After bleaching, blowing, styling, manipulating, pulling, tugging, and teasing, it’s actually pretty impressive our hair still finds ways to grow. The way we handle our hair (most times not with love) combined with the external factors weathering our locks, we definitely need to take precautionary measures when and where we can. We’ve turned to our friends at Refinery 29 to get the deets on how we can stop ruining our hair for good.
Are we accidentally sabotaging our locks? The answer, most likely, is yes. According to Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, a trichologist at the New York Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic, women are trained to think about our hair externally. “We’re not conditioned to think about it as being a barometer of our health,” she says. But, as experience has taught her, that’s exactly what it is. Turns out, it’s not just our flat irons and platinum that’s causing our tress distress (though that’s definitely not helping).
So, what is making our locks thin and lose their luster? We talked to a handful of experts to figure it out. From our breakfast routines to our ponytails, our worst hair habits are things we didn’t even realize were destructive. Click through to check out the surprising things we’re doing to destroy our hair — from inside to outside.
According to Phillips, skipping breakfast means serious bad news for hair. “The body considers hair to be a nonessential tissue,” she says. “So, when you avoid putting nutrients in your body in the morning, you’re starting the day in a deficit.” Meaning: Your body uses nutrients for more important things first and if there’s nothing left for your hair? Well, too bad. This kind of damage will reveal itself by causing hair to shed and grow more slowly — more so if you’re a chronic breakfast skipper. The easy fix, Phillips says, is to start the day with protein and a complex carbohydrate to make sure that the nonessential tissue can get what it needs to thrive.
>> We’ve got tons of great, nutrient-dense breakfast recipes to keep your hair strong, belly satisfied, and waist line in check. Check them out here!
Being a vegetarian is a wonderful, admirable thing. However, it’s important to remember to still have a well-balanced diet — one that includes all the right amino acids. “People think that vegetarianism is automatically healthier,” says Phillips. “It’s not that simple, though.” If you’ve recently gone veg and have also noticed that you’re losing more hair in the shower, it might be time to take a look at your diet and make sure you’re not leaving anything out. Like, you know, protein.
>> Check out 10 protein rich foods to add to your diet.
“Women often come to me and say, ‘I’ve never been this healthy in my life — but my hair is shedding,’” says Phillips. “I’ll ask them what their journey to healthiness was, and they will very frequently say that they did a juice cleanse.” Much like skipping breakfast, a juice cleanse deprives the body of nutrients. Phillips says that because your body doesn’t know where it’s going to get its next nutrient from, it holds off on supplying nutrients to the hair. “And, the hair is traumatized by that,” Phillips says. A great alternative to a juice cleanse? A consistently healthy diet.
>> Find out what Dr. Oz has to say about cleanses, detoxes, and fasting.
Sure, we all know that overusing heat-styling tools leads to unhappy hair, but we weren’t sure why. According to Phillips, it’s not taking it from wet to dry that’s the problem — it’s taking it from dry to over-dry. You know those last few minutes of blowdrying, when you put the finishing touch on your already perfect look? Phillips says it’s within those extra, typically unnecessary minutes that we’re doing the most damage and dehydrating our hair. “Hair is a very strong fiber and can take this sort of drying about once a week,” she says. “But, if you’re over-drying all the time, you’re cumulatively damaging it and creating a vulnerability that will lead to breakage.” If you’re unwilling to give up those final styling moments, Phillips suggests turning the temperature down on your tools.
If you’re growing your hair out, obviously one’s first instinct is to, well, grow it out — without trimming it. Of course, not trimming it means getting stuck with stringy, damaged strands, all in the name of longer locks. On average, Phillips says, hair grows about half an inch per month, which is six inches a year. “All it takes is a quarter-inch trim every eight weeks to improve the integrity of your hair,” she says. Sure, it’ll be a difference of two inches in length after a year, but we’d rather have fuller, healthier hair, anyway.
Want to get more tips for luscious locks?! Click here to be taken to the original story on Refinery 29.