For many, a head of lustrous, healthy hair is the epitome of beauty and vitality. However, hair damage is an all-too-common problem that can rob your locks of their natural shine and vitality.
Understanding the signs of damaged hair is the first step towards restoring your mane to its fine, healthy state.
What is Damaged Hair?
A lack of moisture, elasticity, rough texture, and an increased tendency towards breakage and split ends characterize damaged hair. It generally appears dull, lacks natural shine, and can feel coarse to the touch.
When your hair is damaged, retaining moisture within the hair shaft is harder, resulting in dry hair and an overall unhealthy hair appearance. Recognizing the signs of hair damage is the first step towards restoring your locks to their former glory and maintaining natural hair and healthy hair.
Common Causes Of Damaged Hair
Heat Styling: Frequent hot tools, such as straighteners, curling irons, and hair dryers, can damage hair by stripping away its natural oils.
Environmental Factors: Exposure to harsh weather conditions, UV rays, and pollutants can harm your hair strands, diminishing their natural shine.
Poor Nutrition: A lack of essential nutrients can affect hair health, leading to hair shedding and impaired growth.
How To Tell If Your Hair is Damaged
1. Split Ends
After months of skipping haircuts, Jane noticed that the ends of her hair were thinning and splitting, making her hair appear unkempt and unhealthy despite her efforts with styling. Split ends occur when the protective outer layer of the hair cuticle wears away due to external stressors such as excess heat styling and harsh weather conditions.
This exposes the hair’s inner cortex, making it more susceptible to split ends, chemical damage, and breakage.
Causes of split ends:
frequent use of hot tools
Regularly trimming ends, using protective hair products, and reducing heat styling tools can prevent and treat split ends, keeping hair strands healthy.
Sam often used high heat when styling his hair. Over time, he noticed an increase in broken, short hair strands on his pillow and clothing, signifying weakened hair prone to breakage. Hair breakage is when hair strands become so weak and brittle that they break off from the hair shaft.
This can occur due to external damage to the hair cuticle, leaving the hair vulnerable and prone to breaking.
Causes of breakage hair:
over-processing with chemicals
excessive heat styling
lack of essential nutrients
Incorporating protein-rich hair masks, minimizing the use of heat and chemicals, and maintaining a balanced diet can strengthen the hair shaft and reduce breakage.
Mary lives in a desert climate and overwashes her hair. She began to experience a dry, straw-like texture and lacked the natural shine she used to have, indicating a moisture-deprived hair shaft.
Dry hair lacks moisture and natural oils, resulting in a rough texture and dull appearance. This lack of moisture can make the hair more susceptible to tangling and breakage.
Causes of dry hair:
exposure to harsh weather conditions
using harsh shampoos
Applying hydrating hair masks, utilizing natural oils to retain moisture, and limiting the use of harsh hair products can restore dry hair’s natural shine and health.
On humid days, Lisa’s hair would expand and appear unruly and frizzy, which showed that her hair cuticle was raised and susceptible to the surrounding moisture. Frizz occurs when the hair’s cuticle layer is raised, allowing moisture to pass through and swell the hair strands.
This results in hair strands deviating from the hair type’s natural structure, appearing unruly and feeling coarse.
Causes of frizzy hair:
damage to the hair cuticle
Using smoothing products, protecting hair from environmental factors, and maintaining moisture levels can combat frizz and restore the silky smoothness of the hair cuticle.
John’s hair lost its vibrant shine despite regular washing, and the buildup of products and exposure to environmental pollutants left his hair looking dull and lifeless. Dullness in hair refers to the lack of shine and luster, often resulting from the accumulation of product residue and exposure to environmental damage, and dull hair reflects less light, appearing lifeless and matte.
Causes of dull hair:
UV ray exposure
damaged hair cuticles
Clarifying shampoos and UV protectant products and maintaining the hair’s natural oils can shine and combat dullness.
6. Loss of Elasticity
When Claire styles her long hair back into a ponytail, she notices it doesn’t bounce back or hold its shape like it used to, indicating a loss of elasticity and weakened hair strands. Elasticity refers to the ability of hair strands to stretch and return to their original shape without breaking.
Hair with good elasticity is a sign of healthiness, whereas a loss of elasticity indicates damage, making the hair prone to breakage and split ends.
Causes of loss of elasticity:
imbalances in protein
moisture can compromise the hair’s natural structure, leading to a loss of elasticity
Incorporating protein treatments, moisturizing products, and avoiding harsh chemical and heat treatments can help restore elasticity and maintain healthy hair strands.
7. Porosity Issues
After swimming, Michael’s hair would absorb water quickly and dry rapidly, leaving it frizzy and unmanageable. This was a clear sign of high porosity due to damaged hair cuticles.
Hair porosity refers to the hair’s ability to absorb and retain moisture. Damaged hair often has high porosity due to gaps and tears in the hair cuticle, allowing moisture to be absorbed quickly but also that more moisture is lost easily, leading to dryness and frizz.
Causes of increased hair porosity:
overusing heat tools
Applying hydrating hair masks, using leave-in conditioners, and sealing the hair cuticle with oils can help manage porosity and retain moisture in the hair shaft.
8. Thinning and Shedding
Stress and hormonal changes caused Sara to notice more hair collecting in her shower drain, and her once-voluminous hair appeared thinner and less dense, indicating hair shedding and thinning. Thinning hair is characterized by reduced hair density, while shedding refers to an increased hair fall rate.
Both are signs of damaged hair and can result from weakened hair follicles and a compromised hair structure.
Causes of hair thinning and shedding:
damage to the hair follicle
A balanced diet, stress management, and gentle hair handling can promote hair growth and minimize shedding. Topical treatments and hair growth shampoos may also be beneficial.
9. Rough Texture
After years of coloring, Emma’s hair felt coarse and rough to the touch, a clear indication of damaged hair cuticles and loss of natural oils and moisture. The texture of healthy hair should be smooth and soft to the touch, and when hair is damaged, the scalp cuticle becomes rough, making the hair feel coarse and increasing the likelihood of tangling.
Causes of rough texture:
heat styling can damage the hair cuticle
Smoothing hair products, protecting the hair from harsh elements, and regular conditioning can help maintain a smooth texture and prevent further damage.
10. Tangled Hair
Alex struggled with brushing his hair every morning, and the consistent tangles and knots were a daily struggle, showcasing his hair strands’ damage and rough texture. Tangled hair is a common sign of damage, and when the hair cuticle is damaged, the hair strands become rough and are more likely to interlock with each other other strands, leading to tangles and knots.
Causes of tangled hair:
damage to the hair cuticle
lack of regular grooming
Regular detangling, using leave-in conditioners, and moisturizing hair can help prevent tangles and protect the hair from further damage.
Identifying and addressing the signs of damaged hair is essential for maintaining hair healthy and fine hair. Understanding the causes of hair damage and taking preventative measures, like avoiding excessive heat styling and UV ray protection, keeps your hair strong and vibrant.
Regular use of hair masks, gentle handling of wet hair, and a nutritious diet can also contribute to the overall health of your hair, preventing breakage and keeping your hair cuticle intact. Remember, there’s no quick fix for damaged hair, but you can restore and keep hair healthy with ongoing care.
If your hair’s condition doesn’t improve, seek medical advice for a tailored treatment plan. It’s time to take action and get the gorgeous hair you love—looking for hair care products?
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Can damaged hair be fully restored to healthy hair?
Yes, with consistent care, regular trimming, and the right products, damaged hair can regain its strength and shine.
How often should I use a hair mask for damaged hair?
Depending on the level of damage, using a hair mask once a week or bi-weekly can help retain moisture and improve hair health.
Is air drying better for damaged hair than using a hair dryer?
Yes, allowing your hair to wash and air dry is gentler and helps prevent additional heat damage to the hair shaft.