Even the most cared for hair is damaged to some degree, and while we can’t avoid damaged hair completely, knowing the causes can help us to limit it.
For a simple way to tell if you have damaged hair, run your fingers through your hair.
- If you can run your fingers along your hair strands smoothly then the light coating of sebum (the natural oil that covers all hair) is working.
- If your hair feels rough or prickly, particularly at the ends, then this points to dryness and damage.
Natural Hair Damage
Natural hair damage is caused by a lack of moisture, which can happen if there isn’t enough moisture in the cortex of your hair or if there isn’t enough sebum coating your hair. This all causes your hair to dry out and can be brought about by:
- Poor health
- Poor diet
- Hormonal imbalances
While there isn’t much you can do to avoid natural hair damage, using a better hair care routine and using better home hair care products regularly will help with the condition of your hair.
Here are some steps you can take to avoid or minimise natural hair damage:
- Apply hair serum. It protects your hair from heat styling, prevents frizz, and gives it a beautiful shine.
- Apply hair oil. Hair oils like pure coconut oil are a good option of moisturising your hair, hence preventing it from getting dry or frizzy.
- Use a good quality conditioner after shampoo.
Styling Hair Damage
Hair damage that we cause ourselves is unfortunately something that is unavoidable. Simple everyday tasks such as washing your hair, brushing and even pulling your hair into an easy ponytail can all cause damage.
To minimise damage, always handle your hair as delicately as possible, be gentle when washing and brushing, and use the best hair tools possible, such as a mild shampoo and a natural bristle brush on dry hair and a wide tooth comb on wet hair.
To reduce the level of damage that you cause to your hair you can also try the following tips:
- Keep in mind that spiky, heated rollers, metal combs, and plastic hair brushes can all cause damage
- Hair elastics made from rubber will tear your hair so it’s best to use elastics that are covered in cloth
- Wrap thin foam rubber around your heated rollers will help to limit damage
- Curling irons and hair straighteners can dry and even burn your hair (if used incorrectly). Use them sparingly and always with a heat protection product
- The sun, seawater, chlorinated water, air conditioning and central heating will zap the moisture right out of your hair so use scarves and hats when out in the elements, a swimming cap when you’re taking a dip, and moisture locking hair products if you spend most of your day in a room with air conditioning.
Chemical Hair Damage
Chemical hair damage is caused when hair is incorrectly or too often coloured with bleach and tints or chemically permed or straightened. When the hair is overexposed to chemicals then portions of the hair shaft break down and become soft. This can leave you with hair that tangles easily and a hair color that looks brassy or even green.
While for most people it’s not realistic to give up chemically treating your hair all together, you can limit the damage done by spacing out any processes with an 8 to 10 week gap. Try your best to see a professional hairdresser to have your hair coloured, permed, or straightened as they have proper training with the chemicals and will know how to apply them to your hair safely.
Here’s what you can do to minimise chemical hair damage:
- Try hairstyles that don’t require hair styling products.
- Rinse your hair soon after a swim. The sooner you get rid of chlorine in your hair, the better.
- Go for only one service at a time at the salon, if you can. If you want to get your hair coloured and permed, then get it coloured in one sitting and get it permed in the next, with a gap of 3-4 days, if possible.
Being aware of what causes damage to your hair and handling your hair with as much care as possible will go a long way towards keeping any hair damage to a minimum and will help you to avoid more damage in the future.
Keep these hair care points in mind and every once in a while, schedule a damage free day by going with your natural hair texture and giving hair products and styling tools a miss. Who knows? You might even like your hair au naturel and prefer wearing it that way all the time!
The best advice that anybody will ever give you for treating split ends is to cut them off. The reason for this is that leaving them there will only make your hair split further up the hair shaft as the hair is open, exposed to every single thing that you throw at it.
I have seen people refuse to get their split ends cut off, only to find months later that their hair appears to be getting shorter all on it’s own. The hair is in-fact still growing out from the scalp, but as it grows the ends are breaking off faster than it grows down, making it appear to be getting shorter overall.
While the hair is split and fraying, it will continue to tear away, even if you apply moisturisers, treatments, and silicone fillers. The only course of action is to take the necessary step of cutting the split ends away.
The root of it all
Once hair damage sets in, there isn’t much you can do to recover your hair.
You can try different recovery methods but by learning and changing your hair handling habits and giving it extra tender loving care, you will have healthier looking hair in no time.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out ‘Is your fear of a hairstyle makeover really worth it?‘, where we guide you on how to do a hair makeover fearlessly.