Naturally, this topic can be very anxiety-inducing, but the silver lining is that there’s a difference between hair loss and breakage, and the latter has more to do with our styling habits and practices than bigger or underlying causes, which is a good thing.
In most cases, breakage is also reversible with a few changes to the products you’re using and how you handle your hair. If you’re experiencing damage now or have in the past, don’t fret. Here are some helpful tips and treatment options to teach you how to stop hair breakage and make your hair strong once more.
What Is Hair Breakage?
First things first, you need to be familiar with what hair breakage is. Hair breakage and shedding may seem like one and the same, but they are actually different. Shedding is a natural part of your hair cycle. You’re supposed to lose hair daily—anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs a day, to be exact. According to experts, that’s the norm, so if you’re noticing rapid thinning or a consistent loss of any more than 100 hairs a day, there’s cause for concern. Get a visit with your dermatologist set up right away to evaluate.
Breakage, on the other hand, happens when the actual strand shreds. Most times, you won’t notice full hairs on the ground but instead little pieces of hairs. Think about the hair cuticle and how it’s made up of a bunch of stacked layers like shingles on a roof. When these individual sheets of hair fibers split from the rest of the pile, it’s breakage. It can break off from the tips when your ends are split and need to be trimmed or it can rip halfway up the strand or even close to the root. Where and how hair breaks usually depends on several different factors.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
One of the main causes, if not the main cause, of breakage is how you style your hair. Things like aggressive brushing and combing, sleeping on wet hair or rough fabrics that create friction, constantly pulling your strands into styles that are too tight, and heat styling are all some of the main reasons why hair breaks. Tension on the hair shaft (the actual strand) can cause inflammation at the root, and those flare-ups actually weaken the strands, and eventually, those pieces of hair might break off.
Hairs around the edge of the hairline are also more fragile than hairs on other areas of the scalp, making your edges more vulnerable to breaking off if not properly cared for. There are a few things that can put this area in particular at risk. Habits like too much tugging while styling, traction from pulling hair back into overly tight hairstyles, and drying product ingredients like alcohols can also weaken hair around the edge of your face. When slicking, make sure to use a moisturizing edge gel like the Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother.
Another source of hair breakage can be styles that do not allow for regular washing, as these can make your scalp more itchy. It’s not the protective style itself that’s the problem; it’s that scratching your itchy scalp can cause hair breakage near the root. Think about it; dry hair is already weakened. Going to town scratching with your nails is like taking tiny razor blades and nicking away at the cuticle. If it doesn’t break the hairs off completely, it can certainly still cause damage that will eventually cause it to snap off.
How to Tell If You Have Broken Hair
It’s fairly easy to tell if your hair is broken or shedding. Hair that has simply shed is coming straight from the follicle, so it’s going to be a full strand. Broken hairs, on the other hand, are usually fragments and little pieces of hairs that you can spot in your sink or floor when you brush or comb through.
You can also easily spot split ends and breaks that are in progress, as the individual hairs will be split and have a tree-like appearance. Broken hair is also likely to look dry and dull and feel rougher to the touch.
How Do You Fix Hair Breakage?
Asking how to fix hair breakage is a bit of a trick question. There are ways to prevent breakage and even out hair while you treat the source of your damage, but actually fixing a broken strand isn’t doable. You can’t mend your hair like you can a broken zipper. However, what you can do is start by getting a proper trim to help even out any ragged edges. Think of a haircut as one of the ultimate quick fixes for hair breakage.
Once all hairs are evened out and you have a clear understanding of what led to your breakage in the first place, then you can start working on a treatment plan. In most cases, this will mean revamping how you moisturize your hair, including the frequency and what you’re using to do it.
How to Prevent Hair Breakage
Ready to keep hair breakage at bay? Follow these tips.
1. Keep your hair moisturized. One of the main reasons your hair is breaking off could be that you aren’t applying enough moisture to your hair. It’s especially important to heed this rule if your hair is curly because it’s prone to becoming brittle and breaking off. Take time to pamper your hair!
2. Target split ends early on. Use a daily split end sealer. Be sure to use a nourishing leave-in conditioner that helps smooth and seal split ends right after you detangle and as a curl refresher in between washes.
3. Braid your hair up before shampooing. When wash day comes around, try putting your hair into jumbo braids and then shampooing to cut down on tangles, which can also lead to breakage.
4. Go easy on the heat. Blow-drying and flat ironing hair on a regular basis can take its toll on strands. Try to rely on heat-free tools like flexi rods or hair rollers whenever possible. If you absolutely must use heat, be sure to apply a heat protectant and then use tools on a low heat setting.
5. Use a pre-wash moisturizer. Give your hair an extra shot of moisture on wash day by saturating strands with a rich conditioner and letting it sit for about 10 minutes before washing with shampoo.
6. Shampoo correctly. Not only is it key to use a sulfate-free shampoo that doesn’t have harsh, stripping cleansers that dry hair out, but where you use it is equally as important. When you need it, shampoo should only be applied to the scalp and not to the hair shafts. While you may have excess product buildup on your strands, the majority of it will be on your scalp. The residual cleanser that ends up on your strands as you wash is sufficient to break down any dirt and product residue on the rest of your hair. In general, finding a shampoo that has moisturizers for your hair type is key for helping protect the hair shaft and cleanse the scalp.
What Hair Care Products Prevent Hair Breakage?
There are certain hair care products, some of which we’ve already mentioned, that prevent breakage. Most of them help rebuild the hair from the inside out, whether that’s by adding moisture or replenishing certain proteins that may be making it weak. Things like a repairing shampoo or anti-breakage spray can do just that. Beyond taking the tips we’ve shared, the following products are prime picks for any routine meant to fight back against breakage.
Monoi Repairing Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner: The right shampoo and repairing conditioner are key for an anti-breakage routine. This combination reduces breakage after one use, leaving hair stronger and healthier.
Monoi Repairing Hair Mask: Infused with monoi oil and hydrolyzed silk, this intense repairing hair treatment addresses damage from roots to ends, in addition to preventing future damage.
Monoi Oil Sacred Strengthening Serum: Heat-styled, color-treated, and relaxed hair are all subject to breakage. This hair serum is perfect for all three hair types, as the miracle oil reverses and prevents damage.
Monoi Repairing Leave-In Conditioner: Beyond using a regular repairing conditioner, a leave-in is a great product to add to your regimen. This one will add shine, softness, and manageability to weakened strands.
Monoi Repairing Anti-Breakage Spray: When it comes to how to stop hair breakage, using a repairing anti-breakage spray seems like a no-brainer. This formula is another leave-in conditioner option that can help end shedding and ease detangling.
Monoi Repairing Split End Sealer: We mentioned the powers of split end sealer earlier, and this one is a must-try. The repairing lotion binds separated and frayed ends to help maintain your length.
4 Treatments for Hair Breakage
If your strands still need more help, consider these four hair breakage treatments.
1. Deep treat. One of the easiest quick fixes for hair breakage is to pump moisture back into it with a hair mask or deep conditioning treatment. Another hair breakage treatment is to apply a serum and do a hair steam to help add back the moisture and elasticity hair needs to not snap at the first sign of dryness.
2. Utilize oils. Look to hair oils for help preventing hair breakage. You want a hydrator that can actually get inside the hair shaft, so avoid slathering any old hair oil on top of your tresses. There are some oils that can actually get inside each strand to nourish and hydrate, and then there are those that serve the purpose of sealing in moisture. Once you’re clear on the difference between the two, you’ll be able to pick the right type of oil.
3. Switch to a co-wash. If your hair is drier—as most curly hair is—consider cutting back on your shampoo use in favor of co-washing. Dry hair doesn’t do well with the oil-dissolving cleansers that even the mildest shampoos tend to have. A cleansing conditioner will be even more gentle on your hair.
4. Trim regularly. Don’t wait for tons of breakage to get your hair cut. Make sure you get your hair trimmed on a consistent basis. Seeing your stylist every six weeks or so can help decrease breakage.
To summarize, we all experience some level of breakage and shedding, no matter how careful we are in our styling practices. What’s most important is how you maintain your hair on a day-to-day basis. This is what will separate the occasional break from the kind that needs a major habit overall to correct.
Next: We mentioned a number of products formulated with monoi oil as we broke down how to stop hair breakage. If you want to learn more about this ingredient that clearly plays an important role in hair care for damaged hair, read this article on The Monoi Oil Benefits You Need to Know About.