Little Hair-Washing Mistakes You're Making

by Erica Florentine

Hair can be a tricky thing, despite the locks you were born with. Even if you have effortlessly perfect hair, there are bound to be times when you think, “My hair is really acting up today.” Issues with your hair might just be due to little hair-washing mistakes you’re making — things you don’t even realize you’re doing wrong. We’re here to set the hair-washing rules straight. If you’re making these mistakes, it’s easy to correct them. I’ve done so, and my hair is incredibly thankful for it.

In recent years I’ve taken what I presumed to be good care of my hair. I’ve been very good about getting regular trims, I buy the right products, and I only use hot tools when absolutely necessary. What I didn’t realize was that some of my shower habits were wreaking havoc on the good I was doing for my hair, and subtly sending it into a downward spiral. When I changed hair stylists she took one look at my mane and goes, “To start off, you use hot water when you’re washing your hair, right?” I nodded, and she went on to tell me how much damage I’m causing by doing this — particularly that I’m stripping it of its luster. I, of course, stopped immediately, but it also got me wondering what other things I was doing to my hair in the shower that were preventing it from looking its best. Turns out, I was doing a lot of things wrong, and you might be too.

Here are seven little hair-washing mistakes you’re making.

1. Washing The Second You Step Into The Shower

It might seem like second nature to jump in the shower, quickly wet your hair, and immediately start shampooing. However, be patient, according to Shape. The outlet suggested standing under the water for somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute before beginning your shampoo treatment. This initial rinse will allow for the washing away of some of that top layer of residue, and help prepare your hair to get cleansed correctly.

2. Washing With Super Hot Water

Since this is where the scolding from my hair stylist first began, I’ll jump to this one next. If you’re someone who loves taking hot showers, the idea of turning the temperature down a bit can seem really off-putting. However, trust me, it can be really beneficial for your hair if you do so. According to expert hair stylist Megan Moore of, washing with cooler water will help protect the color and luster of your hair much longer. Why? Moore equated your hair to fabric, noting if you washed your favorite shirt with hot water every day, after a while it would start to fade and lose its shape, right? Same goes for your hair.

3. Constantly Switching Shampoos

I’ve heard this myth millions of times before: If you use the same shampoo for too long it will eventually stop working. Well, turns out it’s completely false, according to CNN. The outlet noted you don’t need to continually change shampoos to have clean, healthy hair. Paradi Mirmirani, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, told CNN that a cause for switch in shampoos should simply be based on whether your hair needs it or not — like if you’ve recently increased your use of hot tools you might switch to a cleansing product that has a higher moisturizing component. For the rest of us, though, we can stick to the shampoo we love without fear of our hair becoming immune to it.

4. Scrubbing Just Once With Shampoo

You know how a lot of shampoo bottles say wash, rinse, and repeat? Well, they aren’t kidding. According to Shape, many times one wash with shampoo simply isn’t enough to reduce the build-up that’s accumulated on your strands. The outlet suggested the wash, rinse, repeat method, as the first wash will work to remove that top layer of residue, and the second wash will act as the down-and-dirty cleaning component to the process.

5. Neglecting To Lather

There is an actual science to how you shampoo, and it involves lathering. According to, when shampooing you should work up a lather by scrubbing your scalp with your fingertips. Shampooing this way will help bring necessary nutrients to the hair follicle, the outlet added. By washing correctly in this fashion, you hair will actually have a tendency to dry faster, have more volume, and hold a style for longer periods of time.

6. Skipping The Conditioner

Gasp! My sister has unruly hair like mine, yet she always skips conditioning. Then, she’s yanking the brush through her knotty hair after showering and those poor strands are probably screaming. According to Good Housekeeping, if you’re aiming for shinier hair — and hair that is more manageable to brush later on — you should be using conditioner every time you wash. By conditioning regularly, you’ll cut down the breakage caused by brushing that knotty mane, and your hair will be left looking and feeling soft and gorgeous.

7. Using Conditioner On The Whole Head

Given I’m obsessed with conditioner, this is another mistake I admittedly make all the time. Did you know you shouldn’t be conditioning your whole head? Neither did I. According to Moore, you should “never apply conditioner to the roots of your hair.” Moore noted the purpose of conditioner is to rebuild moisture in your hair, but the natural oils from our scalp already work that magic on our roots. That said, Moore suggested applying the conditioner from the middle of our strands and downward. It’ll also help give your locks more volume.

If your bathroom is stocked with the best of the best products, but you can't seem to figure out why your hair has been less than amazing lately, it could be because you're unknowingly making some mistakes in the washing process. By changing just a few habits in the shower like the ones discussed here, you can slowly begin to see some major improvements to your locks.

Images: Pixabay (4); streamishmc, sloverton, brionivich, exalthim/Flickr