Each hair goes through a lot during the months or years before it’s shed. Fortunately, your hair is resilient, but it has its limits. Regular harsh treatment breaks down the hair’s structure and substance, and when this happens, your tresses look anything but healthy.
What causes hair damage?
If you’re healthy and eat well, your hair condition is largely determined by weathering. Natural weathering results from everyday grooming activities such as washing, brushing, and combing. Harsher processes like heat styling, bleaching, straightening, and perming lead to accelerated weathering. Sunlight and pollution also pose threats.
Weathering is a problem because it degrades your hair’s protective outer layers and exposes the vulnerable inner region to further damage. Consequently, hair loses volume, strength, and shine. Here are eight ways to avoid hair damage…
1. Have your hair cut regularly by a professional hair stylist.
Regular professional cuts will remove split ends and keep your style looking terrific. Your stylist will also be able to assess your hair and advise you on the best products or treatments to protect your locks.
If you trim your hair yourself, use sharp scissors. Blunt scissors cut hair with a jagged edge, leaving the ends susceptible to damage; for the same reason, don’t use a razor.
2. Choose a suitable shampoo.
Modern shampoos are designed for frequent washing, and most products will not only clean, but also condition and protect your hair. Therefore, frequent washing isn’t the problem it once was when shampoos contained harsher ingredients. Choose your shampoo to suit your needs. Whatever your hair type–curly or straight, dry or greasy, dyed or bleached–there are products out there for you.
3. Use a conditioner.
Conditioners offer a range of benefits, including a higher level of care and protection than shampoos can provide. They smooth the hair surface, decrease static charge, enhance shine, reduce friction, and make your hair more manageable.
4. Comb or brush your hair with care.
Excessive combing or brushing tends to damage the hair’s protective cuticle layers. This increases friction between hairs, which in turn promotes tangling and breakage. Wet hair also has greater friction than dry, so groom it gently, preferably with a wide-toothed comb. Use a non-metallic comb on dry hair, to avoid creating static charge that leads to fly-away hair and frizz.
5. Protect your hair from sun damage.
The UV in sunlight attacks the protective fatty layer of your hair and even its protein structure. It also causes bleaching. Use shampoos and conditioners with protective agents to help minimize sun damage and maintain color.
For more info on this, see video blogger, Cassandre Beccai’s advice on preventing damage to your valuable hair during sunny, swimmy days! Click “Play”!
6. Don’t dry hair too quickly.
Hair dryers remove water from the surface and interior of the hair, causing a temporary chemical connection that holds your style in place. The removal of internal water also makes hair less susceptible to humidity and frizz. However, fast drying can cause cracks in the outer cuticle as it contracts around the still-moist interior.
This video, sponsored by our old friends at Head & Shoulders (that’s right, the dandruff shampoo) summarizes the process extremely we
7. Use flat irons at moderate temperature settings.
The hottest flat irons can break chemical bonds in hair or even melt its protein. On the plus side, hair straighteners used on lower settings can help reduce damage due to tangling, because they align hair and make it easier to comb. Closely monitor your hair’s condition, or ask your stylist to look out for signs of damage, if you use flat irons frequently.
8. Always have chemical treatments applied at a salon.
Common chemical processes, such as coloring, bleaching, and straightening, damage or remove the hair’s outer fatty layer, exposing the cuticle. Chemically damaged hair is more porous and has greater friction than healthy hair, so it becomes dull, dry, weak, and lifeless. Conditioners may help, but they have limited effectiveness because their active ingredients can’t adhere well to severely damaged hair. Professional stylists and colorists know how to apply chemical treatments to avoid excessive damage.
We threw in the following video because, well, this guy, Anthony DeLuca, has an amazing head of hair! We don’t think you could do anything to have hair like him — it’s almost freaky! Oh and also, he has some great tips. Take a look.
Hair damage happens over time, and once damaged, it’s often irreparable. Treatments can mask poor hair quality to a point, but if you want naturally beautiful hair, you should aim to avoid harm in the first place. Treat your hair well and it will continue to look good throughout its life.