I think this is one of the most common technique flaws in the average singer today: overuse of breathy tones. Breathy tones can destroy the vocal cords if not used properly and sparingly. Why are breathy tones so dangerous to your vocal cords?
Breathy tones are dangerous to your vocal cords because they employ the augmented use of breath support to create tone. Because breathy tones lack the vocal cord closure and vocal compression needed to “climb” the range ladder, the singer has no other option but to push out more air to try and sing higher notes. When more air than necessary interacts with the vocal cords, the cords become inflamed and begin to swell. It is no wonder, then, that so many singers experience hoarseness after a performance. It is the body’s way of saying, “Please stop! Your are killing your precious vocal cords!”
Breathy tones can be extremely hard to overcome because they are reinforced by other bad singing habits, such as:
1) the use of outer throat muscles to attempt at compressing the vocal cords;
2) a raised larynx to try and “reach” for the high notes; or
3) a forward jaw position to try and “give the feeling” that more space is available for the tone to resonate.
(there are other bad habits, but I find these are common to the average singer)
To overcome these bad habits, correct technique must be learned and exercised. Neutralization of the larynx, cord closure and vocal compression are key elements in relieving excess throat tension and pressure on the voice. When each of these techniques are employed correctly, the breathy tone in the voice will disappear, giving way to a more powerful, clear and consistent tone. Only when you can employ these techniques should you attempt to use breathy tones for stylistic purposes, and even so, you should still use them sparingly. Add breathy tones in for style, but be sure to always return to correct and healthy technique to avoid potential vocal cord damage!