From split ends to frizz, there are a surprising number of reasons your hair can lose its luster. Some things—like using heat and chemicals—are in your control, but other things—like genetics and UV rays—are not. Whether you sport an all-natural ‘do’ or opt for products and tools, you’re not immune to wear and tear, which is why it pays to learn how to maximize good hair days and minimize damage. Here are 7 common types of hair damage and treatment tips for each.
Split ends are a sign that your hair needs a trim. Hairstylists recommend a cut, trim, or “dusting” every two months to keep split ends at bay, especially if your hair is thin.
Treatment tip: Try a split-end serum or hair mask between trims.
Color/chemical damage. Color and chemicals will stay in your hair until they grow or are cut out, so choosing the right colorist important. If your colorist understands your specific hair needs, your locks are less likely to suffer serious damage.
Treatment tip: Try a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner or deep conditioning hair mask between color visits.
Heat damage. Heat styling opens up the hair cuticle and can cause serious damage over time with regular use. You should always use a heat-protectant (up to 450 degrees F) before applying heat to your hair.
Treatment tip: Avoid applying heat on dirty hair, and try not to heat-style every day.
Mechanical damage. Braids, weaves, and tight ponytails, among other things, can stress the hair out. Even towel-drying or detangling knots too aggressively can cause significant damage. Anything that causes strain or tension to your scalp or strands contributes to breakage and weak spots, so it’s important to be aware of your styling habits.
Treatment tip: Avoid tight/constricting hairstyles. Be gentle when towel-drying, and consider using a detangling conditioner before brushing out your hair.
Hard water damage. Hard water contains a buildup of minerals, which when washing, can create a film on your hair, making it difficult for moisture to penetrate. As a result, hair can become dry and prone to breakage and frizziness.
Treatment tip: Try a clarifying shampoo to get rid of mineral buildup.
Sun damage is just as bad for your hair as it is for your skin. UV rays can damage the hair’s outer layer and have a bleaching effect if not properly protected. Sun-damaged hair may appear dry, frizzy, brittle, and/or discolored.
Treatment tip: Use a hair cream, spray, or oil that protects against UV rays.
Thinning or hair loss. A noticeable decrease in your hair’s thickness—thinner ponytails, wider parts, visible scalp—could mean your hair is thinning. Hair loss, on the other hand, refers to significant shedding when brushing your hair or showering. Both can happen due to stress, poor diet, aging, medications, autoimmune diseases, or allergic reactions.
Treatment tip: See a dermatologist. They can recommend supplements, topical treatments, alternative therapies, and lifestyle changes, among other things.
What do you do to keep your hair healthy? Let us know in the comments!