9 Bad Hair Habits You Need To Stop Right Now So That Your Hair Can Grow
Natural hair care can sometimes be a complicated subject. There are a multitude of natural hair bloggers, so called natural hair ‘experts’, youtubers and such like giving varying levels of advice on the best way to care for your hair. In spite of that, many of the people I talked to about hair care are still practicing bad habits that could be prohibiting their hair care and hair growth journey.
I wanted to take a moment to share a few things with you that I have learnt along the way that will hopefully help you to avoid some heartache and errors which could be stunting your hair care journey. Here are 9 things I think you need to stop doing (or consider stopping) to get your hair care routine in a great place.
**Disclaimer: I am not a hair care professional. All my posts are based on personal experience, preference and things I have learnt from reading and researching. If you have serious concerns about your hair please consult a professional**
- Trimming Your Natural Hair The Wrong Way
I don’t know about you, but when I was younger I was always scared to get my hair trimmed. It didn’t seem to grow very long in the first place so I definitely did not want the hairdresser taking off the few inches I had. I had had experiences of asking hairdressers to take off a couple of centimeters and then leaving the salon with a couple of inches missing; so I decided to trim my hair myself. Now trimming your hair yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing but you have to do it the right way and unfortunately many of you may be doing it the wrong way.
I started out by using any old scissors I could find around the house, be that kitchen scissor, sewing scissors etc. But this is a big no no because the scissors you use to cut your hair need to be sharp trimming scissors and should only be used for cutting your hair. When you use any other type of scissors they could be blunt and end up causing damage to your ends because they may actually be tearing the hair as opposed to cutting it. This leaves your hair with split ends which could ultimately lead to more damage and breakage.
I also used to trim my hair after spraying it with water and applying a leave in conditioner, so my hair was damp and soft; I later learnt that this is not the best way to cut curly and coily hair. When our curls are wet they are actually at their most fragile so are more prone to damage. Cutting your hair while it’s wet can lead to the ends been frayed which can lead to split ends.
Conclusion: Trim your hair with sharp trimming scissors that you only use for your hair. Trim your hair when it is dry.
- Washing Your Hair Too Often
The truth is natural hair needs moisture. However you do need to be mindful of how often you wash your hair, because over washing your hair can lead to moisture overload, leaving your hair feeling mushy and overly soft and making it more susceptible to damage. I have heard people say they wash their hair 3 times a week, but honestly I don’t think there is any need to wash your hair so frequently, plus it’s a very expensive habit because you’ll be getting through so much of your products!
I personally wash my hair once a week and make sure I deep condition every wash day. Some people opt for washing their hair once every 2 weeks but I wouldn’t advise leaving it longer than that. But what about co-washing (washing your hair with a conditioner) I hear you cry? Well to be completely honest I have only ever used shampoo when I wash my hair because I wash my hair with the purpose of cleansing it.
Conditioners are designed to smooth down the hair cuticles which will of course help to seal in moisture, so you may choose to wash your hair with a conditioner for that purpose; but I prefer to cleanse my hair with a shampoo and then condition it. To each their own right? If you find that co-washing is working well for you then that’s fine, but you must remember to have some wash days where you use shampoo as well so that you can clear build up from your tresses.
Conclusion: Don’t wash your hair too much. To retain moisture between wash days opt for sealing in the moisture after you wash your hair using the LCO/LOC method. I would also recommend spritzing your hair with some water or a botanical mist a couple of times a week between wash days and having a good night time moisture routine as that really should be adequate in adding and retaining moisture. Remember to deep condition (with heat if possible) to allow the deep conditioner to penetrate the hair strands more deeply and help to add, seal and retain moisture.
- Changing Your Hairstyle Too Often
‘Hand in hair syndrome’ is a real thing! I can remember being told by my mum on several occasions to ‘keep my hands out of my hair’ as a teenager. I would try style after style, adding pomade to sleek styles down, canerow my hair and then take it all out because I didn’t like the style, adding braids, straightening my hair and anything else I fancied! Well I have 2 words for you; OVER MANIPULATION which leads nicely to another 2 words, namely MECHANICAL DAMAGE.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to switch it up and try out different styles, but we have to be mindful of the impact that this has on our delicate strands. By all means try out new styles, but leave enough space between the styles so that you minimise the amount of tension you are putting on your hair. Over manipulation can lead to split ends as well as loss of moisture which can result in dry, brittle, damage prone hair.
Conclusion: Switch it up, but not too often and opt for low manipulation protective styles. To give your hair a break between styles makes use of hair accessories such as headwraps and wigs.
- Wearing Your Natural Hair Loose Too Often
Wash and gos are beautiful styles and to me, afros always look gorgeous. However wearing your hair out too often in a shrunken state can leave it prone to tangles, single strand knots and loss of moisture, which can lead to breakage. Moderation is key, as well as going between styles that stretch your hair out, such as twists, twist outs and braid outs. These will help to minimise damage and moisture loss.
Conclusion: Minimise the amount of times your wear your hair out in a shrunken state.
- Wearing Braids And Crochet Braids Too Often
As I mentioned in point 3, I think it’s fun to switch it up and try different hairstyles from time to time. However moderation is always key especially when it comes to using extra hair in the form of braids and crochet braids. Any additional hair that you add to your own hair will draw moisture out of your hair, increasing dryness. This means that even if you have prepped your hair well with a great leave in product before installing your braids, the braids will still draw all that beautiful moisture away from your hair. The extra weight on your hair can also weaken strands making them more fragile and prone to breakage.
Crochet braids are attached to cornrows which means that there is again extra weight pulling down on the roots of your hair. The crochet styles will also make it harder for you to refresh your hair with moisture during the week because it is tucked away. Again the key word is moderation as well as making sure you stay on top of moisture while your hair is in a braided style. You can still wash and condition your hair while it’s in braids and add shots of moisture using your spray bottle or a botanical mist.
Conclusion: Moderation is key, try to avoid doing braided styles back to back, ensure they are not too tight or too heavy. Keep on top of your moisture when your hair is in a braided style.
- Avoiding Protein Altogether
Some people may have a sensitivity to protein so may have to watch the amount of protein they use on their hair. However I have seen some people totally avoiding protein in products altogether and opting for moisture based products especially conditioners. Deep conditioning your hair with only moisture based products can lead to moisture overload resulting in hygral fatigue, which can leave your hair limp, mushy and cause fizziness, brittleness and dullness.
Our hair is primarily made up of a chain of amino acids and proteins called keratin which gets worn down as a result of the different processes we put our hair through (over-styling, chemical treatments) and environmental stressors. As a result of the Keratin being worn down, gaps are created in our hair which can eventually lead to damage and breakage. This means that we need to replace the lost protein in our hair with the use of protein treatments as well as using products which contain protein. Our hair needs a good balance of protein and moisture to ensure that it looks and feels healthy, so avoiding protein altogether for your hair will have negative results.
Your hair will also be able to tell you if it is need of protein based on its condition. If you find that your hair is limp and stringy, has low elasticity, is experiencing increased level of shedding and breakage, feels gummy or sticky or has been coloured recently it is highly likely to be in need of some protein.
Conclusion: Balance is key, aim to have a good balance of moisture and protein. Get to know your hair and how it should feel when it is healthy so that you can spot if something is not quite right. Eat a balanced diet and visit a tricholoist if you are experiencing any prolonged negative symptoms on your hair.
- Using The Wrong Products In Your Hair
I carried out a small poll recently on my social media platforms and some of the Facebook groups I’m in. I asked people whether they read (and understood) the ingredients in their hair products and how they decided if a product was good for their hair. The vast majority of people did not read ingredients on their products and if they did, didn’t really understand what they were reading. Most of the people that responded also said that they relied on recommendations from friends and reviews from hair influencers they followed to pick products they used for their hair. If I take that into consideration, it comes as no surprise that many people are probably using the wrong products for their hair and also using the products they currently have incorrectly.
It is important to understand what the different hair products on the market are designed for and how to apply them properly. It is also important to look out for key ingredients to use and also ones to avoid. If you are concerned about porosity you also need to take that into account when choosing your products. You also have to think about the characteristics and condition of your hair when choosing products. For example if you have fine low density hair you may want to stay away from heavy butter based products as these will weigh your hair down and leave it looking clumped or stringy.
If you are seeking hydration, you need to look for hair mists and leave in products that have water as the first ingredient on their ingredients list.
I recently had a lady ask me to recommend the best oil that would give her maximum moisture; I gently explained to her that moisture comes from water and water based products whereas oil should be used for sealing in moisture. Another lady told me she was finding that her cream wasn’t sealing moisture in well, after a few questions I discovered that she was using a mousse as a sealant which wasn’t suitable because it was so light and airy and designed for styling.
Conclusion: Get to know your hair and what it needs, read the instructions on the products and watch tutorials so you know how to apply the different products correctly. Read up about different ingredients and why they are good or your hair so you can make better decisions about products.
- Using The Wrong Techniques
Following on from my previous point, as well as choosing the correct products you need to couple that with the correct techniques to get the best results in your hair care routine. It can be simple things such as remembering to seal in moisture with some form of cream or oil to finding the best way to apply leave in products be that ‘raking’, ‘praying hands’ or ‘scrunching’ the products in.
Finding the best way to dry and stretch your hair without heat and using the correct towel can make a huge difference in minimising damage to your hair. Making sure that you apply products in small sections and being sure to show special attention to your ends by keeping them well moisturised and tucked away often, can be a game changer in retaining a healthy length.
Conclusion: Get to know the best way to apply products and the best techniques you need to use to care for your hair.
- Being Anxious About Your Natural Hair
Girl, your hair is your crown. Take time to love and care for it and enjoy the process one step at a time. Strive for health over length and resist the urge to constantly be tugging on your hair to do endless ‘length checks’. If you look after your hair and use the right products and techniques, your hair will grow healthily.
Enjoy your hair at every length and enjoy experimenting with different styles and seeing the beautiful diversity of your curls and coils. Take time to do your research and find the best things that work for your hair and link in with other naturalists on their journeys for external support.
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