breaking hair with brush

Understanding how and why hair breakage occurs will help us better understand just how to repair our hair and make it healthier. “Hair is a fiber, much like wool,” says Dr. P. Mirmirani, a staff dermatologist at the Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo CA, “it’s bundled together tightly in the middle and protected on the outside by the cuticle.”

The main causes of hair damage come from, of course, the chemicals we apply.

Things like bleaching and color, highlights, perms, chemical straightening and relaxing. These processes make for a weaker cuticle and break down the strength of the hair. They also reduce the amount of sheen and natural oils that help give our hair that healthy looking vibrance.

Styling is also a part of why our hair suffers from breakage. Too many braids, ponytails, brushing, the pulling and tugging on  your hair frequently, can all make for permanent damage. Extensions and weaves will also cause damage.

So how do we save our hair?

For most women, cutting out all of these above processes is impossible. However, we can manage our way back to better, healthier hair by cutting down on the amount of styling. And when you do find it necessary to use heat on your hair, always apply a product to your hair to protect it. If you use extensions, be sure they are not too tight, you do not want to damage your roots.

If you find that your hair is truly damaged, you may have to start over by getting a good, healthy cut and simple hair care routine. Dr Kiran Lohia, MD, says to shampoo at most 2-3 days per week with a sulfate free shampoo--depending on your activity and hair type. Always follow with conditioner, and apply extra to your ends. If you can, air dry, otherwise, use a product to protect your hair from damage. If you use a diffuser, try to dry hair just 20-30% and allow the rest to air dry. Make sure you use a healthy, deep conditioning treatment on your hair and scalp, like coconut or olive oil, at least 2x per week for your locks.