11 Things That Might Be Hurting Your Hair

by Isadora Baum, CHC

While we all wish that we could wake up with perfectly glowing, voluminous hair, it’s not always possible. There are other life conditions that can get in the way and be secretly hurting our hair health, and so it’s important to be mindful of how we can improve our strands and avoid excess damage.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on improving their self-care and maintenance in order to boost confident, esteem and overall wellness. Dull strands can be a sign of several factors, such as malnutrition, weather and styling usage, and so it’s critical to try and limit these disadvantageous habits and be more aware of your diet. Eating foods rich in nutrients to boost hair health, such as healthy fats, protein, zinc, vitamin E and vitamin C, among others, will help promote growth and repair of follicles and will keep hair looking healthier, thicker and cleaner. Look for these eleven things that could be impacting your hair and causing you to have less than stellar strands. Within a few weeks, you’ll notice a huge difference, and the positive effects might even begin to happen sooner. Replenishing dull strands with new, vibrant and strong ones will keep your hair healthier and more glamorous over time.

1. Lack Of Nutrients

A diet that is stripped of vital nutrients to encourage growth and repair of hair follicles will lead strands to dry out, break and become more brittle at the ends. Apart from physical evidence through split ends and dryness, you’ll also notice that hair might begin to fall out, without new, healthier pieces growing back. If you find your strands to be thinning, or you might even notice some bald spots, you need to get in more nutrients.

2. Styling Products

I get it, it’s sometimes annoying to go to work or out socially without styled hair. Most of us are not dealt with perfectly, air-dried locks, and so using straighteners, curling irons, hairspray and mousses, can definitely come in handy. Unfortunately, heat and product usage can damage hair over time. "Too high a heat setting can burn hair over time and cause hair to become dry and brittle," says Stephen Thevenot, stylist at Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC over email with Bustle. Thevenot also advises avoiding "styling products containing high alcohol contents," and limiting dry shampoo, as it can "clog pores if not washed out properly, causing hair follicles to die."

3. Your Handbag

Hair can often get trapped underneath handbag straps, so it’s important to be mindful when placing a bag on your shoulders. To fix this problem, it might be wise to wear bags that do not need to hang from the shoulders, or to put your hair in a ponytail before putting on the bag, and then taking it down after it’s all settled. When things pull on the hair, it can make strands break at the ends and fall out.

4. The Weather

During the winter, hair can become more dry and brittle. Thus, using a hair mask every so often could help add moisture and soften the strands. On the contrary, summertime allows for more humidity and hydration; however, due to frizz and sweat, washing hair might become more frequent, and subsequent use of styling products and tools are likely. Be mindful of the season, and try and work around the woes as much as possible.

5. Sleeping In A Ponytail

While sleeping in a ponytail might be beneficial for the skin, as it keeps oily and sweaty strands away from the face and lowers the chance of developing acne, it can also create breakage and knots in the hair that can lead to damage over time. If you must sleep in a pony, tie it loosely to keep hair soft and protected. Tight ponytails will stress strands and might also just be uncomfortable for a good night’s rest.

6. Swimming Too Often

While swimming is a great workout, as it works the full body and can be done during several injuries and recovery periods, excess exposure to chlorine can damage hair, especially that of blonds. Consider putting your hair in a cap when doing laps, as it will help keep your hair safe from chemicals found in pool water. You can also put your hair in a bun and just dip your feet in for a quick cool-down, as well!

7. You’re Vegan

While there is nothing wrong with being a vegan, and in fact, there are several benefits of a vegan diet relative to heart health and lower risk of disease, vegans must be extra mindful to make sure that they are eating enough of the nutrients that are less easily absorbed by plant-based foods or are only found in animal protein. Such examples include B Vitamins, iron, protein and zinc. Include rich sources of plant-based foods that are high in such nutrients, and consider taking a supplement, as well.

8. Not Cleaning Your Brushes

Bacteria, dead skin and other forms of germ-like matter can build up inside your brushes and styling tools, so it's important to clean brushes regularly to avoid letting the substances influence your hair health. Keeping your hair shiny, clean and strong should be a top priority. Set a calendar reminder to clean brushes if you find it hard to remember on a consistent basis.

9. Making Your Shower Too Hot

According to experts, hot water can strip strands of moisture and lead to dehydrated and brittle ends. Thus, it is important to moderate the temperature, and choose a warm setting that is not too hot on the skin and hair. If you're up for the challenge, ending a shower with cold water can be beneficial for maintaining hair strength and appearance, and it protects strands from weakening. Plus, when you don't need to wash you hair, try a bath instead.

10. You're Too Stressed Out

Stress can lead to hair damage, and it might cause our strands to weaken and even break at the ends. When we are stressed, our bodies produce more cortisol, which can affect our hair and can promote hair loss. If you are feeling low or anxious, the whole body can feel it and sympathize. So, focus on mindfulness meditation or yoga to lower stress levels whenever you are feeling the pressure.

11. Not Getting Haircuts Regularly

While you might think otherwise, getting regular hair cuts can promote hair growth and deliver healthy, shiny, locks that we can feel confident sporting. With trims, we can get rid of dehydrated, brittle and dull split-ends and allow for rejuvenation and thickness. Plus, with more trims, the hair will grow faster, so you won't have to worry about it being too short for too long.

By limiting use of hair products and avoiding these unhealthy behaviors, you'll be better able to achieve healthier, glowing, and strong hair. Nourishing the strands and maintaining moisture will prevent brittle ends and breakage, while keeping your body rich in nutrients will also spur growth. Be mindful of your hair, and look to set new, beneficial habits that can make it look fabulous each day.

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