Hair is subjected to multiple damaging treatments everyday: from sunlight exposure, coloring, pool water, heat styling etc. One thing that we can easily do to avoid hair damage is to adopt the right shower practice. Here are 5 things that you can start with.
5 Best shower tips to avoid hair damage
1. Water temperature
Water temperature is the last thing that we think about when we step into the shower. In cold weather especially, we tend to run hot water in the shower. Washing hair with hot water causes the hair/cuticles to swell more. Too much swelling/deswelling causes structural damage to hair.
Hot water helps to remove the oils and residues on hair quite well, but he removal of too much can also translate to drier hair afterwards. With that much swelling, lipids and moisture (among other things) in between the cuticle layers can escape more easily.
Ideally, lukewarm/cool water is best at keeping hair in good shape: without stripping too much oils and yet keeping the hair clean.
Lathering should be more of a massaging effect that an aggressive rubbing. Try to wash the hair in the direction of the cuticles, downward from roots to tip. Rubbing hair in all directions causes cuticle lifting and cuticle damage. This leads to symptoms such as dullness, dryness etc. eventually.
Make sure to rinse out your shampoo thoroughly to avoid hair damage. Surfactants, especially the smaller ones have been found to penetrate the hair and hair follicles. Leaving them on the hair without washing properly can cause internal damage to the protein of the hair. Some people have experienced hair loss from damaging hair follicles.
4. Detangling wet hair
Hair is at its weakest point when it has absorbed water. It stretches and expands more easily. Detangling hair right without conditioner can cause major damage to hair, such as breakage of the fiber and fractures in the cuticles.
Conditioners reduce the friction between the hair fibers, and on the surface of the hair. Thus the comb can glide through hair effortlessly, avoiding tugging and pulling. Remember to use either your fingers or wide-toothed combs for detangling wet hair.
5. Towel drying
Do not twist your hair to drain water before towel drying. The twisting puts strain on the cuticles. Towel drying may seem harmless but it can create damage on your hair as well. Just like lathering, the rubbing action on hair can cause mechanical damage to the wet fibers. The cuticles get roughed up, the hair fibers break more easily, hair gets entangled more etc. Make sure to dry section by section from roots to tips in a downward movement. And if you need to towel wrap your hair, do not lock the hair in a tight twist.
Ideally you might want to use microfiber towels that absorb water more efficiently. These leave your hair damp and not dripping wet. You might not even need to towel wrap your hair after. Additionally, it can reduce heat damage from styling hair later on. Too much water in hair causes bubbling and cracking of cuticles during heat styling.