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You don't generally get to choose how your hair naturally behaves. Genetics, lifestyle, and habits can all cause your hair to be thin and fine. People with thin hair have a particular set of struggles when it comes to hair care and styling. Many people make big mistakes with their hair because they don't realize how damaging some styling and care practices can be, and sensitive hair is far more susceptible to these dangers than thick hair. As a result, there are a lot of things to avoid if you want to keep your hair as healthy and lively as possible.
Heat Straighteners and Curlers
A lot of people with thin hair struggle with limp, dull-bodied hair as well, and it can be tempting to spend a lot of effort on styling to create fuller hair. Thin hair, however, is also very easily damaged hair, and heat-based styling tools can take a serious toll. This isn't to say that you should avoid ever straightening or curling your hair entirely, but your fine hair will thank you if you save the heat styling for special occasions, and rely on kinder methods for the day-to-day. You can always use a volumizing spray designed for sensitive, thin hair, giving you extra volume if you're worried about your hair falling flat without help.
Long-term stress is unhealthy for every part of your body, thick and thin hair alike. For many people, one of the earliest physical signs of stress or anxiety is seen in their hair. If you have thin hair, this is a particularly significant concern. Stress can cause your hair to become brittle, and can even lead to hair loss. To avoid needing a serious side-part-comb-over for balding spots, you should practice serious self-care, as well as hair care. Take breaks during stressful periods, reach out to loved ones, and consider using essential oils on your hair to keep it vibrant and healthy.
Of course, when it comes to self-care and dealing with stress, your hair should not be your primary concern, but in terms of things that can harm thin hair, this is certainly one of them.
Bleach and Harsh Dyes
Bleaching your hair can bring even the healthiest hair to a state of thin brittleness. If your hair is already thin, lightening your hair too frequently can very quickly lead to hair loss and breakage. Before resorting to harsh bleaches and chemicals to lighten your hair, consider other options. Often, natural darkening dyes will be much more gentle on your head, but if you're determined to go lighter, you should opt for natural, gradual lightening options that make use of the sun and other elements to help create natural highlights that won't strip your hair of its necessary oils. You can also supplement your lightening routine with essential oils to protect it from these kinds of dangerous chemicals.
Cotton and Wool
Using cotton pillows, wearing cotton or wool hats, and wearing items like sweaters and scarves that stay near your head aren't bad for your hair in the way that harsh chemicals or heat are. That is, in the long term, they won't cause serious damage. That said, anyone with thin hair knows that these items can easily get extremely staticky—like, mad scientist staticky. Opt for non-charged options like silk when it comes to things that come in regular contact with your hair in order to avoid the hassle that comes with this static. You can also use anti-frizz products to calm your locks, but you should always opt for more natural ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals like sulfates in any hair product you plan to use regularly.
Like straighteners and curlers, blow dryers use heat to style your hair. This heat can quickly damage your hair. It may also cause your hair to fall flat, losing whatever natural body it naturally has. Allow your hair to air-dry naturally in your regular routine, rather than blasting it with heat. If you're short on time, use the lowest heat setting, or purchase a high quality blow dryer with options for fine, thin hair. When possible, give yourself plenty of time to let it dry before you go out, so you don't need to rely on these tools. This might mean changing your routine to shower in the evening, and let your hair dry overnight. As mentioned though, avoid cotton pillows, as these can further damage thin hair.
In addition to blow drying, one of the most common ways to dry hair is with a towel. Vigorous rubbing can be very damaging. Instead, let your hair dry in open air, or use a soft t-shirt to gently dry it instead of a rough towel. A t-shirt or microfiber towel will prevent that rough handling from causing breakage, and can also help with the dreaded winter frizz that plagues owners of thin hair. When your hair is wet, it is especially sensitive to this kind of harsh treatment, so take care with what kinds of materials you allow your hair to rub against (including your pillowcase, if you go to bed with wet hair).
Chlorine is a very harsh chemical, and harsh chemicals are the enemy of healthy, thin hair. Especially if you regularly go swimming for exercise, you should keep your hair in a shower cap to protect it from those pool chemicals, including chlorine. If your hair does get wet in a swimming pool, make sure you use shampoo and conditioner as soon as you can once you get out, to rinse out those chemicals. A deep condition can also help repair whatever damage has already been done.
Of course, this does not mean you should avoid swimming pools—it just means you should be cognizant of your haircare routine when you do want to take a plunge.
In broad terms, you should treat thin hair gently. This means no vigorous towel drying, scrubbing, and of course, brushing. Gently combing your hair with a fine-toothed comb, especially while damp, is the best way to stop hair breakage from rough treatment. You should avoid vigorously brushing, whether your hair is wet or dry. This brushing can cause immediate breakage and damage. When dry, it can also cause annoying static and frizzing. Use a fine-tooth comb to gently untangle any problem spots, starting at the crown of your head and working your way cautiously down. Luckily, with thin hair, extreme tangles and knots aren't as commonly a problem as they are with thick hair.
Shampooing Too Regularly
One huge mistake many people with thin hair make is the ways they're washing their hair wrong. No one likes greasy, limp hair, but that doesn't mean you need to use shampoo every single day. Your washing schedule will depend on your hair's natural tendencies, but even generally greasy hair shouldn't need to be washed more than every other day. Some people can get away with washing just a couple of times a week. If you find your hair gets greasy quickly, opt for a dry shampoo rather than a regular wash. Giving yourself enough time in between shampoos allows your hair to produce its own natural oils, rather than stripping them away, which keeps it healthier and more full-bodied in the long run.
Pro tip: In a pinch, baking powder works wonders as a DIY dry shampoo, absorbing grease and odors alike.
Tight Hair Styles
In addition to the products and tools you use to style your hair, you should avoid using certain hair styles too often. Any style that pulls your hair back tightly at the crown of your head; including tight ponytails, buns, or braids; can cause instant breakage to thin hair. Leaving your hair down or pinning it loosely back, rather than pulling it tightly into a band, will prevent some of this damage.
The tools you use can also have an effect. Elastic hairbands and anything made of rubber will pull and break your hair, while softer options like scrunchies can prevent breakage. For sports, you might not be able to avoid pulling your hair back, but opt for rubberless options. Braids, instead of ponytails, can also take some of the pressure off your hair. A final tip: Instead of rubbery sports headbands that pull on your hair to keep it in place, you can use pre-wrap as a makeshift headband (which also happens to be a budget-friendly option).