Hair breakage is very common. But that doesn’t make it any less aggravating when you notice lots of broken strands amongst your own hair, whether it’s hair breakage around the crown or broken baby hairs along your hairline.
So what can you do about hair breakage? In this article, we’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments for broken and frizzy hair, so you can learn how to get your hair back to perfect health.
Knowing what’s causing your hair to snap off sets you on the right path to finding the best treatment. Here are all the major causes of hair breakage.
Brushing your hair is necessary, especially if you’re prone to tangles and knots. Despite the myth, brushing your hair won’t make it grow. But brushing your hair too vigorously is a key cause of breakage — especially if you yank your brush through those knotty patches.
Instead, follow these tips to brush your hair without causing breakage:
Straighteners, curling tongs, and hairdryers are among the biggest culprits for hair breakage. Heat-damaged hair often leads to hair thinning in women, as excessive heat can crack the cuticle of your hair, making the hair surface more prone to fractures .
Processing your hair using bleach, relaxers, hair keratin treatments and other harsh chemicals can dry your hair out, making it more likely to snap and break.
Not all hair colouring products are damaging. For example, toners don’t damage your hair, though they are often used after bleach to achieve the desired hair colour. But it’s important to discuss the potential ramifications with your stylist before you apply any new products.
Excessively dry hair often leads to breakage. Hair can become dry if it’s exposed to hot, dry climates, low humidity, chemicals, harsh sunlight, and direct heat sources like hair straighteners.
Fortunately, dry hair is one of the easier causes of hair breakage to treat. Hydrate your hair by using plenty of conditioner, and other proven moisturising agents like coconut oil. If your scalp is prone to greasiness, focus these treatments on the lengths and ends of your hair rather than your roots.
It can be tempting to give your scalp a good scrub with a towel after washing it. But this is a surefire way to damage your hair strands and make fragile ends snap off.
Instead, wrap your hair in the towel gently, then squeeze the water out into the towel from root to tip. This can also prevent knotting and tangling.
Even if you take good care of your hair, if you don’t get it trimmed, you’ll eventually develop split ends, trichoclasis, or other hair shaft disorders. This is due to everyday wear and tear.
If you don’t get these damaged ends chopped off, they can start to break off by themselves. This often leads to more severely damaged hair in the long run. So it’s important to get your hair cut regularly. Find out more about split ends vs healthy hair.
Some types of hair bands and hair elastics can cause hair breakage, especially if they’re wound too tightly.
Wearing your hair loose is the best way to avoid this type of breakage. But if you need to tie your hair back, scrunchies and spiral hair ties tend to cause less damage than standard hair elastics.
Stress is a leading cause of temporary hair loss known as telogen effluvium. But high-stress levels can also directly and indirectly lead to broken hair strands.
Stress may lead to poor haircare practices, follicle inflammation, harmful habits like hair pulling (trichotillomania), and other problems that damage your hair . So good stress management techniques are essential for preventing hair breakage.
Good nutrition is really important for growing strong, healthy hair. Low levels of vitamin A have been linked to hair breakage, while insufficient vitamin C can lead to hair shaft abnormalities .
In addition, certain vitamin deficiencies have been linked with hair loss conditions including male pattern baldness, female pattern hair loss, and alopecia areata. Find out more in our clinical review of vitamins for hair growth.
Eating a balanced diet for healthy hair that’s rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals can keep your tresses strong and intact.
Certain scalp conditions can weaken your hair, making it more brittle and prone to breakage. An unhealthy scalp can lead to greater oxidative stress in the hair, which often manifests as :
Many scalp problems have similar symptoms, so get checked out by a trichologist to diagnose any troublesome scalp issues.
Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can lead to malnourishment. As a result, the body channels all available nutrients into its most important functions, rather than nourishing your hair. This can cause hair to snap off or even fall out.
Anorexia-induced hair loss is just one of the clinical symptoms of an eating disorder. These conditions can lead to more serious health problems, so it’s essential to seek advice from a doctor if you’re concerned about your own eating habits or those of someone you know.
An underactive thyroid can contribute to hair breakage . You’ll usually notice other symptoms if you have hypothyroidism, including fatigue, low energy, rapid weight gain, and/or low mood.
People with natural Black and Afro hair types are more prone to hair breakage than people of other ethnicities. This is because:
Some of these causes of hair breakage can sound worrying. But for most people, the main cause of hair breakage is poor haircare and grooming, including:
If these are causing your hair to break, it’s likely that only your hair will be affected. If the cause is more complex, you’ll probably have other symptoms as well. So speak to your doctor if you have additional health concerns.
Hair breakage is characterised by short, spiky hairs that often have split or damaged ends. Broken hairs may stick up and away from your scalp, and have a rough or frizzy texture. You might also notice short strands breaking off when you brush your hair.
If you have hair breakage through the ends of your hair, you’ll often find your hair is different lengths:
Hair breakage at the crown has a similar appearance, but proximity to the scalp can lead to your scalp showing through your thinning hair:
If you have breakage along your hairline, you may see more flyaways, broken edges, and baby hairs framing your face:
Baby hairs can also be a sign that your hair is growing back, so don’t immediately assume it’s breakage. New growth is often softer and fluffier than broken hairs, which may be coarse and split at the ends.
Yes, broken hair will normally grow back, as long as you address the cause of the problem.
Unlike many types of hair loss, hair breakage is a temporary problem. By adjusting your haircare practices and tackling the underlying trigger, you can almost always regrow broken hairs.
Below, you’ll learn how to stop and prevent hair breakage.
You may need different methods to tackle hair breakage depending on the cause and location of the problem.
In general, if you’re taking good care of your hair and there’s no obvious cause, seek advice from your GP or a trichologist. They can run hair loss blood tests and other diagnostics to help you find the root cause of your hair problems.
Here are four ways to help regrow broken hair around the hairline:
Follow these tips to treat hair breakage on top of your head and around your crown:
Bleach contains harsh chemicals that pose a serious risk to your hair. It’s one of the most common causes of hair breakage — so how can you fix this?
Unfortunately there’s no quick fix for hair breakage. Once the damage is done, you’ll need to let your hair regrow, which can take several months.
However, there are a few things you can do to encourage healthy new growth. Here are some of the best ways to grow hair quickly:
The good news is that most causes of hair breakage can be fixed with a few adjustments to your grooming routine and hair hygiene practices.
For other people, however, the cause of hair breakage is less obvious. If you’re unsure why your hair is breaking off — particularly if it’s in large volumes — speak to a trichologist. Using hair loss blood tests and other diagnostic tools, these hair specialists can reveal any underlying causes of hair breakage and help you tackle them before the problem gets worse.
Book a consultation with the Wimpole Clinic’s trichology team to get a thorough diagnosis of your damaged hair.
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