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3 Surprising Habits That Damage Thinning Hair
Washing less and using dry shampoo may hurt more than help
You’ve likely read or heard that cutting back on how often you shampoo is healthy for your hair. It preserves salon color, prevents the over-stripping of natural scalp oils (so hair stays better hydrated) and enables you to scale back on daily, damaging heat styling. The problem is, while this practice may benefit the hair you have now, extending time between shampoos (and the tricks we adopt to look polished between washings) can cause strands to become scrawnier and sparser over time. Here are three haircare habits associated with infrequent shampooing that may be impacting the fullness of your future hair.
Overusing dry shampoo. Many of us rely on dry shampoo to revive our strands between hair-washings. However, the old adage you can have too much of a good thing is apropos here, says Nunzio Saviano, a New York City stylist, as using dry shampoo for a day or two is fine, but after four days, this strand saver becomes a locks liability. Spray powder builds up on the scalp, says Saviano, suffocating hair follicles and inhibiting future hair growth.
Not cleansing thoroughly enough. When we do finally get around to washing, more and more of us are opting to use something called a cleansing conditioner, an all-in-one product that flips the old Pert Plus 2-in-1 premise on its head. Rather than a shampoo with a touch of conditioner, these formulas are conditioners laced with cleansing agents. Fine to use in moderation, these products become a problem when used exclusively because most contain abundant oils and conditioning agents which build up on the hair and scalp over time, clogging hair follicles and compromising growth.
Sticking to the same (dirty-hair) styling strategy many of us, by day two or three of not shampooing, have a default ‘do: a ponytail, a topknot or a twist at the nape. This is an efficient and effective way to look polished with not-so-clean strands. However, if your routine rarely varies, and that ponytail or knot is always in the very same spot, you do run the risk of weakening and breaking the strands that are repeatedly strangled by tight elastics or stabbed with pins. Additionally, pulling your hair taut puts tension on fragile strands along your hairline, which can cause further breakage, as well as inflict trauma to the hair follicles there, impacting the health of the new strands they sprout.
So, what are better hair care strategies—that both protect future growth, as well as the hair you already have? Saviano says washing every other day (or, at the most, every third day), rather than trying to stretch for a whole week (or two!) is a good compromise. If you do use a cleansing conditioner, swap it out for a traditional shampoo at least twice a month to ensure you’re minimizing build up, and, once a month, go for a deeper sloughing, with a scalp wash or mask, such as Aveda’s Pramasana Purfying Scalp Cleanser or Phillip Kingsley’s Exfoliating Scalp Mask.
Finally, try to vary the height or placement of ponytails or buns, consider experimenting with gentler-on-hair braids, and always use hardware-free elastics such as Goody Ouchless Elastics that won’t get tangled in and tear at the hair.
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