I get overwhelmed trying to follow all the hair care rules out there. How long should I leave on a hair mask? Is it really damaging to go to bed with wet hair? The list of hair dos and don’ts seems endless.

Haircare can be confusing, whether you’re a pro or just wash and go. We all likely make mistakes with our hair. I talked to experts – hairstylists, brand founders, a dermatologist – to find common haircare mistakes. Here’s what they said.

Mistake #1: Over-Washing Your Hair

Washing daily can damage hair, says dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. It depends on your hair type.

Curly or coarse hair tends to be drier, so natural oils don’t travel down the strands as easily. People with curly or coarse hair may want to wash less than those with straight hair, she explained.

Mistake #2: Going to Bed with Wet Hair

Sleeping with wet hair can damage it, warns Melanin Haircare co-founder Whitney White.

Wet hair is vulnerable to breakage. Tossing and turning can lead to more damage if your hair isn’t wrapped up.

It can also cause scalp irritation if the moisture gets trapped on your pillow.

If you must shower at night, loosely braid or bun your hair. That prevents tangles and breakage overnight.

Mistake #3: Skipping Trims to Grow Hair Faster

Regular trims help hair stay healthy, say celebrity hairstylists Julius Michael and Camille Friend.

If you don’t cut split ends, they’ll just keep splitting. Impossible for hair to grow or be healthy.

Trim every 8-10 weeks to cut away damage. This creates beautiful, healthy hair.

Trimming doesn’t affect growth speed. Hair grows from the scalp. Trims maintain healthy ends and reduce split ends.

Mistake #4: Elastic Hair Ties Cause Damage

Dermatologist Dr. Green recommends claw clips instead of regular elastic hair ties.

Claw clips gently gather hair without stretching and pulling like elastics do. They cocoon hair to prevent damage.

Clips come in various sizes. Find one that suits your hair thickness and length.

Mistake #5: Hats Don’t Cause Hair Thinning

Hairstylist Samantha Denis debunks this myth. Wearing hats doesn’t thin your hair, she says.

Genetics, hormones, diet, stress and chemicals are major thinning causes – not hats.

Properly fitted caps and hats don’t restrict blood flow or airflow to damage hair.

But give your scalp a break at night from tight swim caps or wigs. Gently remove them and be careful around hairlines.

Mistake #6: Skipping the Cold Water Rinse

Rinsing with cold water seals the cuticle, says Whitney. This helps hair retain moisture.

Closing the cuticle provides a protective barrier. Moisture can’t escape as easily.

As a bonus, cold water makes hair look smoother, shinier, and less frizzy. The smooth cuticle surface reduces static.

Mistake #7: DIY Hair Dye Can Cause Damage

Whitney warns against at-home boxed dyes. Consult a pro before chemically coloring.

Chemical dyes and bleaches can weaken and damage hair if done incorrectly. This leads to breakage.

Henna or indigo offer natural, less harmful coloring. They even improve hair’s look and feel.

Temporary dyes sit on top of strands without affecting the cuticle layer. They are a great alternative.

Mistake #8: Avoid Tight Slicked-Back Buns

Tight buns can damage hair and lead to traction alopecia, warns Dr. Green. This permanent hair loss is caused by repeated tight styling.

But you can wear buns safely:

  • Keep buns loose, not too tight.
  • Tie hair gently with a satin scrunchie instead of a thin elastic.
  • Alternate hairstyles so hair and scalp aren’t pulled the same way daily.

Mistake #9: Be Cautious with DIY Hair Masks

Homemade hair masks using mayo or eggs provide temporary moisture at best, say the experts. Store-bought protein and moisture treatments work better.

Egg yolks and whites contain vitamins and biotin to strengthen damaged cuticles. Avocado or coconut oil hydrate dry hair. But DIY masks can further damage hair if used too often or left on too long, warns Dr. Green.

For best results, choose professional salon or store-bought masks formulated for your specific hair type and concerns. Their ingredients target issues more effectively.

Mistake #10: Stress Impacts Your Hair

Stress affects hair health but isn’t the only cause of grays, says Camille. Genetics play a big role in when you go gray.

Here’s how it works:

When stressed, nerves release norepinephrine into hair follicles. This causes stem and pigment cells to move away. Without stem cells making new pigment, new hair grows in gray or white.

Mistake #11: More Than Sweat Causes “Dirty” Roots

Whitney says sweat isn’t the only cause of “dirty” looking roots.

Buildup from hair products can also make roots appear greasy and clogged. An oily scalp leads to excess sebum and dandruff too.

Hard water deposits leave hair feeling sticky. The mineral content gets trapped on the scalp.

A clarifying shampoo removes buildup. A shower filter prevents hard water deposits.

Mistake #12: Changing Up Your Routine Revives Hair

When hair goes limp and dull, our first instinct is to switch shampoos, says Samantha. But other factors may be the real culprits.

Over-styling and over-processing can reduce shine and elasticity. Maybe you need a trim or weekly treatment instead of new products.

Or try shampooing less often to give hair a break from suds. Then it responds better on wash days.

Switching products can help too by using new ingredients. See what your hair likes best.

But it’s not the only solution for dull hair. Consider all factors and your unique hair needs. Ask an expert if you have specific questions.

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