Dry, Brittle, or Frizzy Hair? Stop Making These Hair Mistakes

You shower, you get dressed, you do something with your hair. Whether that’s a daily blowout or a tried-and-true messy bun, your routine may not be doing your tresses any favors. With age, hair changes in several ways; it can lose color, thickness, and luster. But, with a few adjustments and/or additions to your haircare regimen, you can have thicker, silkier, shinier, and healthier locks.

Keep reading to learn how hair changes with age, plus tips to combat some of the most common haircare mistakes.

How Our Hair Changes Over Time

As we get older, our hair undergoes several changes. For starters, hair strands have less pigment — the source of hair color — than when we were younger. This process makes hair fade to gray. Aging hair also appears thinner because many hair follicles no longer produce new hairs. Research shows aging not only affects hair color and production but also the structural properties of each strand — a change that influences how hair looks and how manageable it is.

Much of the health and appearance of our locks as we age has to do with our scalps’ skin condition. In fact, studies show that chronic scalp inflammation, a condition often associated with aging, can impact hair growth and hair loss rates. That’s why when we talk about haircare, it’s important to include scalp health, too.

Common Haircare Mistakes (Plus How to Avoid Them)

Similar to skincare, we all have different needs and preferences when it comes to our hair. With that said, there are some common follicle fallacies that can negatively impact the wellness and beauty of our tresses. We’ve rounded up the top mane mistakes to avoid, plus helpful tips to create and stick to a healthier hair routine.

Dry, Brittle, or Frizzy Hair? Stop Making These Hair Mistakes

Washing too much

A daily shower doesn’t have to involve hair washing — especially as you age and the oil glands in your scalp become less active (meaning your hair won’t appear as greasy between washes). Washing your hair too much can leave it feeling dry and brittle.

For that reason, it may be in your best interest to gradually cut back to washing every other day, or even just once or twice a week depending on your age, hair type, hair length, and activity level. On your off days, you can wear a shower cap to keep your hair dry while you wash your face and neck.

Stripping the natural oils from your hair

When it comes to washing your hair, it’s not just about how often you wash but how you go about it. Squeezing out a giant dollop of shampoo and dispersing it from your scalp to the ends can lead to dull, frizzy hair.

Instead, focus your shampooing efforts on your scalp. When you rinse, the runoff will pass through the length of your hair, which is a gentler way to cleanse compared to rubbing the shampoo all over.

Rubbing your hair with a towel to dry it

Letting your locks dry without blowing hot air on them can certainly prevent heat-induced damage (more on this in just a sec), but it may harm your hair in other ways. Though vigorous towel drying may soak up moisture and dry hair faster, this method — coupled with aggressive twisting and wringing — can also lead to frizz and breakage.

Rather than rub your wet hair with a towel, gently squeeze water out with a microfiber towel. Then, depending on the length of your locks, you may choose to gently wrap your hair with the towel to dry it further.

Using too much heat

Hair dryers have come a long way, meaning we can regularly dry our hair from the comfort of our homes. But with more access to blow dryers and an ever-changing lineup of hot tools — from curling and flat irons to hair dryer brushes — our hair is more susceptible to heat-related weakening and breakage.

The simplest way to prevent heat damage is to let your hair air dry. But depending on your hair type and the style you’d like to achieve, avoiding heat altogether may not be the most realistic option. So how can you cut back on heat without sacrificing a killer hair day? Refer to our trusty first tip: Wash your hair less. Even if you want to touch up some frizzy spots with a hot tool or add some curls, you’ll save your hair from undue heat damage by skipping over an additional blow dry. When you do take a blow dryer or hot tool to your hair, it’s smart to apply a heat protectant spray to lock in moisture and reduce damage.

Damaging hair by pulling on it 

Even without hot tools, you can still damage your hair when you style it. In fact, when and how you brush your hair and the types of styles you choose can pull on hair and lead to hair loss. Hair is weaker when wet, making it more likely to break as you pull a brush through, especially if your hair texture is susceptible to tangling.

For starters, opt for a wide-tooth comb to detangle since it’s gentler on hair than many brush options. Next, choose certain hairstyles and accessories sparingly. Tight braids, buns, and ponytails as well as hair extensions, ties, and clips can pull on and damage hair.

Using the wrong products

Despite making claims to promote healthier, more lustrous locks, many hair products contain chemicals that can be damaging. And with so many gels, sprays, serums, waxes, mousses, and more available to clean, condition, and style hair, choosing the right products for you and your specific hair type can be especially challenging.

To get a better handle on where to start, work with a professional stylist to determine your hair type, what types of products would best suit your hair and scalp, and how much to use. You can also turn to resources like the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to see which products feature fewer harmful ingredients.

On Your Way to Healthier, Shinier Hair

Your healthy hair journey can take some careful navigation to find what works best for your hair and daily routine. With these simple tips in mind, be willing to experiment and give yourself some grace while you find your favorite products, drying methods, and styling tools that leave your hair feeling stronger and healthier.

By Nicole McDermott

Nicole McDermott has worked in the creative content space for the last decade as a writer, editor, and director. Her work has been featured on TIME Healthland, Prevention, Shape, USA Today, The Huffington Post, Refinery29, Lifehacker, Health, DailyBurn, Petco, The Daily Beast, Openfit, and Sleep Number, among others. She lives in Connecticut with her husband, son, and dog. She's a big fan of wine, hiking, reality television, and crocheting.