Haircare is a tricky thing. It feels like there are a million rules to follow to keep your tresses in tip-top shape—using the right products, washing often but not too often, refraining from using too much heat, etc. It’s a lot to keep track of. But you may be overlooking one insidious thing that could be causing serious hair damage: your everyday hairstyle.
As we age, the bonds between our hair strands decrease, weakening our hair overall. As the hair grows weaker and loses its elasticity, it’s much more susceptible to breakage. So it’s crucial to be mindful of the tension and pressure we’re putting on our hair every day to keep it looking its best.
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We’re not saying you have to cut any of these hairstyles completely out of your routine, but moderation is key. Remember to give your hair time to relax. With that said, here are five styles that may be secretly harming your hair.
1. Ponytails And Top Knots
Your standby quick hairstyles are some of the worst culprits for causing long-term hair damage. Wearing these styles day after day will add stress at the base of your ponytail or bun, which will eventually cause hair to break. Tight elastic hair ties can also lead to fraying. High, tight ponytails are the worst offenders, as they pull extra hard on the fine strands of your hairline.
Try This Instead: Try using knotted fabric hair ties or silk scrunchies to pull your hair back, and be sure not to pull on your hair too tightly when putting it up. You could also opt for a headband or simply a lower ponytail.
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Anyone who lived through the ’80s is probably guilty of this one. Teasing is a great trick for creating lift, but it can do a real number on your hair. Backcombing essentially consists of creating tangles and knots to add volume, so it’s not hard to understand why it can be harsh on your hair.
Try This Instead: Use a volumizing mousse or other thickening product instead (we like this thickening and texturizing mousse from Keranique). For extra volume, you can blow dry your hair upside down or with a round brush after applying the product. Just be sure to use a low heat setting and apply some heat protectant beforehand (like this blow-dry spray from L’Oréal).
3. Styling While Wet
It’s so easy to mindlessly throw your hair into a ponytail or bun after a shower, but doing so can cause hair thinning or even loss. As you now know, buns and ponytails already put stress on your strands. Hair is at its most vulnerable and prone to breakage when wet, which further amps up that stress. If you’ve ever taken your hair down from a wet updo and noticed a clump of hair still attached to your hair tie, you’ll see what we mean.
Try This Instead: Let your hair air dry, dry with a microfiber towel, or blow dry on low heat (remember: heat protectant!) before putting your hair up.
Unfortunately, one of our favorite hairstyles is also one that can cause serious hair damage when not done properly. When braids are too tight, especially near the hairline, it can put so much strain on your roots that it starts to break away. This can cause splitting, follicle damage, and tensile stress, which can eventually even lead to hair loss conditions like traction alopecia.
Try This Instead: Simply braid your hair more loosely, especially at the scalp. It’s also important to take breaks from wearing braids and to keep your scalp moisturized. Remember, if wearing braids makes your scalp sore, your braids are too tight.
5. High-Tension Overnight Styles
Sleeping with your hair in a tight bun or braid while you sleep is a common way of extending time between wash days, but you should reconsider the type of protective style you’re putting your hair in before bedtime. When hair is rubbing against a pillow while pulled taut, it can cause friction, tugging, and tangling.
Try This Instead: Wear your hair in a tension-free protective hairstyle, like a loose braid or bun. You could also cover your hair in a silk bonnet. Even better, you can avoid causing friction by sleeping on a silk pillowcase.