Hair breakage has many different causes. Healthy hair depends on an inner cuticle with overlapping scales that keep your strands together. When these scales fall apart, your hair can get dry and eventually separate, leading to damage. This causes breakage, along with other symptoms, such as frizz and dryness.
Learn more about some of the most common causes of hair breakage and what you can do about them.
There’s actually a lot to the old saying “you are what you eat,” especially when it comes to hair health. Certain nutrients help your hair grow and stave off breakage from damage. Make sure you’re getting enough zinc, iron, and folic acid in your daily diet. Adequate protein and antioxidants (found in plant foods) can also keep your hair damage-free.
There’s a multitude of evidence showing links between stress and hair loss, but it’s also known that stress can lead to hair breakage. Telogen effluvium is the type of stress most likely linked to hair damage. This type of stress makes your follicles go dormant, so hair that’s in the middle of a growth cycle may break off. You might notice old hair fall out, too. Managing your stress may result in healthier hair.
Unusually dry hair is one of the precursors to damage and breakage. It’s also caused by a variety of factors, including dry weather, low humidity, and too much heat. Be sure you use warm and not hot water when you wash your hair — the latter leads to further drying.
If your ends are dry, consider concentrating shampoo on your scalp only. Skipping conditioner is also a no-no. If you’re pressed for time, spritz on a leave-in conditioner before combing wet hair.
To get the best results from your hair dryer, flat iron, or curling iron, you need high heat. However, when you use these tools incorrectly or too much, you risk damaging the cuticle from extreme temperatures.
One way to prevent overall heat damage is to give your strands a break from all styling tools at least once a week. To reduce the actual heat damage from your styling tools, select ceramic versions — these heat up more evenly so you don’t have to keep using them on the same sections of hair repeatedly. It’s also important to protect your hair before you apply the heat.
Perms, relaxers, professional straightening, and coloring can all make your hair seem like it’s healthier after the first session or two. But if you do these services too often, the cuticle can break down and cause hair damage.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends extending the time between your sessions to 8–10 weeks, if possible. In the meantime, try a hair mask to extend your results, such as this color-protecting mask.
If you have oily skin, you’re also more likely to have excess sebum (natural oil) production in your scalp. This can lead to the temptation to wash your hair more often than you need to.
While daily washes are fine if you have oily hair, you shouldn’t wash your hair multiple times per day. On the flipside, extremely dry hair may only need weekly shampooing, according to the Nemours Foundation. Also, be sure you shampoo gently at the scalp and apply conditioner smoothly from your ends to your roots. If you need extra oil reduction during the day, try out Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo.
Improper towel drying
When you step out of the shower, it’s a natural response to rub a towel on your skin and hair. However, this rubbing motion actually damages your hair when it’s most vulnerable (after being wet). Instead of rubbing water out of your hair, blot an absorbent towel around your hair instead. You can also leave a towel in your hair as a temporary measure to absorb excess water.
Elastic hair ties
Elastic hair ties are must-haves for keeping your hair out of your face while working out. And, let’s face it, they can come in handy on bad hair days or when you’re in a hurry.
The problem with hair ties is they pull on your scalp and hair cuticle. You may even notice some hair falls out every time you undo your ponytail. You can fix this by wearing your hair down once in a while, or by making your up-do a bit looser so it doesn’t pull on your hair so much. Also make sure you’re wearing real hair ties, and not just rubber bands that can damage your hair.
Incorrect brushing and combing
You may have heard that brushing your hair 100 strokes a day is good for your hair, but the AAD says that’s simply a myth. They recommend that you instead only brush and comb when styling your hair. Make sure you used wide-tooth combs to prevent breakage. You should also only use a brush for when your hair is dry, and avoid using plastic bristles. Try a brush with natural bristles instead.
Lack of hair trims
It may seem like cutting your hair can damage it. Ironically though, hair trims help keep your hair healthy and free of split ends. You can think of a hair trim like you would exfoliation for skin — in both instances, you need to remove some of the old cells to help new ones grow. When you have split ends, these splits in the cuticle can travel up the rest of the length of your hair and lead to breakage.
See your stylist at least every eight weeks. Even if you’re growing out your hair, trimming damaged ends can prevent further breakage.
Hypothyroidism (low thyroid disorder) occurs when your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Although the thyroid itself is small in size, it plays a large role in keeping your body functioning. This includes your metabolism, heart rate, and even your hair growth.
People with low thyroid might notice excessive hair damage and loss, especially in the shower or after brushing. If you have dry, damaged hair combined with low energy, sudden weight gain, and depression, see your healthcare provider for a thyroid check. Learn more about the effects of hypothyroidism on the body.
If you or a loved one has an unhealthy relationship with food, hair damage is a possible symptom. This is especially true of eating disorders that cause malnourishment, such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa. In such cases, hair follicles don’t have the nutrients they need to produce new hair and the process is terminated altogether. You may even notice new hairs that break off in the middle of the growing cycle.
Eating disorders can lead to even more serious consequences and require medical treatment. Reading personal stories of those who have overcome eating disorders may help inspire you or your loved one to seek treatment.
Tips for Healthy Hair
To prevent future hair breakage, consider the following must-do hair care tips:
- Wash and condition your hair daily, but gently.
- Use a swimmer’s shampoo and conditioner set after going to a pool.
- Try to let your hair air dry when possible.
- Make sure all weaves and extensions are light so they don’t pull on the scalp.
- Consider a new hair style that requires less damaging maintenance on your part.
- Eat a balanced diet to make sure your hair gets all the nutrients it needs.
- Avoid wearing tight hats for fashion — save these for sun protection only.
Hair breakage can be frustrating. The good news is that most underlying causes may be corrected with lifestyle changes. If you still experience hair breakage after making changes to your diet and hair routine, it may be time to see a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical issues.
Does it seem as if your hair isn’t growing? Well, most likely, it is (if it truly isn’t, there may be an underlying health reason, in which case you should consult a doctor). But if your hair breaks off at an equal or higher rate than it grows, you’ll never see any length gains.
Hair may show stagnant or negative growth rates for a number of reasons. Do any of these sound familiar to you? Because if they do, it’s imperative to break these bad hair habits and begin promoting healthy practices that allow you to keep every inch of growth possible.
Overlapping relaxers, aggressive bleaching and applying too many chemicals to hair are all prime culprits in damaged hair. Damaged hair will still grow from the scalp, but it often breaks off at the ends or requires a drastic cut to get rid of unhealthy sections. Ask yourself if you:
- Relax/texturize/color your mane at home
- Have a chemical straightening process and color
- Have a hair color at least two shades lighter than your natural shade
- Relax more often than recommended
- Applied a relaxer or texturizer over previously straightened locks
If you answered yes to any of these, it’s possible that your hair is over-processed. Although stylists aren’t always foolproof, it’s usually better to receive chemical services in a salon at the hands of a capable professional.
TRIMMING TO OFTEN
You can have too much of a good thing, and trims fall into this category if you want longer hair. Many women resort to trimming their own hair at home after suffering the results of a scissor-happy stylist. Healthy hair doesn’t require as many trims as unhealthy tresses; the less you do to your hair, the less likely you’ll need frequent trims that take off an inch or more.
Hair grows an average of 1/4 to 1/2 inch per month, so if you care for your hair properly, you don’t need to cut more than 1/2 inch every few months or so if you want to see growth. When you do trim your tresses, be sure to use shears designed for this process, and not dull household scissors that perform multiple tasks, from cutting craft projects to gift wrap paper.
LACK OF CONDITIONING
Dry, brittle hair can happen to anyone if they are not diligent about conditioning. If you’re not currently:
- Applying a moisturizer as needed, whether once a day or several times per week
- Deep conditioning at least twice per month, preferably with heat
- Conditioning after every shampoo
- Applying a leave-in conditioner after a shampoo/condition session …
You may need to start. The more moisturizing products and practices you use, the better conditioned, and less likely to break, your tresses will be.
POOR PROTIEN STRUCTURE
Along with a good moisture level, hair needs a suitable protein balance to remain strong. The more chemicals or harsh practices that your mane goes through, the more important protein becomes, simply because every relaxer/touch-up, color, and even flat iron press compromises the strength of your strands’ cuticles.
Weak hair usually breaks, after becoming thinner and less elastic over time. Because hair is comprised of protein, it needs protein in some form or other. As long as you follow a healthy regimen, you won’t need as much protein as someone who doesn’t, but a little protein helps most women maintain strong tresses.
Aging brings with it a host of life complications, not the least of all is our hair. As we get older, chances are our hair is weaker. Years of heat styling and bleaching can build up to create major damage. Additionally, oil production on the scalp often begins to slow down after age 45, so hair may be less hydrated and appear coarser, making it more susceptible to damage and breakage.
With the right maintenance and care, your tools will work, and keep your hair looking good, for many years to come.
Take your blow drier and take a look at the back where the vent is. See that? That’s lint…and dirt. Most likely completely covering the filter. Unless yours is brand new or recently cleaned, a clogged-up blow dryer is something a lot of us are guilty of. All this built up dirt and lint blocks the ventilation a blow dryer needs to work properly and safely.
Step 1: Remove the back cover (it usually easily twists off – if not, consult your instructions manual).
Step 2: Take out the filter and clean it out with some small tools (Q-tips, toothbrush, toothpick, tweezers, etc.). Then, rinse with warm water and let it dry completely. If you do not see a way to get to your filter on your blow dryer refer to your instructions manual on how you can clean it.
Step 3: While that’s drying, give your blow dryer some love and rub down the nozzle and body with a damp cloth to clean any build-up of hair products.
Don’t let the sticky product buildup on your curlers and flat irons burn your hair and cause split ends! To keep your hot tools in great condition, it’s important to clean them well in order to get rid of that residue.
Make sure they are unplugged before starting. Moisten a cloth with water and rub over the surfaces over and over again to get rid of as much buildup as possible. If water doesn’t work, add a little rubbing alcohol (or a professional iron cleaner, if you’d like). Dry the hot tool entirely before using.
Tip #1: the product buildup comes off easier when the hot tools are warm (not hot). To achieve this, plug the tool in for a few seconds and remember to unplug before starting to clean.
Tip #2: Remember to never submerge your curlers and straighteners in water – this is both dangerous and will ruin your iron.
Think about what gets stuck in your hair brush (other than hair, of course): dust, hair spray, oils from your scalp, other product residue, germs, other random particles flying around. Now think about what happens when you don’t clean it for weeks! Do you really want to brush all that onto your freshly washed hair? We don’t think so.
Step 1: Take any long, thin tool (rat tail comb or a pair of closed scissors), slide it under all the stuck hair in the brush, and gently tug upwards until it’s loosened out of the bristles. Of course, if there isn’t that much hair, you can easily pull out whatever is left with your hand, after each time you brush your hair.
Step 2: Now onto the washing. Fill up the sink with warm water and splash some cleansing shampoo. Either let it soak for a bit, or take an old toothbrush and gently get rid of the buildup at the base of the brush or comb.
Step 3: Done! All clean. Either let the hair brushes air dry, or use a blow drier for a faster result. Some brushes may take longer to dry, so perhaps it’s a good idea to leave them to dry overnight.
Remember your headbands, hair ties, scrunchies, and hair clips! They also have hair product buildup, as well as potential sweat and pollution from the outside. Once in a while, throw them all in the sink with warm water and a few drops of shampoo. Gently rub each accessory and then dry them on a towel.
Remember, the better you care for your hair tools, the better they care for your hair!
A gorgeous blowout is a like a work of art. The look appears effortless, but behind the smooth, shiny locks is a great deal of technique that probably took a lot of time and practice to perfect.
If you’ve ever tried to give yourself a salon-quality blowout at home only to stop midway through out of fatigue and frustration, take heart. This seemingly elusive skill can be mastered. With a little patience and the right blowout tips, you’ll be able to get a salon-quality blowout from the comfort of your own vanity.
USE A COMFORTABLE HAIR DRYER
A hair dryer doesn’t need to be a big splurge. The most important quality in a hair dryer is how comfortable it feels in your grip. Next, make sure it comes with a tapered nozzle attachment and a cool setting like our V3600 and V3800 professional blow dryers.
FIND THE CORRECT SIZE ROUND BRUSH
The right size round brush will depend on the length of your hair. The longer the hair, the bigger the round brush. For short hair, try a 1.5-2” brush; for medium: 1.5-3”; for long: 3-5”.
BEGIN WITH BLOWOUT FRIENDLY PRODUCTS
The perfect blowout begins in the shower. Wash your hair with a volumizing shampoo. Then, apply a light conditioner, like our Rejuvenating Argan Oil infused conditioner, to only your ends to avoid weighing hair down.
Apply a heat-protectant like our Rejuvenating Argan Oil infused hair serum, which can help protect hair from heat damage. Next, apply a volumizing mousse to your roots that provides flexible hold and body.
PRE-DRY YOUR HAIR TO CUT DOWN ON BLOW DRYING TIME AND BUILD BODY
Using your fingers, lift a section from the top of your head and pull it taught. If you have thick or coarse hair, use the hottest setting on your drying. If your hair texture is medium or fine, use the medium heat setting.
Using the full-speed heat option, direct the heat towards your roots, where you want the most volume. Repeat until your hair is between 30-70% dry (those with curlier textures will want less pre-drying while those with straighter textures can get away with more).
DRY IN SECTIONS
Use clips to separate hair into four sections: One at the crown, one on each side, and one in the back. Sections may be subdivided or customized depending on the length and thickness of your hair.
• From each section, take a 1½” portion of hair.
• Pull it taught with a round brush using 1/4″ turns of the brush.
• Gently pull the hair up as you dry; avoid pulling hair down. (This builds volume).
• Use the hottest setting on your dryer if you have very thick or coarse hair. Use the medium heat setting otherwise.
• The dryer may be switched to its lower speed setting if that option is available.
• Keep the airflow parallel to the section being dried. (Use the dryer nozzle attachment to avoid roughing up the hair cuticle and creating
• Repeat drying steps with each portion of hair until completely dry.
• Set each dry portion with a blast of cool air.
MISTAKE TO AVOID
Over-twisting the brush.
Avoid completely twisting the brush near your scalp. This can create unfortunate tangles. To catch your hair on the brush, do a small quarter-inch turn. Holding your hair taught with the brush, bring the brush down to the midlengths of the hair and then begin turning.
Holding the dryer too close.
Hold the dryer at least one inch above the hair. Pressing the dryer nozzle against hair can cause dryness and damage.
Going too fast. Patience is key!
For a sleek, no-frizz blowout, hair must by completely dry. Furthermore, being slow and methodical will allow you more control over the final outcome of the style.
Still trying to get those sexy, beachy waves? Here are some tips to help teach you how to master the wave.
GET THE RIGHT HAIR CUT
We all know that thick, blunt, and/or split ends won’t hold a curl, but did you know the kind of cut you have makes a difference, too? Make sure to ask your stylist to strategically cut long layers around your face, and only add subtle layers to the back of your hair for volume.
SKIP THE SHAMPOO
It’s no secret that dirty hair is easier to style, but making your hair look fresh after skipping a hair wash takes skill.
ADD SOME TEXTURE
One of the most helpful tricks to get your hair to hold a style is to give it some volume, which is a lot easier to do than you may think. If you’re working with unwashed hair, simply spray some dry shampoo and – BAM! – you’ve given it a little ooompf, while also removing any excess grease from your roots. On those days when you simply CANNOT skip the shampoo, try using a volumizing mousse before you blow-dry your hair.
DO NOT BLOW-DRY YOUR HAIR UPSIDE DOWN
It’s an old wives’ myth to blow-dry your hair upside down to give it added body. Instead, it’s better to tilt your head to the side and roughly blow-dry it with a paddle brush.
GET OUT THE LARGE, ROUND BRUSH
Once your hair is about 80% dry, section it off into 3 layers and finish drying it with a large, round brush. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on this part of the styling process since the goal isn’t to straighten the hair. All you want to do is give it a smooth look and make sure it is completely dry before you get out the flat iron or curling iron.
APPLY A HEAT PROTECTOR
Regardless of what kind of coating you have on your flat iron or curling iron, you MUST apply a heat protector to your hair to ensure you don’t damage it.
CURL IN SECTIONS
To get beach waves, divide hair into 3 sections, and curl from the bottom up. Make sure to apply your heat protector to each layer, and spray a bit of hairspray to ensure the curl holds.
Of course, working with layers can be tricky as you don’t want to accidentally brush or ruin a fresh set of curls, so when you’re finished curling each layer, spray it lightly with a little more hairspray and pin it in place before letting down the next layer of hair.
To make your style look more natural, ensure to curl the front sections of your hair AWAY from your face, and then alternate the direction of each subsequent section. For beachy waves, try to curl in 1-inch sections, but you can increase or decrease this depending on how tight or lose you want your curls to be.
CURL ALL THE WAY TO YOUR SCALP
Curls tend to loosen as the day progresses, so if you start with a tighter curl, your look will last longer. If you find your curls are too tight, and they aren’t loosening to your satisfaction, all you need to do is rub a REALLY SMALL amount of shine serum to your hands and lightly run your fingers through your curls and pull them down to open them up a little bit.