5 Summer Habits That Are Wrecking Your Hair (and wasting your money!)
It is fully summer and, I've got to admit, as much as I always
anticipate this season of sunshine, shorts and long laid-back days, even I have reached the point of wishing it would cool down some, wishing I didn't feel so drained by the heat and wishing I could wear cute boots again (without melting!). I'm betting you drag your feet a bit at the effort it takes to get motivated in the summer to stay active if it means going outside at all, and it's definitely not uncommon to be a little "hair lazy". But I'm here to lay a little hair wisdom, so let's talk about some of the destructive habits that leave you regretting those summer shortcuts in the fall and winter. And to all the girlfriends out there on a summer outing, road trip or girls' vacay of your dreams, help your sister and keep each other lovingly in check with these little nuggets!
Habit #1. You put your hair up when it's wet.
I get it, it's hot out and the thought of further heating up a room in your house along with your own personal thermostat, is almost unbearable. But, as your hair's advocate, if you will, I'm speaking up for those desperate strands! Sure, heat styling stresses out your hair, but let me lay a little science on you here. When hair is wet, it stretches a lot, up to 50% its original length, without breaking. And when it's dry, not so much, just around 25% its length where it can still contract without breaking. So, in the drying process, here's what is going on: hair is shrinking! You've probably figured out in the salon, when getting your wet hair cut, stylists tend to leave a little room in the length for this fact so that you feel the shoulder-length bob you've requested is actually shoulder length when it's all said and done. So, imagine the
stress your hair is under when it's tied up tightly after the shower, in a ponytail or top knot, and at least the surface hairs all around the hairline are drying -- and shrinking -- as the day goes on. The hair is actually working to pull back toward your scalp and, my friend, it's just not as strong as that hair tie you've used to secure it. Much of that hair ( where we especially need it the most!) is likely to break under the pressure. If this is something you do almost daily, let's think of another way to stay cool!
One solution is to wash your hair at night or early enough in the morning to allow it to air dry. That means no blow dryer and no breakage if you've gotta wear it up. But, as you may have guessed, my preferred solution is to style the hair -- I'm talking the blow dryer, brush and iron of choice -- only every 3-5 days depending on what your hair can handle. I don't give myself much of a pass in this department since it's kind of my job to have the hair thing together! So I'm wearing mine down at least two days after washing and maybe will pull it up on day three or four. But, depending on your lifestyle and type of hair, wearing it up may have to be a daily thing, and that's ok! But your hair is begging you to wait until it's dry!!!
Habit #2: You're washing your hair too often.
I touched on this a bit already and it's not just a summer thing, but if the soaring temps have you washing your hair every day, you're really stressing your hair out through all these factors. 1) If you live in the desert like I do, or in a region that has not so great water quality, such as added minerals, rust, chlorine, etc. your hair is picking up these things every time you wet it but even more so, when it comes in touch with a surfactant, cleansing the hair and making it more susceptible to absorbing those thing that dry out hair, dull out color, and rough up a smooth hair texture. 2) If you heat style your hair every time you shampoo, and you're shampooing daily, that means you're heat styling it every day! I think the blow dryer is a necessary evil, but because it's necessary and "evil", I just want to do it as infrequently as possible! 3) Many shampoos, especially those labeled as a clarifying or deep cleansing shampoo, adjust the pH level in hair from a 4.5 - 5.5 up to an alkaline 7.5 or higher. At that high a pH, hair has a harder time holding on to hair color which you probably paid a premium for if you're having it tinted professionally, and the overall healthy appearance and shine of beautiful hair has gone down the drain, literally. In turn, we spend more on hair masques or deep conditioning treatment in the salon.
If your have been a religious hair washer, here's your challenge: I won't ask you to go the whole work week without shampooing your hair or even push you to wash just every other day. But let's try a baby step...just skip one day this week. Maybe it's a Saturday while you're doing housework anyway or running a few errands. If you're reasoning is "My hair gets so oily and looks gross if I don't wash.", I challenge you to try a great dry shampoo like Paul Mitchell Dry Wash or R+Co Death Valley, which both smell fabulously fresh and spray on invisibly when applied properly to absorb excess oils and get your locks back to manageable with a good brushing through. From there, you can add an extra day here and there, working your way down to washing half as much as you were or even less! And guess what? With less cleansing and scrubbing, your scalp will likely, over time, get the message that it doesn't need to work so hard producing oils to keep your hair healthy and conditioned. And you won't have to replenish shower and styling essentials nearly so frequently...that's money better spent on a spray tan or pedicure!
Habit #3: You hop in the water without a plan.
Summer is the season for throwing caution to the wind, right? Total spontaneity can work beautifully for a weekend trip to the lake or a mountain picnic, but when it comes to hair (especially when it's blonde or color treated) a little planning can go a long way! If you're not just sweeping up your mane into a top knot along with a wrap-style headband and intending to only go chin deep, here's what I want you to do: first, saturate your hair under the faucet and lightly towel dry it. Then, apply a deep conditioner or masque all throughout, and don't rinse it out! Just like a sponge that's soaked can't take on any more water, you're hair will be filled and somewhat safeguarded against all the things you don't want in it. But keep that conditioner close by because, kind of like sunscreen, it needs reapplying as that chlorine or salt water tries to force out your protection plan! Now, that beautiful color won't wash away with the tide!
Habit #4: Sunglasses!!!
If you're anything like me you gotta have 'em. I know myself too well to ever spend more than about $24 on a pair, but there are a few things I look for. When I'm out for a run, I love my husband's golf shades. They have a low profile wrap-around shape and thanks to rubberized earpieces, they say put! If I'm careful about putting them on for a workout, they're great, but if I'm out running around in and out of places, they will tear up the hair above my ears. The rubber portion will stick to my hair and repeat that rubbing action on hair making it weaker and prone to breakage. So, those aren't the best to use all the time...Now, I love a good aviator shade for sure, but you know that nose piece that's flexible with a tiny screw or pin attachment? If your shades double as a headband when you're indoors, how many times is your hair getting tangled up in that business? Oh, yes, everything stops as I am carefully releasing six little pieces from the demonic grip of super-sassy shades. So, as my dear friend Thomas Chavez says, "On your face or in their case!" I know he's not just sporting $24 shades though.
Habit #5: You skip the salon all season.
Ladies, I can't stress enough how keeping a regular salon appointment saves you from bigger hair problems down the road. Where for someone with hair past her shoulders wanting to keep growing may be able to go at least 8 weeks without a trim in cooler months, the exposure of summer and all it brings is too much to extend beyond six weeks for a cleanup. Automating is the way to go in our too hectic culture, so I suggest you set up a recurring appointment with your stylist every four to six weeks so you're not without haircare but you are without excuse! Even if you have vacation plans coming up, prebook before you leave the salon and work around those plans so your hair is not left hanging. The online system I use sends confirmations and reminders so we are all on the same page every step of the way. (I am no stranger to forgetfulness, so I'm kept totally accountable too!)
Now, how can more frequent appointments save you money?? If you're not rocking your own natural shade and you go longer between appointments and that means more time in the chair and more product for your stylist (and if that isn't reflected in the ticket price, I need to chat with your gal or guy!), plus you probably have to stock up on more take-home haircare if you haven't stepped foot in your salon since your last service! But let me tell you what else I do as a hairstylist to keep you on track: I provide VIP Memberships. A VIP is someone who has appropriately prioritized many things in her life right down to budgeting time and money every month for her salon services. A preplanned monthly fee gets a girl three services plus a forever discount on products and additional services! If you are in another area or seeing a different stylist here in Southern NM, watch for this trend that's taking hold throughout our culture...one more thing we get to automate and you're set! Watch for my VIP tab at www.maggienowell.com to get a breakdown and see if it's something that's cut out just for you.