As a beauty editor, I presumptuously believed I was immune from making hair care mistakes—at least the most “obvious” ones. But after asking several top hairstylists to name their ultimate hair care no-nos, defined as the things they would never do to their own hair, I realized I still make my fair share. And then some.
From how we brush and wash to how we dry our hair, there are so many easy hair care mistakes to make that it’s hard to keep track—and some that even the most diehard beauty buffs can overlook.
Well, hopefully not anymore. Ahead, see the 15 most common contenders, and join me in my journey to actively unlearn a handful of them. (Hot showers, I’m looking at you.) Here’s to healthy hair in the not so distant future.
1. Sleeping with wet hair
Multiple stylists cited sleeping with wet hair as one of their top hair care don’ts. “Going to bed with a wet head is a no-no,” hairstylist and L’Oréal Professionnel global ambassador Min Kim tells Glamour. “At minimum, dry your scalp if you wash your hair at night before going to bed. This reduces the growth of bacteria and fungus that naturally exists. Dandruff is the main culprit.”
New York City hairstylist Dan Williams also points to snoozing with wet or damp hair, especially when the hair is wrapped in a tight bun or ponytail. “Even just having your hair in a tight bun or ponytail when it’s wet in general will cause a lot of breakage due to the hair’s elasticity when it’s wet,” he says. At the very least, rough-dry your hair before bed. If it takes too long, switch to a superfast hair dryer like the BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Hair Dryer.
BaBylissPro Nano Titanium Hair Dryer
2. Applying conditioner to the roots
The other most common hair care mistake mentioned? Applying conditioner directly to the roots. “This is unnecessary as this is ‘newer’ hair that doesn’t require conditioning, unless you’re naturally curly, and can leave hair feeling flat especially if you’re on the fine side,” says Kim.
Celebrity hairstylist Marc Mena agrees, as conditioner is not great for your hair or skin. “It makes your hair and scalp greasy, and let’s say you’re using a conditioner that has silicone in it, it starts to drip into your skin, clogs your pores, and can cause breakouts on your back and skin,” Mena says. “And after a while, using too much conditioner in the scalp increases buildup, clogs your hair follicles, and can cause hair loss.”
This is an especially important rule to follow if your hair is naturally fine or limp, adds Williams. “This will only cause your hair to get flat and greasy,” he says.
3. Skipping conditioner…
Other pros point to skipping conditioner altogether as their top faux pas to avoid. “I would never skip the conditioner when shampooing my hair,” says Jenna Spino, hairstylist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon. “Many people think conditioner will make their hair flat, but even those with fine hair need a little conditioner even just in the ends.”
As for why that is? “Shampoo removes grease and dirt, but it also strips the hair of its natural oils that keep the hair moisturized,” she says. On that note, another common mistake is not rinsing conditioner thoroughly enough once you’re done. “Be sure to rinse well,” she says.
4. …and leave-in conditioner
“I think leave-in conditioners are often forgotten,” Bronwen Robinson, senior stylist at New York City’s Suite Caroline Salon, tells Glamour. “Traditional conditioners and hair masks are great and do add moisture and protection for the hair; however, much of it is still rinsed away in the shower. Leave-in conditioners come in spray, lotion, serum or cream form to suit the needs of different textures.”
A good rule of thumb to find the best product for you? “Generally, sprays are good for finer hair, creams and lotions are good for medium to coarse textures, and serums may need to be tested. Play around to see what suits the texture,” Robinson says. “Leave-ins can protect the hair from heat and environmental damage. And they add much needed moisture, which calms frizz and can seal the cuticle to help the hair look shiny, be stronger, and prevent fewer color molecules from escaping.”
Nicolas Flores, a hairstylist at Sally Hershberger Salon in LA, feels the same. “I recommend a deep conditioner for all clients,” he says. "Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset deep conditioning masque as a weekly routine with anyone who has chemically processed hair or clients who frequently heat style. This is great to add back in moisture, create softness, as well as shine!"
Gisou Honey Infused Leave-In Conditioner
Kevin Murphy Leave-In Repair
Shu Uemura Ultimate Reset Hair Mask for Very Damaged Hair
5. Using low-quality products
But of course, the quality of conditioners and shampoos matter too. “Use the shampoos and conditioners your colorist recommends,” says Robinson. “It’s a shame to spend money on getting your beautiful tones and color application, and not spend money on preserving the work with products designed to do so.” Some of Suite Caroline’s preferred products and lines include R+Co, Christophe Robin, and Olaplex. For an affordable drugstore option, try the L’Oréal Paris Everpure line.
R+Co Television Perfect Hair Shampoo & Conditioner
Christophe Robin New Hydration Ritual
Olaplex Shampoo and Conditioner Bundle
L’Oréal Paris Ever Pure Bond Repair Shampoo and Conditioner
6. Conditioning hair that’s too wet
I know we’ve talked a lot about how to properly apply conditioner, but it’s a more complicated process than you’d think. “Another hair care no-no is applying conditioner onto lengths without squeezing out water first,” says Kim. “Hair is a fiber; squeezing out the excess water before applying conditioner allows the conditioner to penetrate instead of rolling off hair that’s saturated with water.”
7. Washing hair with super-hot water…
This one is sad, but it’s true: Washing hair with very hot water isn’t great for your hair, skin, or hair color longevity. “This is a major no-no, especially when you have color-treated hair,” Williams stresses. Adds Mena, “Hot water burns your scalp and hair, and causes dryness and damage. I mean, you wouldn't put your hands in boiling hot water, would you? Why would you do it with your hair?”
8. …and without brushing it first
Mena strongly suggests brushing your hair before you wash your hair (while it’s dry) to avoid brushing through more tangles than needed once it’s wet. “It’s a really smart thing to do because you get rid of any tangles, so then when you’re in the shower and you're shampooing and conditioning, you don’t have that many to brush out when you’re done,” he says. “Then there’s just so much less you do after shower.” And less yanking on wet, fragile hair, of course.
9. Brushing wet hair with the wrong brush
Of course you’ll still end up brushing some tangles out of your wet hair. Because it’s fragile, you need to do it safely. There are several mistakes to avoid. “A big one is when clients with long hair don’t use a detangling brush in the shower,” says Williams. “If you have long hair, you should always use a detangling brush with conditioner on the mid-lengths and ends!” Williams is especially fond of the Tangle Teezer brushes.
“A wet brush in the shower is great to brush it when you have conditioner in there,” Mena agrees, pointing to the Sheila Stotts Untangle Brush, a.k.a. the Removal Brush, as his favorite for the job.
Tangle Teezer Ultimate Detangler Totally Pink Barbie Brush
Sheila Stotts Untangle Brush, a.k.a. the Removal Brush
10. Tearing through tangles
On that note, you might be brushing your dry hair with the wrong brush too—and being too rough on your hair while you’re at it. “Treat tresses with TLC; be patient when detangling and use the right tool,” says Robinson. “For example, a natural bristle brush when brushing out dry hair, and a wet brush or wide-tooth comb when detangling wet or damp hair.”
But really, how you brush is what’s most important. “I can’t express it enough: Start by combing out the ends, not the roots, when removing tangles. This is such an effective way to avoid snapping and breaking strands of hair which can contribute to split ends and frizz. Patience will pay off!”
Mason Pearson Sensitive Boar Bristle Hairbrush
Dae Vegan Detangle + Style Brush
11. Drying with terry cloth towels
This might be the most common mistake of all: drying hair with terry cloth towels—the fabric is rough on the hair and can result in damage and breakage. “I don't use terry cloth towels for hair; I always use special microfiber towels that are made especially for hair,” Mena says, adding that if you’re in a pinch, you can also use a clean T-shirt or even paper towels for the job.
“Sometimes if I’m in a hurry and I want to get someone’s hair dry, I use paper towels on clients,” he says. “I just squeeze it into the hair. I don’t rub it. I just squeeze it, and it absorbs all the water. No matter what, don’t rub! Rubbing is not good for your hair or your face.”
Crown Affair The Hair Towel
DevaCurl Microfiber Anti-Frizz Towel
12. Heat-styling without protectant
Hopefully this one is obvious. says Spino, “Always use a heat protectant when using heat tools,” which includes blow-dryers, curling irons, or straighteners. “This will stop the heat from causing damage to the hair. They make so many lightweight heat protectants, there is really one for every type of hair. Even better would be to not heat style every day, but when you do, always use heat protectant.”
Denise M. Ponte, hairstylist at Ju Ju B's Salon in Chesterfield, Missouri, also cites using heat protectant as one of the most important hair care rules. “I don’t like to use a lot of products on my hair, but the one product I can’t live without and recommend that my clients us is a heat protectant spray,” she tells Glamour." I love the IGK Good Behavior blowout balm, which acts as a keratin-like treatment in a tube to help smooth the hair and provide heat protection up to 450 degrees."
IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Anti-Frizz Smoothing Balm
13. Applying heat protectant incorrectly
And though that heat protectant shouldn’t go on the scalp, be sure to apply it everywhere else—which yes, very much includes the ends of your hair. “No heat protection on the ends of the hair drives me crazy,” Williams says. “A good one I love and recommend is the new R+Co Hot Spell Thermotech Blow Out Balm."
R+Co Hot Spell Thermotech Blow Out Balm
14. Excessive heat styling
Just like with hot water, using too much heat when styling is another mistake Kim wishes clients would stop making. “Excessive heat styling on high temps, especially daily, will not only make your hair dry and brittle but can also reduce color longevity by burning off color, especially if you’re highlighted and glossed,” she says. A good rule of thumb is to not exceed the 325°-to-350° range on heat tools, as any higher will be damaging to your hair.
If you love styling your hair, your best bet is to swap out your hot tools for gentler options like the L’Oréal Steampod or Dyson AirWrap. With heat protection, of course!
Another option, according to Ponte, is to use the cool shot button at the end to blow drying your hair to set it “And on days you don't wash your hair, use your blow dryer to reheat your hair, which adds volume and fullness to retain your day-before style,” she says.
L'Oréal Professionnel Steampod Steampod Flat Iron & Styler
Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler Complete Long
15. Sleeping without a silk pillowcase or bonnet
Finally, be sure to get adequate beauty rest…for your hair. “If your hair is fragile or compromised, dry the whole head and sleep on a silk or satin pillow to reduce breakage,” says Kim. Williams says the same, as silk helps prevent damage and frizz from forming overnight. “People prone to frizzy hair should always sleep with silk pillowcases or use silk bonnets,” he says. “It’s a game changer.”
Blissy Silk Pillowcase
Slip Pure Silk Turban
Danielle Sinay is the associate beauty editor at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @daniellesinay.
Originally Appeared on Glamour