Damaged Hair: A trial of the tresses
Hair damage is very common and could happen despite all your efforts and attention. Dry hair, breakage, and split ends are all different ways in which the damage could manifest itself. This could also be an indication of an underlying health problem. All types of hair show signs of this wear and tear and this necessitates corrective action and damaged hair treatment.
What is Hair Damage?
Hair damage refers to the condition when the hair structure is altered. This is essentially a result of the damage to the cuticle. The cuticle opens up and makes the hair shaft vulnerable to more damage. This sets off a chain of events resulting in weakened hair. When your hair is damaged, it becomes dry and loses its density and lustre. This is the time to take a closer look at the problem and arrive at a solution. However, you can still take some measures to ensure that further damage does not happen.
Types of Hair Damage
To be able to take remedial measures for damaged hair you need to identify the type of damage caused to your hair. There could be those instances where a simple shampoo could be the solution while at times a more detailed examination might be necessary. Let’s take a look at how we can identify damaged hair.
- Dry hair: While dry hair itself might not be an indication of damaged hair, damaged hair is invariably dry. If the hair refuses to stay moisturized or look glossy after the application of a hair conditioner, it has most certainly been damaged.
- Dull looking hair: If your hair is looking dull and has lost its shine, it is an indication that the cuticles of your hair shaft have been damaged. If deep hair conditioning fails to produce any significant change, remedial action would be necessary to cure your damaged hair.
- Frizzy hair: If the cuticles of the hair shafts have been damaged, it tends to absorb more moisture and therefore the hair tends to be frizzy. If you are staying in a humid place you might have an aggravated case of frizzy hair.
- Split ends: If your hair ends split into two regularly, it means you have damaged hair.
- Rough feel: This can be identified simply by running your fingers across your hair. If it feels coarse and sticks out, you have most likely damaged hair.
- Fragile hair: If your hair breaks frequently without applying any great effort or even as you run your hands through it, your hair has lost its elasticity and you have damaged hair.
- Tangled hair: If your knotty hair problems have become quite the rule and frequent detangling is necessary, that means that you have damaged hair.
Cause of Hair Damage
Hair damage could be the result of numerous factors from over treatment to change of diet or the effects of a harsh environment. Let’s find out more:
- Poor or improper diet: A diet does not need to be rich, but balanced. If you fail to nourish your follicles with the proper nutrients over a period you are inviting serious hair problems and the possibility of damaged hair. Antioxidants and proteins are essential and so are iron and zinc among other things. Keep it within limits, e.g., an excess of protein might contribute to brittle hair while high levels of vitamin A might lead to hair loss. And remember, don’t restrict your diets inordinately, you might just be disturbing the sustenance mechanism for your hair.
- Wrong hair product: The choice of hair products is very crucial for the health of your hair. Many shampoos and dyes contain harmful chemicals that could cause irrevocable hair damage. If your hair dries immediately after the dye has been applied, it shows that you have damaged hair.
- Extreme stress: Severe stress could lead to telogen effluvium, wherein the hair reaches a state of rest prematurely. This leads to the hair loosening in the scalp and subsequent hair fall.
- Eating disorders: Health problems that are a result of eating disorders can disturb the process of hair growth. As a result, the hair falls off during the Anagen phase, wherein growth is at its fastest. Crash diets are also harmful as they produce an element of shock that the body might not be able to handle.
- Lack of moisture: If your hair is naturally dry you have to make the extra effort to maintain your hair. The use of a good shampoo and conditioner is essential as is the necessity of using it not too frequently.
- Bad hair bands: A bad hair band that requires too many pulls of elastic could damage your hair, cause breakage around the hairline, and lead to headaches also. Use the elastic by wrapping a cloth around it. Put a little conditioner on the cloth if possible. Satin or silk scarves are a better option.
- Excessive styling and treatment: If you are the sort whose social obligations require you to frequently style and treat your hair you also run the risk of damaging your hair. This is because, in the process of heating, curling, and perming your strands, you also subject them to major wear and tear.
Try not to pull your hair too far back from your forehead. This could cause hair loss along the hairline and temples. If you do pull it back, don’t do it frequently, do it with significant intervals in between. Tight hairstyles lead to a condition called traction alopecia. Though the hair loss is temporary it could develop into a serious problem later.
The more you tend to experiment with your hair the greater the chances of damaged hair. Blow drying or curling your hair opens the cuticle and makes it absorb moisture.
Coloring your hair also contributes to major breakage issues as the chemicals affect the strands and leave them severely weakened. Bleaching could also impact the quality of your hair as it makes it rough and dry.
- Use of heat styling: Different ways of styling/drying your hair with the application of heat could leave you with a dry scalp. Also, if you do it with wet hair you are creating the possibility of further damage. The hair can be stretched to 30% without damage but extending it by 80% could lead to hair fractures. It is also very important to clean your hair properly before using any heat styling equipment. The impurities present could cause further damage to your hair. Always apply a heat protectant before using your heat tool.
- Rough handling of hair: If you pull your hair to organize it into a pony or if you comb hard you could end up damaging your hair. Organize your hair in its natural style and avoid the possibility of putting unmanageable pressure on your hair.
How to Fix Damaged Hair?
Hair damage in most cases is irreversible. However, depending on the type of damage that your hair has suffered certain hair damage solutions or more appropriately, damage control measures can be suggested. This could include some effective home remedies for damaged hair.
- Dry and dull hair: If shampoos containing harsh chemicals are responsible for the damage to the hair then you need to wash your hair less often and look for a shampoo that agrees with your type of hair. The shampoos remove the natural oils from your hair and make it dry.
The use of olive and almond oils is always suggested as they help repair the damage with their excellent moisturizing properties. Oils help fill up the areas between the cuticles and lubricate the shaft. Coconut oil is the preferred product for this purpose as it can enter the hair shaft easily due to its lower molecular weight and rejuvenate damaged hair. It is possibly the best hair oil for damaged hair.
Coconut oil should be applied before you wash your hair as it prevents the hair from soaking up too much water. This stops the hair from swelling disproportionately which could cause cuticle damage.
Egg white mixed with half a lemon is a good remedy to bring back the shine in your hair as it has the goodness of proteins and vitamins A, D & E. The antifungal properties of this mix help remove the residue from your hair.
A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar added to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 egg whites is a potent mask for dry hair. Keep the hair covered for 30 minutes before washing it with shampoo.
Increase the intake of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants as this is effective for dry damaged hair treatment. Salmon and sardines have the goodness of omega 3 fatty acids while walnuts and tomatoes are great antioxidants.
- Tangled hair: The raised cuticles cause the hair to intertwine. You can brush your hair with a big comb, bottom upwards to detangle. Other options are detangling sprays, conditioners, and masks to moisturize your hair.
A banana and olive oil mask is a good option to treat damaged hair. Mix the banana with curd and some olive oil and apply it to your hair and scalp. The carbohydrates, vitamins, and natural oils provide good nourishment to your hair.
- Frizz: Cuticles that refuse to lie flat cause frizz. The frizz could take place at various positions starting from the crown, the top, or the ends of your hair and a serum needs to be used to solve this problem.
- Brittle and fragile hair: Serums and conditioners are the way to go, to treat brittle hair. When a hair strand breaks into two you have to apply the deep conditioner regularly to get your strands back on track.
Castor oil has ricinoleic acid which augments blood circulation and nourishes your hair to prevent breakage.
You can also massage clarified butter into your dry hair and leave it for half an hour before rinsing it out. This is guaranteed to bring back the shine and glossiness to your hair.
- Hair damaged by dyes: If your hair has been damaged by dyes it would be advisable to stretch the time between your touch-ups to about 10 weeks or longer if possible. Dyes are full of chemicals such as ammonia which help in opening up the hair shaft to deposit the dye. Try and use a moisture-rich dye as they also help in conditioning the hair during the dying process.
You should only use shampoos which have been especially suggested for dry hair. Use cool water to rinse your hair after applying the shampoo and conditioner. You can also use cool tea to treat your hair and enhance the hair color.
- Split ends: To prevent split ends you need to trim your hair once every 8 weeks. If you do not take care of it, your hair might become dry and brittle. The split ends could move up the hair shaft and cause further damage.
As a solution for split-ends use the gel from the aloe vera plant on your hair and wash it off after 30 minutes. It is a good moisturizer and has anti-microbial properties.
You can also use a mix of papaya and curd to improve the blood circulation in your scalp. Wash off the mix after keeping it on for half an hour.
Tips to Control Hair Damage
While hair damage cannot be prevented altogether, taking those small measures might minimize the damage to a great extent. From using genuine and beneficial products to curtailing those frequent hairstyling procedures, a more judicious approach could help avoid the need to repair your hair.
- Do not overbrush: Do not brush your hair frequently as it could cause split ends. Overbrushing creates a lot of friction in your hair and leads to hair breakage and damaged hair.
- Avoid tight hairstyles: Try and avoid those hairstyles that involve a lot of hair-pulling and stretching as they put your hair under great stress. Instead of having the hair up, a hair down approach is preferable. The trick is to help the hair take its natural flow.
Despite all possible precautions hair damage can yet happen, for all factors are not in our control. Though hair damage is largely irreversible the effects could be mitigated by some hair treatment methods. Visit us at Traya to know of more such procedures; also consult with our experts who will come up with the customized solutions for you.
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Dr. Jaspreet Sarna, M.D
Dr. Sarna is an MD (Skin & VD) with a decade-long experience in treating hair loss and working on hair regrowth. She believes stress management is the key to good health.