Damaged hair is more complicated than just split ends from hair overgrowth. Too much washing and styling your hair are the biggest culprits in causing dry, frizzy hair. Though our hair is flexible and easily curled or braided into many styles, it is also extremely fragile and vulnerable to damage.
If you have damaged hair, your best option in preventing further damage is to change your hair habits. Once your hair is damaged, the condition is irreversible. This is because the hair you see is basically already dead. However, there are natural and commercial products you can use to give your hair new life.
But first, let’s explore what causes damaged hair and how to prevent it.
What causes hair damage?
Hair damage is usually caused by a weakening of the inner cuticle that healthy hair relies on to keep strands intact. Once the cuticle is damaged, the hair strands separate and cause breakage, dryness and frizzy hair. The breakage can be brought about by several factors, including:
Dyeing or Bleaching Hair
Dyeing your hair, particularly with bleach, is extremely damaging to the hair cuticles. The harsh chemicals strip your hair of the natural oils that keep your hair moisturized and smooth. Once the hair begins to dry out, the ends are fragile and prone to breakage.
This is especially true when bleaching darker hair colors. The bleach infiltrates each strand of your hair and dissolves the melanin, which gives your hair its natural shade. The process of dyeing or bleaching can weaken the hair and make it brittle.
From blow dryers to curlers and straighteners, your hair is often exposed to heat at a high temperature. Using hot tools at high settings can fry the hair fibers and exposure your hair to breakage.
You don’t have to throw your heat tools aside. Use hair products that offer protection to the hair cuticles before blasting your hair with hot air. You can also follow the “one and done” rule of running the heat tool over each section of the hair only once and then move on to the next section of hair.
Not Getting Regular Haircuts
There is a reason stylists recommend getting trims every six to eight weeks and it’s not from greed. Regular haircuts can keep your hair healthy by removing the damaged split ends that cause hair to look dull.
Over-Styling Your Hair
Over-styling isn’t just from using too many chemical-laden styling products. Constantly brushing your hair or twisting the ends around your finger damages your hair just as much the chemicals can. Ponytails may be your go-to hairstyle on Manic Mondays, but they cause strain on the hair cuticles and can also lead to a receding hairline.
Whether your hair is straight or curly, too much detangling can physically damage the strands an lead to split ends.
Washing Your Hair Too Much
Washing your hair too much strips the hair of the essential oils it needs to stay hydrated and soft. Both shampoos and conditioners can leave a build-up for residue that weighs your hair down and makes it look dull.
Poor Diet & Stress
Stress can cause unexplainable symptoms throughout the body and damaged hair is one of the consequences of stress. Medical conditions and medications can have a negative effect on hair health and growth.
Your diet can also cause hair damage. When the body isn’t getting enough nutrients to survive, it takes nutrients from the least vital organs, such as hair follicles, and redirects them to the more vital organs. It’s no coincidence that vitamin deficiency shows in the hair first.
Your hair can be affected by environmental factors, such as climate, sun and dirt in the air. The humidity of warmer months or warmer climates can damage the hair cuticles. On the flip side, people who live in areas with cold winters often suffer from hair static. Both humidity and static can result in moisture loss that leaves the hair dry. Constant exposure to the sun is another circumstance in the environment that can lead to hair breakage.
How can you tell if your hair is damaged?
It’s usually pretty easy to tell if your hair is damaged because of the way it looks and feels. Tips on how to tell if your hair is damaged:
Texture – If you run your hands through your hair and it feels rough at the ends, it is likely damaged.
Dry – If your hair is damaged, the cuticles won’t be able to seal in moisture, resulting in dry, dull hair.
Breakage – Shedding a few strands of hair every day is completely normal. If your hair snaps and breaks while you are combing it, that means the elasticity of your hair has been lost and it is damaged.
Can damage hair be repaired?
The short answer is: No. Once your hair is damaged, it is too late to fix that part of the hair. However, there are steps you can take to help your hair get healthier and prevent further damage. It’s important to deal with damaged hair as soon as possible to avoid a drastic short hair cut.
Like the stars that shine in the sky are dead years before they are visible to us, your hair is a cluster of dead cells by the time you can see it. Oil treatments and hair masks can improve your hair’s texture and appearance, but these are ineffective band-aids if you don’t change your hair habits to keep your hair from breaking in the first place.
How to prevent damaged hair?
Since repairing damaged hair isn't entirely possible, focus on preventing the damage from happening with these hair tips:
Don’t wash your hair every day – Washing your hair every day removes the hair’s natural oils that keep your hair and scalp from becoming dry.
Dye your hair closer to your natural shade – Dyeing your hair within three shades of your natural hair color and go darker instead of lighter to avoid damage. Bleaching is extremely harmful for your hair and can cause it to fall out.
Protect your hair from the sun – The UV rays can damage your hair just as much as it can damage your skin. Wear hats to protect both.
Use the lowest heat setting – Blow dryers are a huge cause of damaged hair. If you absolutely have to use heat to dry your hair, put it on the lowest setting and don’t hold the blow dryer close to your head. Air dry as often as possible.
Remove Split Ends – Getting regular haircuts removes the damaged hair and split ends that prevent your hair from healing. Once the damaged hair is gone, your hair will feel lighter and look shinier.
Products for damaged hair
Damaged hair is caused by a plethora of factors. That means you need to choose a product formulated to repair your specific hair issue.
For damage caused by dyeing or bleach, try these products:
For hair masks and oil conditioners, try these products:
- Hydrating Argan Oil Hair Mask and Deep Conditioner
- Premium Nature Coconut Oil Hair Mask Conditioner
- NOW Sweet Almond Oil
Natural products to use for damaged hair
If you prefer more natural remedies, you can find these damaged hair fixes in your kitchen:
Massage the oil into your scalp and cover with a plastic bag for 15 minutes before rinsing out with water. It’s important to shampoo after the treatment to keep your hair from turning greasy.
Avocados help restore moisture to dry hair due to their richness in vitamins and fatty acids. Mix a ripe avocado with one egg to make a hair mask. Apply to wet hair and leave the mask on for 20 minutes. Rinse well and continue your normal hair routine. You can use this method once a week to help treat damaged hair.
Instead of pouring the leftover water down the sink next time you make rice, use it to rinse your hair. The ingredients in rice water can help repair your hair from the inside.
Coconut oil is another oil you can use as a conditioner. It hydrates the hair’s cuticle and protects your hair from heat damage and loss of moisture. Almond oil can also be used for repairing damaged hair.
Tea can cure more than a cold. Unsweetened tea can nourish dry hair and make it shine brighter. Rinse your hair with the brewed tea after your shampoo to give your hair a dose of moisture.
Taking care of your hair can prevent it from becoming damaged. Once your hair is damaged, your best option is to fortify the cuticle with natural remedies to calm wild, frizzy hair.