We’re all likely guilty of not paying enough attention to damaged hair. While a nice smile and clear skin can certainly make a big impression, a gorgeous head of hair gets people’s attention as well. And we’re not talking about a perfectly styled up-do or a trendy haircut; we’re talking about healthy, shining hair that looks and feels gorgeous. As Cosmo Magazine reports, according to renowned biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, author of Why We Love, “men couldn’t care less if your strands are perfectly styled and neat…but he will notice if your hair looks or feels very dry, brittle or damaged, which are signs of poor health.” And maintaining beautiful, healthy hair is about more than just how others see you. Vivian Diller, PhD, psychologist and author of Face It, argues that a good hair day can also affect how you feel about yourself and make you feel more in control. “Styled, well-kept hair gives us the external appearance of being well managed and it can contribute to feeling that way internally,” she explains.

OK, so we can all agree that properly caring for your hair is important, but the reality is that many of us are doing major damage to our locks, often without even realizing it. The good news is that a few small tweaks to your daily hair care habits can make a big difference to your strands, and you won’t be the only one who notices the improvement. Here are 8 ways you are causing damaged hair, and how to nix your bad hair habits today.

1. You’re Using the Wrong Products
All hair care products are not created equal. Just like one size doesn’t fit all with most clothing, your shoes, or your concealer, you need to pay attention to your hair quality and condition. Do you have dry hair? Oily hair? Unruly curls? Unmanageable frizz? Listen to your hair when it speaks to you and choose products that will help balance out the state of your natural hair so you can achieve the healthy, shining look you want.

Read Related: Mane Event: How to Have Healthy Hair During Summer


2. You’re not Protecting Your Strands From the Sun
SPF isn’t just for your skin—you need to protect your hair from the sun’s harmful rays as well. Hair can get dry and damaged from too much sun exposure, so make sure you use a product that can protect stands, moisturize and help repair hair after sun exposure. We love the line of sun protection products from Phyto, but any hair care products with SPF or a UV filter will work wonders.

3. You’re Sleeping in a Ponytail
If you don’t like sleeping with your hair down, you need to exercise caution when putting your hair in a ponytail before bed. Every time you shift your head you are putting strain on your strands, and when you wake up you’ll probably find a lot of loose pieces of hair stuck in your hair tie. To avoid this, use a loose, metal-free hair tie that won’t tug at your hair as you rest.


4. You’re Splitting your Ends
It can be really tempting to split your ends, but it’s a nasty habit that is actually a major cause of damaged hair. When it comes to split ends, “once your hair is split, it can not be repaired. There are definitely tricks to make the split ends appear healthier and less noticeable, but the only real fix is to snip off the split end.” Do yourself a favor and keep your hands away from your damaged ends, and get a trim so you can start with a fresh and healthy head of hair.

5. You’re Pulling Out Gray Hairs
Gray hairs…no one wants them and it can be oh-so-satisfying to yank them out as soon as you spot one. Been there, done that. The old wives’ tale is that if you pull out one hair, two will grow back in its place. While we’re not sure there’s any truth to that tale, it’s still not a good idea. Cosmetic scientist, Randy Schueller, author of the new beauty-myth-busting book It’s OK to Have Lead in Your Lipstick, explains that while plucking the gray hair will get rid of it temporarily, “the follicle (the little tube beneath the skin that produces the hair) is still alive and will produce another hair to replace the one that was pulled out.”


6. You’re Brushing Your Hair when it is Wet
Even strong, healthy hair, is at its weakest state when it is wet, so if you try to brush your hair and work through knots when it’s damp, you’re more likely to break hairs and cause damage to your hair shaft. Condition properly to avoid tangles, wait until it air dries a little and then begin to brush gently.

7. You’re not Eating a Balanced Diet
You are what you eat, and that goes for your hair as well. A healthy diet rich in protein and B vitamins will help strengthen hair, promote hair growth and give your mane shine and body.


8. You’re Ignoring Your Scalp
A health hair begins with a healthy scalp. When you shampoo and condition, don’t just work with the hair itself and don’t focus too much on your ends. Instead, massage your scalp gently to stimulate blood flow and increase hair growth, and to cleanse your scalp of any chemicals or buildup from hair care products.