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How to Prevent Hair Breakage

The bits and pieces of hair that decorate your bathroom floor after a shower or the visible forks developing at the end of your tresses come as a result of hair breakage. While many myths exist regarding hair care, could the 100 strokes of brushing you may have relied on for years cause your hair to break or is it the extra-hold conditioning hair gel you use each morning? These questions and more are answered as you explore the ins and outs of hair breakage.

There are two different types of hair breakage – both involving hair that has thickened or weakened at certain points, opening a gateway for breakage to occur. Some people encounter hair breakage that starts at the scalp, which can hinder their ability to enjoy a full head of hair. When hair breaks at the ends, a person is experiencing “split ends,” which can continue all the way up to the hair shaft when not treated.

The most common type of hair breakage is considered split ends, which received the medical term of trichoptilosis, as stated in the Dorland’s Pocket Medical Dictionary printed in 1968 [1]. The only way to repair this occurrence is to trim the hair.

Much similar to skin, your hair consists of many layers. The outer layer is referred to as the cuticle and is comprised of numerous cells positioned on top of one another that are no longer living. This layer serves as protection for the cortex, the middle layer of hair showcasing long coils of protein that are considered the dominating structure of hair. Once the protection of the cuticle has worn away, hair breakage and split ends are the result. In order to combat the dryness that leads to a higher level of breakage, it is important to keep hair moist and follow healthy hair care, which drastically reduces the chances of breakage.

Causes of Hair Breakage

a) Chemical Treatments:

The hair treatments that so many people rely on to keep the gray away, change hair color, straighten locks, or drive them curly contain chemicals that become the main cause of hair breakage.

b) Hair Care Overload:

Too much brushing or combing of the hair can cause hair to break, especially when it is brittle and dry. People who excessively relax their hair, tint, highlight, bleach, or constantly blow dry will experience damaged hair that leads to breakage.

c) Poor Hair Habits:

Some individuals also make the mistake of brushing or combing their hair in an improper manner. This is seen in those who use a fine-toothed comb to detangle thick or curly hair. Poor habits like frequently teasing hair will also cause breakage.

d) Hair Styles:

The hair extensions and braids that sometimes take hours to complete can cause breakage because of the constant tugging at the hair follicle. All too often, people make the mistake of keeping these types of hairstyles in for too long or attempt to remove hair pieces on their own without the help of a professional. It is also suggested to limit the ponytails, braids, and tight buns you may choose as your favorite hairstyle. Varying hair-dos can give tresses a much-needed rest in between styles.

e) Medical Issues:

In some cases, hair breakage occurs when a medical problem is causing locks to dry out, weaken, and become brittle. If you are experiencing hair breakage and you do not use chemicals or styling products, it is highly suggested to pay a visit to a doctor.

f) Idiopathic Trichoclasia:

With this rare condition, oval patches form on the scalp where at a closer glance reveals broken hair shafts.

g) Monilethrix [3]:

This condition (also known as beaded hair) is seen in children, whose hair shafts experience swelling – causing a fragile state that leads to breakage. Usually, this is an inherited disorder that also affects other members of the family. Luckily, this condition will fade away after puberty.

h) Trichorrhexis Nodosa:

This condition causes hair shafts to experience swelling, which leads to breakage that leaves behind frayed ends. This condition is often caused by too much heat, hair dyes, and exposure to hydrogen peroxide.

i) Unhealthy Diet:

If you follow a diet plan that does not deliver an appropriate amount of essential vitamins and minerals that hair requires to stay healthy, strands will become brittle and dry – leading to breakage. It is important to consume food that contains high levels of vitamin-B complex, vitamin B-6, beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, magnesium, sulfur, and zinc.

How to Prevent Hair Breakage

To prevent hair breakage, it is important to understand the type and texture of hair you possess in order to make the proper hair care decisions. It is suggested to also become familiar with the following tips, which can help keep hair healthy:

a) Avoid Plastic:

Hair breakage and split ends can occur with using a vent brush, which is made with plastic bristles that causes damage by ripping out strands of hair. Instead, opt for a wide brush for dry hair. When your hair is wet, consider a wide-tooth comb.

b) Limit Shampooing:

Daily shampooing can cause dry hair, which increases the risk of split ends and breakage. However, you may condition your hair on a daily basis in an attempt to keep hair moist. Leave-in conditions are known to work wonders.

c) Blow Drying Techniques:

Allow your hair to breathe and control the level of heat that comes in contact with your scalp when you hold the hairdryer at least four inches from the hair. Excessive heat can cause hair breakage because it weakens healthy hair [4].

d) Routine Trims:

Fight split ends by trimming hair on a routine basis. It is important to use sharp scissors and avoid razors that can cause excess damage to the hair.

e) Choose Hair Accessories Wisely:

Instead of pulling back hair with a clip made of plastic or metal, consider the hair accessories that cause less damage and consist of an elastic band or fabric.

f) Brushing Techniques:

The ol’ saying associated with brushing your hair with 100 strokes per day is a myth that can cause a lot of damage to the hair cuticle. When you suffer from hair breakage and split ends, using a brush actually contributes to the problem. Combs are known to produce better results than a brush in this case.

g) Choose Hair Styles Wisely:

If you are susceptible to hair breakage, it isn’t a good idea to suffer hair loss by pulling on the hair with tight hair styles, such as braids and slicked back ponytails.

h) Avoid or Limit Perms:

The destruction of ends and elevated hair breakage often takes place with a perm – a major reason behind numerous hair issues.

i) Color Treatments:

If you must choose a color treatment, it is suggested to know your choices and what they can do to your hair. Permanent hair coloring stays in the hair until it grows out, while semi-permanent selections will wash out after awhile. Choosing a semi-permanent coloring treatment, such as henna, can cause less damage to the hair and lessens the threat of hair loss.

j) Aloe Vera:

To promote healthy hair and create less breakage, the Native Americans have been using aloe vera to heal hair for many years. An example of a decent prevention treatment is to combine aloe vera gel, wheat germ oil, and coconut milk, which is then used as a shampoo.

k) Henna:

To maintain healthy hair, choose henna (natural clay conditioner), which aids in the healing of the hair shaft by rejuvenating and sealing the cuticle. Not only can you combat hair breakage, but also gain a lustier shine.

l) Take Supplements:

There are plenty of vitamins and nutrients that increase the health of hair in order to prevent breakage. Coupled with a well-balanced diet, you may take the following vitamins to boost strong hair: vitamin B-complex (50 mg); vitamin B-6 (50 mg); vitamin C with bioflavonoids (1 to 2 grams daily); vitamin E (400 to 800 IU daily); beta-carotene (10,000 to 15,000 IU); and flaxseed oil (1 tablespoon or one tablet). You may also add a daily dose of magnesium, sulfur, and zinc to your diet. Usually, a multi-vitamin can help fulfill these recommendations.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Split_ends
[2] http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_body/take_care/hair_care.html
[3] http://www.hairscientists.org/hair-breakage.htm
[4] http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/treasuredlocks/hair-loss-growth.pdf

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One Response to “How to Prevent Hair Breakage”

  1. Alejandra Cisneros
    March 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    When I straighten My hair will it damage my hair or will i have split ends?

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