On any given day, your hair is likely to get a quick towel dry, pulled into and out of a ponytail a few times, and then nestles into your pillow – all typical habits you don’t give a second thought. But there’s the rub: “These movements create friction,” says hair stylist Eva Scrivo, the owner of the Eva Scrivo Salons in New York City. And this repeated daily friction can cause a lot of damage including hair breakage over time. Use these simple shifts to your routine to help you go gentle with your hair.
1. Be especially kind to wet strands
Hair stretches up to 30 percent when it’s wet, making it more susceptible to breakage, Scrivo says. Rather than aggressively rubbing it with a towel to dry it, wrap the towel around your head and squeeze out the excess moisture, says Herbal Essences celebrity stylist Charles Baker Strahan. The de-tangling tool you reach for is also key. “Using the wrong one is like cutting a tomato with a dull knife – it’s ineffective and destructive,” Scrivo says. Opt for a wide-tooth comb or a brush made for wet hair, which has super-flexible bristles. Try the Wet Brush (RM52). Slowly work your way through, section by section.
2. After working out, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Ideally, after sweating through an exercise session, you’ll wash – or at least rinse – your hair before you dry it. But raise your hand if you skip that step to save time and go straight into blow-drying your sweaty gym hair. It seems genius, until you learn that “the salt in your sweat combined with the heat of the dryer is seriously dehydrating,” Scrivo says. Her time-saving solution: Dab the sweat with a towel, then mist your hair with water (fill an empty hair spray bottle) or use a facial mist, like Clinelle PureSwiss Thermal Spring Water (RM20) to dilute any remaining sweat. Then blow dry.
3. Rotate your go-to styles
Strands are more prone to breakage when you put stress on the same section every day. “Tight ponytails and buns strain the hair, especially when you pull your hair into them when it’s still wet,” Baker Straham says. “You’ll most likely see broken strands around the hairline.” If you wear one of these styles daily, mix up its location; try it high one day and low the next. To prevent breakage from your hair elastic as well, go with a thick version: it provides more cushion and less tension than an elastic band would, Scrivo says.
4. Let your hair sleep soundly
Your trusty cotton pillowcase creates friction on the hair: Strands tend to snag on cotton fibers, which rough up the cuticle. Use a Slip Pure Silk Pillowcase (RM119.70). Or wrap hair in a silk scarf or pull a silk slip over your pillow, Baker Strahan says. Sleep with your hair up? If you pull out your elastic in the a.m. and stands come with it, then go to bed with the looser bun or a braid to keep your hair from being yanked in the night.