While hair loss may be inevitable with age, there are still certain showering mistakes to look out for that experts say could exacerbate or worsen thinning hair. With that said, we reached out to hair stylists, hair and scalp experts to learn more about 3 common errors one might make when washing their hair. The health of your locks, of course, can be strengthened with a balanced diet and supplementation recommended by a doctor, but also through delicate care when your hair is wet (as that is its most vulnerable state). Read on from tips and suggestions from Caleb Cheek, health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, Lauren Udoh, hair stylist and Hair Creative Director of WigReports and Vanessa Thomas, cosmetic chemist, and founder of Freelance Formulations,
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1. Using Water That Is Too Hot
While sometimes nothing can feel more comforting than a hot shower, Backe stresses the importance of choosing the right temperature for your optimal hair health. “It is important to realize that showering in water that is too hot could lead to brittle hair and fallout,” he explains. Specifically, he says, our scalps are protected by lipids which protect them from germs. This layer of protection can be damaged by showering in water that’s too hot, and therefore leads to our hair and scalps becoming “more vulnerable” to damage.
“This hot water can also negatively affect the production of keratin and the nutrients that help keep our hair strong and hydrated,” Backe continues. “This in turn leads to drier and more brittle hair, which leads to premature hair loss and breakage.” Therefore, Backe notes, it is important to remember to turn down the heat of your shower and have a mild or lukewarm shower. “Alternatively, take a cold shower which also has a plethora of health benefits – such as increasing circulation as well as helping your hair and skin glow,” he advises.
2. Over washing your locks
While cleaning dirt and sweat from your hair is absolutely necessary for its health, over-washing it (especially when it’s thinning or falling out) can have undesired effects. Thomas says that shampooing too frequently can cause split, dead ends and further damage. “Over-shampooing hair can lead to stripping your hair of beneficial oils it needs and leads to breakage,” Thomas explains. “Thinning hair should never be brushed when wet as this can also cause excess breakage and hair fall out.”
3. Using Sulfate Based Products
Having already thin, fine and delicate hair and adding harsh sulfate-based products can exacerbate or worsen hair loss, Udoh explains. “This harsh detergent, sodium lauryl sulfate [SLS] is a common ingredient in shampoos and conditioners and is known to strip away natural oils, leaving hair feeling dry, brittle, and damaged,” she says. This ingredient can “also cause scalp irritation and hair loss.” Sulfates, she adds, can be very damaging to color-treated hair as well, and they should be avoided if at all possible. Udoh suggests looking for hair products that are labeled as “sulfate-free” or “no sulfates.” These, she notes, will be much gentler on your hair and will help to protect your color. “Sulfates are harsh detergents that can strip hair of its color and natural oils, leaving it dry, brittle, and prone to breakage,” she continues. “They are often found in shampoos, conditioners and other hair products, so it’s important to read the labels carefully and avoid those that contain sulfates.” There are many sulfate-free conditioners on the market these days, she says, so there’s “no need to sacrifice your hair’s health in order to keep it clean and shiny.”