Hair

6 Hair Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making, According to an Expert

good hair days ahead
written by EMMA GINSBERG
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Source: Ouai
Source: Ouai

Everyone has had a bad hair day, but let’s hear some commotion for those of us who have had a bad hair month, year, or decade! Whether you spent your childhood with a FAB (if you know, you know) or you’ve dedicated the past several years of your life to fighting the nightmare combo that is oily roots and dry ends, hair is one of those parts of your beauty routine that can be unbelievably hard to get right. Sometimes, you might even have a tried-and-true ritual as a part of your routine that is secretly causing problems for your locks—after all, everyone’s hair is different, and saran-wrapping a hair mask onto your head overnight might not work for you like it does for that one TikToker.

Given the sheer number of haircare myths and blunders out there, we decided to get to the bottom of the seemingly endless mystery of what creates a good hair day by turning to the experts. Helen Reavey is a certified trichologist, celebrity hairstylist, hair loss specialist, and founder of the haircare brand Act + Acre, so her tips for fixing your haircare routine once and for all are tested many times over. If you’ve always had the sense that you’re just doing something wrong when it comes to your hair care routine, this is for you. Here are the six common hair mistakes you’re making, according to an expert—and how to fix them.

Helen Reavey

Helen Reavey is a certified trichologist, celebrity hairstylist, hair loss specialist, and founder of the haircare brand Act + Acre.

You’re washing your hair instead of your scalp

As a trichologist, Reavey spends a lot of time getting to the root of hair problems (pun intended), which often means starting at the scalp. The most common hair mistake people are making in her eyes? Washing their hair when they should actually be washing their scalp. She explained that your scalp is actually where the buildup is, and the strands of your hair aren’t what needs a deep clean on wash day; instead, you should be working to cleanse your scalp to prevent oiliness and promote healthy growth.

“Wash with lukewarm water, and double cleanse with a gentle shampoo,” Reavey recommends. “It’s important to emulsify the product, double cleanse, and focus the product on your scalp and the back of your head.” Shocked that you might have been washing your hair incorrectly all along? I get it—after all, nothing in a beauty routine seems quite so intuitive as washing your hair, and TV and commercials taught us to lather our hair from roots to tips. Make sure that you’re focusing on scrubbing your scalp instead of dragging tons of product through your hair—each strand will thank you.

You’re committed to “hair training”

If you’re an oily roots gal like myself, you’ve definitely heard of this one, but for those who are unfamiliar, here’s a quick explainer. Hair training is when you try to “train” your hair to produce less oil by washing it less frequently; it’s the idea that you can decrease how much oil your scalp produces by spacing out washes as much as possible. This is one of those hair hacks that might be totally viral, but Reavey says it is a huge myth. “Oil production is actually determined by factors like age, hormones, silicone buildup, and more,” Reavey says. “If you’re struggling with excess oil production and greasy hair, hair training can actually make the condition much worse! You cannot train your scalp to produce less oil by washing it less.”

There’s an easy solution to this mistake: Just don’t attempt to hair train. However, if you’re struggling with excess oil and buildup on your scalp, Reavey has some tips for you that actually do work. Primarily, she suggests double cleansing every wash with a sulfate and synthetic-free shampoo. “I recommend double cleansing since the first cleanse removes product buildup, while the second wash actually cleanses the scalp,” Reavey says.

Source: Ceren Sagtekin

You’re overusing scalp scrubs

On the opposite side of the spectrum from hair training are scalp scrubs. Think of scalp scrubs as a physical exfoliant for the top of your head. But just like we know over-exfoliating can harm the skin, it can harm the scalp, too. “Physical exfoliants can create micro-tears on the scalp, leading to a higher chance of irritation and infection,” Reavey says. You might think that sloughing away dead skin from your scalp would promote hair growth, but according to Reavey, it actually increases the risk of your scalp becoming inflamed or infected.

Luckily, if you’re interested in exfoliating your scalp, there are products that can get rid of dead skin without running the risk of micro-tears. Reavey recommends adding a weekly scalp treatment to your routine, such as a detox oil or chemical exfoliator. According to her, these products “remove build-up, excess oil, and dead skin from the scalp, ensuring it stays balanced and clean.”

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You’re using products with silicones

Every once in a while, the internet gets passionate about eliminating a certain chemical or product from your routine… and then everyone proceeds to forget about the purge a few months later. Silicones are one of those products that we may have remembered to check our hair products for back in the day but haven’t made a routine out of eliminating from our wash days. “Although silicones are used to lock in moisture, they often build up on the scalp and hair follicles, causing oiliness, irritation, inflammation, and more,” Reavey warns. This mistake has a quick fix, which is to simply check your hair products for silicones—they might just be the sneaky thing preventing you from having the best hair day of your life.

You’re applying excess heat to your hair

Revlon brush users, I know you knew this one was coming. Applying too much heat to your hair is, put simply, not the way to work toward happier and healthier hair. “Using heat on damaged hair exacerbates existing issues by stripping the scalp of moisture, weakening the hair’s protein bonds, and intensifying damage to the hair strands,” Reavey says. “Damaged hair already lacks the necessary resilience to withstand external stressors, and using excess heat leads to increased breakage, split ends, frizz, brittleness, and more.”

Of course, it can be a major challenge to lay off the curling iron, but if you want to improve your hair health, you should be using heat on your hair as infrequently as possible. If you are struggling with damage and dryness, Reavey recommends using a conditioner, a leave-in conditioner, and a hair oil to repair dryness and split ends and smooth frizz.

Source: T3

You aren’t using scalp treatments

Reavey’s final tip for those perpetually struggling with their hair care routine? Add a scalp treatment to your weekly routine (just as long as it’s not a scalp scrub.) Remember the 2010s commercial where Heidi Klum compared the scalp to the root of a tree? Reavey expressed the exact same sentiment. “Once a week, before the shower, use a gentle treatment to break down oil and remove product buildup from the scalp,” she says. “I also don’t go a day without using a restorative scalp serum.” Reavey recommends trying out a scalp gua sha as well to help the product sink into your scalp. In all likelihood, once you start giving your scalp the TLC it deserves, your hair will reap the benefits.

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