Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Hair

by Erin Reimel

When you sit down in that salon chair, you expect to come out with shampoo commercial-level hair. And while your stylist probably has the magic touch, you could definitely make things a lot easier for them. Turns out, there are a few at-home hair mistakes stylists caution against that are surprisingly easy to avoid. There are plenty of experts, though, speaking out about what you can do to help them give you the next style of your dreams.

If you use a lot of products but never check the labels, you might be using way too much silicone. That can dry your hair out, making it harder for hair to hold color and volume. Pay attention to the ingredient lists, and opt for effective styling creams that are silicone-free. And realize that no matter how talented your stylist is, a cut will always look better when it complements your natural texture. That means that instead of flat ironing high-volume waves into straight hair every single morning (or vice versa), it's better to learn to love your natural texture — and that a-ha moment may be just one lightweight hydrating conditioner away. When you fix these common hair mistakes, your trip to the salon will be a thousand times easier, and you'll end up with a look you'll love.

Prevent Dryness By Styling With Castor Oil, Not Silicone

Living Proof Curl Enhancing Styling Mousse, $17, Amazon

Cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson told Allure that it's important to stay away from styling products with silicones, as they can dry out your hair — making it tougher to hold the color you want in the salon. This curl-enhancing styling mousse gives your hair tons of volume when you massage it in at the roots, and its castor oil ensures hair stays hydrated and shiny. It has curl memory technology, too, to help your curls or waves last for days. That cuts down on your need to refresh body and texture with drying daily washing, and one reviewer said this is her favorite curling product she's found in years. She said, "It really defines the curls and gives them a nice bounce. It lasts all day."

Seal Your Split Ends With A Treatment Instead of Picking At Them

Redken Extreme Length Sealer Split End Treatment, $18, Amazon

Celebrity hair stylist Michael Dueñas told Self that the temporary relief that comes from picking at split ends isn't worth it. "Shredding the hair," he said, actually makes it even harder to heal. Instead, split end-specific treatments (like Redken's length sealer) can break the cycle on fragile, frizzy broken ends. This split-end treatment is formulated with biotin and Redken's special interlocking protein network, so your ends are sealed and strengthened — and that means healthier hair that's more receptive to styling.

Cleanse Gently But Effectively Instead of Overworking Fragile Hair

NUXE Reve de Miel Gentle Shampoo , $15, Amazon

Rodney Cutler, owner of New York City's Cutler/Redken Salon, told Prevention it's important to treat hair like "it's the finest silk." He says people often scrub their scalps too hard, or they brush too vigorously to get knots out (and that makes for major breakage). When your hair's overworked, incorporate a gentle but powerful cleansing ingredient, like honey, into your everyday shampoo routine. This one is paraben-free and silicon-free, so it doesn't add harsh chemicals. Plus, users say it smells wonderful and calms fly-aways. One fan, who colors her hair with foil treatments, says, "I'm always struggling for a shampoo that cleans out the product, cleans my hair, but doesn't give me dry scalp or over-dry my hair. This stuff is made of miracles."

Condition Correctly Instead of Using Products That Cause Build-Up

Molton Brown Indian Cress Purifying Conditioner, $30, Amazon

Jill Soller-Mihlek, a hairstylist in NYC, told Romper that flat hair can come from using conditioner at your roots. "Conditioner is meant to give moisture back to the parts of your hair that need it,” she says. “This usually means the mid-lengths and ends — not the roots.” So rather than slathering your hair all over with a heavy cream, try the Molton Brown Indian Cress Purifying Conditioner on the ends of your hair. It has Indian cress to encourage healthy hair growth and conditioners to smooth and prevent breakage. Plus, it's purifying, so it doesn't leave a bunch of buildup behind.

Don't 'Touch Up' Highlights At Home, Just Protect Them In the Sun

Paul Mitchell Sun Shield Conditioning Spray, $13, Amazon

Professional hairstylist Lea Journ told Redbook that DIY "touch-up" highlights (like lemon juice mixes) can dry out hair a ton underneath UV rays. If you're not interested in getting your highlights redone regularly in a salon, shield and condition your lighter hair with a protective layer, like Paul Mitchell's conditioning spray. It has sunflower extract to shield your hair from the sun, in addition to keeping it smooth and shiny with conditioning oils. One fan of the spray said, "This was the first time in my life that I returned home from a beach vacation and my salon dyed hair looked great! Such a hair saver in general!"

Enhance Your Texture Instead of Changing It

PHYTO 9 Nourishing Day Cream with 9 Plants, $29, Amazon

Professional hairstylist Anthony Cole told PopSugar that it's easier on hair when you "work around the sculpture," instead of trying to change the shape from scratch. To enhance your natural style, use a lightweight, anti-frizz leave-in conditioner with hydrating ingredients (like this one's macadamia oil) to keep hair looking shiny and feeling soft. The Phyto 9 has nine different plant extracts (and no silicone!) to encourage hair's natural body and texture to take shape.

Never Use Hot Tools On Damp Hair — Instead, Blow It Out First

ORIBE Hair Care Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray, $68, Amazon

Celebrity stylist Ted Gibson told the Huffington Post that one of most damaging hair mistakes is using hot tools on wet hair. He said curling wands or flat irons dry it out, scorching the follicle so your hair is damaged all over. A heat protectant on dry hair stops the scorch, especially if it uses nourishing argan oil for added moisture. This heat-styling spray has that oil in addition to ceramides, which seal cuticle scales together for better moisture retention. If you're a ride-or-die heat styler and don't see yourself quitting anytime soon, then invest in a thermal protectant that stands up to the daily stress.

Avoid Breakage By Pulling Back Hair With A Clip

Q&Q Fashion Gold Crescent Moon, $5, Amazon

Dermatologist and scalp expert Dr. Rebecca Kazin told StyleCaster that ponytails too often can cause hair loss, which you won't be able to fix at a salon without extensions. She says that chronic tension on hair can cause traction alopecia, (hair loss) due to pulling at the hair, so it's best to give your roots a break. If you want to get your hair out of your face, get yourself a totally Instagrammable clip you'll be happy to reach for — one that pulls hair back without pulling it from the roots.

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