I Found Out I've Been Washing My Hair Wrong My Whole Life—Here's Why

Updated 05/29/19

Welcome to #HairGoals, our new series all about helping you get the hair of your dreams. We'll be featuring routines of real women with amazing hair, interviews with stylists about the products you should use for your hair type, and more.

Stocksy

As a relatively low-maintenance beauty buff, I’d long held the conviction that avoiding heavy products and damaging heat tools would keep my hair healthy and shiny with minimal upkeep, allowing me to reframe my laziness as minimalist self-care. Recently, however, my drama-free routine stopped working, and I had no idea why. I’d wash my hair before bed, only to wake up the next morning with limp, greasy tangles; my once voluminous mane started falling flat, despite the fact that I hadn’t changed much in terms of hair care.

I couldn’t think of any reason why my hair was suddenly seemingly unable to stay fresh-looking, no matter how diligently I cleaned it, and after a few bad hair days in a row, I had to wonder: was there a flaw in my no-frills haircare routine? In stripping down my routine, was I actually making my hair worse? And–most importantly, to me, at least–was there an easy solution to all of this? To find out, I turned to celebrity hairstylist & NatureLab TOKYO brand ambassador Andrew Fitzsimons for answers on the unexpected reasons behind bad hair days–and their surprisingly simple fixes.

Nature Lab Tokyo Perfect Volume Shampoo $14
Shop

Lucky for me, Fitzsimons’ first solution was straightforward and easy to follow: the problem may not be in the amount of energy I spent primping, but in how I selected my products in the first place. “The most basic mistake that people make is not using the proper hair care products,” says Fitzsimons, who recommends researching and testing products for your particular hair type.“I see a lot of people who are frustrated with their hair because they think it's difficult, when in reality so many people are just using the wrong products.”

I’ve certainly been guilty of falling for the 'All Hair Types' promise, despite my super thick hair and oily scalp; it makes sense that putting a little more effort into bespoke ingredients would lead to long-lasting positive results. Fitzsimons adds, “There are so many different hair types out there, so it's important to experiment until you find your perfect fit.”

Swapping out your products for ones that actually work for you is fairly simple, but there is one trick: Start slow. Slathering on a new product can weigh down hair, dry your scalp, and leave behind residue (so, at least my hands-off approach got one thing right). Fitzsimons cautions against overusing products, especially heavier formulas such as oils. “When you're trying a new hair product, particularly a style or treatment, start small, then build up!"

Leonor Greyl Condition Naturelle Heat Protective Styling Spray $38
Shop

I got it wrong, however, when I decided to skimp on all my post-shower care. One of the main reasons behind frizzy-but-lifeless hair, he explains, is “not using heat protection. Heat is one of the biggest culprits of hair damage, and it's so easy to prevent!”

MaxSoft Shampoo Brush $7
Shop

Of course, having the correct product for your hair is only half the battle. It turns out that not only was I choosing the wrong shampoo, but I was actually using it wrong, too. “It's important to shampoo twice!” Fitzsimons explains. “The first shampoo only moves the oils from your scalp and doesn't necessarily lather, the second removes the oil and will lather, so your hair won't be left greasy.”

T3 Source Showerhead Mineral Water Filter $150
Shop

Fitzsimons’ final piece of advice? Check your water temp. “Everyone loves a hot shower, but cold water is much better for your hair,” he says. While I don’t love the idea of cold showers, I can’t disagree with the facts: one article in the Harvard Business Review reveals that participants who took cold showers reported more energy than their hot water counterparts, and even clocked in fewer sick days at work. As for its effects on hair, specifically, Fitzsimons says, “washing your hair with cooler water helps seal the cuticle, leaving your strands smoother, shinier and less prone to frizz.”

Related Stories