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Breaking Bad Hair Habits    Bad Hair Habits   How To Break

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Unlike a bad food, smoking, drinking or recreational substance program, bad hair habits won’t make you fat, cause cancerous cells, ruin your liver or get you arrested. At least in the majority of cases.

However, bad hair habits, over time, can cause a accelerated hair shedding, split ends, damaged strands or a variety of other strand sins which may cause you as much heartache as the habit.

Examples Of Bad Hair Habits

What are some known bad hair habits? Not everyone will agree, but some of the most common include:

1.  Using your fingers to pull, rip, tear or snag split ends. This is a big no-no since you’re not really eliminating the obvious split ends, you’re just extending the damage with your fingers.

2.  Cutting your split ends with dull scissors. This is almost as bad as trying to pull the ends off with your fingers. Dull scissors will also extend the damage of the splits.

3.  Pulling your hair out. Some people do this when they see gray, silver or white hairs. Others pull out strands that seem wiry or a different texture than the rest of the hair.

4.  Using fingers to rip and pull out knots. A dear friend of mine constantly has her fingers in her hair ripping and pulling at knots. Yes it’s good to use fingers to gently detangle. However, pulling or ripping out knots and then throwing the little hairs on the floor is probably not the best for strands.  In fact, it can cause split ends.

5.  Scratching your scalp with your fingernails. Scratching may worsen any itching or sensitive area. Sharp fingernails can also leave tiny little abrasions on the scalp. Also, no matter how clean your hands and nails are, if you scratch you may spread or introduce bacteria which can cause a whole chain of scalp issues making the itching worse in the long run.

6.  Neglecting your roots so long that you have to tell people you’re trying a new Ombre hair color look. Of course you’re not fooling anyone but it’s a good excuse, right?

7.  Cleansing your hair in steamy hot water. Yes, this is one of my own sins. When the weather gets nippy I want to stand under a hot steamy blast of water until my skin turns red. It’s not great for my hair or my skin so I resist but I crave hot water every winter.

8.  Not detangling before washing hair. You’d be surprised how many people don’t carefully detangle their hair before jumping into the shower to cleanse. Now if you have short or stick straight hair it’s not a problem. But if you have curly, wurly, naturally textured or long hair then you’re just asking for hair breaking tangles.

9.  Skipping those necessary visits to the salon. You know who you are and why you’re skipping.

10.  Overusing your hot tools. I had to give my blowdryer away to avoid blowfrying my strands in cold weather and I never hot iron because of the damage it does to my hair.

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How Our Enviroments Direct Our Bad Hair Habits

The big question is how to break those bad hair habits. When researching that question I stumbled upon this great article at NPR by  Alix Spiegel. The article is excellent and well written, but it’s long so I will summarize. According to Spiegel and her research and it’s been proven that our environments come to unconsciously direct our behaviors, even behaviors that we don’t want, like smoking, overeating and yes, doing bad things to our hair.

I’m not really surprised by Spiegel’s article. My trainer once told me that I should never eat anywhere in my house, but at my kitchen table. Why? Because if I eat sitting on the couch watching my favorite programs, my environment would take over. I would lose track of what I was stuffing into my face. It was good advice and very true. I try very hard never to eat while I’m on my couch and it does make a difference.

Overcoming Environmental Cues

Psychologist David Neal, of Duke University says that “People, when they perform a behavior a lot, outsource the control of the behavior to the environment.”

Which means if you’re trying to stop mistreating your hair, you will have to overcome those environmental cues which have become so deeply ingrained that they are hard to resist. Which is why we sit on the couch and eat Pringles when we don’t need to, regardless of our resolutions to stop.

Disrupt Your Environment In Some Way

To battle bad behaviors then, one answer, according to the experts, is to disrupt your  environment in some way. Even small change can help — like eating the ice cream with your non-dominant hand.

What this does is change the action sequence and disrupts the learned body sequence that’s driving the behavior, which allows your conscious mind to come back online and reassert control.

To break bad hair habits this might look like giving away your hot tools, or locking them up, so it’s hard to use them to blowfry your hair. Or turning down the hot water heater to avoid the urge to scorch your strands.

Other disruptions might be buying professional high quality scissors and keeping them close at hand to distract you from using your fingers or dull scissors to snip those splits.

Take the time to make a list of any bad hair habits you might like to break and then analyze where you’re most likely to be tempted in your own environment to indulge in those habits.

Do you tend to pull your ends while you’re lounging or while you’re on the phone? Instead of letting your fingers idly pull and rip, maybe you should take up knitting, crochet or some other related activity.

My trainer used to have me do leg lifts and stomach crunches while I watched my favorite shows. Although a minor annoyance, it did keep me from stuffing my face or picking at my split ends and it did help me get my daily exercise worked into my schedule. While that may be a little crazy for most, but hey, you get my drift.


Most of us think of ourselves as controlling our behavior, willing our actions into being, but according to the experts it’s not that simple. It’s as if over time, we leave parts of ourselves all around us, which in turn, come to shape who we are.

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