6 Ways to Tell if Your Hair Care Is Doing More Harm Than Good

Choosing hair care products isn’t as easy as it may seem. Lengthy ingredients lists, bold claims and an array of product options can overwhelm just about anyone. Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong ones, your hair might begin to suffer.

Picking the wrong products for your hair is a mistake that’s easy to make. Sometimes, that shampoo or hair mask that seemed great on the shelf just doesn’t work for you. What’s most important, however, is that you’re able to notice when products are doing more harm than good for your hair and switch them out for something else.

If you’ve recently started using a new hair product, keep an eye out for these signs.

  1. Dullness: Healthy hair usually has a beautiful, natural shine to it. This means that your hair is properly moisturized and is getting all the nutrients it needs to look and feel great. If your most recent hair care product has made your hair look dull and flat, it’s not a good sign. Although the product might not be causing severe damage, it’s probably not the right one for your hair type.
  2. Too much oil: Natural oil on your scalp and hair is a good thing—it’s what keeps your hair nourished and shiny and prevents dryness. That is, as long as it’s not excessive. Heavy moisturizing products like leave-in conditioners and hair masks might be too much for some hair types, making your hair feel flat and greasy, even right after you wash. Using these kinds of products too often could lead to buildup on your scalp and even inflammation or itchiness.
  3. Too little oil: On the other hand, your hair products should not strip your hair of its natural oils, either. Be cautious of using products that make your hair or scalp feel dry and lifeless. This often happens to people with curly hair, since curls tend to be dry already. You don’t want to continue using products that dry out your hair, or you could end up with breakage and an itchy, flaky scalp. Switching to a more moisturizing product should help keep your locks from getting dry.
  4. Brittle texture: Does your new product make your hair feel brittle, breakable or stiff? This tends to happen after using products containing harsh chemicals, such as dyes, that damage the hair and impair its ability to hold moisture. Brittle hair has a high risk of breaking off at any point along the strand, which can make hair look uneven or thin in places.
  5. Hair loss: If you’ve started a new hair care regimen and suddenly experience much more hair shedding than usual, stop using the products immediately. Hair loss is not normal when switching between hair products and usually means that the products are damaging your scalp and causing premature shedding.
  6. Scalp residue: Are you starting to see white or yellowish buildup on your scalp after using certain products? That’s not normal, and it might be caused by the product you’re using or the amount of product you’re using. Some products will be too much for your hair type and will build up quickly, leading to a flaky residue. In other cases, the product itself is fine, but you might be using too much of it. Either way, scalp buildup is not healthy. It can clog your pores, leading to scalp acne, itchiness and inflammation. Cut back on the amount of product you use and use a clarifying shampoo once a week to see if the buildup goes away. If not, switch to a lighter product.

Choosing the right products is good for more than just looks

Continuing to use products that aren’t good for your hair can do more than just make your hair look greasy, dry or limp. It can actually cause lasting damage to your hair and scalp that takes time to rectify. Heavy products can lead to scalp buildup that causes irritation, while drying products can lead to severe breakage and changes in hair texture.

In order to do what’s best for your hair, pay close attention to your hair type and scalp type, then look for products that serve those specific qualities. Once you start using a new product, monitor how your hair looks and feels for at least a week. If it doesn’t provide the results you want—or starts making things look and feel worse—then it’s best to switch to something else.

Hair care regimens are not one size fits all. They’re unique, just like your hair, so you’ll want to put in the time to ensure the products you select are giving your locks what they need to look healthy and nourished.

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