Many people are unaware that they have damaged hair, and don’t understand why their haircare routine doesn’t restore its volume and radiance. Here are some professional tips for how to tell if you have damaged hair, why that might be, and how you can restore your hair to its rightful glory.
Quick test: how to know whether you have damaged hair
Over at L’Oréal Professionnel, they have a few pro tips up our sleeve when it comes to identifying damaged hair.
1. Take a strand of hair between two fingers and gently pull at either end. Healthy, undamaged hair will stretch to one-third of its original length. If your hair snaps, it could be suffering from protein damage. If it stretches, but then doesn’t return to its original length (it curls or stays long) then this is a sign of dryness.
2. Take an inch-wide section of hair between two fingers and gently pull them down the hair, right to the ends. Concentrate on the texture: does it feel smooth all the way down? If you feel an uneven surface, with kinks and sections that snap off under tension, these are damaged hair warning signs.
So you think you’ve identified your damaged hair. But what’s the cause? The main reasons for damaged hair are chemical treatments, heated tools and permanent hair styling..
Chemically damaged hair
When it comes to lightening in particular, the hair proteins can suffer. The chemicals in the formula lift the cuticles of the fibre in order to deposit the colour and, over time, this can weaken the outer structure of the hair leaving the inner protein core vulnerable and fragile. This is why over-bleached hair can really suffer from breakage and split ends.
Heat damaged hair
Love your hair straighteners? Obsessed with your curling tongs? If you use heated styling tools multiple times a week, especially if you don’t use a heat protectant, you risk damaging your hair. Why? Because not only can excess heat actually burn the hair, but constantly forcing the hair into either straight or curled shapes (against its natural form) weakens the structure of the hair fibre over time. Eventually, you may even find that your hair no longer holds a curl, or looks flat and lacklustre after straightening.
Permanent hair styling
A step more serious than at-home styling, permanent hair treatments can really damage the hair if not carried out professionally, or too often. Permanent hair styles include long-lasting curls (aka the “perm”) or “relaxing” (permanent straightening). Both use chemicals and heat to force the hair into a certain shape. And, as we’ve learned above, chemicals + heat + repetition – professional advice = hair damage.
Other causes of damaged hair
The three major culprits for hair damage are listed above, but there are other reasons why you might be experiencing damaged hair.
We have a love-hate relationship with the sun. While soaking up vitamin D is great for a boost of happy hormones, UV rays can pose a real threat to both our skin and hair – especially coloured hair.
The environment – pollution and the weather in particular – can also affect the quality of our hair. Although, unless you live in an extreme weather climate, it’s unlikely this is the sole cause of your damaged hair.
Certain hair styling techniques can wreck havoc on hair quality and even cause thinning. Really tight braiding techniques, for example, can pull so hard on the roots that the hair is tugged out, and the follicle becomes damaged. A damaged follicle is less likely to produce a healthy, thick new hair fibre.
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