We all know beauty is on the inside. That also applies to our hair. When it is healthy and well supplied with nutrients, it looks beautiful! But what if it doesn't look good from the outside? What if hair breakage for instance interferes with a supple, glossy, flawless mane? Then we have to find the causes and counteract them with effective measures – for a lasting, beautiful look. Time for our anti-hair-breakage advice:
What is Hair Breakage?
First of all, time to clear up a common misconception. Many believe that hair breakage and split ends are one and the same. Not so: split ends mean the tips of the hair are damaged and starting to crack. Hair breakage on the other hand means more pronounced structural damage. It can be recognised by small white dots, indicating that hair is partially fractured or broken. These fractures can occur not just at the ends but anywhere in the hair, giving it a brittle and strawy look overall. In principle hair breakage can affect hair of any length and type. However, long and/or sensitive hair is most often affected since it is more susceptible (for instance due to age) and has a larger exposed surface.
What are the Causes?
Hair breakage usually develops due to external influences that dry out the hair, reduce its flexibility and attack the surface structure. In addition to environmental factors, these include styling stress and improper care. A brief overview of causes:
- Excessive or incorrect brushing, teasing, rough combing of wet hair
- Strong pressure, for instance from hair elastics or hair clips
- Frequent colouring, since the hair cuticle is opened in the process
- Chemical treatments such as a permanent wave
- Heat: direct sunlight, but also styling tools such as a hair dryer, curling iron or straightening iron
- Friction: knitted scarves and sweaters in particular can roughen the hair fibres
Unfortunately, the damage is irreparable once the hair has broken open. But no worries, initial superficial damage is easy to fix and you can prevent hair breakage with proper care. How it's done:
At the tips: Have the ends trimmed every six to eight weeks. This removes tips that have broken off, making the hair look fresh and healthy again. Since the tips and lengths are quasi the oldest part of our hair and have already been through a lot, they need extra care. Hair end fluids and oils moisturise dry tips, supply important nutrients and repair the ends.
Keratin care: Ask your hairdresser about keratin treatment. This is a smoothing procedure from Brazil that enriches the hair with keratin. The elastic protein is the natural main component of our hair and rebuilds it from the inside. The result: strong hair that is smooth and supple. By the way, the keratin treatment is suitable for all hair types and works for up to four months.
Another tip for the daily beauty program: you can get shampoos and rinses that contain keratin and protect against hair breakage with regular application.
Put on a mask: Pamper your hair with extra care in the form of a hair mask now and then. This intensive cream contains active repair ingredients that make your hair healthy and supple again. Most masks also contain rich oils that supply moisture.
Towel handling: You should always dab but never rub wet hair to dry it. Hair swollen with water can break more easily and should therefore be handled with care. Expert tip: instead of regular towels that can roughen the cuticle, hair professionals swear by simple (discarded) cotton shirts. They are gentle and leave moisture in the hair.
More than hot air: Use a hair dryer with ion technology. It does not strip as much moisture from your hair because the ions split the water molecules in the hair into smaller fragments. The outer cuticle of the hair is sealed in the process as well, which also lends added gloss.
Clever styling with ceramics: When you buy a straightening iron or curling iron, be sure to choose a device with a ceramic coating. This ensures that the heat is distributed more evenly, and the styling tool glides more gently through the hair for less stress.
Good move: Pull the brush carefully through your hair and always begin at the tips. This avoids pulling already tangled strands even tighter and tearing small hair knots. The best choice for your hair: natural bristles (wild boar for instance).
Keep a cool head: Always apply heat protectant to your hair before blow drying and styling. This is a must! High temperatures can damage the structure and promote hair breakage. If your styling tools have more than one heat setting, taking it down a notch is also a good idea.