If your lustrous locks are appearing a bit lackluster, your daily routine could be held responsible. Don’t let common hair saboteurs ruin one of your most imperative assets.
As compiled by birdie.com, Prevention, Fitness and Women’s Health Magazine, here are 10 ways to score healthy hair and fight the damage:
1. Your diet
“If you’re not eating red meat and a well-balanced diet, you could be iron deficient, which is associated with thinning hair,” says Dr Joshua Zeichner, dermatologist and director of cosmetic research at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York City. If you notice hair breakage and thinning, it’s time you talk to your doctor about iron supplements. “Low levels of D are associated with damaged hair, too,” says Dr Zeichner. So try and hit the milk jar in the fringe more often and be sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D.
2. Washing every day
Most cultures associate a really good lather with cleanliness,” says Benjamin Mohapi of the Benjamin with Negin Zand Salon. “But too much shampooing can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving strands brittle.” Shampoo every other day and use dry shampoo if needed. It’s ideal to wash hair no more than thrice a week to maintain the right amount of moisture, which in turn keeps the hair healthy and protected from dust particles and free radicals.
3. Sleeping on wet hair
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Most people don’t know that hair is at its weakest when it’s wet, so it must be treated delicately when you step out of the shower. “Improperly combing out your hair or using the wrong tools while it’s wet can cause breakage,” says Ky Smith, a trichologist in Los Angeles. “Be sure to use a wide-tooth comb when combing out your hair, and always start from ends to scalp to avoid any breakage.” Make it a habit to always go to bed with dry hair. “Sleeping on it can pull and strain hair, causing breakage and frizz,” says Nicole Tott-Berger, owner of San Francisco’s The Social Beauty Company.
4. Hot water
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For the health of your mane, it’s imperative you try not to wash your hair with hot water. “It can strip your hair of its natural oils and can cause the hair to be dry and brittle,” says Sadah Saltzman, hairstylist at Salon AKS in New York City. Hot water dehydrates strands, just like the skin, leading to dry, brittle hair that’s more prone to snap and fall out, explains Ryan Welter, MD, a Boston-based hair transplant surgeon. “The heat throws your scalp’s pores into overdrive to keep up with oil production, which can damage the root and lead to additional shedding.”
5. Your headband
You may think you’ve found the perfect fashion accessory or the ideal way to hide a bad hair day, but think again. Wearing headbands or scarves repeatedly can cause breakage around your hairline, leading to the dreaded enlarged forehead and a receding hairline. If you must sport headbands, opt for satin or silk scarves instead.
6. Too much or too little heat
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Blow-drying isn’t the best thing ever in terms of hair health, but in fact, air-drying isn’t necessarily the answer. A Korean study found that blow-drying damages the surface of your strands, but the bizarre part of the research suggests that air-drying may compromise the interior of your strands, since water makes your hair swell. The solution – “Get in the habit of using a warm or cool setting on your hair dryer,” says Pirooz Sarshar, founder of Przman Grooming Products.
7. Too much drama
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Your hair actually suffers when life gets stressful. Dilemmas like drama at work, a major breakup or financial woes can cause damage to your locks. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons found that women who experienced traumatic events, like divorce, were more likely to experience hair loss than the subjects’ twins who didn’t. We can’t always control these situations like job loss and breakups but you can learn how to meditate or divert your mind to heal.
8. Your towel
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Of course, you don’t need to ditch the towel, but just be careful how you use it. “Contrary to popular belief, rubbing your hair with a towel or wrapping your hair up in a towel can cause breakage and frizz,” says Saltzman. Blot your hair or pat it lightly with a towel instead of roughly drying it and wrapping it around.
9. Wearing tight hairstyles
Sporting tight ponytails and braids puts excessive strain on the hair follicles, damaging them and creating scars that destroy them permanently, says Doris Day, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist specialising in hair health. This can lead to traction alopecia, a condition that permanently weakens the follicle and makes it impossible for hair to grow. Try wearing your hair down whenever possible, especially while sleeping. When you do tie your strands back, keep it soft; if it’s pulling on your skin, it’s way too tight.
10. The beach
“Swimming in the ocean or pool, particularly if your hair is dyed or highlighted, can literally cause your hair to snap off over time,” says Mohapi. “The buildup of salt from the ocean hardens the hair and creates a rough and abrasive coating. In the pool, over-chlorination and other chemicals make the hair brittle.” The fix is simple – apply a hair oil, such as sarson (mustard oil) and badaam (almond oil) or soak hair with non-chlorinated water before swimming.