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Your 4 Biggest Hair Mistakes—And How To Fix Them
You crunch, blow, and curl it every day to make it look great, but all that handling could be sending your hair down the drain—literally. Forty-one percent of women say they experience hair breakage on a daily basis. And some hair styling faux pas can actually cause hair to come out by the roots. Here's how to protect your tresses from hair styling mistakes of the "too much" variety: too tight, too often, or too hot. ( is the first-ever plan that tackles the root cause of virtually every major ailment and health condition today.)
Mistake #1: Overhandling
Giving your hair 100 strokes, teasing, or vigorous shampooing will eventually fray the cuticle, the outer layer of the hair shaft that protects the fragile inner filaments. The result? Hair breakage.
Hair Helper: "Treat your hair like it's the finest silk," advises Rodney Cutler, owner of New York City's Cutler/Redken Salon. Use the tips of your fingers to gently cleanse your scalp—no need to scrub. Dirt, oil, and debris will float away as the lather passes over your hair. After you condition but before you rinse, detangle your hair in the shower with a wide-tooth comb. Try Pantene Pro-V's Repair & Protect shampoo, conditioner, and serum to minimize damage (, drugstore.com). When hair is dry, brush just enough to style it.
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Mistake #2: Overheating
When exposed to high heat, the cells of the hair's cuticle separate and break off, exposing the delicate filaments within. Your hair is apt to snap where cuticle is missing, explains Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center in California. Hair loses its smoothness and luster, too, when the cuticle is damaged.
Hair Helper:Never blow-dry sopping wet hair, says Cutler; it can't take the heat. After rinsing, squeeze hair gently with a towel—don't rub. Try the super-absorbent Aquis Microfiber Hair Towel (, amazon.com). If you shampoo daily, use a leave-in conditioner designed to protect blow-dried hair.
Direct medium-heat airflow down the hair shaft in the direction that the cuticle's cells are layered; blowing hair in all directions adds to frizziness. Turn off the blow-dryer when hair is almost dry, and then lightly brush to style it.
African-American women should not use curling or flat irons more than once a week or soon after color or relaxation treatments, cautions Susan C. Taylor, MD, founding director of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City. If you must touch up, use a heat protector spray such as Tresemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray (, drugstore.com).
MORE: Why The Heck Is My Hair Falling Out?
Mistake #3: Overprocessing
Most hair dyes, perms, and relaxing agents aren't dangerous unless they are left on too long or used too often.
Hair Helper:"Don't perm more frequently than every 120 days," saysPreventionadvisor Mary P. Lupo, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. Never perm and color on the same day—a few weeks in-between is best, says Mirmirani.
In African-American women, relaxers and other chemical processes may contribute to a kind of permanent hair loss called central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), although genetics also may be involved. Women with CCCA can either relax or color, but not both.
Mistake #4: Too tight ponytails, braids, or extensions
The pressure of a rubber band around a ponytail can wear away the protective cuticle and cause hair to break. Anything that puts tension on the hair follicle for a prolonged period, like braids or extensions, can pull hair out by the roots, causing traction alopecia (balding), which is sometimes permanent.
Hair Helper:Use only hair-protecting bands, such as Goody StayPut Hair Elastics (, drugstore.com). If braids feel tight as they're being styled, ask the stylist to start over, urges Taylor.
Likewise, extensions and weaves shouldn't leave your scalp feeling tight, give you a headache, or cause inflammation, says Pantene celebrity stylist Danilo. Your best bet: temporary clip-in extensions. Check outhairuwear.comfor a wide array of choices.
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