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Is Your Hair-Styling Routine Stressing your Strands?

Is Your Hair-Styling Routine Stressing your Strands?

More often than not, dryness, breakage and hair that just looks dull and drab is a side effect of daily wear and tear. Environmental factors such as UV light can lead to dryness and brittleness, and the simple act of styling can damage the hair as well. Whether you’re looking to improve the condition of your coif or simply maintain your hair’s health, here are my top tips for keeping your hair soft, smooth and shiny.

Wash less: Your hair’s natural oil (also called sebum) helps condition the hair and protect against environmental damage. Shampooing too frequently strips the hair of beneficial sebum and leaves it vulnerable to dryness and damage—especially if you use products that contain sulfates.

Avoid over-processing: Bleaches and most dyes contain strong chemicals that alter the hair structure. Same goes for straightening treatments, relaxers and perms, which is why it’s essential to take steps to protect and reinforce processed hair. And if you subject your hair to multiple chemical treatments, it’s best to space them at least two to four weeks apart.

Be careful when brushing: Brushing the hair while it’s still sopping wet is a main cause of breakage and damage. Instead, use a wide-toothed comb to detangle your hair before rinsing conditioner out, or wait until your hair is about 50% dry before brushing.

Minimize heat styling: Heat-styling does more than dehydrate and damage the lengths of the hair, and hot tools such as hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons can take a toll on the follicles and affect healthy hair growth. Allowing your hair to dry naturally and limiting the use of hot tools can help, but if blow-drying is a must, be sure to use a heat-protection product.

Reconsider your hairstyle: Tightly-pulled styles put tension on the hair follicles, and braids, taut ponytails and hair extensions can cause permanent hair loss over time. Technically called traction alopecia, it’s best to give your hair periodic breaks from these styles to prevent the damage to the follicles that can lead to permanent hair loss (or avoid them altogether).