7 Common Habits Hairstylists Are Begging You To Stop Immediately for the Sake of Your Hair Health

Photo: Getty Images/ Galina Zhigalova
When it comes to proper haircare, it's rare to find a "one size fits all" rule. Most things are nuanced and depend on a whole lot of personal factors—like how long your hair is, how often you wash it, and how easily it frizzes. But! There are still some hair habits that are categorically bad for all of our hair health, and they're more common than you might think.

To put an end to all the unintentional end-splitting, scalp-drying, and hair-frying, we asked our favorite hair pros about the common hair-care mistakes they’re begging their clients to stop doing. Intrigued? Read on for their honest answers.

1. Shampooing too often

You’ve heard it before but it bears repeating: Overshampooing is one of the biggest hair-care mistakes you can make when it comes to keeping your hair healthy and looking fresh. Washing every day can strip your hair of its natural oils, making it more prone to damage and a host of other problems. "It makes the hair dry and causes the color to fade more quickly," says Alon Shalom, hairstylist and owner of Alon Shalom Salon in West Hollywood, California.

While there's no universal answer to how frequently you should be shampooing (it depends on age, hair length, hair type, activity level, and a whole slew of other factors), keep an eye on how your hair is behaving to figure out your ideal number of weekly washes—if you've got dry ends and blah-looking color alongside a greasy scalp, it's a good sign you're doing too much.

When you do decide to wash, Shalom recommends using keratin-infused products like the Gussi Protection Plan™ Upkeep Conditioner ($36) to help refresh any treatment results and keep hair looking glossy and smooth until your next shampoo.

2. Not shampooing enough

On the flip side, stylists say that skipping too many shampoos can lead to buildup on your scalp. “While it is healthy to allow the natural oil your body produces to lubricate your hair and scalp, it is unhealthy to clog pores with dirt and debris,” says Amy Abramite, hairstylist and creative director at Maxine Salon in Chicago, Illinois. Not only can this lead to itching, discomfort, and a greasy-looking scalp, but it can also stand in the way of growth.

If your roots are looking weighed down or visibly wet from sebum (read: very oily), it’s time to clarify with a shampoo. Abramite is a fan of Kérastase’s Bain Divalent Balancing Shampoo ($38), which removes excess oil from the scalp without drying out the ends.

3. Applying conditioner to sopping wet hair

If you want to get the most out of your moisturizing products (aka conditioners and masks), you'll want to make sure your hair isn't too wet when you apply them. According to celebrity hairstylist, Clariss Rubenstein, when these types of products are slicked onto soaking wet hair, there's nothing for them to hold onto—which means they end up sliding off the strand alongside the water. Not only is this a waste of product, but your hair also isn’t getting any of the benefits from your products. Instead, gently wring out all excess moisture from the hair pre-conditioning, and repeat until the hair is damp instead of soaking wet. Apply a mask or conditioner, and let it work for a few minutes before rinsing.

4. Plucking out gray hair

We’d be lying if we said we’ve never pulled out a gray strand or two. But in the end, it will only make the problem worse. As Abramite explains, gray hair is unruly and coarse, and grows back even more unruly and coarse; so much so that those regrown strands tend to stick straight up, making them even more noticeable. “The flyaways are difficult to smooth down with product, and believe me, we’ve tried everything,” she shares. “You’re better off leaving the grays intact and using a touch-up color spray for some temporary coverage.”

Her color spray of choice? Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray ($34), which comes in five colors and is small enough to throw in your purse for on-the-go reapplication.

5. Brushing hair that's very dry or very wet

According to Stacey Ciceron, Oribe's global hair educator, brushing dry hair is one of the most common hair-care mistakes that can lead to breakage. “Whether detangling or styling, you want to first dampen and soften the hair before brushing or combing to allow tools to glide through,” she explains. However, you don't want the hair to be too wet, as strands are more vulnerable when they're wet—"damp" really is the key word here. To further limit damage, use a soft-bristled brush or a wide-toothed comb and brush upwards from the ends of your hair toward the roots instead of the other way around. 

6. Applying “wet” hairspray before using thermal tools

There are few worse sounds than hearing your hair sizzle and steam while styling with a hot tool—it's basically the soundtrack to damage. According to Joseph Maine, celebrity stylist and co-founder of Trademark Beauty applying a strong-hold hairspray prior to using hot tools is a one-way ticket to this sort of moisture combustion, and can cause serious long-term damage. Rather than ensuring your look lasts all day long, using a strong hairspray on wet hair pre-styling can leave the hair feeling stiff and straw-like. Instead, Maine suggests using a thermal protectant while hair is wet to coat the cuticle—he likes Color Wow Dream Coat ($28). For added hold, he suggests adding a texturizing spray, which won’t cause the sizzle and stick that comes with hairspray.

7. Working with too-large sections of hair and moving too quickly when using thermal tools

“When straightening or curling hair, the two issues I see the most are taking massive sections of hair or simply going too fast,” Maine explains, “A flat iron can typically straighten in a single pass if the section is no larger than the width of the plates and you move down the strand slowly. When curling the same rule applies: Don’t take sections larger than the barrel itself.” Otherwise, you risk burning the hair closest to the barrel while you wait for the outer hair to get hot enough to hold the style. Go slow and steady, and when in doubt, opt for smaller sections.

While we're on the subject of hair-care mistakes, check out the video below to learn how to heat style your strands with as little damage as possible.

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