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5 Healthy Hair Practices that Cause Damage if Done in Excess

Avatar • Dec 26, 2011

*This article was originally published on August 19, 2011. It was re-posted as part of our ‘Best of 2011’ Series

Going natural is a time of thrilling experimentation… conditioning, styling… it’s all new and exciting. But sometimes that experimentation can become excessive, and practices that are good in and of themselves can quickly go south. Here are 5 haircare practices that go from good to bad if done in excess.

Deep Conditioning

Picking a deep conditioner is like picking an ice-cream flavor; there are so many delicious options. Once you select your DC of choice, you slather it on then — to make it work *really well* — keep it on your hair for hours on end. Well, that’s actually very counterproductive. Hair science blog The Natural Haven finds that most deep conditioners work their magic in 15 minutes or less. And excess deep conditioning can lead to hydral fatigue, which occurs when the cuticle is wet (and expands) then dries (and contracts) too frequently.

Applying Product

If leave-ins, oils, butters and styling products are loaded onto the hair, what will result is a limp, soggy mess. Cuticles stifled by product buildup have less lustre, spring and, ultimately, less strength. Remember, the products you apply are at the service of your strands, not the other way around!

Letting Hair Sit in Protective Styles

Protective styles are definitely a silver bullet for length retention, but bad things can happen when they are left untended for too long. Lint and dust that get into the hair can quickly turn into knots or tangles if unaddressed, and neglecting to moisturize makes for a breakage-heavy takedown. Then there’s scalp health. A dirty scalp is susceptible to sores and infections if the skin is punctured or cut. Always have an end date in mind when you put in a protective style, and be sure to tend to your hair while the style is in. Protective styling isn’t code for chucking up the deuces and ignoring your hair for months, on end.

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Dominique-Alexis
8 years ago

I completely agree with all the comments and have been a little guilty with the heavy handedness myself.

–http://natural-hair-care-info.com

E
E
8 years ago

hmmm i think the protective styles differ from person to person cause i can leave my braids/extensions in for up to four months and my hair is fine (with daily moisturizing and washing). It actually grows a lot faster too. but then us west africans are used to leaving in braids and weaves for a long time since we were children lol

eSPy
eSPy
8 years ago
Reply to  E

Thats why they said it can be damaging IF you do not frequently moisturize and keep your scalp clean and healthy.…

Thin and Natural
Thin and Natural
8 years ago
Reply to  E

Nothing helps hair grow “faster”. You just retain more length when the hair isn’t breaking. PPl always claiming their hair grows “faster”, yet they hardly ever have hair on their heads. LOL

ElektraTakeover
ElektraTakeover
8 years ago

I just think it’s different for different people…I can see my hair growth better with braids than I can when it is just out…I also can wear my hair in braids for awhile if I keep it moisturized well

LBell
LBell
8 years ago

I agree with most of these, especially the last one.

However, re product usage: I’m sorry, but my thick dense hair can’t use a dime-size amount of anything…unless you’re talking dime-size per section, lol.

ty
ty
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

+1! I have enough hair on my head for 4 or 5 people. Literally. It’s thick and dense (& I love it because it always looks full). A dime sized amount wouldn’t even be enough for my bang area. Lol

AmbrosiaChic
AmbrosiaChic
8 years ago
Reply to  ty

I third that! I have very thick hair and have to put it into small sections to apply product of any kind. A dime sized amount just won’t cut it…

Tracy
Tracy
8 years ago
Reply to  AmbrosiaChic

4th! My hair is sooo dense that I have to use more product otherwise it is dry brittle and lifeless!

selinda
selinda
8 years ago
Reply to  Tracy

5th!! I concur!

Earth Angel
Earth Angel
8 years ago
Reply to  selinda

6th!!!! My hair absorbs every ounce of moisture it can get a one sweep of a ‘dime’ sized anything will not do! This 4C head needs about a ‘quarter’ sized amount three time over! LOL!

Apples
Apples
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

+1.…wait is that +3 🙂

WinnieMae
WinnieMae
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

I feel the same way! I wonder who came up with that “dime-sized amount” thing. If I were to actually use a dime-sized amount of a product it would literally feel like I’ve added nothing to my hair. Now the ONLY product that recommends putting a dime-sized amount on and it actually being enough is Jane Carter Solution’s Nourish and Shine. Using a DS amount of that IS really all I need.

df
df
8 years ago
Reply to  WinnieMae

i agree about nourish and shine…learned that one the hard way…

ding
ding
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

+1

honeybrown1976
honeybrown1976
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

+5

A dime-size will only get a portion of my head, not my hair.

LillianMae
8 years ago
Reply to  LBell

I agree. I usually use a quarter-size per section!

leilani
leilani
8 years ago

I was just told by my hair stylist that since I’ve been trying the natural thing she has notice cuticle damage to my hair. I had no idea what I could’ve been doing to cause it. After reading the first suggestion it made sense. I am going to make sure I leave deep conditioner in during the allotted time instead of longer thinking longer is better. This article was right on time! Thank you 🙂

Hello
Hello
8 years ago
Reply to  leilani

Agreed, I just got done deep conditioning my hair. I am also one of those women who believe longer is better! I’ll definitely be adhering to the instructions on the back In the future. 15 minutes is all I need.

KJ
KJ
8 years ago

I usually need more than a dime sized amounth but I understand the concept of two much product.

Karlyne
Karlyne
8 years ago

I so Love Natural Haven!!!

Karlyne
Karlyne
8 years ago

Each person has to use and do what’s right for their hair. This article is right on point. I have witness women in “real” life as well as YT state they sleep with conditioner in their hair. I mean if it works for you~then so be it, but REALLY what do you really think is happening when you keep condish in your hair for HOURS. The instructions are there for a reason don’t over think the process. PS styling actually doesn’t make your hair grow any faster. You just have less tension on the hair since it is left alone.… Read more »

Rosie
8 years ago
Reply to  Karlyne

high five

ChicagoCutie
ChicagoCutie
8 years ago
Reply to  Karlyne

High-five officially seconded! 🙂

Aptlife
Aptlife
8 years ago
Reply to  Karlyne

Love this!

Thin and Natural
Thin and Natural
8 years ago
Reply to  Karlyne

Finally, someone with some common sense. Good idea including the disclaimer before all the self-righteous protestors show up.

yetta
yetta
8 years ago

Great list one thing i’ve learned as a stylist is that everything is relative. People with thin hair think their hair is thick people with dry brittle hair thinks their hair is fine. People with curly hair thinks it’s ugly and folks with straight hair thinks it sucks and the list goes on. I love these blogs helps bring some reality.

JJ
JJ
8 years ago

Nice list. I am guilty of getting scissor happy, but its a result of not protecting my ends and when I get a pair of scissors in hand I just keep going and going and going…

Niambi
Niambi
8 years ago

Ouch! I am guilty of some of these practices! Especially, deep conditioning over kill. Corrective action to take place immediately!

Yirssi
8 years ago

I am so guilty of over deep conditioning that it’s not even funny. I’ll make sure not to do that anymore.

sweetafrohair
8 years ago

one thing that terri laflesh (curly like me, tightly curly) points out is that hair instructions aren’t always written with us in mind, us being curly haired, thick haired. instead, they’re written with straight hair in mind. maybe you do need to use more than a dime sized amount and leave it on for longer … pay attention to your hair and see how it’s reacting to the the products, the times, etc. and do what works for you.

mangomadness
mangomadness
8 years ago
Reply to  sweetafrohair

Good point! I like your blog, by the way.

ashvini
8 years ago
Reply to  mangomadness

first your scalp needs to be fresh and clean on a regular so wainhsg once every week or week and a half depending on your climate will work. use a lot of natural oils in you hair.you can get them at a beauty supply store.vitamin e oil is known for promoting hair growth.drinking plenty water and having a good balanced diet also helps hair growth. there is a tablet (all natural) you can get in the drug store that helps to grow hair and nails. truthfully however you cant push hair to grow. your hair grows one inch every month.… Read more »

LillianMae
8 years ago
Reply to  sweetafrohair

Great comment!

We have to experiment and find out what works for our heads, individually!

TawnyBeauty
TawnyBeauty
8 years ago
Reply to  sweetafrohair

i agree, but i would also add that it’s probably better to start with the suggested amount, and THEN move on to experimentation.
i’m one of those ppl that always takes a product and tries to run with it instead of crawling, and it has ALWAYS resulted in falling flat on my face. directions come first, then experimenting comes second.

Vick
Vick
8 years ago

I LOL’d at the final one. DEFINITELY true.

Nashira
8 years ago

I kinda have to disagree with the deep conditioner thing too, based on an understanding of how conditioners work. Our hair gets stripped of positively charged molecules from handling, washing and just being exposed to air, lifting the scales or the cuticle and exposing the cortex of the hair. When we condition, we replace those positive molecules, and deep conditioning has a kinda “gluing” property too. So leaving deep conditioner in long is almost like allowing glue to set longer when u want to ensure tht something stays stuck together. This process can’t produce hydral fatigue, because ur not constantly… Read more »

Eboni
Eboni
8 years ago

wow this is eye opening, but like everyone says, this doesn’t pertain to EVERY natural haired woman.

binks
binks
8 years ago

Great list but I have to disagree with the dime size amount bit as well if you have thigh higly packed hair a dime size amount won’t do you any good…lol I get that you shouldn’t use the whole bottle but use enough well it gets every strand of your hair. As for the deep conditioning I’ am on the fence with that one as well…but other than that great list.

Camille
Camille
8 years ago

Great list, but my hair would seriously LAUGH at a “dime-sized” anything, LOL. That is unique to each person.

Real RBN
Real RBN
8 years ago

I agree with the last one. I fell for all products need to be“all natural ” and that’s why her hair is long,thick, and gorgeous.

Cosmolude
Cosmolude
8 years ago

I agree with this list. I’ve been guilty of being too heavy-handed at times but now I just apply a little bit at a time but it’s definitely more than a dime size amount for all my hair. I never really saw the point of deep conditioning for over 30–45 minutes (for me). I would wonder how other people (that do it for hours) know exactly how many hours they need? Why is 3 hours more effective than 1.75 or 2.5 or any other random amount of time? After reading Jc’s blog, I learned that 15 minutes is plenty for… Read more »

Lyn
Lyn
8 years ago

I usually leave my hair conditioner in over night, 6–8 hrs at least. So that’s probably the biggest thing that stood out. I think I would need more time, because I do live in a dry arid area. I actually NEED the most moisture I can get (until I get my Heautiful Hair Steamer); whenever that is, I’d probably limit my hair condish. to 30 mins. Also, I’m on the fence about dime-sized too, lol. I agree, probably a dime size per section (which is what I use, okay maybe a quarter size). Again, I blame it on the dry… Read more »

Just as I am
Just as I am
8 years ago

I’m sitting here with conditioner in my hair RIGHT NOW because I’m not protective styling at the moment so I’m in ponytails daily. My hair is in knots at the end of the day and I just don’t have it in me to detangle my hair for one more night. The Pantene usually helps me a lot.
It’s late now, and while I’m too tired to rinse it out, I’m now hoping that I’m not doing yet another thing to damage my hair.

j
j
8 years ago
Reply to  Just as I am

I too have DC in my hair right now! I usually prepoo with oils for a few hours then sleep with DC in mostly because I dont have any heating wraps etc to help it penetrate so I leave it in a long time.

y hair is shoulder length and I havent noticed any damage yet but Im going to try doing it for about 1 hr with a heating wrap and see if I notice a difference. I definitely dont want hydral fatigue!

ranuka
ranuka
8 years ago

I’ve heard you tubers say, not all of them but one or 2 say that they condition overnight. I guess it depends on the person and what their hair needs. Each person is different. In fact the one that comes immediately to mind, has the longest hair on You tube (from what i’ve seen). and she wears her hair out constantly, so that might account for her long deep conditions.

PN
PN
8 years ago
Reply to  ranuka

what’s her name, the you tuber I mean?

Aptlife
Aptlife
8 years ago

One of the reasons I went natural was to make my life easier, not unnecessarily time consuming. I don’t have the time to dc all night, so I dc for a MAX 15 minutes with a shower cap and towel. My hair is naturally thick, kinky-curly, dye-free and shoulder length and those 15 minutes are enough for me and my hair to come out soft and ready for styling. Weirdly enough, if I dc for too long (past 30 mins), my hair is dry and it’s not as soft as it is with only 10–15 minutes of dc. I remember… Read more »

Elle
8 years ago

I agree with the first suggestion but want to add to it. I use to be guilty of deep conditioning weekly by sleeping with conditioner on my wet hair covered by a plastic cap. After just a couple of months I ended up with a severe case of Seborrheic Dermatitis on my scalp, ears and forehead. Nasty stuff ladies. My hair actually started coming out at the ROOT! My doctor believes it was brought on by keeping my scalp moist and hot for long periods (much like conditions that spawn mold or yeast).

Alyssa
Alyssa
8 years ago
Reply to  Elle

Sorry to hear but thats very interesting, my degree is in biochemistry that could be y i find it particularly interesting

PN
PN
8 years ago
Reply to  Elle

wow, sorry to hear that:-( I guess no more overnight dcs for me anymore!

lexibugg
lexibugg
8 years ago

i leave deep conditioners in my hair overnight, my hair responds very well, and i have not sustained any damage from the practice, so i will continue to do so.….

alexis.
8 years ago

I’ve done all of these. Protective styles before I truly went natural, over deep conditioning recently. *sigh* The one thing I found that never worked was following natural hair gurus. I could never follow. My hair does its own thing.

Monz03b
Monz03b
8 years ago

If you have THICK hair, how is a dime size of hair product going to work? Sometimes I do get excited with products but I like for my hair to be coated evenly.

Bridgette
7 years ago
Reply to  Monz03b

any free online spnsaih learning resources?Hi. I’m a young man of partly hispanic descent but for various reasons never fully learned the language. I am also a poor young man, and have no easy access to spnsaih associates from which to pick up the language. I’m wondering if there are any good learning websites, downloads, videos . and if not free, very low priced :-O any help at all is appreciated or even if you just have tips for me.I should mention, I have a very good grasp of pronunciation and can speak a LITTLE of it, and read it… Read more »

Deshaun Tellez
Deshaun Tellez
4 years ago
Reply to  Bridgette

Check with your local library. All I needed was a library card for on-line access to Rosetta Stone. I also checked out a great book with CD’s. It’s free of charge and the librarians are very helpful.

Michelle
8 years ago

I’m sooo guilty of keeping my deep conditioner in longer than it needs to be lol. I guess my logic has been that if 15 mins will work then 30 mins will make it extra silky smooth.

I kinda agree with the dime sized thing when it comes to SOME products. I used to be very heavy handed but I’m learning that a little goes a long way with my hair.

Renee
8 years ago

Of course I havent’ read the comments or tips yet, but I love this fro. How do you keep your hair from shrinking to your head. I have lenght but you will never know the way my hair shrinks.

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adobuere
8 years ago

I used to over-condition w// oils etc. but I surely learned my lesson- NO MAS

LillianMae
8 years ago

At the beginning of my journey 18 months ago, I probably listened to gurus and purchased products based on their suggestions and experiences. I developed PJ-ism as a result LOL! I learned that all heads are not created equally and it took time and attention to figure out what my individual head needed. It’s been a great trip! For me, I pre-poo overnight with in amla oil. I also deep condition using only my body heat for at least an hour. If I used direct heat (a heated cap or dryer) I’d cut that time in half. The best advice… Read more »

edith stanley
edith stanley
8 years ago

Am a Nigerian and am concerned on hair products that would be best for me to start this new faze of going natural cause i have been thinking of going natural before i came across your website . So am sure you can tell me about some good hair product that might be useful for me .
Thanks a bunch .

Rissa Katharine
Rissa Katharine
8 years ago
Reply to  edith stanley

Hi Edith, three great product lines I’ve tried are Curl Junkie, Darcy’s Botanicals, and Jessicurl. I call them great because their ingredients vary a lot, so there’s literally something for everyone. curlmart.com sells a lot of great hair products. curlynikki.com has a lot of great natural hair info. If you go on youtube.com, users LolaKinkz and DenimPixie both have a lot of product reviews. To start with I would buy a sulfate free shampoo, a light conditioner (to conditioner-wash with)and a thicker conditioner (to deep condition with). Plus an oil to seal moisture in with (such as Olive Oil or… Read more »

Thembi
Thembi
8 years ago

Thanks for confirming what I learned via Cipriana’s post; I’ve been over trimming

Richelle
Richelle
8 years ago

Ladies,
Any tips on a vlog or blog I should follow for 4b mostly 4c hair?

Cacey
Cacey
8 years ago
Reply to  Richelle

sera 2544 on youtube. she has 4b/cish, somewhere in there- but she keeps it stretched all the time so a lotta ppl think she’s a looser texture even though she says herself that it’s loosened since she started blow drying and flat ironing more frequently.

Claudette UK
Claudette UK
5 years ago
Reply to  Richelle

Try Naptural85 she has 4a hair and wonderful advice.

curious kinks
8 years ago

first of all, I don’t know how you guys can get a good night sleep with a wet head. I have tried leaving treatment in my hair overnight, and I never sleep well, and I will sometimes wake up with an headache. Same as days when i do the baggy method by wearing a showercap to sleep. I don’t think the hair cortex would take in more than needed regardless of the length of time a treatment is left it. It’s the simple law of osmosis. Which is why I agree with Jc’s post, but I still leave a conditioner… Read more »

Linda
Linda
8 years ago

I have just discovered this website, and am so glad to get this information about natural hair! I just did the big chop and cut the relaxed ends off my hair.…its good to be in the company of other women who embrace their natural hair.….have learned so much!

nye
nye
6 years ago

I have naturally really curly hair & I use my DC as “hair gel”..meaning everyday I drench my hair after the shower with my DC..any kind..My hair is great..growing longer.I’ve been doing this for 2 years & no issues.

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