What is hair damage
Healthy looking hair has a smooth, tightly closed cuticle layer that protects the inner cortex from drying out. The cuticle layer allows hair to maintain its moisture balance, and gives hair its elasticity, strength and shine.
Hair damage can range from uplifted cuticle scales resulting in dullness and decreased shine to bubbled and brittle cuticles to complete removal of the cuticle layer. Damaged hair is dry, porous, weak and hard to manage.
- Hair looks dull and lack-luster
- Hair feels dry and brittle to the touch
- Hair is difficult to comb because it is always tangled
- Hair is flyaway and has split ends
- Hair is hard to manage and may be difficult to style
Try this test: take a single hair and curl it with your fingernail as if you are curling a ribbon. Drop the curled hair into a glass of water; it should almost immediately regain its original form. If it does not do so very quickly then your hair is damaged and will need to be deep conditioned.
Mechanical Damage: - Caused by excessive brushing, combing and improper cutting and styling
Hair is especially susceptible to damage when it is wet, so only a wide toothed plastic comb should be used to gently detangle wet hair.
Knots, tangles, back-combing and hair elastics can lift the cells of the cuticle layer, which can eventually lead to cortex exposure and hair breakage. Using conditioner every time hair is washed can help prevent this damage.
Cutting hair with blunt scissors or a razor can result in a cut with a long jagged edge which makes the hair more prone to split ends as the cuticle layer can peel away.
Combing or brushing can induce static in the hair, especially when the air is dry in winter. The hair will tend to tangle and have flyaways. Conditioners are formulated to help prevent static build up.
Heat/Thermal Damage: - Caused by overly hot or overuse of heat styling appliances that dry out hair and cause flyaways. Heat appliances such as blow-dryers or curling irons can over dry the hair. Hair requires a natural level of moisture to remain soft and flexible. Over dry hair will be brittle and susceptible to breakage. Leave-in treatments can help protect hair from heat damage.
Heat from appliances like curling or flat irons soften the keratin of the hair (the principal protein in hair). Too much heat can actually cause the water in the hair to boil, forming tiny bubbles of steam inside the softened hair shaft and causing the cuticle scales to permanently bubble. The hair becomes brittle and weak and may break off. Keep hair dryers at least 10-15 centimeters from the hair, and constantly moving to avoid over-heating the hair.
Chemical Damage: - Caused by chemical disruption of the hair structure which can leave hair dry and brittle.
Hair colorants lift the cuticle so that the dyes can enter the hair cortex. The process can also dry out the hair. Using a deep treatment weekly can help to re-moisturize the hair and help prevent the ends from becoming dried out.
Perms break the sulphur bonds in hair and re-form them in a new shape. This process can disrupt the cuticle and dry out the hair. Using a leave in treatment before processing can help protect the hair from damage.
Environmental damage: - Caused by sun, wind and cold drying out and/or tangling the hair.
Ultra violet rays from direct sunlight break down the keratin and melanin in the cuticle and cortex of the hair. This weakens, lightens and dries out hair over time. Regular use of conditioners and deep treatments can help keep hair hydrated.
Wind tangles the hair and causes individual strands to rub together. This can cause enough friction to damage the cuticle layer, weakening the hair shaft and leading to breakage. Using conditioners and leave-in treatments reduces the friction between strands and helps prevent tangles.
Cold weather dries out hair more quickly because there is less humidity in the air. This dryness, combined with the cold makes hair brittle and susceptible to breakage. Weekly deep treatments can help to protect hair from being dried out.
Aging: - Caused by the natural wear and tear hair experiences as it ages.
When a new hair first grows it has 10-12 layers of cuticle scales, these are gradually worn away over time. At the ends of the hair the cuticle may be worn away altogether exposing the cortex. When this happens the only cure is to trim the hair. Regular use of conditioners and treatments can help maintain the cuticle and allow hair to grow longer between trims.
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