Color, highlights, extensions, perms: in your quest to become beautiful, you might be sacrificing your hair. You’ll find a list of ways and habits that might be damaging your hair.
To better understand your hair, here is a quick discussion on the anatomy of the hair. The hair is fiber, similar to wool. It is tightly bundled in the middle.
The hair has three layers:
Medulla – inner fiber
Cortex – surrounds the medulla
Cuticle – protective outer layer
Your hair grows out of a follicle about ¼ inch every month. It continues to grow for up to 6 years, after which hair falls out to make way for a new hair. This is the natural cycle for hair growth. The length of your hair depends on how long its growing cycle lasts. For instance, if it’s just 2 years instead of 6, your hair will peak at a shorter length. This is the same with the thickness of the hair – hair grows out of large follicles; smaller follicles produce thinner hair.
Over styling damages the cuticle. The inner core is exposed, which makes your hair dull and dry.
What are the causes of hair damage?
- Bleaching – Chemicals penetrate the hair during bleaching. It removes the hair’s natural pigment. Bleaching changes the structure of your hair, making it more susceptible to damage. The process weakens the hair. Blow drying and constant styling will result to breakage, split ends, and dull hair.
- Perming – This is a process that uses chemicals to either straighten or curl the hair. Perming breaks the inner bonds of your hair and then re-forms them together in a totally different way. It also weakens the hair, resulting to dullness. Constant perming renders the hair brittle and dry, whether curly or straight. It robs the hair of its natural moisture.
- Hair coloring and highlights – While semi-permanent dyes and highlights are not as damaging as the chemicals used in bleaching and perming, they still have damaging effects on your hair. The process will likewise create changes in the hair’s inner structure, giving you dry, coarse hair. It gets worst when you frequently color the hair to hide gray hair.
- Frequent use of blow dryer and straightening iron – Applying heat creates temporary changes to the hydrogen bonds that hold the hair together. Regular blow drying and straightening the hair with flat iron results in dry, dull hair. The temporary changes will eventually lead to more permanent damage if you use either of these styling tools every day.
Blow drying is bad enough, but blow drying your hair when its still dripping wet is worse. It is best to air-dry your hair a little before applying heat. Blot (never rub) your wet hair with a towel, it would even be better if you have a microfiber towel.
An important note on blow-drying: do not “stretch” your hair with a brush as you blow-dry because it results in further breakage and split ends. Replace your big, round hairbrush for one that has smooth, synthetic bristles. Also, maintain at least a 2-inch distance between your hair and the nozzle of the blow dryer.
- Frequently tying hair (ponytails) and braiding – When hair is always pulled back tightly into ponytails or in braids, the hair strands will break. Permanent damage may result if this kind of styling is done every day. Putting wet hair into ponytails is more damaging as it results in weak and fragile hair strands.
- Too much hair brushing – One popular myth that you might have heard from your mom is to brush your hair 100 times before going to bed. Doing so gives you soft and shiny hair, they’d say. But, this is just a myth and it has no scientific basis. Over brushing actually causes breakage and split ends. Too much brushing actually causes friction that the hair cannot handle.
Using cheap combs and brushes does not help as well. These may cause tangles and snags that would be difficult to untangle which may result to split ends and broken hair.
- Too much use of shampoo – The main purpose of washing the hair and shampooing it to remove oil and dirt buildup on the hair and cleanse the scalp. However, improper washing may wash away the natural moisture of the hair resulting to dryness and coarseness. The use of shampoo to cleanse your hair and scalp is good practice, and it is backed by research and studies. But, too much of a good thing won’t benefit your hair.
Hair experts do not recommend shampooing the hair every day, a good practice would be twice a week only.
The use of hair conditioner is recommended every day, though. If you can’t go or don’t have the budget to get regular treatments at a salon regularly, you can just get a good deep conditioner. Your daily conditioner may be beneficial but once in a while you should use deep conditioner, which is more concentrated and leaves behind a smoothing film on the hair that won’t wash off for days.
- Adding extensions and weaves – Hair extensions and weaves have the same effect on the hair like ponytails and braids. Constant use of extensions and weaves will result in brittleness and breakage. If you begin to feel discomfort or the scalp begins to hurt, it means that the hair roots are subjected to too much pressure. The best remedy is to keep it loose or just have the patience to grow your hair naturally rather than opting for instant length.
- Using cotton pillowcases – You better believe it your cotton pillowcase might be one of the causes why you’re experiencing hair breakage. There is friction between your hair and the cotton fabric while you sleep. You might be better off if you use a pillowcase in satin or silk as it may cut down the snagging while you sleep.
- Towel-drying – may not be a good practice. Never rub the towel against your hair to dry it, instead dab (blot) the hair with it. Also, ditch the practice of bundling the towel up as a turban to dry your hair. Invest in a good-quality microfiber towel. Or you can simply use an old but soft T-shirt or a paper towel because of are more absorbent and safer to use to your hair.
- Skipping your regular hair cut schedules – Even if you are trying to grow your hair long, it is still a good practice to go on regular haircuts to keep hair healthy. Remember that not getting a haircut will not prevent split ends and breakage, so, get your hair trimmed regularly.
- Unhealthy eating habits – Your hair needs protein to keep it strong and healthy. It also helps repair the weak spots in the hair shaft, preventing breakage. However, too much protein may cause brittleness and too much moisture on the hair will make hair strands too flexible. So, it is important that everything you eat is in the right balance.
Correcting the Damage
Here is an easy DIY recipe to help repair your hair damaged by bleaching. You can use this as conditioner twice a week or as needed.
Coconut Oil and Beer Hair Mask
- ½ cup brewed breed (made from hops, take note that commercial beers have chemicals and additives that may not be beneficial to your hair)
- ½ cup coconut oil
- In a mixing bowl, pour the brewed beer and let it sit until it is de-carbonated.
- When beer is ready you can add in the coconut oil. Mix. (It is okay if the beer and coconut does not mix well. There is no emulsifier, but it’s fine.)
- Apply the beer and coconut oil mixture to your hair starting from the ends to the roots.
- Massage gently and leave it on for at least 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, wash with shampoo and rinse thoroughly with cool water.
Beer is definitely not your typical ingredient to make a hair mask. You might even think it is not the most glamorous thing to use on your hair. However, beer contains malt and hops that are rich in proteins. Beer is an unlikely ingredient that will give your hair the nourishing it needs to correct the damages caused by repeated hair bleaching.
Additionally, beer contains some maltose and sucrose sugars that will help tighten the cuticles of the hair. Through constant use, it will bring back the natural shine of the hair.
Coconut oil has long been used to a lot of things and is normally used to keep hair healthy. Coconut oil helps strengthen the hair and renew its vitality, in addition to keeping it moisturized.
You’ll find additional DIY recipes here, which are easy to prepare and use.
The hair is one of the first things that other people see. It adds to one’s overall beauty, hence, a lot of people, especially women, spend time and money to make the hair more beautiful. However, it is not enough to make it beautiful, you also have to ensure that the hair is healthy, and we hope that this article has helped you in that aspect.