia, a condition that permanently weakens the follicles and makes it impossible for hair to grow. Wearing weaves and extentions also has a similar effect.
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers found a strong association between scalp-pulling hairstyles (tight ponytails, braids, knots and buns) and the development of traction alopecia, or gradual hair loss.
It happens due to the damage caused to the hair follicles from prolonged or repeated tension on the hair roots.
Try wearing your hair down whenever possible and, if tying your hair back, keep it a little loose. Also, do not wear the same hairstyle every day.
8. Brushing Your Hair While it is Still Wet
People often brush or comb their wet hair right after taking a bath or shower, without considering how harmful it is for the hair.
When wet, your hair strands are fragile and more vulnerable to breakage.
It is best to comb your hair before washing to reduce tangling. After washing, blot your hair with a soft towel and allow it to air dry before combing. In fact, you should comb your hair when it is slightly damp. Slightly damp hair is also easier to style.
Sleeping with wet hair is another big no-no as it causes frizziness in the morning due to friction from the pillow. Preferably, use a satin pillowcase while sleeping to avoid friction.
9. Over Washing
Over washing is another very common mistake people make when it comes to hair care.
Too much shampooing can suck the natural moisture out of your hair and dry it out, causing breakage.
Be sure to wash your hair three times a week. If you’re sweating or using lots of products, wash your hair every two days.
When washing, use the right shampoo for your hair type and texture. This will help add moisture, body and beauty to your hair.
Along with over washing, people often mishandle their wet hair. After washing, the protective cuticle is slightly raised, leaving your strands fragile and more prone to breakage. This is why you must avoid aggressive towel drying.
10. Taking Hot Showers
Daily showering is one of the hygienic habits that everyone should practice. But while taking long, hot showers may feel great, in reality it causes huge damage to your hair.
The heat from a hot shower can strip away your hair’s natural oil (serum), without which the hair becomes dry and brittle. This can make your hair more prone to breakage and falling out.
To enjoy healthy hair, enjoy showers with lukewarm water for no more than 10 to 15 minutes, two or three times a week only. For a final rinse, use cold water to help lock in moisture. This will make your hair appear shiny and healthy.
Also, after your shower, pat dry your skin with a soft towel and avoid rubbing your hair rigorously. Allow the hair to dry naturally and do not use a blow dryer.