Is your hair taking a beating? Are you finding more and more of it on your brush as the days go by? Dealing with frayed, split ends, uneven length, and just all around brittle hair? We’re going to help you out.
Having your hair fall apart before your eyes can be a traumatic experience. Okay maybe it’s not that bad but it’s definitely not something you want to see happen. Losing 50-100 strands of hair per day is considered normal but when you have chunks of it quite literally “breaking” off its a problem. Your hair’s been damaged and it’s time to repair it.
We’ve divided this guide into two parts. The first part will cover what causes breakage so you know what to avoid to keep it from getting any worse while the second part is all about what you can do starting today to begin repairing your hair.
Our goal is to set you on the right path for healthy, strong, and beautiful hair. Sounds good? Let’s get into it.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
Your hair is fragile and a variety of factors take their toll on it. Here are some of the more common sources of trouble.
Problem #1 – Heat Damage
While today it may seem like the only way to get your hair looking great is by using hair styling tools like blow dryers, curling irons and straighteners, in the long run your hair will only degrade in quality by using them too often.
Heat damage comes in two forms: Using too high of a temperature at once which can immediately damage your hair or using heat too often which will damage your hair over time.
Your hair likes moisture and oil. It doesn’t like being dry and brittle making it more prone to snap off. Heat dries up moisture and will quite literally fry your hair by weakening the protein bonds holding it together.
So if your hair is already damaged, stay away from the flat irons and blow dryers. Use them once or twice a week AT MOST and for special occasions. If you must, turn down the temperature and always apply a heat protectant spray before doing any styling to help minimize damage.
Problem #2 – Chemical Damage
Over processing with chemical treatments is just as bad for your hair as heat damage and the more often they’re used the more damage is done.
Damaging chemicals can be found in things like relaxers, texturizers, perms, and hair color.
Your best bet is to limit these types of treatments to once every two months. It’s especially important you don’t overlap processes — meaning if you just got your hair colored, it isn’t the best idea to get another treatment done on top of that. Do one at a time and wait a couple months, preferably longer, between touch ups.
Also, if you want to apply chemicals to your hair your best bet is to visit a salon and let a licensed stylist do it for you. Sure you might save some money doing them yourself with at home kits and the help of a friend but unless you REALLY know what you’re doing you’re leaving too much up for chance. Is it worth risking damage to your hair to save money or can you just visit a professional and avoid the potential headache?
Another common source of chemical damage is your shampoo. Sulfate shampoos are especially troublesome because they create foam which soaks up any and all oil, pulling it off your hair, leaving it dry. Remember your hair doesn’t like dryness, it likes moisture so over washing it is bad. The less often you can shampoo the better and always use a conditioner afterward to help limit moisture loss.
Problem #3 – Friction & Tension
Friction and tension comes in a few different forms.
Braiding & Ponytails
These put your hair under stress and it’s worse if your hair is already weak. It also damages strong hair if it’s stretched enough that the protein bonds in your hair will have to break apart to compensate for the tension. Relax the tight buns and ponytails a bit. Anything that tugs too hard on your hair is bad.
Brushing will break already weak hair but it becomes even worse if used on wet hair. Your hair swells up and is at its weakest when it’s wet. Wait until it dries before taking the brush out and try untangling it with your fingers in the meantime or gently going through it with a comb. In general paddle brushes will do less damage than round bristles.
The rougher the fabric of the towel and the harder you rub, the worse it is for your hair. The key is to use something finer than a towel like silk or even a cotton t-shirt to help dry your hair. Or just gently pat your head to soak up moisture instead of wrapping it around your hair.
Basically anything that creates tension or rubs against your hair is bad. Even twirling your hair between your fingers can cause breakage if it’s weak!
Problem #3 – Environmental
We all know UV rays are bad for our skin but most people don’t think of them affecting their hair in any way. UVB rays can actually break down the protein bonds holding your hair together while UVA rays are capable of fading its color. Something as simple as wearing a hat can protect your hair from unnecessary damage.
Stress makes people want to “pull their hair out”. See the problem here? Stress affects us in a variety of ways, none of them really positive. Very high levels of stress for long periods of time can be responsible for increased hair loss or just make you quit caring about your hair because you’re too worried about other things. Deep breaths and meditation can help you out here.
Swimming in chlorinated pools might help you relax on a summer day but it’s stressing your hair out. Repeated exposure to chlorine WILL damage your hair although a one time dip in the pool isn’t that bad. Wear a swim cap and shampoo your hair afterward to remove any chlorine left off your hair. Another tip is to wet your hair with water BEFORE you get in the pool because then your hair will be too saturated to soak up any of the chlorinated water.
How To Start Repairing Damaged Hair
Now that you know what the likely causes of your breakage are, let’s look at how you can begin repairing your hair.
Optimize Your Diet
First things first, make sure you’re eating a hair healthy diet.
B Vitamins and protein are especially important for growing strong and healthy hair.
Eggs are one of the best foods you can eat for great hair because they’re high in both.
It will take time to see results but it’ll pay off in the long run because if your hair doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to look and be its best, right off the bat you’re fighting a losing battle against breakage.
Optimize Your Hair Routine
Once you get your diet in check, learn the basics of hair care to help get an effective routine down pat. A typical routine would be:
The most important thing is to not over wash your hair especially with sulfate shampoos as these will cause the most damage.
Deep conditioners should become your new friend because they’ll help restore your hair’s strength and protect it from future damage. Depending on how damaged it is right now, using a deep conditioner once a week or even more often might not be a bad idea. Always condition after using a sulfate shampoo.
You should also lay off on all chemical treatments and heat styling techniques for a while. Over using these is likely how your hair got to this point in the first place.
Another thing that can help is getting regular trims. Once every 6-8 weeks is recommended. These will treat split ends and cut them off before they get worse keeping your hair looking great. It might be hard parting ways especially if you like your hair longer but for stronger hair it’s definitely worth it.
Here are two more effective methods to repair damaged hair:
Hot Oil Treatments
Even though you usually want to avoid heat, oils are an exception because the right kinds have revitalizing properties that can help mend weak hair and give it some much needed shine and moisture.
Oils that are particularly useful for hot oil treatments include the following:
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Argan oil
- Castor oil
- Moroccan oil
Think of these treatments as a facial mask for your hair.
To give your hair a hot oil treatment you first have to make sure your hair is clean and dry before you do anything. Taking a shower right before to remove buildup and leftover gunk is ideal.
Next you’ll need to heat your oil of choice (or a combination) until it gets to a warm temperature. You don’t need anything that’s scorching hot.
Then you’ll need a brush to get the oil onto your hair. You can also try dipping your hair into the warm oil or even pouring it your head but you want it to stay on your hair long enough to work its magic so use a shower cap or saran wrap to keep it on.
While it’s on you can always apply extra heat using a hot towel or a hair dryer to keep the oil warm longer. Then you simply wait until it cools to room temperature before rinsing it off with water.
Your hair is made of protein. It’s why we recommend to everyone who wants stronger and healthier hair to start eating more protein. Another method is to use a protein treatment. These treatments attach on to the hair follicle directly and strengthen the cuticles. This protein barrier will help protect your hair from further environmental, heat, and chemical damage.
You have a variety of options here including reconstructors for heavily damaged hair, protein packs for lightly damaged hair and heavier penetrating treatments for moderate damage. Typically you use the treatment once every two weeks.
Repairing your hair using these methods should go hand in hand with avoiding the causes of hair breakage we talked about above. Doing both, you’ll set your hair on the right path to becoming stronger, healthier, and more beautiful. And who doesn’t want that?