*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.
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.
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.