Hair

Since I Stopped Making These 7 Mistakes, My Hair Has Never Felt Healthier

From trying new skin care to learning makeup techniques, being a beauty editor involves lots of trial and error, never more so than when it comes to hair.

Washing, treating, cutting, styling... There are so many different things that can affect hair health, and if there's anything I've learned in the industry, it's that I've been getting most of them wrong. How difficult is it to wash your hair? you might ask. Do I really need to switch up my hair-care routine? But trust me, tweaking these seven small things has done my hair a world of good. Once broken, split, dry, and difficult to manage, my hair is slowly but surely seeing the benefits and has become softer, healthier, stronger, and longer.

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Read on to uncover the most common hair mistakes — and the tiny adjustments I've made to achieve my best hair ever.

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Shampooing Less Frequently


We've all heard the rumor that washing hair too often isn't great for the condition of your scalp and lengths, but the truth is everyone is different. "Your scalp and your face have the highest density of oil glands," says consultant dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto, "so you really have to treat your scalp in the same way as you would your face." Dr Mahto says that how often you wash your hair isn't a one-size-fits-all matter; it's about what your hair (whether dyed or keratin-treated, for example) can tolerate. If your skin is very oily, for instance, you might need to wash your hair more often.

I'm prone to a flaky scalp and thought that frequent washing could make my scalp drier. In fact, the opposite is true for me, and not washing my hair often enough had been causing the issue. "Fifty percent of people suffer with dandruff," says Dr. Mahto. "If you get a build-up of dry skin and flakes, that can impact how glossy your hair is coming through. Build-up and oxidation can potentially damage the scalp, too." My solution was to wash my hair more frequently: about three times a week. I love this shampoo and its accompanying conditioner, which eradicate flakes and make hair soft and manageable.
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Wrapping Wet Hair In A Towel


Wrapping hair up in a towel to absorb water is something most of us do post-shower, but it could be doing your hair more harm than good.

Trichologist Jane Mayhead at The Private Clinic in London says that when hair is wet, the elasticity increases. "This allows the hair to stretch more," she explains. "If you apply items or styles that stretch the hair and leave it to dry, unnecessary tension can be put onto the hair and this can lead to snapping and traction."

Whenever I wrapped my hair up in a towel, I'd feel my hair strands being pulled and snapped and, upon unravelling, I'd always notice stray hair strands that had fallen out. I'd suggest investing in a microfiber towel, such as Aquis Lisse Luxe Hair Turban (a game-changer for me) or the Coco & Eve Microfibre Hair Towel Wrap. Both wick up water fast and combat frizz as they reduce friction. Use the microfiber towel to gently squeeze out excess water, rather than wrapping or rough-drying with your head upside down (another no-no). If you don't want to spend anything, an old cotton T-shirt works a lot better than an old bath or face towel, which can often be rough to the touch.
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Applying Conditioner To Wet Hair


There's a reason why hairdressers squeeze excess water from your hair before applying conditioner at the sink, and since following their example, my hair has never felt softer.

Sopping wet hair can dilute any product you apply post-shampoo and act like a barrier between hair strands. Giving your hair a gentle squeeze after rinsing out your shampoo will allow whichever conditioner or hair mask you follow with to work much better. Right now, I love Pantene Hair Biology Mask De-frizz & Illuminate [not available in the U.S.] for smoothing frizzy roots and imparting shine, and L'Oréal Professionnel Série Expert Pro Longer Lengths Renewing Conditioner, which makes dry hair seriously soft. My trick is to leave the product in for the duration of the shower so that it has time to fully absorb before rinsing out.
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Mixing & Matching Shampoo & Conditioner


If you don't have any scalp issues, this one isn't a deal-breaker. But if you're prone to scalp issues such as flakes or itchiness, it's a top tip.

"A lot of people who have scalp issues will use an anti-dandruff shampoo but then apply completely different conditioner," says Dr. Mahto. "From the clinical data that I've seen, if you use products that are formulated to go together, what you find is that the ingredients that are in the shampoo stay in the scalp for longer, which means you're going to see longer effects."

Using a targeted shampoo and a regular conditioner means you're more likely to wash out most of the anti-dandruff ingredients. "There's no point using a shampoo that's going to get rid of the dandruff and then a conditioner that's going to neutralize or wash that stuff out," says Dr. Mahto, who always uses matching shampoo and conditioner to get the best out of her hair.
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Blow-Drying On The Hottest Setting


The highest setting on your hairdryer exists for a reason: to dry hair fast. But blasting hair with extreme heat will only result in split ends, broken strands, and frizzy roots. It's why professional hairstylists take a good while to rough-dry your hair in salon: They're using a medium or low heat to preserve your lengths.

If your hair is prone to splitting or you use straighteners and other heated styling tools after blow-drying, it pays to spend a little longer drying your hair on a low heat setting — or spending a little more money on a tool like the Dyson Supersonic, which is engineered specifically to minimize heat damage to the hair. The trick is to squeeze out as much water as possible before reaching for your hairdryer. Over time, your hair will look healthier and longer, something I can vouch for.

Another key thing to remember here: If your split ends are too obvious to ignore but you want to grow your hair out, don't hold off on a trim. Split ends will only travel further upwards and your hairdresser will suggest cutting off more hair to salvage your lengths.
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Always Using Sulfate-Free Shampoo


I have colored hair, so every stylist I know has recommended a sulfate-free shampoo to prolong my color, as they are super gentle and non-stripping. But I also use lots of hair products, such as serums, heat protection, and dry shampoo, and sometimes sulphate-free shampoo just doesn't cut it.

Sulfates have a shady reputation, but they aren't all that bad, according to experts; in fact, they're often very beneficial. "Sulfate shampoos act as surfactants and remove pollution, dirt, grime, and other things you come into contact with," says Dr. Mahto. "Many of us use products in our hair and on our scalp. If you break those things down properly, such as hair wax, hairspray, and heat protection spray, you do need something that's going to remove all of that residue. If you don't, that is going to impact your scalp health and have a knock-on effect on your hair."

If you aren't reactive to shampoo with sulfate ingredients, don't ditch them just yet. Instead, bag one that eradicates all traces of dirt and build-up without completely stripping your hair. I like Head & Shoulders, which Dr. Mahto also champions, and this L'Oréal rebalancing formula.
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Brushing Wet Hair


Hair is especially vulnerable to damage when wet, as it becomes more elastic and prone to snapping. That's why it's never a great idea to drag a hairbrush through your lengths. This goes for every hair type and texture, especially very curly hair. Instead, experts recommend a wide-tooth comb like this one, which glides through hair without snagging. Start at the ends to detangle and then work your way upwards so that you don't put too much pressure on your strands. Since swapping my paddle brush for a comb to distribute my trusty Redken One United Multi-Benefit Treatment from root to tip, my hair is virtually free from broken bits.
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