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Doing This in the Shower Is Making You Lose Your Hair, Experts Warn

This common bathing habit could be causing your hair to thin.

Thinning hair is a touchy subject. Our hair has helped define who we are for much of our lives, so losing it can feel particularly disheartening. Like many of the things that happen with age, it may seem inevitable, but the good news is it's not completely out of your control. Though factors like genetics play a role, there are things you can change—such as your diet, stress levels, and even how you bathe—that can make a difference in how much hair you lose. Read on to find out the one thing you might be doing in the shower that exacerbates hair loss.

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Using hot water to wash your hair may contribute to hair loss.

woman smiling while taking shower

Hair loss in the shower is a given—you've been finding it in the drain since the days when any thinning hair woes couldn't have been further from your mind. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), losing between 50 to 100 strands throughout the day is totally normal. But using hot water to wash your hair may be upping those numbers by weakening your strands, creating more hair loss over time.

"Hot water can damage the keratin proteins in the hair and strip away the natural oils on the scalp which will make the hair feel very dry and weak leading to breakage," says celebrity hair stylist Mark Townsend, creative director for Collective Laboratories. "Hot water opens the hairs cuticle layer, causing moisture loss and brittleness." All these factors can contribute to hair loss.

You should wash your hair in lukewarm water and rinse in cool water.

Man in the shower

A hot, steamy shower may be your moment of zen at the beginning or end of a long day. But as relaxing as it is, when it comes time to wash and rinse your hair, it's best to turn that dial down. "Warm or lukewarm water is ideal for washing hair because this water is warm enough to help melt away the natural oils on the scalp without over stripping and drying out the scalp, hair, and skin like very hot water would," says Townsend. "When rinsing, it's best to use cooler water because that helps to seal hairs cuticle layer, keeping in moisture to prevent breakage."

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Heat out of the shower is not so great either.

Black woman using a blow dryer on her hair

The shower is not the only place where your hair is potentially being damaged by heat. When your hair is wet "the cuticles swell with water and weaken" and are more prone to snap off, Dominic Burg, PhD, chief scientist, hair biologist, microbiologist, and trichologist for evolis Professional told She Finds. But getting it dry—or curly or straight—can also be in an issue. "Using hot styling tools on wet hair after showering can also lead to damage and breakage, as this 'flash drying' is essentially boiling the water residue inside your hair," Burg noted.

Any excessive heat styling, whether blowdrying, straightening, or curling, can contribute to hair loss. If you're concerned about thinning hair, it's best to let your locks air dry or use a microfiber towel to get them as dry as possible before you blow dry. If you can't live without your heat tools, Townsend says to make sure to turn the heat down to "help prevent more dryness and damage." He keeps his irons under 300 degrees.

Using the right products can help prevent hair loss.

A woman shopping for hair products in the store

For those days when a blowdryer is a non-negotiable (who wants to go out in the cold with wet hair?), be sure to apply a heat protecting product before you style your hair. "Hair gets weaker as it gets older so it is important to take steps to protect it, so I like to use Dove Smooth and Shine Heat Protection spray on hair before using hot tools," says Townsend.

Looking for products with strengthening ingredients like jojoba or flaxseed oil can also help, reports She Finds. When it comes to shampoo and conditioner, you should keep them both in your routine. "I hear from women that they don't use conditioner after shampooing because they are afraid of it weighing down their hair, but your hair needs moisture and nourishment especially as you age," Townsend says. "I tell my clients to use a lightweight treatment like Collective Laboratories Fortifying Conditioner after shampooing to help repair damage and prevent breakage."

While many hair loss specific products are marketed towards men, maintaining a healthy scalp is really the key to preventing hair loss for all genders. Be proactive about your scalp care to prevent hair loss," says Townsend. He recommends using Collective Laboratories Activating Serum, but there are plenty of products out there that can help keep your scalp healthy and, in turn, the hair on your head.

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