Say Goodbye to Hair Breakage: How to Keep Your Locks Strong and Healthy

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Written by Annie Walton-Doyle

Updated: May 5, 2024

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Our hair goes through a lot. Heat, chemical treatments, brushing, and general wear and tear can leave locks weakened, brittle, and prone to breakage. But the good news is, there are things you can do to help stop hair breakage—and even to help repair and protect your hair strands for the future…

What Is Hair Breakage?

Hair breakage is the physical breaking or splitting of individual hair strands. It can occur for various reasons, including excessive heat styling, chemical treatments like bleaching or coloring, rough handling during brushing or styling, environmental factors like sun exposure or dry air, and poor hair care practices such as using harsh hair products or frequent reliance on tight hairstyles.

Hair breakage can lead to the appearance of frizzy, dull, or uneven hair texture and may contribute to overall hair thinning or loss if not addressed properly.

How To Spot Hair Breakage

The NCBI explains that as hair undergoes initial damage, it typically loses its shine and softness. However, as the damage progresses, hair can suffer from decreased strength and elasticity, eventually leading to a breakdown in its overall structure, resulting in breakage.

So, if you notice your hair appearing lackluster, feeling dry and fragile, or witnessing signs like breakage, split ends, and unruly flyaways, it might be a sign of damaged hair. At times like these, it’s important to address this breakage and initiate repair measures.

Types Of Hair Breakage

There are four main reasons for hair breakage as categorized by the NCBI. Hair fibers degrade due to four primary processes: mechanical, chemical, thermal, or environmental factors, individually or in combination.

In simpler terms, hair can suffer damage from manual actions such as excessive brushing or styling, chemical treatments like bleaching or perming, heat application, or exposure to environmental elements such as pollution and UV radiation. Additionally, longer hair is more susceptible to damage due to increased exposure to environmental factors.

Mechanical Hair Breakage

If you’re a fan of a fancy up-do or a slicked-back bun, beware—putting too much tension and strain on the scalp can cause hair breakage. Per the American Academy of Dermatology Association, if you keep pulling on your hair, it can break or fall out. Pulling too much over time can hurt the roots of your hair. If the roots are damaged, your hair won’t grow back.

Chemical Hair Breakage

Subjecting your hair to excessive heat or chemical treatments can lead to breakage and snapping. To prevent such hair damage, it’s crucial to minimize the chemical treatments you’re inflicting on your locks.

This can involve reducing the frequency of heat styling or using milder bleaches and dyes for coloring. Additionally, incorporating a heat protectant into your routine can be beneficial. 

Unhealthy Scalp Causing Hair Breakage

A National Library of Medicine study shows that an unhealthy scalp can also be linked to hair breakage, reduced shine, and rough hair texture. Infrequent or inadequate scalp cleansing, product build-up, and inflammation from harsher products can all damage the hair follicle, which can cause hair loss over time.

Chronic scalp conditions like dandruff or psoriasis can also have a negative impact on hair retention. Using scalp-friendly hair products and incorporating scalp care into your hair routine can help prevent hair breakage.

How To Prevent Hair Breakage

Repairing severely damaged hair that has reached the point of breakage is technically not possible. Once hair is damaged, it’s damaged. However, you can take steps to mitigate further damage and promote healthier growth.

Begin by getting a proper trim to eliminate ragged edges and prevent additional breakage. While haircuts may seem like a last resort, especially if you’re aiming to maintain length, they are often the most effective way to stop breakage and remove brittle ends.

Understanding the causes of your hair breakage is the best way to devise a treatment plan. This typically involves reassessing your hair moisturization routine, including frequency and product selection, and adjusting any habits that contribute to hair damage.

Although you cannot reverse hair damage, you can prevent further harm, allowing your hair to grow stronger and healthier.

Scalp Brushing

An unhappy scalp will never produce happy and thriving hair. By stimulating your scalp, you can boost blood circulation in the area. This increased circulation can fortify the roots of your hair, making for improved nutrient transportation along the hair strands, as noted by NCBI.

This not only aids in addressing current hair damage but also promotes the growth of fresh, healthy, and undamaged hair strands.

Limiting Mechanical Damage

If you want to minimize hair damage, finding a brush that effectively detangles your hair without tugging at the roots or causing hair to snap is so important. Per NCBI: “Healthy tresses have obviously greater tensile strength, while damaged tresses tend to break easily during daily grooming.”

According to the AAD, excessive brushing is a major contributor to hair damage, but there are ways to prevent it.

Opting for tools with gentler detangling properties, such as the Wet Brush or the Aveda Wooden Paddle Brush, can help minimize the risk of causing or exacerbating hair damage while brushing. It’s important to note that hair is particularly delicate and prone to breakage when wet, so it’s best to avoid brushing it during this time.

Staying Cool

A hot shower is a true delight—but it’s important to remember that it can be stripping to the hair, which can cause breakage. Using lukewarm water to rinse locks can help keep the process as gentle as possible.

On top of this, using heat to dry your hair can also be a major cause of damage and breakage, as per the NCBI. If you really must use heat on your hair, make sure you’re protecting your hair with an adequate product like a heat protectant spray.

Eating Better

Your protein intake could be a significant factor affecting your hair health. Hair strands are actually made of protein, so the BBC points out that if you don’t eat enough protein, your hair can get dry, break easily, and become thin. If you eat very little protein, your hair might stop growing or even fall out. Adding more protein to your diet doesn’t just mean gains in the gym, but also gains in your locks!

Using Hair Oils

The NCBI states that hair that lacks natural oils is often rough, dull, and prone to breakage-inducing tangles. As pointed out by the NCBI, natural oils are some of the best treatments to add strength and nourishment to damaged hair that’s prone to breakage.

Coconut oil, almond oil, castor oil, argan oil, and olive oil all possess potent reparative qualities for damaged hair. These oils act as emollients, forming a protective layer around the hair shaft that seals the cuticle and locks in moisture.

Additionally, they provide lubricating properties, enhancing slip between hair strands, detangling, and smoothing the cuticle surface, and therefore improving the overall health and appearance of the hair.

Natural oils also have ‘low molecular weight and straight linear chain, [so] they are able to penetrate inside the hair shaft thereby, preventing loss of protein from the hair.’

Adding Protein

The NCBI draws attention to the importance of protein to overall hair health, and there are some fabulous products on the market that can deliver a dose of protein to your tresses.

The K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask utilizes the brand’s patented K18 peptide, formulated to deeply mend damaged hair strands. This revolutionary peptide protein functions by bridging the gaps within the polypeptide chains that make up the hair strands, restoring and strengthening the structure, use by use.

Used consistently, this treatment helps reverse damage, fortify against breakage, and promote the growth of resilient and glossy hair. Considering hair treatments like those offered by the K18 haircare line can be a beneficial step in addressing and repairing hair breakage.

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