9 Things You Should Never Do To Your Hair In The Shower (And 9 Things You Should)
Nobody ever really tells you that there's a right way to take care of your hair, especially when you're in the shower. For most people, learning how to do it properly is a process of trial and error, and usually involves trying the kinds of things you should never do to your hair in the shower before actually getting it right.
One of the biggest mistakes? Shampooing and conditioning every day, says Kiyah Wright, a two-time Emmy Award-winning celebrity hairstylist. "If you have fine hair, you can get away with washing hair every other day or weekly. For more textured hair, you don't want to wash every day because you want to preserve your hair's natural oils to keep your strands and scalp moisturized."
According to Wright and other hair experts, there are a number of common hair care mistakes you could be making in the shower every day without knowing. But the signs of this damage can be easy to spot, since it comes in the form of split ends, loss of volume, and breakage.
The good news is you can always turn it all around. From the quality of your water to what kind of towels you should be using when you're drying off, here are some of the most common hair care missteps you may be making in the shower, according to the pros, plus tips on how you can restore your hair's natural strength and luster.
1. Showering In Water That's Way Too Hot
Hot showers can feel amazing, but they can also wreck havoc on your hair and scalp. "Hot water not only can be harsh on your strands but your scalp, too," says Wright. "If your shower is too hot, it can cause a tender and burnt scalp." While you can always opt to shower in warm water instead, another option if you still want to feel the heat is to give yourself a steam treatment using this at-home, two-in-one hair and facial steamer. According to Wright, steam treatments can be beneficial on textured or coarse hair because they allow strands to "expand and absorb much needed moisture, making hair super soft and manageable." By using this at-home home steamer one to two times per month, you can save on trips to the salon and help hair stay strong and nourished. It's especially great to use in conjunction with deep conditioners or oil treatments.
2. Showering In Water That's Too Hard
One of the biggest mistakes that people make in the shower is not thinking about how the quality of their water is impacting their hair. "Showers tend to have hard water, which contains a high mineral content of limestone and calcium that harden hair, tangling it and making it less manageable," says Wright. "Hard water also strips your hair follicles of their natural oils." To keep hard water from causing serious damage to your hair, Wright recommends using a shower filter. This wall-mounted showerhead and filter is an easy-to-install option that removes up to 99 percent of chlorine and other impurities that can damage hair follicles for softer, stronger hair. It has five settings, and the filter only needs to be changed every six months.
3. Keeping Your Hair Up In A Ponytail While You Rinse Your Body
Showering with your hair all tied up in a ponytail may seem like a good way to keep it from getting wet in the shower, but it can actually be a major cause of breakage. According to celebrity hairstylist Deycke Heidorn, hair ties and pins put too much pressure on hair shafts and are something to absolutely avoid using in the shower. Instead, consider using a large clip like this tortoise-shell one to hold up your hair on the top of your head, where there will be the least amount of pressure and pulling as you shower. This one is non-slip, and will hold a lot of hair.
4. Detangling Your Hair Too Roughly In The Shower
Detangling brushes like the Tangle Teezer can be a terrific way to get rid of tangles, and thanks to its flexible bristles it works especially well on wet hair, and gives a scalp massage, too. However, if you're taking it in the shower, it's important to be as gentle as possible, especially on natural hair, because breakage is a real threat. "For curly and coily girls, one big no-no that can majorly stunt hair health is to detangle too roughly in the shower," says Waveney Antoine, owner of Koil Hair. "In the shower, if you're yanking overly hard on a gigantic clump of curls, the sound of the water beating down will muffle the sounds of breakage. Even though the brushing may not hurt much because of the slip from conditioner, if you fail to be gentle enough, you can do a whole lot of damage because your fragile ends will still pop off and wash down the drain without you even noticing."
4. Forgetting To Brush Your Hair Before You Shower
Regardless of whether you have naturally thick or fine hair, it's crucial to brush out your hair before you jump into the shower, says Ramona Villanueva, hairstylist at the Chicago-based Maxine Salon, because it can decrease shedding and the risk of hair loss in the shower. "If hair is extremely dry or fragile, brush [it] with a paddle brush," says Villanueva. "Its bouncy padding offers light tension and an overall easier brush out." This large paddle brush from Denman is an especially great pick for those with thicker, longer hair, since it features ball-ended nylon pins that are set in an air-cushioned pad, and help to penetrate and smooth longer strands. When brushing, Villanueva also recommends sectioning out hair and brushing from the ends up to the scalp.
6. Over-Conditioning Hair (Especially If You Have Fine Hair)
Over-conditioning hair can leave it looking dry, and flat especially if you have ultra-fine hair. "Wet, fine hair and loads of your favorite conditioner are like oil and water - they don't mix," says Wright. "Because when you blow-dry fine, wet hair, the heat melts the product and can weigh down the strands, making your hair too heavy to style and harder to achieve a flawless style." Instead, Wright recommends ditching the conditioner altogether and using a leave-in conditioner like the Phytodensia Fluid Plumping Mask because it softens fine hair, adds volume and extra moisture, and protects it from heat styling tools and other environmental damage. It's made with hyaluronic acid to add volume, grape polyphenols, and collagen.
7. Under-Conditioning Hair (Especially If You Have Coarse, Curly Hair)
On the flip side, if you have curly, it's like your strands can never get enough conditioner. In that case, Wright recommends just embracing it. "If you have textured or coarse hair, ditch your shampoo and co-wash, washing with just conditioner," says Wright. "Using just conditioner will leave your curls healthier and easier to maintain when you hop out of the shower." For a restorative conditioner that feels weightless and will help protect, seal, and repair hair from potential heat damage, Wright recommends this conditioner from SheaButter, which is made using raw shea butter, sea kelp, and argan oil. Another pro tip: When you're conditioning, avoid applying this directly to your scalp and instead be sure to start at the ends and work your way up the shaft.
8. Not Using The Right Kind Of Towels To Dry Off
To eliminate damage from towel drying, Villanueva recommends using microfiber towels like this ultra-absorbent ones to dry off. "Because microfiber towels are so soft and extra absorbent, they're great at absorbing moisture from hair quick and gently," says Villanueva. "We use that material on very delicate surfaces, of course that includes our delicate hair. It generally cuts down on styling time due to its high absorption of water." Instead of rubbing your hair down, Villanueva suggests patting it dry instead, since this can help make hair smoother and less prone to tangles and breakage. This towel is also machine washable, and is made for fine and thin hair.
9. Forgetting To Use A Leave-In Conditioner
Protecting your hair is just as important when you're getting out of the shower as it is when you're in it, because wet hair is so vulnerable. Wright recommends applying this leave-in detangler and conditioner before you dry your hair — it works for all hair types, won't leave behind any greasy residue, and helps to repair, strengthen, and moisturize hair. Another helpful tip is to make sure you section off your hair before drying it. "No matter if your strands are straight, curly or somewhere in between, you should always separate wet hair into at least six sections, first. This will give you more control over your hair when you are drying it and will minimize heat damage." It also protects hair from UV and thermal damage.
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.