8 items you use daily that are actually damaging your hair (and 2 products to prevent that)

Hair advertisements have always been talking about “damaged hair”, but do you know exactly what about the hair is being damaged and how?

Time for very important science lessons: your hair strand is made up of three layers: the central medulla, the surrounding cortex, and finally the outermost cuticle which protects the inner layers of fibres.

How damaged your hair looks and feels is very much dependent on the health and state of the outer cuticle layer. Unhealthy cuticles may lift up and peel off the hair strand, exposing the inner components and damaging your hair strand.

You may actually be damaging your cuticles without realising with these items that we bet you come into contact with every day.

1. Hair bands

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In hot and humid Singapore, it’s often difficult to leave the house without putting your hair up, especially if you have long hair.

Unfortunately, hair bands and other hair accessories can actually wear away at your hair cuticles if you wear them every single day.

Furthermore, tight ponytails and braids put a lot of stress on your hair follicles, which could damage them, or even destroy them permanently, resulting in a receding hair line.

2. Combs and brushes

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It’s often necessary for many of us to comb and brush our hair, if only to neaten it and beat it into shape before we leave the house. Unfortunately, combing and brushing in itself generates friction which may also wear out the hair cuticle.

Excessive combing or brushing may even strip the cuticle off the hair strand entirely, causing the more sensitive inner components of the strand to be exposed to environmental damage.

What’s worse – combing through wet hair. Wet hair fibres are able to stretch more easily when being combed, but that also increases the chances of them snapping and breaking.

3. Fingers

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Scratching your scalp too much, such as when you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, can cause scratching-induced hair damage.

The hair cuticle is not a single homogenous layer, but looks like overlapping scales coating the inner cortex, such as that on the body of a fish.

Imagine how much a scratching, back-and-forth friction on the hair cuticle can cause it to be chipped away in layers! As the cuticle gets chipped away, the hair is also more prone to splitting and breaking.

4. Hair dryers and other heat tools

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It should probably come as no surprise by this point that heating tools can potentially damage your hair quite a bit. The high temperature unwinds the protein that makes up the hair cuticle and the fibres within.

When the cuticle layers are lifted, water can enter the inner layers of the hair strand, disrupting the hair’s moisture balance and weakening the strand.

In this study, it was concluded that the best way to dry your hair with the least possible damage is to use your hair dryer at a distance of 15cm away from your hair, moving it continuously while drying.

Hair dried with this technique was shown to have even less cuticle and cell membrane complex damage than naturally, air-dried hair.

5. Air conditioner

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You’re not going to like this news: while heat can damage your cuticles, so can the cold, dry air from your air conditioner. The dry air will extract moisture from your hair cuticle, leaving it drier and more brittle.

Because of the tropical heat that we live in, air conditioning is pretty ubiquitous here in Singapore. Unfortunately, the frequent changing from warm, humid outdoor air to cold, dry indoor air can cause cuticle layers to weaken as well, and lose moisture over time.

6. Cotton pillows and bedsheets

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It’s probably not too far a leap to say that the most common material used to make pillows and bedsheet is cotton. It provides just the right amount of heat insulation, it’s comfortable and most importantly, it’s inexpensive.

However, cotton is actually not as smooth as it feels to our fingers. The woven fabric can still cause a lot of friction on your hair cuticle, especially since you would necessarily brush your head against it for the eight hours a day you spend sleeping.

The friction generated from simply sleeping on cotton bedsheets and pillows can cause the roughening of hair cuticles, and consequently, the damaging of hair as well.

7. Bath towels

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You probably had a hunch about this all along, but we’ll confirm it for you: wet hair strands are the most fragile and breakable. Imagine a paper ribbon: it is certainly tearable when it’s dry, but it becomes even more so when wet.

When the hair strand is wet, the protective cuticle is also slightly raised. Any aggressive friction-generating action with your wet hair, such as towel-drying, is going to do some serious damage to your cuticle.

If you absolutely have to use a towel, try patting it dry instead of rubbing your hair between the towels. This reduces the friction that is generated against your cuticles.

8. Water heater

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We’ve already talked about how heat is bad for your cuticle, but heat and water? Hot water dehydrates the hair strand (just like how it dehydrates your skin), and makes it more prone to breakage and shedding.

Hot water can also strip the hair of its natural protective oils, exposing the cuticle and inner components to more damage.

The solution for all of the above?

Essential has come up with a day & night treatment range that can help to provide round-the-clock protection for your hair cuticle.

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These two products work together to give your hair cuticle the protection it deserves. Your hair can look gorgeously healthy, smooth, and frizz-free all day and all night.

Essential CC Oil

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Formulated to be non-greasy and extremely lightweight, the Essential CC Oil wraps each hair strand with a layer of Microfine All Smooth Essence that provides a shield of protection around your cuticle.

Without worrying about your hair feeling or looking greasy, the Essential CC Oil will make your hair smoother and free from tangles all day.

How to use:

  • Use on towel-dried or damp hair
  • Pump an appropriate amount onto palm
  • Spread and apply evenly onto hair, concentrating from mid-length to the ends
  • Do not rinse off

Essential CC Oil retails for SGD 11.90 (60ml) at leading supermarkets, hypermarkets, pharmacies and personal care stores.

Essential Night Care Milk

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The Essential Night Care Milk intensely repairs and moisturises your hair while you’re asleep, protecting it from pillow damage, and ensuring that you wake up without the infamous “bed hair” hairstyle.

It has a rich yet non-greasy texture, consisting of the Microfine All Smooth Essence cuticle coat protection, that applies easily and dries quickly, so you don’t have to waste your precious time waiting for it to absorb or dry before heading to bed!

How to use:

  • Use on towel-dried or damp hair, before blow-drying, or even on dry hair
  • Pump an appropriate amount onto palm
  • Spread and apply evenly onto hair, concentrating from mid-length to the ends
  • Do not rinse off
  • For optimum results, ensure that hair is completely dry before going to bed

Essential Night Care Milk retails for SGD 11.90 (100ml) at leading supermarkets, hypermarkets, pharmacies and personal care stores.

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