8 Hair-Washing Habits That Might Be Damaging Your Locks (And How to Improve Them)

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: March 18, 2024

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We’ve all been washing our hair for years, but have we been doing it right? On closer inspection, it seems there are countless hair washing mistakes we could have been making all this time and unknowingly damaging our precious locks in the process.

To remedy this, we’ve identified the most common problems with hair wash routines and have some simple solutions for you on how to correct them.

Keep reading and get ready for salon-quality results every time you step out of the shower. 

#1. Scrubbing At Your Hair Rather Than Massaging It 

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When you’re in a rush to get your hair washed, dried, and styled in the mornings, there’s always a temptation to frantically scrub your hair to speed up the cleaning process. Now, while a soothing scalp massage can help stimulate blood flow to your scalp and promote healthy hair growth, pulling all of the hair up and scouring it with your fingertips will only cause knots and damage.

Wet hair is hair in its most sensitive state, it can stretch, split, and even snap when pulled too hard. So, next time you take a shower, resist the temptation to scrub and instead use your fingertips to gently massage and stimulate your hair at the roots.

This will have the same cleansing effect, won’t take up any more time, and will even make styling easier afterward since your hair won’t be full of tangles. 

#2. Doing The Bare Minimum To Save Time

If your daily ten-step skincare routine resembles a luxury spa treatment but your hair stays scraped up in a bun all week, raise your hand. We’ve been there too and we get it, hair wash day can be inconvenient.

After all, a great skincare routine feels like an indulgent moment out of your day to pamper yourself with your favorite products. They give quick results with skin looking dewier and feeling softer. When it comes to your hair wash routine, however, we’re talking about some major work and a lot of time carved out of your day.

Washing, conditioning, rinsing, brushing, blowdrying, and styling, can feel like a chore if you let it. But, with a few tweaks, you can make your hair wash day feel like a luxurious trip to your favorite salon. It also doesn’t need to be an all-consuming task you have to cancel plans for since you can also cut those hair wash days right down – in fact, we recommend it!

Washing your hair just twice and week and refreshing with dry shampoo on those in-between days will save you time and give your locks time to recover in between wash days. 

#3. Applying Shampoo To The Ends Of Your Hair

Believe it or not, you may have been shampooing your hair wrong all of these years! Experts say that while you don’t need to avoid getting shampoo in the lower section of your hair altogether, deliberately placing it on the ends and creating a lather can cause dryness, unwanted tangles, and breakage.

Instead, focus on cleaning the roots of your hair, soothing your scalp, removing product build-up, and unblocking fair follicles for healthy hair growth. Then, as you rinse, allow the shampoo and clean water to travel through the hair for a more gentle allover clean.

#4. Skipping The Conditioner Or Applying Too Much

Now we know all about proper shampoo placement, we’re going to do the opposite for our conditioner. The hair follicles on your scalp produce enough oil for the top third of your hair so you won’t need to apply conditioner here.

In fact, doing so can make your hair feel oily very quickly. Instead, smooth your conditioner through the bottom two-thirds of your lengths to give it the extra boost of moisture it misses out on by being so far from the roots. 

Meanwhile, skipping the conditioner altogether is never a good idea. Even if your hair is on the oilier side, we recommend simply using a little less product and placing it further towards the ends.

This is where the hair tends to be its driest and most brittle as it gets whipped around in the winter wind and snagged on your clothes and purse strap. Make sure you’re taking care of your hair and using conditioner with every wash, or at least every other time.

#5. Using The Wrong Shampoo For Your Hair Type

Just as you wouldn’t use a super thick moisturizer on oily skin, using the wrong shampoo and conditioner for your hair type can set you up for failure. To make sure you’re getting it right, take a moment to analyze your hair before making a purchase.

Is your hair long, thick, and dry on the ends? You need a moisturizing formula to help nourish and calm your tresses. Is your hair fine, oily, and prone to breakage? Look out for shampoos that nourish but are also designed for an oily scalp

#6. Using Hot Water To Wash Hair

Remember, when you wash your hair you’re also cleansing your scalp and sensitive skin doesn’t respond well to super hot water. If you’re stepping in a steamy shower to wash your hair every time, you may have noticed your scalp becomes easily flaky and dry to the the touch, and doesn’t produce as much oil as you’d like leaving your hair dry too.

Hot water can also damage the keratin bonds that make up the strands of our hair so too-hot water on hair wash day is really a lose-lose. Instead, lower the temperature to a lukewarm setting and step back to wash your hair if you need to. Your hair will look and feel much smoother, softer, and shiner the moment you do. 

#7. Brushing Wet Hair 

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: brushing wet hair straight from the shower is a guaranteed road to breakage. Since wet hair is much more delicate than when it’s dry putting stress on your strands by brushing causes strands to stretch and snap.

Instead, pat your hair as dry as possible with a clean, dry, microfibre towel. This fabric is soft and gentle on your hair and will remove tons of water without scrubbing or applying heat.

Once your hair is drip-free and beginning to feel drier at least on the ends, use a de-tangling brush or wide-tooth comb to gently brush through the hair. Start at the bottom and work your way up for minimal drag. 

#8. Leaving The Towel Wrapped Around Your Hair For Too Long

One last mistake often made before drying the hair is leaving your towel on for too long. Firstly, just like brushing, this can put unnecessary stress on your delicate wet tresses when left on for an extended period.

Leave your towel wrapped around your head for around 10-15 minutes, then, take it off and gently pat it dry until most of the moisture has been absorbed. Reach for your heat protectant before blowdrying, then reap the rewards of your new hair wash routine.

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