What is hair breakage? What causes it? What are some of the best treatments, cures, products (including anti-breakage shampoo and conditioner and natural remedies to stop the breaking? Alternatively, what can I use to stop or what can I do to stop it from breaking? Get all the causes and solutions for strong, healthy hair.
Do you often experience snapping, popping or crackling in your hair especially when you are brushing, detangling or styling it? Do you end up with strands in the shower, when removing your hairbands? This might be an indication that it is breaking off.
Not to be confused with hair loss, which is more of the ‘it falling off from the roots when its follicle becoming inactive or degenerating’ without it ever growing back, breakage is the snapping off especially along its strand due to some of the reasons we are going to discuss. Of course, it falls off at the root naturally when it completes its life cycle, this is nothing other than normal hair shedding.
Although it can happen on any part on your scalp, hair breakage is common around the hairline, at the crown, on sides of your head especially around your temples, or anywhere else on your scalp. Do not be surprised if you have if it is breaking off in the back of the head, in the middle of your scalp, etc.
Whereas most problems including breakage tend to worsen as people age, it is that can affect adults and children, men and women. However, breakage is higher in older women and men since aging naturally reduces moisture content in hair. Natural oil production also goes down.
Normal or excessive hair breaking off
If you notice a few strands falling off, you need not be alarmed since “hair shedding is a natural part of life; you lose anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day” [youqueen.com]. This happens after it has completed its life cycle.
However, sometimes, you might have excessive breakage due to bad hair care routines, styling, products, among other factors. This will often make it split off and break before its normal life cycle is complete.
Why is it undesirable?
When it off unevenly, you may end up with some parts of your hair longer than others may, an uneven hairline, having much on one side of your scalp while none on the other side, difficulties in styling it, among other undesirable things. In fact, you will need special styles to hide the fact that you have severe breakage.
Human hair anatomy
Do understand well the causes and how you can stop them, you deserve to know human hair has three layers, the medulla (inner fibers), the cortex (surrounds medulla) and cuticle, the outer protective layer.
What does it break? Causes
There are many causes ranging from simple those have to do with care, styling and treatments to medical reasons to diet and so on. The hair type one has can also be a factor since some types are prone to breakages or tangle so much making them vulnerable to breakages. Some of the main causes include:
1. Lack moisture and oil
Its strength and ability to stretch depends on disulfide bonds that hold keratin in the cortex of your hair as well as moisture content. This is so since “moisture allows the disulfide bonds in your hair to stretch and retract to normal again – without this, it would snap off every time you brushed, blow-dried or changed its style” [ philipkingsley.co.uk].
To help retain moisture, your scalp produced some natural oil which excessive shampooing, chemical and heat processing can get rid of these oils. Similarly, chlorine exposure and winter weather can affect oil and consequently moisture content, encouraging it to dry and break off easily.
2. Care and styling
One of the main reasons why it breaks has something to do with how you care for it. As noted in WebMD, “from highlights to lowlights, chemical perms to chemical straightening, blow drying, braiding, and bleaching, how we treat our hair has a direct impact on how healthy — or unhealthy — it looks”. Some of the common care and styling routines that might be breaking it include:
a. Tight hairstyles and ponytails
Going styles that are tight and continually pull it especially ponytails and braids will stress it resulting to breakages, especially in the front i.e. around hairline and at the crown, around your temples and it can be on one side or both depending on how exactly you styled it.
b. Wrong hairstyling accessories
Avoid tight or wrong bands and clips, pins, etc. since they can stress and break it at their point of placement. Breakages will exacerbate if you put these accessories at the same point on since they can cause hair cuticle to fray, exposing the sensitive inner parts that can break easily.
c. Excessive heat styling
Whereas heat can help straighten it, it can also damage it making your strands to dry and break more easily. People who use flat irons, blow dryers, curling irons, and other heat styling techniques will suffer from breakages.
Limit use of heat styling as much as possible or avoid it completely if you can. Furthermore, do not use curling or flat irons on wet hair, dry it up to 80% if you are using a hairdryer,
d. Chemical styling, dyes, and bleaching
Hair dyes, bleaches, curl relaxers, perms, texturizers, and other chemical styling products is another cause of your breaking strands.
Most of these products have harsh chemicals such hydroxide ions, peroxides, etc, which might be very harsh making brittle by drying (removes natural oils), stripping, changing or breaking its normal disulfide bonds. If you are keen, you must notice some breakage from coloring (after coloring), relaxing, perms or use of bleaches.
Furthermore, ensure you do not overlap various chemical treatments since this can further damage your hair making it break.
e. Some care products
Shampoos with sulfates can strip away all the moisture from it making it dry.
f. Aggressive grooming
Even with the right accessories, avoid excessive and vigorous brushing, combing or even shampooing. Know your hair type and how much shampooing you need.
3. Poor diets lacking some nutrients
According to allure.com, “protein can repair weak spots in the hair shaft, warding off breakage”. Furthermore, “deficiency of vitamins B and E and iron may lead to hair breakage.” [livestrong.com] Other vital ingredients for health and strong strands include zinc, silica, vitamins B 12, etc. All these nutrients will promote growth, thicker and stronger strands.
Avoid foods high in sodium such as snacks. Sugary foods can also make it shed since they “interfere with the absorption of protein, this goes without saying, protein is very important for the structure of bones, teeth, and hair” [blogs.jamaicans.com]
Missing some of these vital nutrients means weaker, thinner strands of hair. This will increase the chances of breakages and hair loss.
4. Rough sleeping pillows
Using cotton pillowcases especially if you are wild sleeper how turns and tosses a lot can cause friction and consequently breakages. Instead, go for satin or silk pillowcases since they will not only reduce friction but also not absorb natural oils from it, which are much needed. You can also go for silk/satin bonnets.
5. Stress and pulling habits
Some people have both voluntary and involuntary hair pulling habits. These habits can weaken it making it vulnerable to breakages.
6. Weigh loss
If you lost more than 15 pounds of weight, expect to have breakage issues. This is not a permanent but rather a temporary problem that will last for a few months.
7. Medical reasons
There are some conditions such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa (eating disorders), hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid glands, “idiopathic trichoclasia, monilethrix, trichokryptomania, trichorrhexis nodosa, and skin infections (discoid lupus, erythematosus, lichen planus & scleroderma)” [innovateus.net] are known to cause this problem.
8. Other causes
Other reasons why include hormonal imbalances during times such as pregnancy, menopause, etc, hereditary factor (family history of brittle hair), prolonged exposure to sun, and other environmental factors.
How to stop hair breakage
It is fact that everyone wants to have luscious locks on their head. Unfortunately, the reasons we have discussed can affect may cause breakages. Let us now look at how you can stop this breakage.
While covering this section, we will talk about treatments where we will also cover the natural treatments or home remedies. While covering all that, we will mention some of the products before finishing off by looking at how to prevent hair breakage.
Therefore, what stops hair breakage or what to do to stop this problem and which are some of the recommended best products to use?
Best anti-breakage shampoo
The other option to deal with hair breakage is going for some of the best anti-breakage shampoo and conditioner. These products will minimize stripping off the sebum, which is much needed. However, ensure you go for the right shampoo, bearing in mind your hair type.
Having dirty hair is not an option. Therefore, ensure you regularly shampoo it with some of the best shampoos that don’t promote breakages. How often you will do, it depends on the type and how much oil your scalp produces. It is advisable to go for natural shampoos.
If you are looking for some of the best anti-breakage shampoo you should give, you need to know that many brands exist and what you will go for depends on your hair type. So what are the best brands or what are some of the popular brands?
- TRESemme Split End Remedy Shampoo
- Neutrogena Creme Lather Shampoo
- KeraCare Moisturizing Shampoo
- Aveda Sap Moss Shampoo
These best shampoo will help not only those who are prone to lock breakages but can diminish split edges, hair loss and thinning, as well as help damaged, frizzy, and fragile one.
Using shampoos on brittle hair
According to Cosmopolitan, you should “shampoo your hair while it’s in braids or jumbo twists” [cosmopolitan.com] as this reduces the breakages chances.
If it is brittle, go for shampoos with shea butter, almond oil or argan oil and if you have very curly or coarse hair, avoid a shampoo and instead go for plain water, a conditioner or honey.
How to best use these shampoos?
Leather your hands with shampoo and massage your gently instead applying it directly. According to Kendall Ong, who owns, Phoenix’s Mane Attraction Salon, “this helps create fewer knots, which could lead to breakage, out of the shower. Before you brush wet hair, pat it dry with a towel instead of rubbing it dry. Patting it will absorb the moisture without damaging the hair” [stylecaster.com].
If you have breakage prone hair, consider going for leave in conditioners as they can reduce breakages, help in detangling it, controls frizz and reduce friction. Most of them allow the comb to glide through easily.
This will minimize the excessive stress from external environment and styling effect. If possible, opt for organic or natural conditioners. Some of the good conditioners include:
- Miracle 7 Leave-in Mist
- The Conditioner Paul Mitchell,
- Crème of Nature Nourishing Conditioner,
- Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner, Dove Intense Moisture,
- Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Conditioner
- Neutrogena Triple Moisture Deep Recovery Mask
Deep conditioning once a week
Furthermore, consider deep conditioning once a week to “help infuse your hair with moisture so it’s stronger and less prone to breakage” [livestrong.com]. Try ApHogee Intensive Two Minute Keratin Reconstructor for deep conditioning. Other good deep conditioners to try include:
- African’s Best Mayonnaise
- Eva NYC Therapy Session – mask
- Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Treatment Masque
- Curls Ecstasy Hair Tea Deep Conditioner
- Eden BodyWorks Jojoba Deep Conditioner
- Sheamoisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque
Moroccan hair oil, or mashed avocado, egg and a tablespoon of olive oil can also be used as a natural deep conditioning where you will have to wash it off after 30 minutes with cool water. This will help reduce drying and consequently breakage during winter months.
Try Leave in moisturizers
To avoid dryness that can increase chances breakage, consider going for moisturizers including moisturizing shampoos and conditioners such as Ion Effective Care Shampoo. They will help in strengthening it. Other good moisturizers to try include:
- Aveda Dry Remedy Daily Moisturizing Oil
- Dove Intense Moisture Mist
- Kenra Daily Defense leave in conditioner mist
- Organic Root Stimulator’s Olive Oil Moisturizer
- Neutrogena Silk Touch Leave-In Conditioner.
- TGIN Triple Moisture Replenishing Conditioner
- Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment,
- Giovanni Nutrafix
- Shea Moisture’s Superfruit Complex 10-in-1 Masque
Try the other treatment
Besides shampoos and conditioners, you should also try other good treatments. They will help restore and/or nourish it, try the various treatments. These treatments range from hot oil treatments to protein treatments.
a. Try hot oil treatments
Hot oil treatments will make it healthier and stronger as well as prevent scalp dryness, and dandruff. In addition, they reduce tangle and frizz. Best oils you can use are coconut, oil and jojoba oils. Coconut oil is the best because it can penetrate into your hair strands.
Olive oil is rich in vitamin A, E, antioxidants; consequently, it will give it anti-aging properties. Jojoba oil will look much like sebum from your scalp while you can try castor oil for stronger hair strands.
You need to warm these oils and use them to massage it and leave the oil intact for an hour before washing it off.
b. Protein treatments
Try any of the protein treatments. Protein treatments might be good, however, do not overdo it, warns David Lopez, a celebrity hairstylist since it will make it so brittle. One of the recommended protein treatments includes ApHogee Two-step Treatment Protein for Damaged Hair.
c. Other treatments you should try
Besides hot oil treatments and hot air treatments, other best treatments include the following
- Keratin infusion treatment with Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Keratin Treatment
- Lee Stafford Treatment
- APHOGEE Treatment for Damaged Hair Stops Breakage Rebuilds Hair Structure
We have just given you a few of the many best treatment to stop this problem available.
More solutions and remedies
Besides what we have already seen, below are more solutions which might be very helpful.
Get well-balanced diets rich in required nutrients
Going on with ways on how to stop hair from breaking off, ensure you get diets rich in proteins, vitamins B, E, and iron. However, excessive proteins can make it brittle. Meat, milk, bananas, broccoli, and poultry are rich in vitamin B while nuts, salmon, spinach will provide you with enough vitamins E. If you need iron, eat organ meats, pumpkin seeds, clams, soybeans. Other valuable foods to include in your diet are dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, flaxseed oil, beets, and almonds.
Omega 3 fatty acids are particularly good for making it thicker stronger that is luscious. in case you do not get enough amounts of the above vital ingredients in your diet, go for supplements. Furthermore, ensure you are hydrated properly by taking about 8 glasses of water daily.
Carefully choose your hair styling accessories
Carefully choose your styling accessories such as bands and clips to be sure they do not pinch or tug it. Ensure they are not super tight, as this can lead to not only breakage by wearing the cuticle but also permanent hair loss if they keep on pulling it from its roots.
To prevent breakages, avoid tight accessories such as hairpins and rubber bands. Instead, go for clips and barrettes that are loosely fighting. Furthermore, keep on changing where you put these accessories.
Lower down heat processing
Turn down the temperature when using drier, flat iron, etc; ensure you go for brands that are heat protectant Drybar’s Hot Toddy Heat Protectant and Frizz Fighter or Shu Uemura Art of Hair Wonder Worker Spray, while it is wet to protect it while you are blow-drying. This is a “restorative formula helps condition, repair hair, and naturally enhances shine” [stylecaster.com]. Ensure you apply it from root to tips before distributing it well using a brush.
Avoid pulling it hard when blow-drying and doing it repeated for perfectly straight hair.
Finally, if possible, avoid heat styling completely. This will eliminate chances of hair damages or breakages due to heat which strips away the helpful natural oils and moisture content.
Go for natural coloring products
Go for natural hair lightening and coloring options. If you must color it, ensure you carefully chose your coloring products and keep moisturized and deep condition it. Go for natural dyes or semi-permanent ones that are free of ammonia. Henna is a good natural hair dye that might not be having all the disadvantages of chemical dyes.
Furthermore, avoid overlapping chemical treatments or using multiple chemical treatments
Trim split ends
Split ends often occur from its tips running upwards on your hair shaft. There is no cure for split ends i.e. “No matter what a hair commercial tells you, there is no way to cure split-end hair breakage” [livestrong.com]. You need to trim regularly then after 6-8 weeks where you will cut between ¼ to ½ an inch
This is also very important in damaged one and will tremendously reduce further damage and breakages and ensure it is stronger and healthier. Let a professional help you in determining the exact hair length you should cut. To avoid worsening of split ends, try these moisturizers, treatments and split end remedies
- Elucence Moisture balancing conditioner
- TRESemme Split End Remedy Shampoo
- TRESemme Split End Remedy Conditioner
- Curl Junkie Curl Rehab moisturizing treatment
Stress is associated with hormonal and habitual changes, which might include pulling. To avoid breaking it due to stress, let not small things make you sweat a lot and if you are very stressful, see a therapist for assistance. Furthermore, Stop excessive brushing even if it feels satisfying
Handling dump or wet hair
Let it dry for at least 70% – 80% naturally before you can use your drier at its coolest setting. Furthermore, ensure it is about 6 inches away.
Brushing, combing, and styling wet hair can cause breakages since it is weakest when it is wet. Avoid brush comb or styling while it is wet. Furthermore, do not rub it while it is wet with a towel since this can cause a lot of friction breaking it. Instead, blot excess water gently and let it dry naturally or use warm setting on your blow dryer.
Detangling hair prone to breakages
To detangle it, use your fingers and be very gentle or a detangling tool such as Tangle Teezer. You can also use a wide-toothed comb “through damp strands, starting from the bottom and working your way up the shaft” [lorealparisusa.com]. If you happen to hit a tangle, which you are unable to detangle gently, use a detangling spray or apply a conditioner to make it lose.
If tangling is a serious problem, go for oil-based conditioner while you are showering to stop the problem. Furthermore, Motions Enhance & Define Pre-Wash Detangling Butter and or Cantu Coil Calm Detangler (according to Rihanna’s stylist Ursula Stephen).
Combing – best hair brush to use
Go for a wider toothed comb and do not be rough while combing it, especially when you do not have much time. Furthermore, use a boar bristle brushes or boar bristles that have nylon instead of plastic ones because they are gentler and they will ensure “superior for smoothing hair and distributing natural oils” [prevention.com]. Combs like Plugged In Wet Look Shower Comb has smooth ages to ensure they can effectively detangle it.
Other home remedies
We have already mentioned some of the home remedies or old-fashioned approaches that can help deal with this menace. Many natural treatments exist which will work wonders.
Before you dismiss them, one good thing about home remedies is they do not have serious side effects. However, you do not expect them to stop hair breakage instantly or immediately. Most remedies, they will take time and they might not have scientific backing. However, some people have reported marvelous results
- Avocado Hair Mask see details on The Blush
- Coconut oil treatment
- Olive Oil+ Mayonnaise+ Vinegar
- Avocado + Banana + Almond Oil Treatment
- Baking Soda
- Aloe Vera Treatment
- Vitamin E Capsules + Shampoo
For details on each, see our post on best home remedies for hair breakage. Also, note that these are not the only remedies you should try. Many other useful ones exist
Go to a professional to repair it
Trying everything at home is not a good idea. Consider going for professional hair repair. These experts will study it and recommend the best products and treatments that will work magic for you.
Tips for Choosing best products
If you are looking for insight how to choose what to use for hair breakage or tips for best hair products, here are some of the important considerations.
- Use natural products that are free of alcohols, fragrances if you have curly or coarse hair. Use natural sprays and mousse
- Avoid quick repairing products that have silicones since they cover hair strands, preventing it from getting moisture and natural oils that are much required.
- Go for sulfate free care products since those containing sulfate, especially sodium lauryl sulfate are known to remove all the moisture, making it brittle. Sulfate free shampoos keep the moisture intact.
- Since anti-breakage products choice might be affected by your hair type, ensure you know your type before choosing on any product.
Note that, while choosing the best product, consider its situation. You might need different products on natural hair, while transitioning, if you have split ends, after a perm, or after a relaxer. Therefore best product that works for a friend might not give you similar results due to these differences we have mentioned,
How to prevent breakage
Prevention is better than cure. You can indeed work on preventing rather than stopping breakage. With a clear understanding of causes, some of the best products, treatments including natural ones, prevention should not be difficult.
Note that if you have already broken hair, there is no quick fix or repair for instant results. However, by the below steps, you can stop further breakage as it is growing again.
Try a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment
Apply a pre-shampoo conditioning treatment at least once a week. Try using Philip Kingsley Geranium & Neroli Elasticize pre-shampoo treatment. If you haven’t tried them, there are “oils, butter, conditioners, masks, and more that are applied to wet hair before cleansing” [refinery29.com]. They are applied and left to sit for about 30 minutes prior to normal shampooing and conditioning. Other brands worthwhile include
- Burt’s Bees Avocado Butter
- Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Oil Treatment
- Motions Enhance & Define Pre-Wash Detangling Butter
Olive and coconut oil can also be used for pre-shampoo treatment for the DIYers.
Try hair Detox
In between color appointments, go for Detox Miracle Solution treatment. “It removes pollution and product build-up deep within the cuticle before sealing in fortifying Vitamin C to lift the color by 10% and leaves it with serious gloss” [mimichatter.com].
Additional tips and ways
You definitely do not want your hair to break at all since this scars everyone. Some of the additional tips and ways to ensure it does not break include the following:
- Consider using a smooth serum that will provide a protective light coat that will protect your strands from wear and tear. This will reduce chances of breakage during brushing. Try L’Oréal Paris EverStrong Anti-Breakage Dual Serum
- Avoid hair extensions, wigs, wig caps and weaves since your scalp and follicles need to breathe. Go for twists, roller sets, flexi rollers, and other care approaches that don’t use heat.
- Cleanse your scalp one in two weeks. This will make it healthy and thereby reducing hair loss and breakages.
- If you have long hair, be careful when you carry your shoulder bags. They should not be pressed on it since it can cause side or back-breaking.
- While trying to hide your breakage and create volume, avoid backcombing (ratting or teasing it) since will encourage further breakages. Go for texturizing sprays or root lift.
- Cover it during summer to avoid the sun’s damaging effect
- Use a reparative and nourishing hair mask at least once or twice a week
- Stop excessive washing and over-shampooing, since it will deprive it of the natural oils it requires
- Customize your care routine to be certain what works for you. Someone might need a few teaspoons of coconut oil while your hair requires a whole bottle to remain moisturized.
All these tips and ways to minimize, reduce or prevent breaking can be used by men, women and even people who have black hair which is considered more delicate and prone to breakages and tangling.
For those who have severe or extreme breakages of their strands, we would recommend you try all that we have discussed. If no chance is noted, see a hair expert or your dermatologists for further advice since your breakage could be from a different cause.
Natural hair breakage
This is nothing different other than breakage and shedding that happens on natural hair i.e. that has not been tempered by “hot combs, flat irons, or chemicals (through perming, relaxation, or other straightening methods” [Wikipedia.org].
Most of what we have discussed applies to natural hair breaking off except those that have to do with use of chemicals and heat styling techniques. Otherwise, other details on natural hair breakage treatment, repair and remedies will be more or less the same.
Black hair breakage
It has been observed that “African or black hair is known to be more affected by breakage with easily observed fragility in vivo” [nature.com]. The extensive care practices it requires further complicated the issue leading to more breakage. Its dry nature makes it difficult for sebum to travel through its shaft when compared to people who have straight one.
Breakage in African American hair causes is nothing different from the causes we have seen such as brushing and combing habits, washing frequency, the process of drying, care products used, chemical and heat processing, etc. Some of the recommended products include:
- Anti-Breakage & Split End Protection for Natural & Relaxed Black African-American by Mizan
- Africa’s Best Organics – Mayonnaise
- African Pride Olive Miracle Anti-Breakage Formula
Treatments for black women or African American is no different from what we have discussed. You just need to understand that it is more fragile and you handle it with much care.
While looking for ways or products to prevent hair breakage, you should consider the previous state of it went through. For instance, if you are transitioning it after coloring, if it is relaxed, etc, different approaches might be used. Let your stylist help you. I hope this will ensure you have healthier, longer and stronger hair!
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