Perhaps you already know you’re not supposed to brush your hair wet … or maybe you’ve never heard this rule before. But so many of us pick up a brush right after stepping from the shower and tackle our locks, getting those tangles out with gritted teeth before hefting a blow dryer and having at it.

Needless to say, this common approach is not a good one. In fact, it’s a perfect recipe for hair breakage, snapping, frizzing and split ends. If you want to keep your hair healthy, happy and as long as possible, it’s time to revise your wet-hair-brushing ways.

Try Not to Brush Hair Until It’s Dry

This obvious but much-ignored step is actually pretty easy to accomplish. While you’re still in the shower, finger-comb your hair with the aid of conditioner. That way, your strands are mostly straightened out when you towel off. Speaking of which, avoid the urge to tousle. Instead, gently squeeze the towel down the strands. This accomplishes two things: protects strands from breakage, and keeps hair relatively tangle-free. Once dry, your hair is safer to brush.

If You Must Brush, Use a Comb

Sometimes you have to detangle right away, such as when you’re styling your hair for work. In that case, use a wide-toothed comb and go carefully. Start from the bottom and use a smoothing serum if necessary. At all costs, avoid the urge to start from the scalp and yank down, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in. If you hear the telltale scriiiiitch sound of knotted hair, stop right away and begin beneath the snarl.

Keep Hair Beautiful and Healthy with Professional Help

Of course, it always helps to get professional help keeping your locks smooth and undamaged. One of the easiest ways to prevent breakage while hair is wet is to seal the cuticle and keep ends neatly trimmed, which can be accomplished with cuts and deep conditioning treatments at a salon. Or if you want to up smoothness without more heat treating and brushing, consider a Brazilian blowout.

Each of these tips will do a lot for your hair on their own, but combined, you now have a proper hair-care support system to prevent breakage now and forever. Use it!