Hair breakage can be caused by a variety of factors. An inner cuticle with overlapping scales that keeps your strands together is important for healthy hair. When these scales fall apart, your hair may become dry and eventually split, causing harm. This results in breakage, as well as other symptoms such as frizz and dryness.
Learn more about some of the most popular causes of hair breakage and what you can do about it.
When it comes to hair and skin health, the adage “you are what you eat” holds a lot of truth. Certain nutrients aid in the growth of your hair and the prevention of breakage due to injury. Make sure you get enough zinc, iron, and folic acid in your diet on a regular basis. Protein and antioxidants (found in plant foods) will also help to keep your hair healthy.
There is a plethora of evidence linking stress to hair loss, but it is also known that stress can cause hair breakage. Telogen effluvium is the type of stress most likely to cause hair damage. Because this type of stress causes your follicles to go dormant, hair that is in the middle of a growth cycle may break off. You might also notice that old hair is falling out. Managing your stress may result in healthier hair.
Unusually dry hair is one of the precursors to damage and breakage. It is also caused by several factors, such as dry weather, low humidity, and excessive heat. When washing your hair, make sure to use warm water rather than hot water, as the latter causes additional drying.
If your hair is dry on the ends, try concentrating shampoo on your scalp only. It’s also a bad idea to skip the conditioner. If you’re short on time, apply a leave-in conditioner before combing wet hair.
- Heat damage
High heat is required for the best results from your hairdryer, flat iron, or curling iron. However, if you use these tools incorrectly or excessively, you risk damaging the cuticle due to high temperatures.
Giving your strands a break from all styling tools at least once a week is one way to prevent overall heat damage. Select ceramic styling tools to reduce actual heat damage from styling tools; these heat up more evenly, so you don’t have to keep using them on the same sections of hair repeatedly. It is also critical to protect your hair before applying heat.
Perms, relaxers, professional straightening, and coloring can all make your hair appear healthier after just one or two sessions. However, if you perform these services too frequently, the cuticle can break down and cause hair damage.
If possible, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends extending the time between sessions to 8–10 weeks. In the meantime, use a hair mask to extend the life of your results.
Related article: Hair Dye: Types and Side effects
You are more likely to have excess sebum (natural oil) production in your scalp if you have oily skin. This can lead to the temptation to wash your hair more frequently than necessary.
While daily washes are fine if you have oily hair, you should not wash it more than once per day. On the other hand, if your hair is extremely dry, you may only need to shampoo it once a week. Also, shampoo gently at the scalp and apply conditioner smoothly from the ends to the roots.
- Improper towel drying
When you get out of the shower, it’s natural to rub your skin and hair with a towel. However, this rubbing motion harms your hair at a time when it is most vulnerable (after being wet). Instead of rubbing water out of your hair, wrap an absorbent towel around it. You can also use a towel to absorb excess water in your hair as a temporary measure.
- Elastic hair ties
Elastic hair ties are essential for keeping your hair out of your face while exercising. And, let’s face it, they’re useful on bad hair days or when you’re in a hurry.
Hair ties are problematic because they pull on your scalp and hair cuticle. You might even notice that some hair falls out when you undo your ponytail. You can fix this by letting your hair down now and then, or by making your up-do a little looser so it doesn’t pull on your hair as much. Also, make sure you’re wearing real hair ties rather than rubber bands, which can cause damage to your hair.
- Incorrect brushing and combing
You may have heard that brushing your hair 100 times a day is good for it, but according to the AAD, this is a myth. When styling your hair, they recommend using only a brush and a comb. To avoid breakage, make sure to use wide-tooth combs. Use a brush only when your hair is dry, and avoid using plastic bristles.
- Lack of hair trims
It may appear that cutting your hair can harm it. Hair trims, on the other hand, help keep your hair healthy and free of split ends. Consider a hair trim to be similar to exfoliation for the skin — in both cases, you need to remove some of the old cells to allow new ones to grow. When you have split ends, the splits in the cuticle can travel up the rest of your hair’s length and cause breakage.
At least once every eight weeks, you should visit your stylist. Even if you’re growing out your hair, trimming damaged ends can help keep it from breaking further.
When your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones, you have hypothyroidism (low thyroid disorder). Although the thyroid gland is small, it plays an important role in keeping your body running. Your metabolism, heart rate, and even hair growth are all affected.
People who have a low thyroid may experience excessive hair damage and loss, particularly in the shower or after brushing their hair. If you have dry, damaged hair, low energy, sudden weight gain, and depression, consult your doctor about a thyroid check. Learn more about hypothyroidism and its effects on the body.
- Eating disorders
Hair damage can be a sign that you or a loved one has an unhealthy relationship with food. This is especially true for malnourishment-causing eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa. In such cases, the hair follicles lack the nutrients required to produce new hair, and the process is halted. You might even notice new hairs breaking off in the middle of the growing cycle.
Eating disorders can have far-reaching consequences, necessitating medical intervention. Reading personal stories about people who have overcome eating disorders may inspire you or a loved one to seek treatment.
Tips for Healthy Hair
Consider the following must-do hair care tips to avoid future hair breakage:
- Daily, but gently, wash and condition your hair.
- After swimming, use a swimmer’s shampoo and conditioner kit.
- Where convenient, let your hair air dry.
- Make sure that all weaves and extensions are light and do not pull on the scalp.
- Consider a new hairstyle that takes less time and effort on your part.
- Consume a well-balanced diet to ensure that your hair receives all of the nutrients it needs.
- Tight hats should not be worn for fashion; they should only be worn for sun safety.
Hair breakage can be aggravating. The good news is that most underlying causes can be addressed through lifestyle changes. If you continue to experience hair breakage after making changes to your diet and hair routine, it may be time to consult with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical issues.