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Hair is healthy when it grows from the scalp and it becomes progressively damaged over time. Products are formulated to either preserve the integrity of the hair or provide styling options. The biggest cause of severe hair damage is mechanical (e.g. styling) and chemical (e.g. hair dye). With this in mind, if your hair is feeling damaged, it is probably your fault. Yes, I said it. We impart damage on our own hair, so the best way to address damage is to ask ourselves what I am doing wrong? If you are experiencing dry hair, here are five likely reasons why.

1. Don’t read product ingredient lists

There are no ways around the importance of reading ingredient lists. When you first start your natural hair journey, it is fair to assume that you do not know what you hair likes, so you try anything based on popular product reviews, your budget, and other variables. Product reviews are a great start, but if the first product you purchase does not work, take the time to research those top five ingredients and learn why they did not work for others. You do not have to be anti silicones and anti mineral oil, but you should object to anything that does not work for you. For examples, water insoluble silicones not only create excessive dryness for my hair, but they also give me back acne. Sometimes it is the entire formulation that does not work for your hair while other times it is a specific ingredient.

Reading the ingredients lists will also save you money. Cosmetic companies are required by the FDA to list ingredients in the descending order of predominance, and the first five ingredients are considered the most important ingredients. With this knowledge you can be an informed consumer. Now you can decipher whether the $25, 8 oz. styling pudding is equivalent to the $5.99, 16 oz. curling soufflé. Do not haphazardly buy products. Most curlies who rid mineral oil, petrolatum, water insoluble silicones, and drying alcohols from their regimens is due to dry results.

Read more: This Will Forever Change the Way You Read Labels

2. Co-wash and never shampoo

Co-washing is not for everyone, and co-washing should be supplemental to using shampoo. Cleansing conditioners are not formulated to replace shampoo. Want to treat your brittle hair and itchy scalp? Shampoo! There are vast sulfate-free shampoo options to select from. Can’t find a gentle shampoo? Consider a pre-poo treatment 

Also, when you wash your hair, do not rub your hair upward. This will agitate the cuticle and cause more damage. Always stroke your hair downward.

Read more: You Need to Clarify: Signs that Co-washing is Not Enough

3. Don’t trim or cut damaged ends

Split ends cause breakage and broken hair is susceptible to dryness. If you think it is unnecessary to trim your hair 6-8 weeks, then schedule a trim at least once a year. Split ends may not always visible, but you cannot deny when your ends are excessively dry. Excessive manipulation, over processed hair, and heat damage are all reasons to trim your hair regularly. Trimming your ends will not only help to retain moisture but also make detangling a breeze. Remember, it is not a question of if you need a trim but when.

4. Use heat tools regularly

Whether you are obsessed with blow-outs or straightening, using heat tools regularly is a sure way to damage the cuticle on the hair shaft. The cuticle is comprised of 5-12 layers of cells to help protect the cortex and medulla, but this does not mean it is not fragile. According to chemist JC of The Natural Haven: “If you heat keratin to around 215-235°C (419-455F) the alpha helix starts to melt.” Remember that heat damage does not necessarily occur overnight, it can be cumulative, so if you want to maintain the health of your hair, try practicing more stretched styles that do not require heat.

Read more: 7 Gorgeous Styles to Stretch Your Hair

5. Sleep on a cotton pillowcase

If you are sleeping on a cotton pillowcase, your hair is losing moisture while you sleep. The linen is withdrawing all of the moisture from your hair and into your sheets. Also, even if you are sleeping on a satin pillowcase and still struggle with dryness, loose hair may not be the best option for you. Consider wrapping your hair with a satin scarf and/or bonnet. Many naturals claim to experience less dryness when they put their hair in a bun, loose twists, or a pineapple.

Is your hair excessively dry? Do you have any of these habits?