Sunday, July 20, 2008

12 Hair Mistakes You May Be Making

12 Hair Mistakes You May Be Making
By Sally Wadyka

It’s easy to have gorgeous-looking locks when you walk out of the salon, but it’s how you care for your hair on a daily basis that really makes a difference in the long run. “Even if you have a fantastic cut and you’re skilled at styling your hair, it’s not going to look its best if you mistreat it,” says Renee Cohen, senior stylist at Serge Normant at John Frieda, New York City.

Here, the most common mistakes women make when it comes to their hair care—plus expert advice on how to fix them.

1. Washing your hair every day—or more.
While we’re not advocating the greasy grunge look circa 1992, it can be good for your hair to get a break from daily washing, drying and styling. If you color your hair, skipping the shampoo on occasion will help your shade stay rich longer since the sulfates in many shampoos fade away color. And for all but the oiliest heads, daily (or even twice daily if you hit the gym) washing can strip away too much of your natural oil, leaving hair dry, brittle and more susceptible to breakage. Try every-other-day washing, and if the roots look a little greasy on day two, sprinkle on some dry shampoo or hair powder and brush it out thoroughly.
2. Not getting regular haircuts.
If you’re trying to grow your hair out of a style you no longer like (or just desperately wanting to add inches to your strands), you might be tempted to avoid your stylist’s scissors for months on end. But you’re really not doing your hair any favors. Not only will you wind up with so many split ends that you will need to lose several precious inches anyway, but your hair will quickly start to look obviously overgrown. “Your hair can look good at every stage of transition between styles or while waiting for your bangs to grow out,” says Cohen. “By continuing to get trims, your hair will look fuller and healthier, and you’ll never have that ‘I’m growing my hair out’ look.”
3. Using too much conditioner.
It makes sense that fine hair will get weighed down by excessive conditioner, but even dry, coarse hair may not need as much as you think. “If you routinely use too much, the product can build up on your hair and leave a residue that makes hair appear dull and lifeless,” says Cohen. Try using the lightest formula your hair can handle (a detangling rinse is perfect for normal to fine hair), and doing an occasional deep treatment if hair needs it. And when you apply your conditioner, skip the areas closest to the scalp and concentrate the product more toward the ends of the hair.
4. Overheating your hair.
Chances are you blow dry your hair at least once a day for several minutes. And you might even follow that up with more hot stuff—like a curling or straightening iron. So it’s no wonder that your hair looks a little fried. “You might literally be burning your hair,” says Cohen. To protect it, she recommends using a product specifically made to protect hair from heat—it will help seal up the cuticle to keep the heat from damaging the strand. And ditch any brushes that have metal paddles or bristles—they will heat up as you blow dry and can singe fragile locks.
5. Fighting your hair’s natural texture.
There’s nothing technically wrong with trying to curl your straight hair or straighten your curly hair. But just know that you’re setting yourself up for spending a lot of time and energy—and possibly frustration—to achieve your desired style. And sometimes, all that effort may be for naught. If it’s a humid day, you are much better off letting your hair remain in its natural state—because the second you walk outside, it’s going to revert back to it anyway!
6. Choosing the wrong styling products for your hair type.
Just as you select your moisturizer and makeup to suit your skin type, you need to select the right kinds of styling products in order for your hair to look its best. Loading up your fine hair with a heavy styling cream or a silicone product will leave your locks limp. And trying to style your thick, coarse, curly hair with just a spritz of spray gel won’t tame your frizz or help hold your style all day long. For best results, look for a line of products that are designed specifically for your hair type and style.
7. Thinking that more is better.
Even if you’re using the correct styling product, you can still ruin your look by using too much or too little of it. Too little just means that you won’t get the most benefit from the product (i.e., not using enough frizz-taming serum will leave you still frizzy). But too much can cause several problems. “It can actually make your hair harder to style because as the product dries in your hair it can get so stiff that it‘s hard to get the brush through,” explains Cohen. Excess product can also flake after it’s dry—making you look as if you have dandruff. Surplus silicone-based serum will leave hair limp and greasy looking. How much to use? For silicone products, Cohen recommends starting with as little as possible (just rub a drop between your palms and run over hair) and adding more if needed. For styling cream or gel, an amount the size of a quarter should do the trick. And with mousse, a handful is about right.
8. Pulling back your ponytail with just any elastic.
Before you grab an elastic and use it to secure your hair, take a closer look at it. If it’s not covered (and ideally continuous, without any metal showing), you run the risk of damaging your hair. An uncovered elastic (like a plain rubber band from your desk drawer) will snag in your hair, causing breakage and possibly even pulling hair out at the root when you try to remove the elastic. A covered band—secured loosely at the nape of your neck—will protect hair from harm.
9. Getting stuck in a style rut.
Take a look at a photo of yourself from 10 years ago. Now look in the mirror. If the hairstyle you see in both places is the same, you are long overdue for an update. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go in for a complete style overhaul—the fix could be as simple as a few tweaks to keep your look current. “Changing the length or adding some layers or flattering bangs will keep you from looking like you’re stuck in a time warp,” says Cohen. Another reason to modernize your style: one that’s outdated may no longer be flattering and that can make you look older.
10. Brushing your hair too much.
The old advice about giving your hair one hundred strokes a night is not a recipe for healthy hair. While brushing once or twice a day is a great way to stimulate the scalp and distribute oil down the hair shaft, too much brushing could have the opposite effect—leaving hair more vulnerable to breakage. And brushing wet hair (which is more fragile than dry hair) is never a good idea. Cohen recommends instead using a wide-tooth comb when you get out of the shower.
11. Ignoring the health of your scalp.
The follicles in the scalp are the birthplace of every strand of hair on your head. And if those factories aren’t kept clean and healthy, they won’t produce full, strong, healthy hair. While there are many products on the market to cater to the health of your scalp, treating it well can be as simple as giving it a little extra massage every time you wash your hair to stimulate it. And be sure to rinse all product off your scalp before you leave the shower to ensure that there’s no residue left behind to clog hair follicles.
12. Yanking out your gray hairs.
No, it’s not true that two will grow back in place of every one you pull out. But you’re not really getting rid of them with this method either. “It will grow back, and when it does it may be more wiry, and because it’ll be shorter, it’ll stick straight up till it grows in,” say Cohen. While even she concedes that pulling out a couple isn’t going to kill you, if you find yourself harvesting several every day, it’s time to consider coloring your hair. As you start to go gray, hair can look a bit dull and washed out, so by getting your hair colored a rich, glossy shade, you’ll immediately take 10 years off your look.

Sally Wadyka is a freelance writer whose work appears regularly in Shape, Runner's World and Real Simple.

Article from MSN

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