1. Heat Over-exposure
From flatirons, blow drying, hot showers and even the sunlight, over exposing your hair to heat will weaken hair proteins, making it fragile and prone to breakage. Frequently washing your hair with hot water dries your hair and scalp and strips it of nourishments such as natural oils and sebum. This causes the scalp go into overdrive and produce too much oil which will eventually lead to shedding.
Tip: For those who have a habit of using hot tools, it is recommended to use a heat protectant product before styling and never focus on one area for too long. When blow drying, don’t aim at the roots and use a cool to medium level heat setting.
2. Mishandling Wet Hair with a Towel
As mentioned above, hot water can dehydrate and weaken your hair strands. Even when exposed to lukewarm water, our hair is porous and vulnerable when wet. The protective cuticle is slightly raised and therefore, we need to be extra gentle in handling it after a wash.
A common mistake is to dry our hair by coarsely rubbing a towel all over and then wrapping it up in a towel turban. This is very damaging to the hair cuticles and will cause our hair to break easily! The weight of the towel in a turban also pulls the hair by the hairline which over time will lead to traction alopecia.
Tip: Instead of a regular cotton towel which generates a lot of friction, use a microfibre cloth or t-shirt to gently squeeze or dab your hair, then let it air dry.
3. Using the Wrong Brush
Hair brushes are tools we use to detangle our locks everyday, so using the wrong brush in the wrong way can cause a lot of damage. Take note of the materials that the bristles, base and handle are made out of, if they are rough and scratchy to your skin, that means they are also rough to your hair. So while boar bristle brushes are popular for styling because they give the best traction, they aren’t the most hair-friendly brushes for everyday use.
Tip: Brushes with plastic or nylon bristles and bases are more gentle on your hair for daily use. If you brush your hair after a shower, use a plastic wide-toothed comb so it doesn’t tug on your hair. Start brushing at the ends of your hair first, then go higher towards the roots, rather than starting at the top and ripping down your hair.
4. Tight Hairstyles
Ponytails, buns and braids may look great and leave us feeling fresh, but wearing them too often and too tight can actually lead to hair thinning and shedding. The constant tension from pulling on the hair follicles can lead to traction alopecia. It is a progressive thinning of the hair line or whichever area you are tugging on the most often. If you notice some baby hairs along the hairline, it is a sign that the alopecia has started.
Tip: Wear looser hairstyles that don’t pull your hair so tightly. Use hair ties that are softer on your hair like a scrunchy. Change your hair parting every now and then so that the stress isn’t put on the same area over and over again.
5. Overusing hair products
Many hair products contain all sorts of harmful chemicals. Hair sprays and styling gels have alcohol that may dehydrate the strands, relaxers and straighteners have chemicals that can scar and alter the structure of hair follicles. Residue of the products left on the strand may cause the hair to fall out or break when it is brushed or combed through. Overusing hair products may clog your pores causing inflammation and affecting hair growth.
Tip: Use organic and natural hair products which do not permanently alter the structure and protein-bonds of your hair. Regularly go for a scalp detox such as a jet peel treatment to remove scalp sebum and unclog pores for healthy hair growth.
6. Drastic Colour Changes
If you skip a few shades and go from natural black to platinum blonde in one sitting, the process will require a lot of bleaching and harsh chemicals to lift your cuticles, leaving the hair fragile and prone to breakage.
Tip: An alternative is to use organic hair colouring and achieve the colour change over several sessions to minimise the stress on your hair.
7. Skipping Meals
Many Hong Kongers live a busy city life, so it’s no surprise if some people skip breakfast as they rush out the door every morning. But when our body lacks nutrients, it will redirect them to fuel our essential organs first. Since feeding our hair and scalp is of lesser importance and not a matter of life and death, they won’t receive the nourishment to stay strong and healthy, which leads to hair loss.
Tip: Make sure you maintain a regular diet filled with biotin, omega-3 fatty acids and iron for healthy hair growth! Learn more from our article on the Types of Foods that Help Promote Hair Growth.