Reading time: 7 min.
What To Do About Frizzy Broken Hair On Top Of Your Head
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by
Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Updated on July 5, 2024

Hair breakage is a common problem. With so many styling practices now available, it’s no surprise women’s hair is so vulnerable to snapping off mid-strand. But this can sometimes lead to frizzy broken hair on top of the head, which makes hair unmanageable and unruly.

So what can you do about hair breakage around the crown that causes frizz on top of your head? Here, find out why hair breaks, and what you can do to repair or treat frizzy damaged hair.

Table of Contents

What does hair breakage look like?

Hair breakage on top of the head manifests as short, frizzy hairs and flyaways that seem to defy gravity:

Examples of hair breakage at the top of the head

All hair goes through a shedding and regrowth process, so it’s completely normal to have some shorter hairs around your roots as newer hairs grow in. But when you have a noticeable amount of short frizzy hairs that are a different texture to the rest of your hair, this is likely due to hair breakage.

Broken hairs often have damaged ends, as they’re not cut cleanly from the rest of the strand. On a microscopic level, here’s what you might see:

damage to hair strands on the microscopic level
Left: hair shaft damage in permanently waved hair (10cm from the end of the hair strand). Right: Fibrillated end of a hair strand [1].

Most people won’t see their hair breakage in this level of detail, but you might see split or frayed ends, which are telltale signs of broken hair.

If your hair breakage becomes more extensive, you might start to see your scalp through your thinning hair:

Hair breakage leading to lack of density on the crown.
Hair breakage leading to lack of density on the crown.

Why is my hair frizzy and breaking off at the top?

There are lots of possible reasons why your hair has become frizzy and broken at the top. These include [1-2]:

  • Everyday haircare practices, including brushing and washing your hair
  • Exposure to rain, sunlight, and dirt
  • Towel-drying your hair
  • Heat styling your hair with straighteners or curling tongs
  • Hair dye and bleach
  • Chemical treatments like relaxers or perms

If you have longer hair, some breakage is more or less unavoidable. That’s why you need to get your hair trimmed regularly, to remove damaged ends and prevent further frizz.

Who is most likely to get frizzy and broken hair?

Here are three groups most likely to be affected by frizzy, broken hair on top of the head.

1. People with Afro hair types

Frizzy and broken hair is most common among people with Black and Afro hair types. Research suggests this is likely due to structural and grooming hair stressors that disproportionately affect this population [2-3].

The acute curls of Afro hair types make it more vulnerable to breakage and frizz, especially when combed. Sebum production is also high, leaving Black hair prone to excessive scalp oil and dry hair strands [4].

examples of natural afro hair

People with Black hair types are more likely to use chemical hair treatments like hair relaxers, which can damage hair.

2. People who wear tight hairstyles

styling is another key culprit for hair breakage. Scraping your hair back into tight styles leads to damage and hair loss around the hairline. This condition is known as traction alopecia, and it affects many people, including female celebrities with hair loss like Ariana Grande and Naomi Campbell:

celebrity examples of traction alopecia

As the hair grows back, it can be frizzy or wispy, depending on your natural hair texture. If you often wear your hair in tight hairstyles (including protective styles like braids or locs) try to give your hair a reprieve by wearing it loose a few days a week.

3. People who use heat or chemicals to style their hair

Regular use of heat or chemical styling on your hair can snap your strands, making them short and frizzy. Research suggests extensive use of chemical relaxers can even lead to hair thinning, as seen in this patient whose relaxer-induced frizz has widened her parting and led to dry, split ends [5]:

widened parting and split ends due to hair damage

Frizzy hair was the most common adverse effect reported by patients in this study, with two-thirds of patients saying they were affected [5].

Can you repair broken hair?

Unfortunately, once your hair has broken, there’s not much you can do to repair it. Certain hair products can flatten your hair cuticle and make your hair feel smoother and shinier, but you won’t be able to repair hair breakage [2].

That said, there are ways to tame frizz and minimise the risk of future breakage.

How to treat frizzy hair on top of your head

Here’s how you can treat frizzy hair and breakage around your scalp and crown.

1. Get your hair trimmed

Removing split ends can stop damage travelling up the hair strand and causing further problems. Scheduling regular trims at the salon is a great way to keep hair looking healthy and intact while shorter baby hairs grow in.

It’s a good idea to get your hair trimmed every 12 weeks or so to keep it in good condition. Learn more about split ends vs healthy hair.

2. Minimise chemical and heat treatments

Reduce how often you expose your hair to treatments like keratin for hair (also known as a Brazilian blowout), relaxers, and even home styling processes like straightening and curling your hair.

If you want to use heat or chemicals for styling, space out these treatments to give your hair time to recover between applications. Find out if semi-permanent hair dye is damaging to your hair.

3. Let your hair down

Avoid tying your hair back as much as possible. Tight ponytails, ballerina buns, and certain protective styles tug on your hair follicles and make your hair snap off around the hairline. So try to wear your hair loose as often as you can.

If you need to tie your hair back for work or other reasons, try not to tie it too tightly. Use scrunchies or hair claws to hold your hair in place, rather than tight elastics.

4. Moisturise your hair regularly

Dry hair is more prone to breakage and frizz, so apply an effective moisturiser regularly to keep your hair healthy.

These images show the effect of using a 1% coconut oil leave-in solution on your hair [6]:

results of using coconut oil on damaged hair

Coconut oil and other effective hydrating agents can smooth out your cuticles, reducing the appearance of frizz and flyaways.

5. Embrace your hair type

While it’s often tempting to try and break away from your natural hair type (especially if it’s difficult to tame), it’s usually better to work with your natural hair rather than trying to fight it.

Informational graphic showing the various forms of hair types

If your hair is naturally straight and fine, add volume by cutting in layers rather than using curling tongs. For those with natural curls, use serums to emphasise and smooth out your waves instead of using relaxers or straighteners.

6. Don’t overwork your hair

Everyone needs to brush and wash their hair, both of which can lead to hair damage over time. But there are some techniques you can use to minimise breakage and reduce frizz in your everyday styling practices:

  • Comb your hair when wet — Brushing dry hair can exacerbate frizz and flyaways, especially if your hair is curly.
  • Squeeze out excess water into a towel — After washing your hair, don’t vigorously rub your scalp with a towel. Instead, use the towel to gently squeeze out any excess water from your lengths.
  • Blowdry your hair in the direction it grows — Using a low heat setting, blowdry your hair along the hair shaft from root to tip. Avoid blowdrying it upwards or in different directions.
  • Gel down your baby hairs — If you have lots of baby hairs around your hairline, gelling them down can stop them becoming frizzy and uncontrolled throughout the day.

Is hair breakage the same as hair loss?

Hair breakage isn’t the same as hair loss, though they do have some symptoms in common. These include:

  • Hair thinning (especially around the crown and hairline).
  • Flyaways as hair grows in (vellus or baby hairs) or snaps off (broken terminal hairs).
  • Development of bald spots (this is more common with hair loss than breakage).

The key difference between broken hair and hair loss is that broken hair snaps off along the strand, while lost hair comes loose from the follicle and doesn’t regrow. Not all hair loss is permanent, but it’s likely you’ll see some bald or thinning patches at least temporarily if you have true hair loss.

You can tell the difference between breakage and hair loss by looking at the length of the hair coming away. Broken hair tends to be much shorter than lost hair (although if you have short hair this may be trickier to determine). In addition, breakage is much more likely to cause frizz on top of your head.

Treating hair breakage vs treating hair loss

Hair loss and breakage should be treated differently. Unlike breakage, which often requires patience and careful styling to fix, hair loss usually needs to be treated with specific hair loss solutions, such as Minoxidil and female hair transplants.

Women’s hair loss, in particular, is hard to treat, so you may need hair loss blood tests and other assessments to find the right female hair loss treatment for you.

Frizz is usually caused by hair breakage, rather than hair loss. But if you’re not sure what’s making your hair brittle and frizz-prone, book a consultation with our trichology team to get a diagnosis.

We specialise in treating female hair conditions, so we can help you understand and treat the cause of your hair breakage, reducing frizz and leaving your hair soft, sleek, and shiny.

What To Do About Frizzy Broken Hair On Top Of Your Head, Wimpole Clinic

Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)
Medically reviewed by Dr Kieran Dayah (GMC)Updated on July 5, 2024
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
Talk to a specialist ☎ 020 7935 1861.

Book a consultation

Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.