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I’m a hair doctor – here’s 7 ways you’re washing your hair wrong and the nasty consequences

HAIR washing is just another part of our health and beauty routines.

While we all have our own rituals when it comes to soaking our strands, one expert has revealed that you could actually be doing it wrong.

Dr Vanita Rattan explains the seven reasons that you might be washing your hair wrong

Speaking to The Sun, Dr Vanita Rattan said washing your hair correctly can have a big impact on how healthy and shiny your hair looks.

The guru explained: “Your hair is most vulnerable to breakage when it’s wet, so habitual mistakes can make this worse and cause damage and irritation, such as contact dermatitis.

“Whether you are brushing your hair in the shower, shampooing first, or conditioning your scalp, there is always room for improvement in our typical routines.”

Here Dr Rattan reveals the seven ways you’re washing your hair wrong and the nasty consequences it could have.

1. Washing with boiling water

Hot water is damaging for your hair because it opens up and exposes the hair cuticles, causing breakage to the strands and weakening the roots, Dr Rattan said.

The expert, who is a cosmetic formulator and a doctor in medicine and physiology/pharmacology, said that while hot water might feel lovely on a cold winter’s day, it can also be incredibly harmful to the scalp.

This, she explained, can lead to a dry skin, dandruff, and itchiness.

“To avoid these negative aftereffects, try using lukewarm water which will allow your conditioner to penetrate better and moisturise your locks too.



“Finish with cold water to close off the hair cuticles, locking in any moisture and reducing the risks of hair fall,” she advised.

The NHS says that dandruff is a common condition that can be caused by various illnesses such as ringworm, eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.

Official guidance states that you should see your GP if your scalp is red or swollen or if your dandruff is bad on your scalp or is very itchy.

2. Shampooing before conditioner

This one might come as a surprise to many, but the hair guru said you should put conditioner on your strands first before going anywhere near the shampoo.

This, she explained, is because shampoos contains surfactant in it , which can strip the hair strands of its natural oils.

Dr Vattan, who formulated her own brand SkincarebyDrV, explained: “So, you want to put conditioner on the hair strands first, then shampoo on the scalp.

“When you wash the shampoo out and it runs down the hair strands, it won’t dry out or damage the hair strands, and your hair strands cuticles will remain intact.

“This sandwich method (conditioner-shampoo-conditioner) works great on all hair types and an additional benefit is that it can prolong the life of a blowout after styling too.”

3. Twisting your hair

As we all try to use our electricity less, we might try to wring out as much water from our freshly washed hair as possible.

This, Dr Vattan said, is a mistake.

She explained that during the drying process, the hair shaft can be roughed up if you squeeze it too hard with a towel or wring your hair out too vigorously.

This in turn, can worsen split ends and cause small craters along the hair shaft, weakening the hair, she said.

“You might notice that your hair looks dry or feels brittle after wringing your hair out.

“Frizz is also a major indicator of damaged hair in need of moisture and using heat styling tools after your hair is dry will only cause more breakage if your hair is not properly protected.

“If you don’t have time to air dry your hair, blot the hair with a clean, unused t-shirt or microfiber towel to reduce frizz and get rid of any excess water.”

Dr Vattan recommended that you also protect your hair with a strengthening oil.

4. Brushing too much

Wet hair is more fragile, more elastic, and more prone to breakage than dry or damp hair, Dr Vattan said.

It’s because of this that if you try to use a hair brush, or even your fingers in the shower, you’re likely to increase your risk of hair loss and split ends, the expert said.

“Though many hair products claim to “repair split ends,” you can’t actually repair them. Once your hair has split, it’s permanently damaged and will require a haircut to regrow without the breakage.

“Dry hair is protected by natural oils, whereas wet hair has zero protection. Unless you have curly hair, you should brush your hair before a shower with a wide-toothed comb, starting at the ends and brushing towards the root to minimise tugging and damage. “

For those with curly locks, Dr Vattan said it makes sense to brush your hair in the shower to minimise frizz.

The expert therefore recommends using plenty of thick conditioner when brushing and said you should use a hair detangler from the bottom upwards to reduce stress to the scalp.

“A common myth is that brushing your hair during a shower will reduce tangles.

“However, wet hair is more elastic and easier to tangle than dry hair, so loose strands after combing have an increased risk of matting and knotting in the shower,” she added. 

5. Using too much product

Dr Vattan said that in most cases, you’re probably using more shampoo and conditioner than you actually need.

She said that for fine hair, you only need a five-pence coin amount of product, whereas for coily or thick hair, you need a ten-pence coin amount.  

“Shampoo is designed to lift dirt, excess oil, and build-up from your hair whilst conditioner is designed to protect, shield, and nourish your hair.

“If you use too much product, you risk stripping your hair of natural oils that help hydrate your hair and causing product build-up, which can result in irritation and flakes.

“This can leave your scalp feeling itchy and cause your hairs complexion to lose its natural shine. Too much product can also weigh your hair down, resulting in less volume and flat hair,” the expert added.

6. Changing shampoos

Variety is the spice of live, but not when it comes to shampoo, Dr Vattan said.

It’s a myth, she said, that if you use the same product all the time then it stops working.

She added: “The truth is you don’t have to keep switching shampoos to have clean, healthy hair.

“You should only change shampoos when your hair needs it — for example, if you’re blow-drying your hair more often you might switch to a cleansing product that has more moisturising components.

“For most of us though, we can stick with the shampoo that makes our hair look and feel great, without worrying about it losing its effectiveness.”

7. Using conditioner everywhere

Avoid putting conditioner on your scalp and focus on the hair strands only, Dr Vattan saud.

She explained; “The vast majority of conditioners contain fragrance, and that in contact with the scalp can lead to contact dermatitis which three to four per cent of the population suffer with.

“A popular myth is that conditioner will clean the scalp, but conditioner doesn’t contain any surfactant in it (unlike shampoo!) to do this.

“It will only weigh down the hair, causing it to appear flatter and limper. Instead, conditioner on the hair strands only will protect your cuticles from damage, breakage and stripping of your hair’s natural oils. “

She added that you can also use leave in oil on strands to protect them from UV damage, pollution, heat, wind, and styling.  

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