9 things you should never do to your hair, according to a trichologist

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Adam Bennett, 38, has been a hair stylist for 16 years and trichologist for six. He specialises in hair loss at IHS Hair Replacement in West Kensington and treats men, women and children starting at age eight, but mostly women experiencing menopausal hair loss. Here, he tells i the things he’d never do, or recommend, for haircare.

Never shower with hot water and keep heating tools below 185 degrees

Bennett always uses lukewarm water in the shower. “One of my big things is to absolutely never use really hot water on your head. It’s really common because lots of people when they have itchy skin like to really burn it. Other people with an oily scalp think that they need really hot water for it to be clean.

“I always use lukewarm water, it’s not the nicest but it is best for your hair and actually good for your skin as well,” he says.

As heat and hair don’t get on, Bennett never uses his hair dryer on the highest setting, and never will. “There’s no need to have the excess heat powering out, and don’t go over 185 degrees on tools. I’d say keep it lower if you can, especially if hair is finer. If you’ve got Afro hair you don’t need super, super high heat either. The hair is softer so a lower heat is better.”

When it comes to styling long hair, he recommends the heatless curls that have gone viral on social media. “Dry your hair to 70 per cent dry, use a mousse or something rough in your hair, roll up the curls and let them dry overnight,” he advises. “Let them out the next morning, then run some serum through your hair for protection.”

A complex haircare routine could do more harm than good

Although Bennett has been a hair stylist for 16 years and trichologist for six, he keeps his own hair care routine as simple as possible. “I wash my hair three times a week with a sulphate-free shampoo. I use a good quality shampoo and then a scalp tonic weekly. I wouldn’t even use that if I didn’t get an itchy scalp.”

All the styling products he uses include heat protection to protect his hair when blow-drying. His favourite brand for his scalp is Philip Kingsley and he uses their Flaky Scalp tonic, which sells for £11 per 75ml.

Bennett has been a hair stylist for 16 years

In the winter, he recommends people with longer hair switch from their usual conditioner to a hair mask each time they wash it as the colder weather can make hair dry, just like skin. “There’s a higher concentration of lipids in the mask that will ensure it keeps it nice and hydrated,” he says.

Why broccoli and salmon will give you lovely hair

When it comes to diet, Bennett recommends eating fatty acids and fish for hair growth and thickness, and broccoli to strengthen the hair follicles. “If you’re drinking water and you’ve got a good balanced diet you’re going to flourish,” he says. “You’re going to look healthier and with that comes hair, skin and nails. Unfortunately, whether it’s stress, illness or diet, hair, skin and nails tend to suffer first and recover last.”

He recommends his clients use Viscal pro supplements and says many report thicker and fuller hair from it.

Don’t scrub hair after washing it

Wet hair is vulnerable, and prone to breakage. Scrubbing hair with a towel, or drying on a high heat, can be damaging and Bennett instead uses a microfibre cloth to pat and squeeze his hair out. “We don’t want to raise the cuticle after you’ve rinsed out the conditioner. Using a microfibre towel to squeeze out any excess moisture is what you should be doing.”

Bennett says if an everyday shampoo is used, there is no such thing as overwashing hair. “When I first started hairdressing it was a big thing to not over wash hair as you don’t want to overstimulate the sebaceous glands as it’s going to produce more oil which can lead to greasy hair and dandruff,” he says.

Now, he says it’s fine as long as a gentle shampoo is used. “If someone is going to the gym everyday and they need to wash their hair, they need to wash their hair.”

Avoid cheap shampoo

Bennett’s best advice is to stretch to the shampoo and conditioner you can afford; for him, around the £10 mark is optimal. “Obviously don’t get yourself into debt by paying for a £50 bottle of shampoo but really think about what you’re spending. If you can push up your shampoo and conditioner by another couple of quid then you’ll be getting higher grade silicones which means they’re not going to build up, they won’t coat the hair, and they’ll wash away nicely. In the long run you’re better off spending a little more.”

“Haircare gummies” – flavoured, chewy pastilles which contain a blend of vitamins and minerals marketed to support hair health, are all the rage on TikTok. Bennett is skeptical though. “If you’re seeing gummies for £8 I’m guessing the quality of what’s in there isn’t that good.”

Never brush from the root or continuously have tight hairstyles

A mixed bristle brush, or a tangle teaser, is perfect for hair; always start brushing from the ends, then work your way up to the root, Bennett advises.

For long hair, tight hairstyles should be kept to a minimum – preferably once every couple of weeks. “You don’t want a really harsh pinned back, scraped-back hairstyle every day that is just going to pull your hair out,” he said.

Don’t underestimate stress

One of the biggest causes of hair loss is stress, and Bennett will often start by discussing mental health with his clients. Recently an eight-year-old girl (his youngest client) came to him with her parents for help as she had alopecia which he believed was caused by stress.

“I think it was family trauma that triggered the alopecia. With that has come the stress of not having any hair and having to go to school with a wig. It’s a lot for an eight-year-old to go through,” he says.

For her, he’s recommended a healthy diet, lots of sleep and reducing stress. Together with her parents, they’re trying to make the wig process as enjoyable as possible to relieve some of the stress caused.

Bennett sleeps from 10pm until seven or eight in the morning, and his friends often laugh at him for it. At minimum, aim for six hours, he says.

Try oils and massaging

Rosemary hair oil is having its moment in the haircare world at the moment, and TikTok is full of videos of people reporting their hair breakage is growing back, or their hair is thicker. Bennett is a fan due to their hydrating and strengthening properties. “I love it. It’s great to brush it through. The thing is if you pay attention to something on a regular basis, it is going to improve. With the oil, people who are buying rosemary oil, which is a natural remedy, are massaging it into the scalp. They’re paying attention to the scalp and stimulating the blood flow around the hairline which is super important.”

He warns not to use too much as it can be hard to wash out, clog hair follicles and potentially cause dandruff. Overall though, for people with greasy or damaged hair, it can be great at removing oils and stimulating the scalp.

Don’t fall for online ads

Bennett can spend hours scrolling on TikTok, but says there’s a lot of misleading information online. “Go a little bit further than just TikTok before you buy that derma roller with needles on it,” he says. The needles create “micro injuries” in the scalp which are supposed to stimulate new hair production and growth, and they’ve become popular online.

“It blows my mind that people do things like that at home. Don’t just go and buy a roller from TikTok shop and throw it on your scalp because you’ve seen an influencer do it.”

The buzz at the moment, he says, is around B12 shots, which advocates say increase energy levels and reduce fatigue. They’re being offered in aesthetic clinics and people, even without a deficiency, are opting for the quick injection. “Unless you have an actual deficiency, absolutely don’t get them. Some people say B12 could help decelerate greying but I’m not sure about that,” he says.

Overall, if people have hair concerns, he recommends speaking to a specialist directly or taking advice from a stylist.

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