5 unholy habits causing hair damage when you least expect it
The mane problem is…
When I was 13, I wanted to turn my naturally wavy hair straight before attending a friend’s birthday party. Here’s the catch: I didn’t have a straightener. So I turned to Baba Google to answer my burning question and I got my innovative solution: straightening my damp hair with a clothes iron. The look lasted as long as the candles on the cake, and for the next two years, I had to live with a triangular-shaped haystack on my head. Funny enough, I didn’t even realize how bad the hair damage was until my mane grew back to its wavy, glossy self.
I learned the hard way that hair damage is real, and can literally take years to reverse.
Your hair is a canvas for self-expression, but whatever you choose to do, remember not to compromise on its health. Natasha Naegamwala, hairstylist and director of Nalini and Yasmin salons, marks the main culprits you need to avoid.
Hair damage culprits to watch out for
UV rays are drying out your skin and hair
It’s common knowledge that spending time in the sun without sunscreen can damage your skin. But did you know the same applies to your hair?
“The harsh rays of the sun deplete keratin–the protein responsible for keeping the hair healthy and glossy”, explains Naegamwala. And this is probably the reason your hair feels as dry and frizzy as Hagrid’s beard.
Combat the damage by applying a serum like Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil that protects hair from UV damage or signing up for an in-salon treatment. “You can opt for hydrating hair spas that improve hair elasticity by locking in moisture, along with treatments like System Professional Liquid Hair that work on lipids, which is the glue that holds the protein bonds together,” says Naegamwala. Or for an easy way out, cover your hair with a scarf or wide-brimmed hat when exposed to extreme sun.
Avoid getting tangled up with detangling
Twisting your hair while you sit at your desk or dragging your hairbrush through dry hair that still has yesterday’s hairspray in it can be damaging. Experts cite excessive traction, that is too much tugging and pulling, as one of the main reasons behind hair breakage.
Being gentle to remove rigid knots might seem counterintuitive, but Rupesh Pailkar, Style Director at Jean-Claude Biguine Salons, won’t have it any other way. “When detangling dry hair, remember to use a wide tooth comb and start working on knots from the ends back down to the scalp to reduce traction at the roots,” he says.
In the case of post-shower hair, Naegamwala warns you have to be even more careful. “Hair is at its weakest when wet, so make sure you use a Wet Brush that is designed to reduce tension. You can also add protein-based oils or serums to damp hair to aid with detangling.”
Don’t bring on the heat
Can’t do without your blowdry? Excessive heat from your styling tools can weaken the hair shaft and cause severe hair damage over a period of time. “Dryers and straightening irons come in direct contact with your hair, so it’s critical to spray a heat protectant spray before you use these tools to minimize heat-induced damage,” says Naegamwala.
Also try to set your tools on a lower temperature while styling–it might take you a little longer to achieve the look you want, but it cuts back damage by a significant amount. “Investing in good quality tools like the Dyson Airwrap and Supersonic dryer that regulates heat temperature internally also helps to scale down the damage,” says Naegamwala.
Say no to excessive styling
Combs, hairclips, hairties and bobby pins all exert external force on your hair which can sneakily cause hair damage. “We tend to use hair accessories at the same spots. Doing this repeatedly over time can cause weakness and breakage,” explains Naegamvala.
A good routine swap to turn back this damage would be to ditch combs and brushes with metal teeth, which are harsh on hair, and get rid of rubberbands or clips with metal on them, that snag hair and cause breakage.
Be colour smart
With new hair trends popping up on Instagram by the minute, it can be tempting to try a brown balayage one month and move on to a lilac lob the next. “Colour, bleach or any other chemical can cause protein bonds in hair to break when used incorrectly,” says Naegamwala.
New bond-strengthening treatments like Olaplex are mixed into the colouring treatment to reduce hair damage at the very onset. “Ask a trusted hairstylist to recommend the correct at-home care and in-salon aftercare,” she says. And never, ever try colouring or bleaching your hair at home.
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Styling: Divya Gursahani, Makeup: Riddhima Sharma, Hair: Krisann Figueiredo, Model: Siya Malasi/Toabh