Top 5 WORST things for your hair

As easy as it is to style your hair, it can be just as hard to avoid causing damage. If you want to ensure you are doing the right thing for your locks, take a look at our list of the worst hair products, tools, and styles that can wreak havoc on your tresses.

Image of a variety of hair styling tools

Hair Brushes

Now, this first one could come as a shock, but your hairbrush could be the culprit for your damaged hair!

If your hairbrush is…

  • Old
  • Damaged
  • Not suited to your hair type
  • Not suitable for the job you’re using it for
  • Being used too often

Then it could be causing a lot of damage to your hair.

The old and damaged points tend to come as a pair; if you’ve had your brush for several years, the likelihood is it will be suffering some damage. One type, in particular, is the classic brush you can pick up almost anywhere; I’m talking a handled, square-headed brush, with plastic bristles capped with a rounded end.

Broken, damaged hairbrush
Old and broken hair brush

I’m not sure about everyone else, but this is one my mum has; half of the caps have fallen off the bristles, and the sharp plastic scratches the living hell out of your scalp.

Needless to say, this will damage your scalp and the sharp, jagged bristles will likely snag and snap your hair strands too.

As the market has improved for specialised hair care, hair brushes have followed suit. You can now get brushes tailored to your hair type, be that fine, coarse, curled, and so on. If you use the wrong type, your hair will not thank you.

Additionally, there are brushes designed for a specific use, such as a wide-tooth comb is more suitable for use in a shower when your hair is wet and more susceptible to breakage. A round-headed brush is used for a blow-out when hair is already knot-free and is purely used to guide and manipulate the hair when heated. A standard or detangling brush is best for brushing knots and tangles out of your hair.

Hair brushes and hair dryer
Hair brush set Hair dryer

The last point is an important one. If you brush your hair too often, then your hair will start to feel the strain and could be more prone to snapping.


This point encompasses a range of products such as hair colour, hair bleach, hair colour remover, and chemical hair processes such as perms, relaxers, and keratin treatment.

Starting with the most commonly used chemical processes for your hair; hair dye and bleaching.

These are used on the hair to add or strip away colour, this is achieved through a chemical reaction of the hair strand. The reaction lifts protective proteins on the strand, allowing the chemicals to permeate and alter the structure of the hair, therefore changing the colour.

Women having her hair dyed
Woman having hair dyed at a hair salon

Some issues that are caused by using hair colour or bleach include:

  • Weaker hair
  • Hair is less able to withstand heat styling
  • Cause the hair strands to become thinner

It is best to have your hair coloured or bleached with a qualified, reputable hair stylist who can asses the condition of your hair and use products that will minimise damage.

The more extreme chemical hair treatments include perms, relaxers, and keratin treatments.

Hair dresser applying perm rods to hair
Man having a perm at a hair salon

Perms and relaxer treatments work similarly and manipulate the hair to stay curled or straight. A perm works by applying a chemical that breaks the protein bonds within hair strands, making them easy to manipulate into curls. The curls are then fixed into place with a solution that neutralizes the chemical.

A chemical relaxer breaks the bonds which hold curls in the hair, causing them to relax and become straight.

With these treatments, it is best to avoid heat styling tools, as the hair is weaker and susceptible to damage.

Heat tools

This brings us to the next item on our list, heat tools.

Many people use heat styling tools such as hair dryer, hair straighteners, hair curler, and hair waver. These tools use heat to more easily manipulate the hair when styling, temporarily changing the structure to allow hair to remain straight or curly.

A variety of hair styling tools
A variety of hair tools, hair dryer, hair straighteners, hair waver, hair curler, hair brush, comb.

Using heat tools regularly can put your hair at risk of permanent damage, leaving it brittle and dry. It’s best to apply heat-protectant products on your hair before using your heat tools to prevent damage.

Hair Styles

A seemingly unlikely culprit for hair damage can actually be which hairstyle you choose to go with. If you often find yourself scraping your hair back into a tight pony or sleek bun, then you could strain your hair follicles with these high-tension hair-dos! In addition, using a hair tie with a metal clasp or an elastic band can snag at your hair and cause breakage.

Woman with a tight ponytail
A woman with a tight hair style

Similarly, if you choose a style unsuitable for your hair type, such as cornrows or box braids on fine hair, you will be putting strain on your follicles, as these tight styles are more suited to coarser, curly hair.

Another one is hair extensions. If installed incorrectly, they could pull at your scalp, causing excessive hair loss. If they are removed incorrectly then you will experience this too.


There are ingredients in haircare products such as shampoo and conditioner that cause damage.

Some of these ingredients include:

  • Sulphates
  • Parabens
  • Alcohol
  • Fragrances
  • Colours
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Phthalates

These ingredients are harmful to your hair but also to your overall health and the health of aquatic life.

The damage they can do ranges from scalp irritation to hormonal imbalances and can even increase the risk of cancer.

Image of shampoo and conditioner bottles
Shampoo and conditioner

Your best option when looking for shampoo and conditioners is to find a sulphate and paraben-free formula.

Your hair is one of the most vulnerable parts of your body and requires a lot of care. Whether you take out parts of your usual haircare routine or implement new options, keep this article in mind for the big no-nos when looking after your locks!

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