What is hair breakage?
To tackle any problem, first, you have to understand it - and hair breakage is no different. Firstly, it’s important to realise that hair breakage is a very common issue, so you aren’t alone and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about!
When we talk about hair breakage, what we’re really referencing is damage that has been done to the outer layer of the hair - also known as the hair cuticle. When our hair gets stressed, the hair cuticle becomes damaged and can no longer protect our hair. This is when hair strands become weakened, so they fray, thin and ultimately break.
There are a few different signs of hair breakage. You may notice split ends or your hair may become frizzier. You may also notice more hair coming out in your brush when you’re styling. Hair breakage can impact all hair types - and some more than others - so caring for your hair’s unique needs is really important. It’s also a case of prevention is better than cure - as it can take a while to repair hair that is really broken and damaged. To do that you have to understand both the causes of hair breakage and the ways you can prevent it from happening.
What causes hair breakage?
There are many different causes of hair breakage, and it will often be a combination of a few different factors. Some of these factors will impact certain hair types more than others - and when you read this list, we’re sure you’ll be able to recognise the ones that could be problem areas in your hair care routine!
Styling with too much heat
From hair dryers to curling tongs, heat has a common spot in our everyday hairstyling routine, but heat is one of the leading factors of hair breakage. When we use heat on our hair it damages the cuticle, weakening the hair strand and making it more likely to break. Some heat damage will be very obvious - split ends and a dry, crunchy texture - but there are some other less obvious signs of heat damage. One good test is to hold your hair about 3-4 inches away from the tip and give it a wave. If the hair bounces and moves it is nice and healthy - but if it stays straight and immobile it’s likely that it has been damaged by heat and could be at risk of breakage!
Blow Drying Extremely wet hair
When it comes to heat damage, one of the worst things you can do is blow-dry extremely wet hair. We know it can be tempting to get your blow-dry on as soon as you get out of the shower, but it’s essential that you air dry a little first. Shower wet hair is extremely vulnerable as the protein bonds are weaker, making your hair more susceptible to heat damage. This is also why we created our Wet Detangler, with more flexible teeth, wet hair needs to be treated with care to avoid breakage.
Hair strands that are dried out
There are many reasons our hair can become dry - from the environmental to the hormonal. Dehydrated hair is likely to break because the moisture in your hair strands allows the hair to swell and stretch. When our hair dries out this flexibility evaporates and this is when breakage can occur. Hydration is a cornerstone of hair care and hair breakage is just one of the reasons you should make sure you’re giving your hair all the moisture it needs!
Aggressive hair brushing
Obviously, brushing your hair is an important part of keeping it healthy and tangle-free. However, you can have too much of a good thing and excessive or aggressive hair brushing could be a cause of hair breakage. If you go in too hard when detangling or brushing your hair, it can lead to a condition called trichorrhexis nodosa, in which your hair strands develop weak points that are prone to breakage. It’s important to not only brush your hair correctly but also to use a hairbrush designed for your hair type. Our Fine & Fragile range is perfect for hair that is prone to breakage, as the teeth are softer - which will help to limit breakage.
Whether it’s straightening treatments or hair dyes, adding chemicals to our hair is always going to increase the risk of breakage. Every time we use chemicals on our hair, the cuticle (remember - the bit that’s so important for protecting our hair) is lifted, to allow the chemicals to get inside our hair and change it up - whether it’s changing the texture of your hair or its colour. Whilst it’s tempting to use chemicals in pursuit of a fun new hairstyle, it’s important to care for your hair properly after these types of treatments - replenishing the moisture and helping to repair any damage that’s been caused before it leads to major hair breakage issues.
How to prevent hair breakage?
Whilst there are many different causes of hair breakage, there are also plenty of ways to help prevent it! Being mindful about the products you use on your hair and the way you care for it will not only help to protect it from breakage, but you’ll also have strong, healthy, shiny hair that you can’t wait to show off.
Reduce the use of heat
Heat is one of the biggest enemies of hair health, so reducing the use of it where possible is going to really help protect it from breakage. Try to leave the tongs and straighteners for special occasions, air dry your hair for a while before getting the hairdryer out and even consider using cooler water come wash day - as hot water can also lead to damage.
Drying hair thoroughly after a wash
Whilst you definitely want to reduce heat use where possible - that doesn’t mean leaving your hair damp for extended periods of time. Wet hair is vulnerable to breakage and your hair is much stronger when dry - so we would recommend air drying before drying your hair thoroughly - especially when you go to bed. Sensitive wet hair plus the friction of a night spent rubbing your head against a pillow is a recipe for hair breakage disaster,
Keep your hair moisturized
Hydration is really important, but how you do it will always vary depending on hair type. Deep conditioning treatments are great (more on that below!) but there are also other ways - from moisturising detangling sprays to spritzing your hair with water during styling - to stop your hair from getting thirsty. Also, one of the best ways to keep your hair hydrated is to hydrate yourself! Make sure you’re drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day and both your skin and hair will thank you for it!
Deep condition on a regular basis or as often as your hair type needs it
Deep conditioning treatments are one of the best things you can do to replenish moisture in your hair. Whether you want to use a high-end product or go natural with some coconut oil, we advise giving your hair a really nourishing treatment 2-3 times a month - or weekly if your hair type needs it.
Resolve spilt ends immediately
Think of split ends as a ladder in your tights. Once the damage is done, a small hole can very quickly escalate into a huge ladder running up your entire leg. Split ends are the same! Once they happen, it can accelerate breakage in the rest of your hair strands. Make sure to get regular trims at the hairdresser (around every 6-8 weeks is a good rule of thumb) to stay on top of split ends and keep your hair looking and feeling healthy.
Limit your hair to heavy chemical-based products
As we mentioned earlier, whenever chemicals get involved, hair damage is pretty inevitable - so it could be time to rethink your style in order to protect your hair from breakage. If you’re a curly girl who has spent their lives using relaxers and straightening treatments - why not try embracing your natural hair? And if you’re dedicated to highlights and don’t want to give them up, you could try going for a balayage or ombre look that requires fewer visits to the salon (and fewer chemicals in your hair).
Add variation to your hairstyles
We can often be creatures of habit when it comes to our hairstyles and stick to the same look we love. However, there are certain styles - from tight ponytails and braids to extensions and wigs - that can cause tension in our hair, which can lead to breakage over time - especially if they are repeated continuously. Whilst we’re not suggesting you drop your favourite hairstyle forever, mixing it up and giving your hair a bit of a break to breathe every now and again could help reduce the risk of breakage.