College is a great place to find yourself, explore new places, meet new people, and grow up into a mature adult. Unfortunately, college is also a great place to royally ruin your hair, skin, and whole beauty routine — or to just ignore it all completely. Between trying to get straight As in every class and feeling homesick and attempting to fulfill all of your social life goals, there's little time left to put much thought into hair or skin care. Aside from that, college is where you might fully embrace a more lazy approach to beauty and style, which is great — but also means that you're most likely sabotaging your strands in the process.
Hey, it's not like it's totally your fault! College is a really busy time, and honestly, there are things that are more important than the way your hair looks and feels. It's normal to let salon appointments fall to the bottom of your priority list, or to choose to spend your extra money on a super comfy pillow over a pricey hair oil that promises great hydration. It's just that you might want to spend a little bit more time thinking about your strands. I'm telling you this as someone who has been there — I destroyed my hair in college by trying to follow unhealthy trends (my wavy hair was never the same after a Brazilian straightening treatment) and dyeing it far too often.
You don't need to put aside hours and lots of money to make your hair healthy and happy in college — you just need to avoid some of the below mistakes. There are some seemingly OK habits you might have that are actually sabotaging your hair. Find out what they are here:
1. You're Heat Styling Way Too Much
Going to class might mean braids, buns, or a baseball cap, but going out is different. Whether you're hitting up a big party, attempting to make your way into the local bar, or just hanging with some new dorm friends, you probably want your hair to make the right impression. For most people, this means heat styling (hair dryer, flat iron, curling wand). Sure, the flat iron gives you the appearance of nice strands for the night, but using one every single day is wrecking havoc on your hair. Too much heat styling causes dry hair, breakage, weak strands, split ends, and overall damage. Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at Philip Kingsley, recommended only using a flat or curling iron one to two times a week to the Huffington Post.
2. You're Washing Your Hair Too Often
Maybe you don't want your new roommates to think you're dirty, maybe you just feel icky being in a dorm room all day, or maybe you're simply just used to washing your hair every day. Whatever the reason, overwashing your hair could be working against you. You don't need to skip a shower to skip shampoo — get yourself a shower cap and use it!
Too much shampooing can over-cleanse your hair, stripping it of its natural nutrients and leaving it more dry and unhealthy. While everyone is different, Abraham Sprinkle, celebrity hairstylist and member of the Keratin Complex International Creative Team, told InStyle that even fine hair only needs three shampoos a week.
3. You're Pulling It Back Too Much
Whether you're running late for class or you can't bring yourself to care what your hair looks like, it's easy to get into a habit of pulling your hair back into a ponytail or a bun. While this hairstyle is easy and perfect for busy mornings, pulling your hair back too often can actually lead to hair loss and a hairline that's further back, as the New York Times reported. Of course, this will only happen if you pull your hair back tightly on a pretty regular basis, but it's still a possibility! Avoid it by leaving your hair down when you can, or doing a loose ponytail or braid instead.
4. You're Not Putting Any Effort Into It
Great, healthy, happy hair requires at least a little bit of maintenance. You don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on products, but you do need to treat it nicely. Maybe you're focused on your grades, maybe it's your social life, but either way, it's easy to let your hair fall to the bottom of the things you're willing to put effort into.
There are some quick, easy, and cheap ways to care for your hair, though. If you're barely washing it, make sure you're not using too much dry shampoo (that can dry out your hair, make it brittle, and even lead to hair loss). Always make sure you avoid brushing your hair when it's wet (it's too delicate then and can break easily), use some sort of hair mask or deep conditioner at least once a week, and opt for low-maintenance products like leave-in conditioner spray and oils.
5. You're Ignoring The Salon For Trims
Speaking of unhealthy hair, a lot of college students go months without going to the salon to get their hair trimmed, dyed, highlighted or cut. If you're going to school far from home, finding a new hairstylist can be intimidating — it can be easier to just say "eff it" and wait until you're back home. Allure recommends different lengths of time between cuts depending on your texture, but keep in mind that those split ends won't go away without a trim.
6. You're Styling Wet Hair
When I was in college, I had a really impatient friend who would get out of the shower, quickly run a brush through her hair, let it air dry for about five minutes, and then flat iron it while it was wet. The sizzle of her hair on the hot iron made me literally cringe. I've, unfortunately, met other women who do this too. Guys, please don't! Using a hot tool on wet hair is terrible for your locks, since the moisture magnifies the heat from your iron. Also terrible? Brushing your soaking wet hair, especially quickly and roughly. If your hair is wet and you're late for something, put some mousse in it, slick it back into a braid or a low bun, and go.
7. You're Sharing Hair Tools Without Cleaning Them
Living in a college dorm room, especially a larger suite, can be like sharing multiple closets and bathroom cabinets. You get access to other hot tools like curling wands and flat irons, plus brushes and combs. Cool! Except, sharing this stuff isn't always the best idea, especially considering the fact that most people never clean hair tools like they're supposed to. Like makeup and anything else, hair tools collect bacteria and dirt. If you're in a pinch, it's fine sometimes, but in general, try to stick to your own tools — and clean them afterwards if you lend them out.
8. You're Using Way Too Much Dry Shampoo
Maybe you're going no-poo crazy and you've started relying solely on dry shampoo. I've been there — and I know it can make your hair feel crappy. And it can actually make your hair crappy too. Using dry shampoo every day without washing is way too, well, dry.
You'll probably be able to tell when your scalp is saturated with shampoo: If your hair isn't moving much and you get gritty particles when you run your fingers through, it might be time for a wash. Celebrity hairstylists Larry Sims told Huffington Post that three days of dry shampoo is the ideal max amount of useage.
9. You're Replacing Your Stylist With Box Hair Dye
OK, box hair dye is definitely not the end of the world. I don't want to sound snobby and say you can only go to the salon. But if you don't know what you're doing, or your friend doing your hair doesn't know what she's doing, then you should probably go see a professional for the hair color or highlights that you want. Box hair dye is great if you're a little experienced with it; not so great if you're a total newbie.
10. You're Not Using Enough Product
Yes, too much dry shampoo is bad for your hair. But avoiding hair products all together? Also bad. Hair oils, sprays, serums, and mousse exist for a reason — they can make your hair feel better, look better, and actually get healthier and stronger. Don't think it's something you can leave behind; stock up in your dorm room, too.