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How To Deal With Dry Brittle Hair Falling Out
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Updated on April 22, 2024

When your hair is healthy, you just know it — it feels thick, full, soft, and shiny.

But it’s not always easy to keep your hair healthy. According to a survey of women in the United States, 91% of people cause damage to their hair every day. So if you’re experiencing dry brittle hair falling out, it’s time to take action to preserve and restore the health of your hair.

Table of Contents

What is brittle hair?

Brittle simply means prone to breakage. So if your hair feels fragile, thin, dry, or breaks off easily at the ends, you may have brittle hair. Other signs include excessive split ends, as well as hair that’s dull, frizzy, or easily tangled.

Healthy hair is coated in a thin layer of natural oil produced by your scalp. This protects the core and reflects light, giving that classic shiny look and feel. If your hair and scalp become dry, these oils will disappear, leaving you with dry hair that is brittle, and more liable to fall out.

Is my hair brittle or thinning?

In the early stages of hair loss, it’s easy to confuse brittle hair with thinning hair. Both can give the appearance of flat lacklustre hair that lacks volume, causing you to wonder why your hair isn’t growing.

However, brittle hair breakage should be treated differently to hair that’s thinning. Therefore, you need to know what hair condition you’re experiencing. Here are 3 key differences between dry brittle hair falling out and thinning hair that leads to hair loss:

1. Texture

Dry and brittle hair usually looks and feels rough. It can feel frizzy when dry and spongy when wet. Thinning hair, meanwhile, usually affects the overall appearance of your hair, rather than the texture. You may notice your parting getting wider, a receding hairline, or bald spots on your scalp. Learn how to hide thinning hair.

2. Causes

Dry, brittle hair is usually caused by heat damage or harsh styling chemicals, while hair thinning is more often caused by male or female pattern baldness. On average, pattern baldness affects 50% of men and 25% of women by the age of 50.

3. Development stage

If left untreated, brittle hair can eventually lead to thinning hair and hair loss. This is especially true if your hair is regularly subjected to stressors like heat styling and tight ponytails. Dry hair lacks elasticity, causing strands to break more often than normal. This can leave high-tension areas looking sparse.

What is the cause of dry brittle hair falling out — and how can I fix it?

Understanding the cause of dryness in your hair is essential to getting it back to full health. Here are 7 common triggers that can cause brittle hair.

1. Exposure to the elements

People in hot dry climates can suffer from hair dryness due to the heat. Places that are hot and windy are even more damaging to your hair as the combination can remove all moisture from your tresses, leaving them fragile, frizzy and dull.

Drink plenty of water to keep your body and hair hydrated, particularly in summer. You can also use hair masks to lock in moisture, protecting your hair against the harsh elements.

2. Nutrient deficiencies

Eating a healthy diet can make sure your scalp has the nutrients it needs to produce sebum and keep your hair healthy. Vitamins A, B and C are crucial for healthy hair growth, while zinc and protein are also vital for keratin production and repair in your hair.

Make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff by eating a balanced diet every day. If you’re trying a new diet such as intermittent fasting, you still need to get sufficient nutrients. While supplements can help, taking too many can do  more harm than good. It’s best to get your nutrients directly from food.

3. Excessive washing and styling

Washing your hair daily can strip your scalp of the natural oils it needs to protect your hair. Many shampoos and conditioners contain harsh chemicals that can lead to damaged hair if they’re overused. Therefore, it is important to choose the right hair products carefully. Heat-based styling appliances like hairdryers and straighteners can also cause extremely dry, brittle hair.

To avoid this, put the curling tongs down. Use regular curlers and let your hair air dry wherever you can. Avoid using a hair dryer after a hair transplant. Wash your hair once every 2-3 days, and minimise the use of hot styling appliances as much as possible in your hair care routine. It’s also a good idea to get your hair cut regularly to remove dry or split ends.

Certain hairstyles can also cause traction alopecia. Avoid wearing tight top knots and man buns that can lead to hair loss. Try to pick a low-maintenance hairstyle that fits your hair type if possible.

Some theories suggest natural remedies like apple cider vinegar for hair can seal the hair cuticle and stop it from drying out. However, more research is needed to establish if this is an effective solution.

4. Bleaching and dyeing

Bleaching your hair is extremely popular — but it can severely damage your hair health. Hair bleach is made mostly from hydrogen peroxide, a compound which reacts with your pigment to lighten your colour. It can damage the core of the hair, causing severe hair breakage around the crown and hairline, and even significant hair loss.

If you bleach your hair regularly, it’s important to know the risks. Avoid double bleaching, never leave bleach on for longer than the instructions say, and ideally try to move away from bleaching your hair altogether.

Instead of bleach or hair dye, you might want to consider using a hair toner which can help maintain your colour without damaging your hair too much. Find out more about toner and hair damage.

5. Physical conditions

Certain hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism or hypoparathyroidism, can cause dry, brittle hair and hair loss. These conditions also present a number of other symptoms such as fatigue, weight changes, sensitivity to cold and muscle cramps.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consider making an appointment with your GP. These conditions are treatable, so it’s a great way to improve your general health and well-being as well as the appearance of your hair.

6. Age-induced hormonal changes

As we get older, the scalp naturally slows down the production of the natural oils in the scalp. This leads to dry brittle hair falling out in people of all genders. This process is even more accelerated in women who have undergone menopause, due to the hormonal changes that take place during this phase of life.

There’s little we can do to combat growing older, but you can still take care of your hair. Use moisturising treatments and get your hair trimmed regularly to remove damaged ends and encourage regrowth.

7. Anorexia nervosa

Eating disorders like anorexia are psychological conditions that are known to affect more than body image and weight. They can also have a devastating effect on your hair. When you deprive your body of energy, it focuses on maintaining the most vital bodily functions like breathing and circulation. That means your hair is deprived of energy and nutrients, causing it to become brittle and even fall out.

If you’re living with an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, a mental health professional can provide you with assistance and support.

What to do if your hair is still falling out

If you’ve exhausted these options and you’re still experiencing substantial hair loss, you may want to speak to a hair loss consultant. From pattern baldness to traction alopecia, there are many reasons your hair could be falling out — so it’s time to get to the root cause.

For women, this is particularly challenging. Booking a consultation with a hair loss specialist can help you learn more about the cause of your hair shedding and find the best hair loss treatment for women.

At the Wimpole Clinic, we’ve helped thousands of people restore their hair to full, lustrous health. Find out how a hair transplant can treat thinning hair, and book a consultation with our hair restoration experts to start your journey.

How To Deal With Dry Brittle Hair Falling Out, Wimpole Clinic

Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)Updated on April 22, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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