Before you start going all Britney circa 2007 and shave your whole head, we want you to be equipped with the skills and knowledge you need to recognise what damaged hair is, the signs your hair will show you when it is damaged and how to fix it.
What is damaged hair?
Hair is comprised of cuticles which look almost like fish scales under the microscope. These cuticles are situated on the outside of the hair follicle and they are held together by ceramides. Ceramides are a natural lipid and component of the hair cuticle. Under the microscope, healthy hair cuticles are tightly formed and make the hair appear glossy, shiny and frizz-free. Adequate ceramides ensure healthy hair cuticles but ceramides can be easily lost during everyday tasks such as brushing hair, washing hair, getting hair wet and environmental elements such as sun, wind and salt. If you go to the salon often, chemical interference also causes major interference and loss of ceramides. If these essential ceramides are being lost and not replaced, hair can end up extremely damaged. Healthy hair needs essential vitamins, minerals, lots of moisture and essential proteins
Signs of damaged hair
The biggest signs of damaged hair and the indicators that you probably have damaged hair are as follows:
- Split ends
- Hair that tangles easily/knots
- Dry hair
- Dull hair that's lacking a healthy shine
- Excessive shedding
What causes damaged hair
There can be many reasons your hair is damaged but the 5 biggest causes of damage are:
- Heat styling regularly (straightening, curling, perms, excessive blow-drying)
- Certain hair styling such as a tight ponytail or tight braids worn daily.
Chemicals and colouring can cause damage due to the chemicals completely stripping ceramide from hair. Dyes and chemicals penetrate through to the cuticle of the hair and change your hair pigment and structure, leaving you more vulnerable to further damaging of the hair.
Hair requires moisture to keep the cuticle and follicle healthy and intact. Heat-styling causes the hair cuticle to open and release any moisture therefore drying the hair. This lack of moisture causes dry, brittle hair susceptible to breakage and split ends.
Shampooing is used to cleanse dirt and excess oils out of the hair and scalp but too much can start to strip your natural oils such as sebum from the scalp and hair. This sebum is essential for cuticle health and ceramide production so over-washing can be extremely detrimental.
Ensuring you have the correct brush for your hair type is essential. In most cases, finger de-tangling is the preferred method of brushing hair. Brushing with a cheap or unsuitable brush causes excessive friction to the hair, ripping knots and tangles out. This brushing technique causes breakage and split ends as it is too rough for the fragile hair cuticle.
The damage with hair styling actually comes from how tight the certain style is. If you’re wearing your hair in a tight ponytail or redoing your braids/locs everyday, you’re causing excessive tension to the hair root. This can actually cause traction alopecia and in some cases, permanent hair loss. We all like to wear our hair in styles, but just make sure you’re giving your hair a break too.
How to fix my damaged hair
Thankfully there are many ways you can fix damaged hair. Once you have identified that your hair is damaged, you will want to cut down or completely eradicate the main reasons why you have damaged hair in the first place.
- Switching your products from chemical to natural products is a great idea as many chemical products contain silicones, parabens, sulphates and fragrances which dry and damage your hair further.
- Getting a trim, incorporating more moisture into your hair by using hair butters, oils and daily leave in conditioners and ensuring you’re wearing protective hairstyles is essential for good hair health.
- Ensure you’re protecting your hair when you go out in the sun or whilst swimming and ensure you’re protecting it whilst you sleep as well.
- Last but not least, ensure you’re drinking enough water and eating a healthy diet as your hair needs this nutrition too. All is not lost my friend. Hair does heal. Give yourself time.
Okay so now we’ve armed you with knowledge of what damaged hair actually is, what signs you need to be wary of if you think you have damaged hair, what is causing this damage to happen and what you can do about it. Before you go cutting off your hair and starting again, try implementing what we’ve taught you today and see if it helps you achieve your hair goals.