How to Reduce Excessive Hair Breakage

May 5, 2008 by Kristie Leong MD  
Published in Hair

Hair breakage is a common, but frustrating, problem. Here’s what to do if your hair is breaking excessively.

Are you experiencing excessive hair breakage? One way to find out is to place a large, towel in your lap in a color that contrasts with your hair color. If you have blonde hair, use a black towel, if dark haired, a white one. Brush your hair over the towel and for several minutes. Do you notice broken or damaged strands of hair adhering to the towel? Hair tends to break in areas where it becomes weakened and brittle. Hair can be become brittle for variety of reasons, most of which have to do with overmanipulation of the hair through mechanical or chemicals means.

Some possible causes of hair breakage include excessive perming and overprocessing the hair when coloring. The combination of perming and bleaching the hair can be devastating in terms of its effect on hair structure. Other causes of hair breakage include excessive use of hot appliances and certain medical conditions. If you’re not using hot appliances or chemical treatments on your hair and you notice breakage, it’s best to see your dermatologist to rule out an underlying medical etiology. Here are some tips on reducing excessive hair breakage:

Reevaluate Your Use of Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments are probably the biggest culprit when it comes to hair breakage. When you lighten your hair more than two shades, you experience a certain degree of damage to the hair. If you combine this with perming or chemical straightening, only the strongest hair will escape significant breakage. If you’re both coloring and perming your hair, make a decision to choose one or the other. If you’re lightening your hair more than two shades, seek the advice of a hair color professional who may be able to help you achieve your desired hair color using less damaging products. Having a professional apply your hair color can also help to reduce application of color over areas that have already been lightened, resulting in even more damage.

Reduce Stress on the Hair Shaft

Do you wear your hair in a ponytail or braids? This puts additional stress on the hair shaft which can promote breakage, particularly if you sleep with your hair in one of these styles. Let your hair free at night and try to limit the number of times you pull it back tightly or secure it with a band. If you’re using an inexpensive, synthetic hairbrush, switch to one with natural bristles. Dismiss the idea that you need to brush your hair daily to maintain its health, excessive brushing can weaken the hair shaft. If you use a comb, make sure it’s one with large, wide teeth.

Reevaluate Your Diet

If you’re eating a substandard diet devoid of vitamins, and minerals and aren’t getting enough protein on a daily basis, the integrity of your hair can suffer resulting in breakage. Eating frequent fast food meals can result in nutrient deficiencies that can promote hair weakness. Make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need on a daily basis. Don’t depend on hair vitamins to make up for your lack of a healthy diet.

Watch What You Put on Your Hair

In the summer, wear a bathing cap when you swim in a chlorinated pool and put on a hat if you’ll be out in the sun for long periods of time. Choose a shampoo designed for brittle, damaged hair and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. Remember to do a hot oil or deep conditioning treatment once a week. Be sure to visit your hair stylist every four to six weeks to trim off the damaged, split ends.

Give these tips a try and your hair can truly be your crowning glory.

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One Response to “How to Reduce Excessive Hair Breakage”
  1. denise Says:

    Can estrogen replacement cause hair to be brittle and break off leaving quarter sized bald spots in the front of my hair?


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