3 Common Types of Hair Damage—And How to Treat Them

By Ching Dee for Belo Medical Group on January 17, 2021

There’s a reason our hair is called our crowning glory. It’s the first thing we notice, and it makes quite an impression, so it’s no wonder the haircare industry is always in demand. We want to keep our locks healthy and lustrous, but there are times when hair damage is almost impossible to avoid, especially in a tropical country. 

The experts at Healthline say that in some cases, “the only real cure [for hair damage] is time, a pair of shears, and taking steps to prevent new damage.” So if you’re feeling a little worried about your hair’s current state, relax. We’re sharing the most common types of hair damage and how it can be remedied, so you can address it right away at the first sign of damage. 

  1. Split Ends

Split ends are the most common type of hair damage, and it’s also a tell-tale sign that your hair needs more TLC. According to hair trends website Head Curve, split ends are caused by several factors, like “excessive styling that involves repeated brushing and detangling and the use of hair setting products, the heat from straightening or curling tools, the friction which your hair ends are exposed to [like rubbing against shirts, scarves, hats, towels, or pillowcases], climate and other environmental conditions, your health and diet.”

According to Allure, the easiest and best way to address split ends is a quick snip and a regular trim every two months. Says New York professional colorist Rachel Bodt to the magazine, “It doesn’t have to be a significant haircut to make a difference.” It’s best to address split ends right away, because they only get worse over time, making strands prone to tangling and breakage. 

After getting your hair trimmed, here are some ways to prevent split ends in the future: avoid rubbing your hair with a rough towel when drying, use microfiber towels and squeeze your hair dry; use a deep conditioner every two weeks; use satin or silk pillowcases to minimize friction; minimize use of heating tools on your hair; and invest in gentler hair products, like those fortified with peptides.

  1. Hair thinning, hair fall, and hair loss

While different, these three are interconnected: hair thinning and hair fall eventually lead to hair loss, which are caused by several factors. 

According to the same Allure article featuring Dr. Francesca Fusco, board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, “When a patient refers to thinning, they’re usually noticing less hair, thinner ponytails, a visibly wider part, and more of their scalp showing. When referring to hair loss they usually report noticeable increase of shedding… Thinning of the individual hair shaft with no visible shedding is referred to as ‘miniaturization’ and is seen in female pattern thinning, also known as androgenetic alopecia.” 

Meanwhile, hair loss could be more serious and may be caused by “dozens of things that can include underlying endocrine [hormone] issues, stress, medication, post-partum, dandruff, psoriasis, autoimmune diseases, nutritional deficiencies, allergic reactions, and more.” Even hairdos can cause hair loss, like tight braids and ponytails. “Pulling at the hair, or causing traction, can weaken the hair and follicle, contributing to hair loss.”

There are several ways to address these concerns. There are topical solutions that are conveniently available, like the Pelo Baum Hair Revitalizing Solution, which is “clinically proven to prevent hair loss and to promote longer, healthier and thicker hair growth [using] cutting-edge biomimetic peptides that stimulate hair cells and ensure healthy roots.” The solution contains various active ingredients to help restore and promote hair growth, including three kinds of peptides, vitamins, and natural plant extracts. 

There are also devices that can physically stimulate the hair follicles to produce more hair, like the Theradome Pro (the one Dr. Vicki Belo is using in the video above). It’s a “state-of-the-art helmet device [which] contains 80 proprietary lasers that deliver the optimal wavelength for the deepest penetration into the scalp of up to 5mm into the hair follicle, ensuring optimal hair growth. The Theradome helps increase blood flow in the scalp, allowing better absorption of the nutrients your hair needs to stop hair loss, thicken existing hair, and promote new hair growth.”

According to a GQ interview with Dr. Michele Green, “one of NYC’s most in-demand dermatologists,” preventing hair loss can also be done by taking supplements with biotin, b complex, zinc, collagen, saw palmetto, and ashwagandha. Changing certain habits (like making sure you only shampoo twice a week and rinse and condition daily, and improving one’s diet by adding food rich in protein, vitamin A, omega fatty acids, and vitamin E) and learning how to minimize stress can drastically affect your hair’s health. It may be difficult to stay away from stress, but you can always teach yourself to react better in stressful situations. Try breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or listening to soothing music, watching some light TV, or taking a quick walk (in a mask, of course).

  1. Dull, dry, frizzy hair

Frizzy and unruly hair can be due to many things, but usually there are external factors involved: chemicals, heat, mechanical, and even water used for showering.

Chemical damage usually comes from various hair treatments like perming, straightening, or dyeing and bleaching. Undoing some damage from these treatments will take time. But some techniques are worth the try if you don’t want to get a haircut. Deep conditioning treatments can help bring back the moisture to your hair, while home remedies like olive oil and canola oil mask may also work. For those who’d like to color their hair, James Corbett of James Corbett Studio in New York City has the following suggestions, “Choose a colorist who puts the integrity of your hair first… Some things that make a difference are proper use of color chemicals, not using too strong of a developer for the texture of the hair being colored, and avoiding unnecessary overlap of color or bleach on previously colored hair. I often do a conditioning treatment instead of a gloss, because gloss still has peroxide in it.”

Heat damage is caused by sources of heat like curling irons, straighteners, and even the sun! According to Los Angeles stylist Graham Nation in an Allure interview, “Heat opens the cuticles, allowing the hair to dry and shape when you are blow-drying or curling your hair… Too much can damage it, though — so using a heat protectant is necessary every time.” Heat’s drastic effect on hair is irreversible, but there are ways to make it better without chopping off the damaged parts, like investing in a protein treatment or using a heat-protective hair mask before styling your hair with said tools. According to the same Allure article, your hair protectant should protect your hair from styling heat up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mechanical damage refers to physical effects of excessive friction from vigorous brushing, rubbing your hair with rough towels, and even tight hairdos, which put a lot of tension on your hair and scalp. As suggested by Head Curve, this can be easily remedied by brushing your hair slowly when it’s dry and using a microfiber towel to squeeze (not rub) off the excess water from your hair. Protein masks can also help bring back the moisture and strength your hair needs.

For more products that can help protect and improve your crowning glory, check out the Belo Shop

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