7 Deadly Hair Sins You Should Really Stop
We’ve got 21 ways to fix the seven most popular hair mistakes.
Get More Good Hair Days
From flat hair and tangles to split ends and frizz, some of the biggest hair mistakes can be traced back to maintenance and styling blunders. Read on for the seven mane mistakes you could be making – and simple ways to redeem your locks.
Hair Sin #1: Styling While Wet
Hair is at its weakest right after a wash because it has virtually no elasticity when it’s wet, making breakage all-too-easy if you’re brushing, braiding or arranging damp strands.
Solution: Hair should always be thoroughly dried before it’s styled, says Rino Balzano, a portfolio artist with L’Oréal Professionnel and co-owner of Taz Hair Co. in Toronto. That means giving locks the chance to air-dry or using the blow-dryer before leaving the house in the morning. Going out with wet strands increases the chances of breakage and tangles from blowing in the wind and rubbing against your clothes, and strands are more vulnerable to dryness from UV damage, too, since rays penetrate wet hair more easily.
When you step out of the shower, carefully blot hair with a towel to remove excess water. “Don’t twist or pull,” says Balzano. Next, apply a detangling product and gently brush hair, pinning up the top as you work in sections from underneath. Use a hairbrush specifically designed for wet hair to avoid snags. They have special widely spaced bristles and a hard cushion that prevents pulls.
When it comes to blow-drying, never use the hottest setting on wet hair. “I recommend rough-drying it first,” says Joya Smith, corporate style director at Blo Blow Dry Bar. This will reduce the chance of frying delicate strands and lead to a smoother ‘do. Use your fingers and a dryer on a medium setting to get about 80 percent of the moisture out before you use a brush and a hotter setting to style it.
Products To Use:
Brush: Knot Genie Detangling Brush, $18, available at tradesecrets.ca
Detangler: KEVIN.MURPHY UN.TANGLED, $45. Visit the salon locator at kevinmurphy.com/au
UV protector: Strivectin Colour Care UV Protective Spray, $29 at Shopper’s Drug Mart and Hudson’s Bay
Hair Sin #2: Overwashing
Shampooing too often fades colour and disrupts the natural balance of oils on the scalp. “When you wash every day, the scalp oversecretes oils, so you end up having oily hair all the time,” says Balzano.
Solution: Wash every other day, or every third day would be even better. (Some women with very coarse hair might find that they only need to shampoo once a week.) Try using a mild shampoo free from harsh ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and alcohols, which cause dry strands and scalps.
Another option is to swap in a cleansing conditioner, which cleans gently while it conditions, once or twice a week. Note: This almost works like a hair mask. Massage a generous amount through strands, from root to tip (there will be little to no lather), and leave on for several minutes before rinsing. Due to the deep-conditioning quality, many are designed for dry, coarse or unruly hair, so check the bottle and consult with your stylist to get one that will work with your hair type. Keep your locks fresh between washes by using a dry shampoo to refresh roots, soak up excess oils and neutralize odours.
Products To Use:
Gentle shampoo: Live Clean Vitamin Multi Boost Shampoo, $7 at Shopper’s Drug Mart and Loblaws
Cleansing conditioner: L’Oréal Professionnel Absolut Repair Cleansing Conditioner, $30 at select salons
Dry shampoo: Batiste Instant Hair Refresh Dry Shampoo, $9 at mass merchandisers
Hair Sin #3: Overprocessing
Colouring, relaxing, straightening and lightening – all of those treatments can be killer on your hair. “With chemical damage, if you take it too far, your hair will break,” says Colin Ford, artistic and education director for Kérastase Paris. And breakage isn’t the only sign of overprocessed hair. “The biggest thing is that it’s hard to brush through when damp, constantly falling limp, and you see a lot of split ends or breakage,” says Smith. “It will also look and feel ‘gummy’ when wet.”
Solution: It’s important to find a restorative line that will help repair hair by smoothing down the cuticle so the core of the hair isn’t being further damaged. Smith recommends avoiding styling products that have alcohol high on the list of ingredients and using a hair mask at least once a week to restore moisture. Daily use of a serum for dry hair can work wonders, too.
“Colour contains a developer that opens and closes the cuticle, which isn’t good for the surface of the hair,” says Balzano. Wait at least three to four weeks between root touch-ups and a minimum of six weeks when highlighting or colouring through the lengths and ends. Wait the appropriate amount of time between harsh treatments like chemical straightening (which is only recommended every three to six months, depending on hair type) and discuss a good management system and care regimen with your stylist to reduce damage.
Products to Use:
Replenishing Wash: Kérastase Paris Nutritive Bain Magistral, $42 at Kérastase Paris salons and online at kerastase.ca
Hair mask: Garnier Whole Blends Honey Treasures Rinse-Out Mask, $9 at mass merchandisers
Serum: Dove Quench Absolute Supreme Crème Serum, $9 at mass merchandisers
Hair Sin #4: Bad Brushing
There really is a right way and a wrong way to brush hair. Although overbrushing hair isn’t a big concern, infrequent brushing is. Ford says we should be brushing our hair out at least once a day. “And if you don’t brush the hair out at all when it’s wet, it will tangle and knot up,” says Balzano.
Solution: When hair is dry, Balzano recommends brushing the hair from root to end (once knots are out) to distribute oils from the scalp to the ends of the hair. “They act like a detangler and natural conditioner.”
Having the right tools is half the battle. Wet hair brushes work best after the shower , while paddle brushes are great for dry hair because they are easy to use and can cover a larger area. The perfect round brushes are a blend of boar hair and plastic, which are less rough on hair than all-natural bristles, says Balzano. Ceramic brushes heat up with the dryer, so they can act more like a curling iron and give a bit more volume, making them a great styling tool. A general rule of thumb: The longer the hair, the larger the brush; the shorter the hair, the smaller the brush.
But that depends on how much volume you want, too. When creating updos and braids, ensure the hair is brushed through before you begin styling to eliminate the chances of snags. Use a leave-in conditioner and treatment (suited for your hair type) on damp hair to help brushing go more smoothly and prevent tangles. Those with fine hair can make due with only one or the other so there are no limp locks.
Products To Use:
Brush: Goody Clean Radiance Hairbrush, $17 at mass merchandisers
Spray: Revlon Professional UniqONE All in One Treatment Spray, $20 at mass merchandisers
Conditioner: Bed Head Ego Boost Split End Mender/Leave-In Conditioner, $19 at salonfinder.tigihaircare.com
Hair Sin #5: Too-tight ‘Dos
All types of updos can cause damage, especially if they’re pulled really tight or if you do the same ‘do almost every day. Perpetual ponytails and tight braids can lead to repeated stress on hair and the scalp, which can eventually turn into breakage and even hair loss.
Solution: Protect your tresses by using a nourishing styling product before you braid it or bun it. “You want to add some oil or serum to give the hair smoothness, shine and slip, making it easier to manipulate,” says Ford. “We use all kinds of lotions and potions to prevent aging on our skin, and the hair is no different – it needs TLC, too.” Look for nourishing ingredients like argan oils, and further protect locks by using thick, covered elastics (no metal parts), or opting for clips instead. If you can’t give up your go-to pony, switch up the placement more often (from high to medium to low) to reduce the stress on the same section of strands. Whatever the look, keep it a little loose, but still looking polished by using a medium-hold hairspray, pomade or styling cream to tame baby hairs and potential flyaways.
Products To Use:
Hair Oil: Nexxus Nourishing Oil, $20 at mass merchandisers
Hairspray: L’Oréal Professionnel Wild Stylers 60’s Babe Savage Panache, $25 at select salons
Cream: Pantene Pro-V Ultimate 10 BB Crème, $8 at mass merchandisers
Hair Sin #6: Too Much Heat Styling
Using heat on your hair every day is too much – especially high heat. In fact, there’s no reason to go above 350°F with a flatiron or waving iron, unless you have extremely thick and coarse hair, says Smith. The temperature on a hot tool is more relevant to your hair type than the result you want to get, so if you’re using high heat in an effort to get more hold, you’re not doing your hair any favours.
Solution: If using a flatiron, Smith suggests prepping with a heat protectant product and, if your hair is thicker in texture, adding a smoothing cream after you style. For curls with staying power and minimal damage, use a curling iron on medium heat and pin each one using bobby pins as you go along. Allow them to cool, then remove the pins and spritz with hairspray to help them stay put. No matter which hot tools you’re using, never use hairspray before you style because the dampness from the spray will fry your strands.
If you have major heat damage, the first step is to cool it with the tools and go au naturel for a few days. Use a shampoo and conditioner, a biweekly mask or other treatments recommended by your stylist to bring softness and manageability back to your hair.
Products To Use:
Hot tool with adjustable temperature: Hot Tools 24K Gold Extended 1½-inch Curling Iron, $135 at tradesecrets.ca
Blow dry lotion and heat protectant: Kérastase Paris L’Incroyable Blowdry, $40 at Kérastase Paris salons and online at kerastase.ca
Hydrating cream: OUAI Finishing Creme, $30 at mass merchandisers
Hair Sin #7: Using Too Many Products
If your hair just doesn’t feel clean, even right after washing, you’ve got product buildup. “After shampooing, your hair will feel like there’s a coating on it, and it will be more difficult to blow-dry and style and look dull and lack shine, lustre, bounce and fluidity,” says Ford. Certain types of hair, especially fine-hair types, can be predisposed to experiencing product buildup, but at the end of the day, too many treatments, serums and sprays are the biggest problem. Finishing products in particular, like waxes and pomades, leave the most residue behind.
Solution: Ford suggests rinsing the hair well before shampooing (since most products on the market today are water soluble). To really clean the hair and scalp, wash with a clarifying shampoo, followed by a second wash with a shampoo suited to your hair type. Follow with a scalp treatment or appropriate conditioner or mask, targeting the areas that need special attention. “Often what your mid-lengths and ends need is different than what the hair closer to your roots needs,” says Ford. Lastly, prime your hair for styling by using an appropriate leave-in conditioner, if needed, for your hair type.
Products to Use:
Shine-Boosting Shampoo: Rene Furterer Lumicia Illuminating Shine Shampoo, $27 at renefurterer.com
Scalp treatment: Nioxin Scalp Renew Microdermabrasion Treatment, starting at $35 in addition to any salon service. (Find a salon at nioxin.com/salon-finder)
Leave-in conditioner: PHYTO 7 Hydrating Day Cream with 7 Plants, $32 at sephora.ca