Yes, washing your hair is damaging. Even just getting hair wet can lead to more breakage! When hair becomes wet, the shaft swells, resulting in hair that is more elastic and easier to break. In addition, shampoos can sometimes work too well, removing the oils your hair naturally produces resulting in hair that looks dull and dry.
Solution: Wash you hair less. Dry shampoos are a good option for spot treating on those in-between days. If you must wash daily, use a mild shampoo (avoid products labeled as deep cleansing or clarifying) and focus on the roots where hair is more oily and generally has more product buildup.
Brushing Wet Hair
As previously mentioned, wet hair is more susceptible to damage than dry hair. Wet hair is more elastic and more likely to break. Even brushing dry hair excessively is damaging since brushes and combs can snap or break hair.
Solution: Be gentle with wet hair. Use your fingers or a wide-tooth comb to remove tangles.
Yep, towels can damage your hair. Have I mentioned that wet hair is more susceptible to damage? Even rubbing hair with a towel can rough up the cuticle (outer layer of the hair), causing it to look frizzy or fluffy and potentially lead to more breakage.
Solution: Blot your hair with a towel instead of rubbing it to remove moisture. Also, investing in a super-absorbent towel may be a good idea, especially if you have really thick hair.
No surprise here, heat causes damage. Blow drying causes a “flash drying” effect that not only removes the surface moisture but also removes water that is bound to the hair, which is called water of hydration. The effect of this flash drying is that the cuticles become dry, rigid and brittle. When the hair flexes, the pressure causes the cuticles to crack. Combing hair with this degree of cuticle cracking causes significant breakage.
Solution: Ideally, don’t blow dry your hair. Of course, this isn’t a realistic option for many women (including me!). To help mitigate some of the damage try using a heat-protector spray or leave-in conditioner containing glycerin and propylene glycol because these ingredients reduce water evaporation. Additionally, use the low heat option on your dryer to further minimize damage.
Flat Irons/Curling Irons
These type of appliances can damage your hair in a different way than blow dryers. Ironing hair can cause two different types of damage, depending on whether the hair is ironed dry or wet. Ironing dry hair causes cracking along the edges of the cuticles, which can lead to chipping. Ironing wet hair causes the moisture to burst out in little steam explosions. This causes a bubbling and buckling of the cuticle that appear as tiny hair blisters under magnification. Both types of damage can lead to breakage and split ends.
Solution: Iron damage can be reduced by using conditioners formulated with ingredients like cetrimonium chloride. Exposing hair to heat in the presence of such a conditioning agent can increase the strength of the hair, making it harder to break. Products labeled specifically to protect against heat are a good option. Of course, not using an iron is the best solution.
While it is nearly impossible to prevent all types of hair damage, there are a few simple solutions that can keep your hair looking and feeling healthier without sacrificing your beloved blow dryer!