The Most Common Hair Washing Mistakes You’re Probably Making

by October 23, 2019

Woman with brunette hair Shampooing her hair

Image by Madison Reed

Lather, rinse, repeat...sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Turns out, you may be making mistakes when it comes to washing your hair. What has become routine to most might actually be doing some damage to those precious locks. But don’t worry...we’re here to set the record straight on the most common shower mistakes you’re probably making.

How Often Should You Wash Your Hair?
Every day? Every other day? Once a week, or—gasp—never? The question of how often to shampoo your hair has become increasingly confusing with the popularity of dry shampoos and the recent no-poo (read: no shampoo) movement. While there is no hard and fast answer to 
the question, we can tell you that washing your hair every day is too much. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you wash your hair, the more it needs to be washed, as stripping it from natural oils will cause an overproduction of oil, leading to hair that looks dirtier. For clean, healthy-looking hair, we recommend trying to go a few days between washes, or every other day at the most.

Let’s Talk Water Temp
We get it—nothing beats a long hot shower after a hard day. But we also think there’s nothing better than healthy-looking hair, so you might want to turn down the temperature of your shower water. Hot water actually dehydrates your hair (and your skin!), stripping it of its natural oils, leaving your scalp (and again, your skin!) dry and itchy. So turn down the temp. Opt for a warm shower, and if you want extra bonus happy hair points, finish with a blast of cold water to seal the cuticles of your hair, locking in moisture, leaving it smooth and shiny.

Woman washing her hair

The Right Way to Shampoo Your Hair (And Yes, There IS a Right Way)
Seems easy enough—you jump in the shower and squirt some shampoo in your hair. But it turns out that most people are sabotaging their shampoo with a few common mistakes. First, you need to thoroughly saturate your hair before you apply shampoo...we’re talking rinsing your hair for at least a minute. If your hair is particularly thick and curly, run your fingers through it to ensure every strand is saturated. This helps remove residue from product buildup, and allows the shampoo to really penetrate your hair cuticle. 

Only after your hair is well and truly wet do you apply shampoo, and then you only apply to your scalp, not to the mid-lengths and ends. With the shampoo, give your scalp a nice massage using the pads of your fingers, not your nails. Not only does a scalp massage relieve tension, it also helps remove dirt and buildup while boosting blood circulation, resulting in healthier-looking, flake-free hair.

Next Up? Conditioner
So now that you’ve given your scalp its own spa-like massage, it’s time to treat the rest of your hair. After all, your scalp has its own natural conditioner in the form of the oil your body produces. So never put conditioner on your scalp—only apply it to the bottom 2/3rds of your hair. But first, before applying conditioner, gently squeeze the excess water from your hair (but no twisting!). This allows the conditioner to really soak in. Then, once you apply conditioner, let it sit for at least 2 minutes. Next rinse, and rinse some more. If you don’t thoroughly rinse the conditioner out of your hair, your locks can look dull and heavy. Better yet? Finish with a blast of cold water for super shiny locks. 

Woman applying conditioner to her hair

The Right Stuff
The secret’s in the sauce, as they say, and we’re pretty sure they’re talking about hair care products. That is, don’t use just any shampoo and conditioner. Use products that are made for your specific hair type, and if you color your hair, you absolutely need to use products made for color-treated hair. First of all, make sure your shampoo and conditioner have UV protection to prevent your color from fading. And we always recommend using sulfate-free formulas, both because sulfates can strip color, and because they can be drying for hair.

So you’re done with your what? What you don’t do is rub your hair with your bath towel, brush your soaking wet hair, or head straight to your blow dryer. These common mistakes can damage your hair, causing frizz, split ends and breakage. Instead, wrap your hair in either an old t-shirt or a microfiber towel made specifically for hair. Let it dry for a bit, then, starting at the ends of your hair and going up, gently comb through with a wet brush to detangle. Once tangle-free and no longer dripping wet, you can style as usual.