10 mistakes hair experts want you to stop making
From daily styling to treating grey hair, this is what Trichologists want you to know about optimum hair health.
BY EMMA-LOUISE PRITCHARD, Good HouseKeeping
It can be easy to let our healthy hair habits slip. And, when it comes to daily styling, managing greys, dying and brushing, there are a few hair mistakes the experts want us to stop making.
We spoke to Trichologist Anabel Kingsley, from Philip Kingsley, to get the lowdown on what we need to know about keeping our hair healthy and strong.
- Use the right brush
Hair cuticles help keep the hair strong and resilient, and guard the inner cortex from moisture loss and damage. However, unlike skin cells, hair cells do not regenerate once they're past scalp level, so once the cuticle is gone, it’s gone – which means it's important to minimise daily wear and tear.
One of the most common causes of cuticle damage is boar bristle brushes. These can tear away sections of the hair cuticle, seriously weakening strands and increasing porosity. Instead, choose a paddle brush that has plastic, rounded prongs. You may also want to use a detangling spray to help smooth the cuticle before brushing through. When the cuticle is raised, strands tend to interlock like Velcro.
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- Brush correctly
Incorrect detangling can cause a lot of breakage, which can lead to thinner mid-lengths and ends. Detangle by starting at your ends, then gradually and gently working your way up. Detangling from the top of your head can worsen tangles and snap strands.
- Treat your hair and scalp as you would your face
Think of your hair and scalp care regime in a similar way to your skincare routine. You take them to the same places and they are subject to the same environmental assaults.
- You cleanse and moisturise your face in the morning with products to suit your skin type, so start your day by shampooing and conditioning your hair with products formulated for your hair texture. Hair health is interlinked to scalp health and frequent shampooing cleans and optimises the scalp environment. Clean hair also reflects light much better than dirty or coated hair.
- Just like your face, your scalp benefits from daily use of a toner. It helps to stimulate the scalp and ward off flaking and oiliness. After towel-drying your hair, apply a scalp toner in one-inch partings from ear to ear.
- Exfoliate your scalpweekly to keep it supple and to gently remove dead skin cells and flakes. A flaky scalp is known to cause and/or worsen hair shedding in certain individuals, making this an important part of your hair care routine.
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4. Dont ruin elasticity
Hair should stretch up to a third of its length when wet before breaking. However, this often isn’t the case. Hair gradually loses its elasticity as it grows, due to general wear-and-tear from styling and chemical processing and things like UV ray and wind exposure – and simply the fact that it has been there for longer.
To restore elasticity, apply an intensive moisturising mask to your hair once or twice a week. The best ones are pre-shampoo conditioners that you apply to damp hair at least 20 minutes before washing your hair.
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- Don't put conditioner all over
One of the most common causes of limp hair is incorrect application of conditioner. Only apply conditioner to your mid-lengths and ends, where the hair is older and it is needed the most. If you apply it too close to your roots you will weigh them down.
6. Don't ignore dandruff
A little known fact is that a flaky scalp can cause hair loss in certain individuals. Scratching an itchy scalp may also damage tissue and cause hair breakage. To clear dandruff quickly and effectively, use a daily targeted anti-microbial shampoo, followed by a soothing anti-microbial scalp toner. Also, try to avoid foods such as full-fat dairy products and drinks like white wine and Champagne – these commonly trigger flaking and itching.
- Make sure you eat enough protein
At least once a day we have someone sitting in our consultation room professing they eat an incredibly healthy diet. They do not snack, and have fresh fruit for breakfast and salad for lunch with a bit of chicken or fish. While this may be fine for your body, it’s simply not enough for your hair – and the wrong diet is a very common cause of excessive daily hair loss (also known as telogen effluvium).
While hair is incredibly important to us psychologically, physiologically our body could not care less. Any nutrients ingested first go to essential systems, with hair receiving whatever is left over. To help ensure you are consuming adequate nutrients for hair growth, eat at least 120g of protein at breakfast and lunch - hair is made primarily of protein.
Energy to form hair cells drops four hours after eating, so if longer than this is left between meals, snack on a nutrient-dense carbohydrate, such as fresh fruit or wholegrain crackers.
- Don't live a hair-thinning lifestyle
You have to lose at least 15% of the volume of your hair before you even notice it. Often daily hair fall is normal, but the replacement hairs are finer in diameter and shorter in length – and this can take many years to become noticeable. While hair naturally gets finer as we get older, certain factors can exacerbate it – especially if you have inherited a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity.
Here, follicles in pre-disposed areas are overly sensitive to normal levels of circulating androgens (male hormones) as well as things like diet, ferritin (stored iron) deficiency, stress and metabolic fluctuations. Finer hairs also tend to be weaker, and breakage can further thin the appearance of the hair.
It’s therefore important to use an all-encompassing holistic approach when treating hair thinning:
- To help guard your follicles from the damaging effect that male hormones can have, apply anti-androgenic scalp drops to the front, top and crown of your scalp daily.
- To minimise stress levels, try yoga, Pilates and/or meditation.
- To support hair growth from within, bolster your ferritin and nutrient levels with multivitamins containing iron, vitamin C, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, niacin and biotin.
- To improve the integrity and strength of your hair and reduce breakage, use a volumising protein spray every day.
- Don't speed up the greying process
The time when you go grey is genetically determined. For some, this is as young as 18, while others are well into their 40s before their first white hair appears. However, premature greying may occur as the result of stress, as this can deplete vitamin B levels, so reducing stress levels may be a helpful preventative measure.
- Don't over colour
Colouring your hair can give it depth and warmth. Highlights may also make fine or thinning hair appear thicker, as they add texture and swell strands. But you need to ensure that the benefits of colouring are not negated by damage.
Try not to dye your hair more than every eight weeks, or overlapping and subsequent breakage are more likely to occur. To keep your hair healthy in between colouring sessions, use a weekly intensive pre-shampoo conditioning treatment. However, there is no evidence to suggest that colouring hair causes it to fall out more, or lead to thinner hair diameters.