Natural hair or hair that hasn’t been altered by texturizers or straighteners is versatile but also fragile. All those bends and curves that make kinky, curly, and coily hair so beautiful and unique also make it susceptible to damage. So we have to do our part to protect our tresses as much as possible.
Often we wonder, why our hair isn’t growing, why doesn’t it look healthy, or why does it keep breaking, not realizing we’re sabotaging our progress with our everyday haircare practices.
To help you along your journey, we’ve compiled a list of 5 common mistakes that are ruining your natural hair. These mistakes may seem harmless initially, but, over time, they can have a longterm negative impact on your hair. We’ll discuss the potential damage and also offer some real advice on how to rectify these problems.
So, if you’re having issues with maintaining the health of your hair, have a look below and see if you recognize any of these practices that you may be perpetrating in your daily routine.
1. Too much heat
I get it; sometimes we need a break from all of those kinks, coils, and curls. Blow dryers, hot combs, flat irons, and curling irons give us the versatility to easily create different hairstyles. Having heat straightened hair can be a refreshing change, making hair easier to work with and creating length. But beware. Overuse or abuse of these styling tools can be detrimental to your hair.
Why too much heat is a problem
Heat damage is the permanent change in the structure of your hair due to the use of heat products. The end result is hair strands that no longer look or act as they normally would. In other words, say goodbye to your natural curl pattern.
Heat damage can happen when you use your styling tools at extremely high temperatures, use them frequently, or in conjunction with each other. It can happen in one sitting if the tools are inappropriately used, or it can happen over time with continued exposure and overuse.
What's the fix?
There is no fix for heat-damaged hair. Once the structure of the hair shaft has been altered it can not revert back. The only real solution is to cut off the heat damaged ends. You may also find that using protein treatments will improve the look of the hair, but again this won’t change the actual structure.
To avoid heat damage, make sure to follow these tips below:
Never use heating tools over the temperature of 450 degrees. And to be safe, try to stay under or around 400 degrees.
Reduce the frequency of use for heat styling tools. If you use heat styling tools weekly, you may want to give your tresses a break and use them less often.
Use a heat protector before styling.
2. Tight updos or braids
Who doesn’t love a sleek, slicked-back ponytail, a high bun, or fierce looking box braids? But tight updos and protective styles could be wreaking havoc on your hair and hairline.
Why tight updos or braids is a problem
Protective styles and updos are often considered a great way to give your hair a break and provide versatility. But, if you’re wearing your hair in these styles constantly, your probably doing more harm than good. The pulling of the hair caused by tight updos and protective styles can damage fragile edges and the ends of the hair. And may even lead to traction alopecia (hair loss from the frequent tight pulling of the hair).
What's the fix?
- The best fix is simple. Stop pulling your hair back into tight styles. Reduce the frequency of use for these hairstyles, and instead, try something new.
- If you get a protective style installed, make sure it isn't’ too tight. And if it is, don’t be afraid to tell the technician.
- If you do occasionally choose to wear these styles, loosen them up. If you feel pain, it’s too tight.
- If you notice hair loss or a receding hairline, it’s best to see a dermatologist.
3. Not protecting your hair at night
The end of the night rolls around, and we just want to jump into bed. After a day of running around, deadlines, and commitments nobody wants to think about their hair. But having a well established nighttime routine can save you time, hassle and protect your hair. At a minimum, the least you can do for your tresses is use a satin or silk scarf, bonnet or pillowcase.
Why not protecting your hair at night is a problem
Sleeping on a cotton pillowcase at night can be quite damaging to your hair. Not only does cotton create friction and tug at your hair strands, but it also draws moisture and natural oils from your hair (and your face too), leaving it dry and prone to damage.
What's the fix?If you want to encourage growth, have your hair look it’s best, and increase manageability, it’s best to put something silky or satiny between your head and your pillow.
- Use a silk or satin hair bonnet, scarf, or pillowcase. They work similarly to protect the hair against damage. Silk is a natural fibre and comes with additional benefits. While satin is a synthetic one, often made from polyester or a combination of materials. Silk is a luxury product and comes with a premium price tag. If that isn’t in your budget, opt for satin.
- Silk or satin allows your hair to slip and slide on the surface of your pillow. They reduce friction on the hair and help to retain your style.
4. Skipping the deep conditioning step
I think it’s fair to say we’ve all been guilty of this. Sometimes the mind nor the body is willing, and when wash day gets condensed, deep conditioning is the first thing to go. While no one is going to slap you on the wrist for occasionally ditching your deep conditioner, be sure it doesn’t become a habit.
Why skipping the deep conditioning step is a problemIf you neglect your deep conditioning step regularly, it won’t take long to see how it affects your hair. Negative consequences for your hair include:
- split ends
- slow growth
- lack of shine
- difficult to manage
What's the fix?
Deep conditioning is your first-line defence against dry, brittle, and breaking hair.
The number one complaint that we hear from curlies is that their hair is dry. At times it seems like having moisturized hair is the stuff of fairytales. But it doesn’t have to be. Moisturized hair is attainable and available to anyone and starts with a routine that includes deep conditioning.
Deep conditioning is an essential step in any haircare regimen, and especially vital for curly hair types. Deep conditioning on a regular basis works to :
- repair damage
- strengthen hair strands
- encourage growth
- reduce frizz
- improve elasticity
- improve softness and manageability
- retain moisture
How you deep condition your hair is very much dependent on the porosity of your hair. To find out more about your hair’s porosity and how to care for it, read Hair Porosity: Characteristics and Care. If you're looking for some deep conditioner recommendations check out our post on our top-selling deep conditioners based on porosity.
5. Avoiding Trims
Sometimes the length of our hair becomes more important than the health of our hair. After months or years of letting our hair grow, we don’t want to lose a single centimetre, let alone an inch. But the heath of your hair shouldn’t be sacrificed for the length.
Why avoiding trims is a problemOver time, damaged, fragile ends that haven’t been trimmed are more detrimental to your overall hair than you think. They stop hair from growing as they contribute to the continued breaking of your stands.
What's the fix?
The fix here is pretty obvious - trim those ends. Trimming your hair actually makes it grow faster and healthier, so don't hesitate to do it when needed.
There's no need to hack away at your ends every 2 weeks, that’s way too much. But do be attentive to your hair -- analyze it from time to time and see if your ends are split, damaged, weak or thin. If so, it might be time for a trim. Trimming, on average, is done every 6-8 weeks. But do what works for you. Some will notice that their hair can go for a more extended period of time without needing a trim.
Now that we've made it through the list, are you guilty of any of these mistakes? If you are, don't worry, change your habits today to make for healthier hair, tomorrow. If you're not, keep doing what you're doing and give a tip to a newbie who might be struggling.
What other common mistakes do you think many naturals make?