Everyone has experienced some form of hair breakage, whether it’s split ends, excessive shedding, or brittle strands that break off easily. It can be very frustrating, especially if you’re trying to grow out your hair into long and healthy locks.
It’s important to note that some hair loss is completely normal. The average person actually loses 60-100 hairs a day. Any more than this however is highly unusual. If your hair starts to look like the image below, it’s not growing healthily and definitely needs some attention.
Photo credit: dyehardbeautystudio.wordpress.com
So what exactly is hair breakage?
In order to understand hair breakage, you should have an understanding of hair porosity as well. Porosity is the ability of your hair strands to absorb and retain moisture. Hair with high porosity is not good because it absorbs too much water.
It also means that the cuticle (or the outer layer) of your hair shaft is raised, so your strands aren’t retaining any moisture. Low porosity is not good either because it means your cuticles are tightly closed and not letting any moisture in at all.
You should also understand your hair’s elasticity. Elasticity refers to your hair’s ability to return to its normal shape after being stretched. Hair with low elasticity is very likely to be damaged. Your goal should be to have hair with normal porosity and elasticity.
Photo source: amandabossi.wordpress.com
Hair breakage is usually a result of chemical treatments and too much heat. This means that blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons, dyes, bleaches, relaxers, and perms are all a risk. Vigorous brushing, as well as certain hairstyles that restrict and tighten the hair, can also be damaging.
For a lot of women, hair breakage doesn’t just occur at their ends. Breakage can also be mid-strand, or centralized in one specific spot on the scalp. The most common places that hair breakage occurs though is at the hairline, the back of the head, the crown of the head, or the nape of the neck. It’s important to pay close attention to these problem areas.
5 ways to tell you have hair breakage:
1. Check your ends
The easiest way to tell if you have breakage is to simply examine the ends of your individual strands of hair. If your ends split off into multiple little hairs, like the picture on the right, then you have some breakage.
2. Check for fallout
Another obvious sign of breakage is if you frequently find short, broken off pieces of hair on your bathroom counter or floor. Damaged hair snaps off and falls out very easily. Remember though, some hair loss is normal.
3. Check for tangled hair
Hair that is healthy combs easily. After taking a shower, is your hair extremely hard to comb through? If it’s constantly tangled then it could be damaged. Hair with breakage will clump together, making it harder to comb.
4. Check for a lack of moisture
Extreme dryness and a lack of moisture are clear signs of breakage. Healthy hair should have a natural shine to it. Try deep conditioning your hair and if it still looks dull after, then your hair is probably damaged.
5. Check for differences in texture
Check a few different sections of your hair, feeling for a rough, brittle texture. For example run a strand from the nape of your neck through your fingers. Then compare that texture to a strand of hair from your crown. You may have breakage if there is a noticeable difference in the hair's smoothness.
It’s not that difficult to tell if you have hair breakage. Now that you understand what it is and if you have it, you’ll be better equipped to take care of it. Stay tuned for our next article with tips for how to repair hair breakage! Subscribe to our newsletter to get more helpful content like this delivered directly to your inbox.