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9 Things You’re Doing to Your Hair That a Stylist Wouldn’t

The secret to healthy hair all comes down to what you shouldn't do.

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A woman cutting her own hair
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Drop the kitchen scissors and step away from the boxed dye. We all want beautiful, strong, and healthy hair, but many of us are a little guilty of taking matters into our own hands when it comes to hair. Hairstylists are professionals for a reason, so it’s typically best to leave the big changes to them—but when it comes to caring for our hair every day, there are some things you may be doing incorrectly without even knowing it. See why this woman is not coloring her own hair during quarantine and why you shouldn’t either.

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Senior Woman Fixing Hair
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Wearing tight hairstyles every day

If you prefer going for the sleek look and like to pull back your hair into a tight bun or ponytail every day, you are adding stress to your scalp which will ultimately cause thinning. “To get a sleek look overnight without pulling your hair tight, spray your hair with a little water, brush it, and tie it down with a scarf,” suggests cosmetologist Ghanima Abdullah. “For more sheen and hold, smooth in a few drops of natural oil after spraying the water. Then you can make your ponytail a little looser in the morning, but still have it sleek.”

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Woman washing hair
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Using clarifying shampoo as regular shampoo

“Clarifying shampoos strip the hair of buildup, and that’s great—once in a while,” says Abdullah. “Even if you have really oily hair, clarifying shampoo is not meant to be used every time you wash.” The shampoo will successfully remove the oil from your hair, but eventually, this will cause an imbalance to your scalp. If your scalp is lacking oil, it will naturally want to produce more, so if you are continually stripping the oils from your head, you may end up with even more oil than you started with. Abdullah recommends trying a dry shampoo like Batiste to refresh your hair between washes. Check out the best shampoo for every hair type.

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Mature woman applying hair spray in front of mirror
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Using hold products on the hairline   

“Hair gel, hair spray, and even curl-defining products contain ingredients that bind the hair in some way,” explains Abdullah. “That’s great for styling, but these sticky ingredients can also clog the hair follicles.” If the products you are using reaches your scalp, it will become more difficult to grow and retain hair. “Layer your hair products if you wish, but don’t reapply styling aids before washing your hair again.”

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Woman washing her hair
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Over-washing your hair

There is really no reason to wash your hair every day. Washing your hair too much will make it weak and with time, it could start to fall, break, and lose its shine. “Water removes the natural oils in your scalp and hair,” says Mayela Vazquez from Within the Trend. “Your scalp produces sebum which is excellent for dry hair. What you want to do is to brush your hair every night to distribute the oils from roots to ends and wash it every other day.” It’s also important to avoid washing your hair under hot water and over brushing it when it is wet in order to prevent damage. You may want to try using a natural bristle brush for a gentler approach. Don’t miss these common myths that are completely ruining your hair.

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Dyeing hair
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Coloring your own hair

“Please don’t try and highlight your own hair,” says NYC hairstylist Kali Ferrara. “Just don’t. It’s not worth it.” The chemicals in store-bought hair dyes are harsh and can easily break your hair off. The only solution to fixing any potential damage would be to cut it off. If you’re not sure what to do, it’s best for both you and your stylist to wait for a professional. “There’s a reason salon hair color is a multibillion-dollar industry, and it’s because it’s not out of a box. Each color is custom mixed to the client’s specifications.”

If you insist on coloring your hair at home, make sure you don’t mix brands. Each dye contains different components that could result in a chemical reaction that could ruin your hair or turn it an unexpected color. When it comes to taking care of dyed hair, Ferrara recommends doing a weekly hair mask such as Oribe’s Gold Lust Transformative Mask, K18‘s leave-in hair mask or the Verb Hydrating Mask. You can also head to the pharmacy to pick up a hair vitamin to help with their hair growth and health like Vitafusion’s Gorgeous Hair Skin and Nails gummies. Check out these hairstyle terms you need to know before your next visit to the salon.

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Woman Looking in Mirror Cutting Split Hair Ends
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Trying to trim your own hair

“Trimming your own hair is something that your hairstylist will never be able to address,” explains Achintya Kolipakkam of Elegance Tips. “Once the damage is done, it is done.” You will likely have to wait for your hair to grow out before a stylist can fix the problem. Figure out what style is best for you depending on your face shape.

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young asian female dry with blower
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Adding too much heat to your hair

We are all guilty of this one. Hairdryers and straighteners are an easy solution to taming frizz or styling, but the excess heat can really ruin hair. Direct heat can cause damage to the strands leading to split ends and breakage. When you do use heat on your hair—because, let’s face it, it’s unavoidable—invest in a heat protecting serum to serve as an extra shield for your hair. International artist Anthony Cole recommends Clairol Professional Shimmer Lights Thermal Shine Spray. See these tips to make your blowout last so you don’t have to keep breaking out the hairdryer.

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Older Caucasian woman brushing hair
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Brushing too much

Don’t brush your hair if it doesn’t need to be brushed, especially when you start at the roots. When you begin at the roots, you will create a knot that will pull off too much hair and will weaken the roots over time. Gently brush your hair beginning from the bottom and untangling knots along the way. Don’t miss these common hairstyle mistakes that age your face.

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Fresh and ready to face the day
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Wrapping your hair in a towel

Especially for those with long hair, it may be appealing to wrap your hair up in a towel to make it dry faster, but this common solution could really harm your hair. “If you really want to dry it without harming your hair, gently blot hair with your towel to speed the drying process, or better yet, use an old cotton t-shirt, which is less harsh on your hair,” suggests Jeremy Harrison of Hustle Life. “You might not see any differences now, but you’ll see them soon enough, and by that time, it’ll be too late to turn things around.” Next, check out these secrets your hairstylist won’t tell you.


Emma Taubenfeld
Emma Taubenfeld is a former assistant editor for Reader’s Digest who writes about digital lifestyle topics such as memes, social media captions, pickup lines and cute pets. When she’s not working, you can find Emma reading corny young adult novels, creating carefully curated playlists and figuring out how to spice up boxed mac and cheese.