Our hair is a strange and wondrous thing. In fact, most days we’re fully convinced it has a mind of its own and nothing we do (or slather on) can bend its will. But then we see people like, say, Caroline de Maigret or this model, who truly appear to wake up with hair that is thick, lustrous, and perfectly undone. What’s their secret? Why—after countless sprays, serums, and battles with a curling iron—is our own hair still limp, lifeless, and morose-looking? The truth is, there’s a lot you could be doing that’s preventing your hair from reaching its full potential. (And no, we’re not just talking about your slightly unhealthy relationship with your blow-dryer.)
Keep scrolling to see 10 ways you’re secretly ruining your hair!
You’re Not Reading the Ingredients List
Here’s the cold, hard truth: Your hair product bottles might be lying to you. The best way to know if what you’re putting on your hair is really helping is to know how to read an ingredient list. Drying ingredients like alcohol or sodium lauryl sulfate should be nowhere near the front of the list (some might say sodium lauryl sulfate shouldn’t be there at all, since it can cause irritation). But don’t swear off everything without educating yourself first. For example, cetyl alchol is a fatty alcohol usually derived from coconut oil or palm oil—it acts as an emulsifier between the oils and water in your hair product.
Eat the Right Proteins
Your hair is made up of protein, so make sure you’re eating enough of it. Think: fish, chicken, lentils, and other beans. Other foods that contain an amino acid that creates keratin, called cystine, will also help your strands stay healthy—reach for pork, broccoli, wheat germ, and red peppers.
Your Drying Technique
Drying your hair with a towel isn’t cutting it. A plain cotton tee is a much better option. The texture of an ordinary bath towel actually roughs up your cuticle and leaves it frizzy, while a t-shirt can combat that. Just squeeze excess moisture out gently, pull your hair through the neck of the t-shirt, and wrap it turban style for smoother strands.
You’re Forgetting Your Scalp
Wake-up call: Your hair is dead, but your scalp, on the other hand, is very much alive and probably in need of some major stimulation. For centuries, people have sworn that daily scalp massages make their hair grow faster and longer—in fact, scalp massages are so commonplace in Korea that it’s practically their version of a blowout. Here are a couple of our favorite DIY scalp remedies!
Your Birth Control
Hair shedding and thinning can also be due to hormonal changes—in other words, certain birth controls can actually weaken your hair. Androgen is a common birth control ingredient that might cause hair loss for someone who’s sensitive to it. Not sure if you’re sensitive? Ask your doctor or gyno on your next check-up.