Smiling woman in a shower washing her healthy hair

10 Worst Things You Can Do to Damage Your Hair

How to Build Good Haircare Habits and Stop Hair Damage

Your hair health is only ever going to be as good as your haircare habits. 

If you find yourself zoning out on autopilot while you’re tending to your tresses, you might be damaging your hair without realizing it. It could be time for a refresher on the best and worst things you can do to your hair.

As a stylist, I’ve seen a lot of damaged hair. Signs of hair damage are:

    • Broken strands
    • Split ends
    • Brittle, dry, and lifeless hair. 

Through my training as a Trichologist (hair and scalp specialist), I can tell you that most hair damage is avoidable. With a few small changes to your haircare habits, you can make a big difference to your hair health.


Are Your Styling Habits Damaging Your Hair?

There are so many tools and products to choose from that it’s easy to make mistakes. There are also a lot of myths and misinformation about products and styling techniques.

My client Allison Conrad and I wanted a simple solution to daily haircare. So we founded Arey. Our goal – to create a science-backed haircare system that is clean, safe, easy, and effective.

I know my clients don’t have time to become haircare experts. That’s why I decided to share my top haircare do’s and don’ts. 


1. Not Detangling Before Washing Your Hair

Detangling wet tresses can damage your hair. When your hair is wet, the outer layer of the hair shaft (cuticle) expands and opens up. This makes your hair temporarily rougher. That’s why wet hair tangles easily and is hard to comb. 

Always use a wide-tooth comb to gently remove knots from your hair before washing. This prevents damage from tugging on wet hair. Tugging on damp tangles can cause breakage and damage to the cuticle which leads to frizzy, brittle hair.  

woman using comb on wet hair


2. Washing Your Hair Too Often, or Not Often Enough

Cleansing hair is about balance. You don’t want to strip out all your scalp’s natural oils but you do want to keep your hair clean and healthy. 


woman washing hair in shower


According to haircare experts, these are the best ways to avoid over-cleansing:

Use the right shampoo: look for a gentle, non-stripping, shampoo that is free of harsh sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, polyethylene glycol, formaldehyde, and dyes. 

Gently massage shampoo into your scalp: resist the temptation to rub too vigorously. Let the product do the work for you.

Let the rinse clean your strands: as the suds flow through the length of your hair they deliver a gentle cleanse. 

✅ Shampoo every second or third day: washing every day strips your hair. For a refresh in-between washes, use a clean dry shampoo.


woman using dry shampoo on hair


If your scalp is prone to dryness or flakiness, you should shampoo less frequently and consider using a gentle scalp scrub between washes. Don’t leave too much time between washes that causes a buildup of product and hair oil (sebum) which irritates your scalp.  


customer review quote text graphic


3. Don’t Apply Conditioner to Your Scalp

Conditioner is designed to nourish the mid-shaft and ends of your hair. When conditioner is applied to the scalp it can block pores and stifle healthy hair growth. 

Too much product can also weigh down your hair. You’ll find you need to wash your hair more frequently. This can lead to hair damage from over-cleansing. 


4. Yes, You Need to Exfoliate Your Scalp

It’s time to start thinking about a scalp scrub if you’re experiencing any of the following:

    • Dull hair 

    • An itchy or flaky scalp

    • Flat oily roots and dry ends

Your scalp is an extension of your facial skin. Your face and scalp self-moisturize by producing oils (sebum) and self-renew by shedding old skin cells. When old skin and sebum build up on your scalp and face, they can cause clogged pores, oiliness, and bacterial infections.


woman applying scalp scrub


Exfoliating your scalp is an effective way to:1 

✅ Remove product buildup to reduce scalp irritation.

✅ Stimulate hair follicles to promote healthy hair growth.

✅ Reduce excessive oiliness by removing pore-clogging debris.

✅ Clear flakes by rinsing away dead skin cells.

✅ Unclog hair follicles to encourage thicker hair strands.

When your scalp is clean and exfoliated, your hair will be healthier too. That’s why we added Scrub – a buildup-busting scalp scrub – to our haircare system.  

5. Common Wet Hair Mistakes to Avoid

When your hair is wet it becomes stretchier and more fragile. You can easily damage wet hair by pulling, snagging, and breaking your strands with the wrong styling techniques.

These are the main causes of irreversible breakage,2 split ends, and flyaways: 

Putting wet hair in a ponytail: this stresses your hair, and can cause breakage where the elastic is placed.

Brushing wet hair: combs and brushes with close bristles stretch your hair to breaking point and can even pull your hair out from the roots.

How to safely detangle wet hair:

Use a wide-tooth comb: dermatologists and trichologists recommend a wide-tooth comb over a brush for wet hair. The wide teeth prevent tugging and other damage.

Start combing the ends and work your way up: gently untangle in sections from tips to roots. Never drag a comb from root to ends. It over-stretches and breaks wet hair.

Remember, wet hair is easily damaged. Treat it gently and you’ll be rewarded with less breakage and smoother, healthier hair.


woman putting wet hair in a ponytail


6. Stop Rubbing Your Hair Dry With a Towel

Needing to rub your hair dry with a towel is a myth. In fact, rubbing actually delays water absorption by the towel and causes hair damage.

Rubbing your hair dry in a towel causes friction. Your hair gets pulled in different directions, roughing up the cuticle and stressing the roots. The result – hair breakage, split ends, and frizz. 

How to towel dry without damaging your hair:

Wrap your hair in a towel: this lets the towel absorb the water without friction. 

Gently squeeze out the excess water: try using a soft towel like The Hair Wrap or even a t-shirt. 

Pat or blot your hair gently: the no-friction way to remove moisture.

Let your hair air dry: clip your hair high on your head to let your scalp breathe

Good towel-drying habits mean you avoid permanently damaging the cuticle (the hair’s protective outer layer). Damage to the cuticle can leave your hair coarse, dull, and hard to style. 


woman wearing a hair towel lying in the sun by the pool


7. Hair-Damaging Heat Styling Habits

Your hair's cuticle is made up of flat transparent cells laying in the same direction down the hair strand. Like scales on a snake, they overlap to create a smooth protective layer over your hair’s central cortex. Heat styling opens the hair cuticle and leaves the hair vulnerable to damage. The best way to protect your hair is to always use a heat protectant.


woman putting leave in conditioner on hair


When your hair is wet the cuticles are more open and vulnerable to damage. Your job is to not rub them up the wrong way. 

Some top cuticle-damaging habits to avoid:

Don’t blow dry "up": if you flip your hair over you are sending air in the wrong direction. This makes the cuticle open and causes frizz. Point your dryer down to close and seal the cuticle for smooth, polished hair. 

Don’t style in large sections: drying or heat-styling large sections means you have to heat that portion for longer. This damages the hair closest to the heat source while the rest may not fully dry. Always take small sections at a time for smoother results and less heat exposure. 

Don't blow dry dripping wet hair: it’s hard work and causes a lot of heat damage. To avoid damage, only blow dry damp — not wet — hair for a maximum of 20 minutes.

✅ Always use a heat protectant: our leave-in conditioner Mend seals your hair cuticle, nourishes your hair, reduces the appearance of split ends and protects your hair from heat styling damage.

It’s never a good idea to heat style in a hurry. If you slept through the alarm and you don’t have time to treat your tresses properly – take my advice and reach for your dry shampoo instead. 

8. Don’t Pluck Grey Hairs

We all love a quick fix but resist plucking your first grey hair. It'll just grow back again the same. And ripping out that little wisdom hair could damage your hair follicle. This can result in infection, scarring, and even bald patches.3 

You are not alone. Grey hair affects 74% of people between the ages of 45-65, and many see their first grey as early as their twenties. 

As a stylist, I have seen many people go through this. When my client Allison Conrad saw her first greys, it prompted us to come up with Arey. We wanted to approach aging and greying hair in a positive way with curiosity, optimism, and the help of science.


woman taking a white pill


We launched Arey with our hair-health supplement Not Today, Grey because we know that healthy hair starts from the inside-out. Our goal – to find a natural way to get control over the greying process.


customer testimonal quote graphic

9. Don’t Brush Your Hair Too Much

You may have heard the haircare myth that you need to brush your hair 100 times a day. Please don’t. 

It won’t make your hair shinier or healthier. It will actually damage your hair. You only need a few brushstrokes to spread your scalp’s natural moisturizers (sebum) down your hair shaft. Too much brushing creates static, causing split ends and breakage. 


10. Your Hair Needs Sunscreen Too

Don’t let the summer sun ruin a year of good haircare habits. Healthy, happy, hydrated hair needs protection from the elements – just like your skin.

As a human, I’m excited for your upcoming beach holiday. But as your stylist, my heart sinks. Especially when you’re back in my chair with dry, damaged, brassy, and sun-faded tresses. My grey-haired clients even get a yellow tinge from sun damage.

You’re used to protecting your skin from sun damage – you can protect your hair the same way. 


woman spraying mist on hair


Don’t worry – you don’t have to slather your head in greasy SPF. Our Live In Mist sunscreen for your hair is lightweight, easily absorbed, and leaves no residue.

Discover the Benefits of Science-Backed Solutions for Your Healthiest Hair

At Arey, we care about your hair health. That’s what motivates us to create innovative science-backed haircare solutions that slow the signs of aging hair and improve hair health. We want to make it easy for you to take care of your hair. We do the research so you don’t have to. 

Your hair health is important to us – that’s why we offer 25% off on all subscriptions to help keep you on track with your hair health goals. Because we believe that science + consistency = results.

We are Arey.

Aging is beautiful – but if your greys are growing faster than you wish, we’re here for you with science-based, effective solutions. We want you to feel happy and confident with your hair. Have questions? Go to our FAQ page or send us an email at


Jay Small with customer

AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist and Trichologist in Los Angeles with over 22 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.


  1. 10 hair care habits that can damage your hair
  2. Why You Should Exfoliate Your Scalp,
  3. Pulling One Gray Hair Cause More