There are aspects of hair loss and fall out that are out of our control. For example, hair transplant surgeon Dr. Craig Ziering says the leading causes of hair loss are hormones and androgenic alopecia. However, he notes that maintaining healthy hair habits can be important in preventing unnecessary hair loss. Celebrity hairstylist Paul Labrecque says each of these mistakes can be detrimental on their own, but they’re even worse when combined. Not only does your hair care affect fall out, so does your overall wellness. “Hair shedding is typically determined by the growth cycles of the hair follicles themselves and the health of the body and mind,” says creative director of Evo Haircare Tom Smith. Here are the biggest mistakes you might be making.
Brushing, combing and detangling incorrectly
“Regular tugging weakens and breaks individual strands, damaging hair follicles and contributes to hair loss,” says Dr. Ziering. “If you struggle with stubborn tangles after a wash, don’t forcefully brush them out. Avoid vigorously drying your hair and instead lightly wring and pat it dry with a towel before using a wide-toothed comb to gently start detangling from the middle to the ends,” advises Smith.
Dr. Ziering notes that hair is even weaker when wet, so brushing or styling it while it’s compromised can make it more prone to damage. He advises waiting until hair is completely dry to use a brush, comb or styling tools. “Carefully combing your hair will reduce strain on the scalp and snagging or tearing of hair strands.” If you’re still struggling, he recommends using a detangling product like Evo Hair Head Mistress Cuticle Sealer ($34).
Using too much heat
Labrecque warns that heat can really damage the health of your hair. Overuse of hot tools “can make your hair dry, prone to breakage, and consequently more likely to fall out, especially if you use them every day,” says Dr. Ziering. “This is because when too much strong, dry heat is applied to the hair, it weakens the hair shaft.”
High levels of stress
Smith says periods of high stress can trigger hair follicles to go through a cycle of shedding, which is something we saw during the height of Covid. Dr. Zieger notes that we’re “not referring to the daily, mundane stressors, but rather extreme, prolonged stress.” Chronic or prolonged stress can cause a “significant number of hair follicles into the resting or telogen phase in the common hair growth cycle. Hair follicles that have been prematurely pushed into the telogen phase then begin shedding rapidly,” he explains.
According to Smith, “This can happen even up to three months after a stressful event, but typically the hair growth cycles rebalance in time,” he says. “Try to stay healthy and manage stress levels to reduce the risk of your hair growth cycle being interrupted.”
Labrecque says that if you’re not the right candidate for extensions, the traction can cause a lot of harm to hair, especially on hair that’s already compromised. “A weave or extensions often require women to wear their natural hair tightly pulled while at the same time putting pressure and strain on the existing hair follicles; this is not good for your hair,” says Dr. Ziering. “The constant pulling can cause strands of hair to break or fall out, and it may cause permanent damage to your hair follicles.”
“The diet you are consuming may be causing your hair to be slow-growing and unhealthy,” says Dr. Ziering. “To fuel your hair for optimal growth, a diet of lean protein (fish), rich green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries and legumes is recommended.” He notes that crash diets can also result in hair loss.
Overdoing it with dyes and treatments
Overbleaching, doing too many keratin treatments, and just generally getting a lot of chemicals put in your hair can lead to fall out, says Labrecque. “Chemical treatments such as dyes, perms, or relaxers can cause temporary hair loss if the strands become brittle and break away from the root or along the shaft,” says Dr. Ziering. If they burn the scalp and scar the follicle, they could even cause permanent hair loss, he warns.
While shampooing is beneficial, this can be a case of too much of a good thing. “Shampooing too frequently can also contribute to hair loss. Many shampoos contain chemicals, scents, and preservatives, which can damage hair shafts and follicles,” says Dr. Ziering. “Using too much shampoo and conditioner can strip away the natural oils that moisturize and protect the hair.” He recommends shampooing every other day at the most.
Not clearing out build up
“Good scalp health is vital to produce healthy hair, and products that create build up on the hair or excessive styling products used near the scalp can clog the follicles which potentially could result in increased hair loss,” says Smith. To reduce the risk of this he recommends using a clarifying or deep-cleansing shampoo like Evo Normal Persons ($32) once a month. This practice will help “keep the scalp unburdened and fresh, helping follicles to stay clear and healthy.”
Wearing your hair tight
“Wearing tight hairstyles, such as ponytails, buns, and braids, over an extended period of time weakens and damages your hair follicles until they no longer can grow,” warns Dr. Ziering. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. Hair accessories, such as elastic hair ties and hairpins, can also strain the hair shaft and damage the follicles. “Switching to looser hairstyles and avoiding the consistent use of tight ones can reduce broken hairs and permanent damage to the hair follicles.”
Using products with harsh ingredients
When used daily, some hair products can strip your hair and scalp of natural oils and lead to damage in your hair’s structure and follicles, says Dr. Ziering. He recommends avoiding products with sulfates, parabens and alcohol. “These ingredients are harsh on hair causing it to ultimately become dry, dull, brittle and break easily.”