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7 ways to stop damaging your hair

A woman looks at her long brown hair.

June 24, 2022—Your hair is a big deal, right? It's something everyone sees. And it's something nearly everyone wants to make look just right. Whether your styling routine is elaborate or nonexistent, it's best to start with a healthy head of hair.

But could you be harming your locks without realizing it? Here are seven things you shouldn't do if you want to avoid bad hair days.

1. Don't overdo shampoo. When you wash your hair, you are actually washing your scalp. So focus your shampooing efforts there. Washing the entire length of your hair can create coarse and dull flyaway strands.

To wash your scalp just right, wet your hair well and use an amount of shampoo the size of a quarter. Don't rub your scalp too hard. After rinsing, use your conditioner mainly on the ends of your hair.

2. Don't let the pool have its way. A pool's chlorine can be pretty tough on your hair. Always wet and condition your hair before and after you swim. For extra protection, wear a tight-fitting swim cap.

3. Don't yank those tangles. When you go comb-shopping, think wide-toothed. Pull it through gently without tugging or forcing. If you find you are really struggling with tangles, try using a moisturizing conditioner.

4. Don't think one size fits all. If you have straight hair, let it dry a little before combing it. If you have textured or curly hair, comb it while damp.

Washing needs vary by hair type too. If you have an oily scalp, you'll need to shampoo more often. For those with drier hair, especially chemically treated, wash it less.

5. Don't scorch it. Heated styling tools are not your hair's friend. However, when you do pull out the hair dryer, curling iron or straightener, be sure to use a low-heat setting. Focus on limiting the time the styling tool is in contact with your hair.

6. Don't over-treat. Coloring, perming and relaxing your hair requires even more attention to keep strands healthy. Consider using only one of these services at a time, and see if you can keep the time between touch-ups as lengthy as possible—8 to 10 weeks or longer. If you use more than one treatment, stagger them by at least two weeks.

7. Don't forget to protect it. The sun can damage your hair, too, so wear a hat when you're outside. For those with treated hair, add an extra layer of protection with a leave-in conditioner that contains zinc oxide.

So how well do you know hair care? Take this quiz to find out.

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