Hair care is a multifaceted and extensive process, which means that there are lots and lots of opportunities to mess something up. From your product collection, to your tools, to your various techniques, unhappy surprises can be waiting in the most innocent-looking of places. So let us help you parse out the good from the bad. Here are some common, easy-to-make hair care mistakes, and tips to help you fix them:

Using products with sulfates in them.
There are a lot of promising-looking products out there with sulfates on their ingredients labels, and it can be almost heart-breaking to part with a product based off of that alone. But it’s got to be done, because sulfates spell only damage for hair extensions, and for your own hair, too. Beware the sudsy, too-clean feeling, and always read the label!

Tying hair into a topknot while conditioner sets.
Most of you probably know by now that conditioning the roots of your hair is an extension crime. It compromises the extension bonds, causes slippage, and (best-case scenario) leaves your hair looking greasy. That being said, conditioner is great and so, so necessary for the lengths of your hair, and you’ll get the most benefit from it if you let the formula set for 5-15 minutes before rinsing. While you do this, your instinct might be to pull your hair up and away from your shoulders to prevent the conditioner from coating your skin. Good thinking! But opt for a low ballerina bun. A topknot—though appealing—will ultimately drip conditioner down into the root area of your hair. No thank you!

Blow-drying dripping wet hair.
While we recommend that you blow-dry the root area of your hair after showering, we don’t mean blow-dry the hair while it’s still sopping wet. Shooting wet hair with heat can be super damaging to your locks, since the liquid coating around each hair will just funnel the heat and multiply its effects. Instead, gently wring your hair of water, towel dry with a microfiber cloth, spritz some heat protectant to the areas of your hair that you intend to blow-dry, let it set for a couple of minutes*, then blow-dry on a low heat setting (using the cool shot afterwards).
*Heat protectant forms a barrier around the hair, but only after it’s dried slightly on the hair shaft.

Brushing with the wrong comb or brush.
While we’d love to tell you that you can continue using your standard brush/comb on your hair extensions, that’s most likely not true. Unless your brush is a 100% boar hair bristle brush, like ours is, it’s not going to mesh well with your hair extensions. That’s because ordinary brushes have bristles that are too rough for hair extension bonds, and many brushes and combs don’t effectively distribute oil from the scalp to the ends of the hair. So invest in one that does what you need it to do!

Using the wrong brushing technique.
Your hair-brushing woes may go one step further; you could be brushing your hair in the wrong way. This can happen even if you have the right kind of brush for your hair, and it can wreak havoc on your locks! The correct way to brush your hair involves starting at the ends, coaxing the knots out in a downward motion, and then slowly working your way up. Don’t start at your roots and yank through the knots! That is immediately damaging to both your extensions and your natural hair. To minimize the tugging at the roots and bonds, always grasp the roots of your hair with one hand while you brush.

Slathering hair in oil.
Hot oil treatments are bomb for hair extensions, because they provide a fix of much-needed moisture. That being said, you should not douse your hair in the stuff, and you should not apply any around the bonds or roots of your hair. As with the conditioning thing, it’ll quickly lead to slippage and/or greasy, flat-laying hair (since oil is notoriously difficult to wash out). And, again, tie the hair in a low ballerina bun to set.

Sleeping with your hair loose.
This one seems so natural, right? Most of us don’t even think twice about falling into bed with our hair down, because it’s what we’ve been doing for most of our lives! But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s good. In fact, all the tossing and turning you do during the night can mess up the cuticle layer of your hair, draining it of moisture and leaving it frizzy come morning time. And that’s just not a great way to start the day. Instead, sleep with your hair in a braid, invest in a silk or satin pillowcase (to minimize friction), and consider getting a silk or satin bonnet, too. A head wrap could also work. Anything that’ll keep the hair laying smooth and undisturbed.

Skipping UV protectant.
It can come as a surprise to hear that hair needs sun protection, too. But, if you care about maintaining a healthy-looking mane, it most certainly does. UV rays are disaster for color-treated hair (think your hair extensions), and can cause premature color fade. Even on natural, uncolored hair, sunlight will have a lightening and drying effect. Over time, this can compromise the integrity of your strands. So reach for a UV protectant, give it a couple of spritzes into your hair, and work it through with your hands. It’s not a lot of extra time or energy, and the results are well worth it.

Got questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave them down below!