Business Insider March 13, 2018

Business Insider

10 things you're doing wrong when you wash your hair - and they could be causing major damage

Hair washing mistakes tend to be the most obvious when it comes to personal care.

Hair that isn't washed enough, or washed too much, can look stringy or greasy.

If any product is left in the hair for too long, or not rinsed out properly, it can cause build-up and even create dandruff-like flakes.

INSIDER talked to eight experts about the best way to wash hair, along with some product recommendations.


Already tangled hair is much more difficult to wash — and can cause breakage.

"One of the first mistakes people make when shampooing in the shower is not properly preparing their hair before they start the shampoo process," the stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, told INSIDER.

"Whether you have fine or thick hair, it's important to detangle your hair before you jump into the shower."

Villanueva recommends using a wide tooth comb or a paddle brush to get through any tangles, which will decrease the amount of shedding in the shower.


Although a common sentiment in hair washing is to use a dime size amount of product, Villanueva said that advice isn't always applicable.

"There are multiple factors that will help you determine how much shampoo to use, including the thickness of your hair and how concentrated the shampoo is," she said.

"For example, salon brands tend to be highly concentrated and contain very little water, so it takes less product to get the job done. Some of the lower end/drugstore brands require a larger amount of product because there is more water in the formula."

Pay attention to how your hair feels after the shower and adjust your dosage accordingly.

Washing your whole head with shampoo

Shampoo is a detergent used to clean your scalp of bacteria and product build-up, which sits on the scalp.

Michon Kessler, a licensed cosmetologist and owner of Studio M inside Haven Salon Studios in Reno, Nevada, told INSIDER that people often shampoo their whole head, including the hair, when they should focus on the scalp.

"Lathering up the ends is unnecessary, she said. "The dirt, sebum, and dead skin live at the scalp, not 12 inches out on your ends. So lather at scalp only. The shear action of the lather rinsing through your ends is enough to cleanse them."

Putting conditioner in your scalp

Likewise, Kessler said people should only use conditioner on their ends, where the moisture is needed the most.

"Condition the opposite way," she said. "Your ends need all the oil and nutrients, so condition from the ends in toward the scalp.

If you do use conditioner further up the hair shaft, be careful to keep it away from your scalp, which will make it oilier.

Skipping a weekly treatment

A scalp cleansing treatment, like Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt, done weekly will make sure your skin is receiving the tender love and care it deserves.

Likewise, it's especially important when your hair isn't washed frequently.

"If you are skipping washes, which is totally fine, make sure when you are scrubbing you take the time to really scrub your scalp," Sarah Rappolt, education director and stylist at Michael Angelo's Wonderland Beauty Parlor in New York City, told INSIDER.

"The danger in product residue building up on the scalp over time is the possible development of dandruff or even fungus. Your scalp is a living breathing organ and needs oxygen to survive."

Rappolt said the process should take three to four minutes for the development of healthy, shiny hair.

Using the wrong shampoo for your hair type

Like using the wrong face wash for your skin type, the improper shampoo and conditioner duo can cause more damage.

"Fine, medium and coarse hair each have different needs," Jeanise Aviles, a stylist at Seagull Hair Salon in New York City, told INSIDER.

"A shampoo for coarse hair may not have small enough molecules to penetrate fine hair. The importance of using the correct shampoo for your hair type is essential to the health of your hair. If you use the wrong shampoo for your hair type, you can find yourself overdoing it with handfuls of suds. Even worse, you can create a buildup that is hard to remove and can even lead to split ends, or worse, breakage."

Always look at the bottle before buying shampoo, and when in doubt, ask your hairstylist what they recommend for your hair type.

Not knowing whether sulfates are in your shampoo

Experts are divided on the issue of sulfates, a specific type of detergent that is found in many shampoos.

Although some people will claim that they are bad for you, the Journal of the American College of Toxicology found that they are fine in very small doses.

People with naturally greasy hair might opt for a sulfate shampoo.

"This may be the time you want a gentle sulfated cleanser," Doug Martucci, creative director at PRORITUALS, an eco-friendly hair care and color line, told INSIDER.

Other experts, like Faith Huffnagle, director of education for Prose, a professional hair care brand, told INSIDER that sulfates strip hair of its natural oils and can increase hair and scalp sensitivity.

"Sulfate-free shampoo works best in conjunction with water," she said. "Soak your hair all over, add a little shampoo to the root, rub, add a little water to your scalp, repeat."

No-poo shampoos like DevaCurl and Hairstory are popular products that don't use sulfates.

Using your palms to distribute product

Depending on where you squirt shampoo and conditioner into your hands can change where the product is placed, Huffnagle said.

"By placing shampoo and conditioner along your four fingers not only cuts back on overusing product, but will [also] help aid in targeting the scalp instead of the halo of the head," she said.

Huffnagle recommends avoiding putting product into your palms, which will target the halo of the head.

Not using purple shampoo on blonde hair

A color-preserving shampoo is crucial for anyone who regularly bleaches their hair.

"We've loving Fanola No Yellow for all of our blonde clients. It is the strongest brass-busting product we've found," Mal Strong, owner of Chicago finishing salon Goldplaited, told INSIDER.

"Using a purple shampoo will help to eliminate the yellowing effect on your hair, thus reducing the frequency of needing to visit the salon for a toner or color touch up."

Not using the right water temperatures

A proper hair wash uses two different temperatures — shampoo hot, rinse cold — to ensure the hair's cuticle closes, De L'isle, head mixtress and hair whisperer at artisan hair care line Happy Curls, Happy Girls.

"This classic does work," she said. "Use warm water to help open cuticles and lift dirt and oil easily. When rinsing after you've conditioned, cold water will help cuticles close again leaving you with a smoother, shinier finish."