Ways You're Probably Damaging Your Hair

by Toria Sheffield

Awesome hair isn't exactly the most important thing in the world, but the fact of the matter is that healthy hair — and a subsequent abundance of good hair days — generally just makes us feel nice. It's why it's helpful to be conscious of ways you could be damaging your hair without even realizing it. Because the more you can avoid damage, the better your hair will look, and the more confident you might feel overall.

I've always maintained that nothing puts a spring in your step quite like a good hair day. Every time you catch yourself in a reflective surface, you can't help but smile a little on the inside. It's one of the reasons I was so bummed when, after using a product advertised to condition and soften my hair, my locks just started looking dry and frizzy. After some online investigating, I found out that one of the main ingredients in the alleged conditioning product actually dried out hair in the long run, meaning that when I thought I was alleviating a problem, I was actually making it worse (thanks, false advertising!).

I decided I never wanted to damage my hair like that ever again, and in an effort to get more information I reached out through email to professional hair and makeup artist Bianca Hartkopf to learn about ways we could be ruining our hair without even knowing it. If you're also trying to maintain the healthiest hair possible, here are Hartkopf's seven things to watch out for.

1. You Use Heat Products Every Day

Hartkopf says the cause of damage that she sees most often is using, "constant heat, [...] hair dryers, and tongs everyday." Seriously — I can speak from personal experience on this one — if you're using intense heat on your hair every day, it absolutely will begin to show. When you do use heat, always use a heat protectant product, and get creative with ways you can let your hair air dry (check out the above video for my favorite air dry method).

2. You Don't Use A Weekly Hair Treatment

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If you use heat products regularly, or have noticed that your hair is feeling a little dry or damaged, Hartkopf highly recommends a weekly intensive conditioning treatment to restore balance back to your hair. She notes it's important to always give back what's been taken out when it comes to hair, and to think of it almost like a plant: If a plant was dry and wilted, you'd give it water and nourishment instead of just continuing to do nothing and hoping it gets better.

3. You Don't Wear Hats When Outside

That's right — Hartkopf says that sun doesn't just damage skin, it can damage hair as well. Try to remember to wear a hat when spending a lot of time outdoors, as well as a sun protectant spray.

4. You Never Let Your Hair "Rest"

OK, you probably already know this one, but it's absolutely worth mentioning. Hartkopf reminds us that constant coloring and bleaching will absolutely take a toll on your hair. As someone who has dyed my hair a lot over the years, I like to explain this to people in terms of dreams versus reality. In your dreams, you might have thick, luscious dyed blonde hair or a head of bright, rainbow braids. However, if that means your hair will need repeated bleaching sessions, and you're not someone who is great about regular conditioning and treatments, your "dream hair" my look pretty dry and damaged in reality. Really think about this before you decide to get into chemical processing.

5. You Smoke

Hartkopf also says she notices a difference in hair health among smokers and non-smokers (as in, the hair of smokers is generally more damaged). So if you're doing everything "right" when it comes to your hair, but it still seems limp and dry, this could be the culprit.

6. You Don't Change Your Shampoo Seasonally

Hartkopf notes that you shouldn't only tailor your shampoo and conditioner to you hair type, but you should tailor it to the season as well. If you're hair gets super dry in summer, switch to a more moisturizing group of products, or if it gets limp in winter, go for a volumizing line. Don't get stuck using a single hair care product without considering if it's meeting your actual needs.

7. You Don't Get Your Vitamins

And finally, Hartkopf suggests taking an Omega-3 vitamin for the healthiest hair possible. She also notes that — just like with all parts of our body — our hair is healthier when we nourish our body and treat it well. It's not the most fun or exciting part of hair care, but a healthful diet can definitely improve your hair!

Healthy hair isn't exactly rocket science. It often just comes down to actually doing the things we know are good for it, and not doing the things we know are bad for it (like subjecting it to daily heat tools without a drop of heat protectant spray). The key is being proactive and trying to prevent damage before it starts. If you love your hair, treat it well!

Images: Pexels (6)