Growing your hair longer but breakages keep getting you down? Hair breakage is worrying but it doesn’t usually signal a severe underlying problem. It’s also relatively easy to fix once you know which products and treatments to use.
Read on to learn all about hair breakage and ways to help your hair grow longer and healthier.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
Hair is strong but not invincible. Many things can cause damage to your hair and this damage gradually builds up over time. The longer the hairstyle you prefer to wear, the harder it becomes to keep your hair healthy and snap-free simply because it will be exposed to more stress over time.
This stress includes:
- Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun
- Chlorine and saltwater
- Mechanical stress
- Nutrient deficiencies
The strength of your hair comes from a structural protein called keratin. Bonds form between individual keratin proteins within your hair and these bonds help to give it additional strength. A layer of scales called the cuticle layer protects the outer surface and the protein inside.
Chemical processes like dye, bleach, perms, and relaxers are the most damaging ordeal you can put your hair through, yet the damage from the sun’s UV radiation can rival these sources over time. That’s because all of these damage sources directly attack the keratin that your hair is made out of.
However, even something as simple as towel-drying your hair a little too roughly or brushing it while wet can cause a tiny amount of damage to its structure or the cuticle layer. While insignificant at first, this damage eventually adds up if you plan to grow your hair long.
For this reason, it’s important to prevent damage of all kinds and to maintain the health of your hair. Doing so will prevent hair breakage from happening in the first place and help keep your hair looking great.
Finally, another factor involved in your hair’s strength is getting sufficient nutrition to support healthy hair growth and scalp function. Intake of protein and vitamins such as biotin is incredibly vital for ensuring your body has the building blocks needed to produce strong hair, resistant to breakage and split ends.
What if you’re already experiencing hair breakage though, despite a balanced diet and careful handling during styling? Luckily, it’s possible to treat the problem. You can minimize or even stop it completely if you’re diligent.
Assess Your Hair
Before you can treat hair breakage, you need to assess your hair and figure out why it’s happening. This is usually a fairly easy process. Simply take note of any chemical processes you’ve subjected your hair to, then think about how frequently it is exposed to sunlight, chlorine, or saltwater.
Finally, think about how you style and care for your hair. How do you dry it? What products do you use? All of these factors can lead to hair breakage. The damage causing it can be either:
- Protein damage
- Cuticle damage
How you treat your hair to prevent further snapping will depend on which of these is responsible, and in some cases, it will be both. Keratin in your hair is damaged by dyes, bleach, and other chemical treatments, as well as sun exposure. The cuticles are damaged by abrasives like salt, chemical attack from chlorine, heat, wind, humidity, and mechanical stress from rough handling.
In most cases, damage to your hair’s protein is the most significant cause of breakage. Cuticle damage can definitely weaken your hair and leave it prone to dryness and other problems but most of your hair’s strength is structural in nature. It’s damage to keratin and its bonds that leads to snapping.
Treating Hair Breakage
Once you know what is causing your hair breakage, you should aim to reduce your exposure to it as much as possible. If you dye your hair frequently, cut down on the frequency or extremity of color changes. If you spend too much time in the sun, use a UV filtering shampoo or wear a hat.
Preventing damage from happening is more important than treating it but if you’re already experiencing breakage you’ll need to address that too. You can repair your hair with the use of a protein treatment like Wella Fusionplex.
Products like this help to restore broken bonds in your hair and fortify damaged keratin. Usually, a quality protein treatment is all that’s really necessary to drastically improve your hair’s strength.
To use a protein treatment to stop snapping:
- Shampoo your hair twice
- Apply the protein treatment liberally
- Massage through from lengths out to the hair tips to evenly distribute
- Leave up to 5 minutes depending on product directions
- Rinse it from your hair with warm water
- Condition (if the protein treatment didn’t have a conditioning base)
The most intensive types of protein treatments are usually in the form of a liquid spray and this is just a protein treatment without any moisturizing agents or other ingredients. It will make your hair stronger but won’t make it feel soft and hydrated. If using this kind, apply a conditioner separately.
While structural damage is the main cause of hair breakage, sometimes dryness can exacerbate the problem too. When your hair loses moisture, strength is also impaired and it’s easier for snapping to occur so you shouldn’t neglect to condition either.
For very dry, damaged hair, apply a deep conditioning treatment after the protein treatment. Then use a leave-in conditioner if you need any additional hydration.
There’s one more kind of treatment effective for fixing hair snapping but it’s much more difficult to use at home because there are several steps to applying it. It’s also expensive if performed at a salon. It’s called a keratin treatment and it temporarily adds strength and bonds to your hair that lasts for up to a few months.
Unless you have very damaged hair or you also want to smooth your hair and remove other problems like frizz, a protein treatment is typically all you need to stop hair breakage from happening. Preventing it is always the most effective method though. Being careful and gentle with your hair will help you to grow a longer style without experiencing lots of snapping and split ends.