Common Causes of Hair Damage

I know I've said this many times before, but establishing a regular routine will help bring out and maintain your curls more than anything else. It is a necessary step in achieving healthy hair. Not only that, but it will also tame out of control frizz as well as the dryness your hair experiences. We should build a solid hair care regimen that protects our hair from damage and breakage through planning things like product selection and other maintenance methods or practices. Why? Because the first and most commonly misunderstood step in growth is often missing like the emergence of new hair from the scalp and retention. Without retention, no visible length progress can be seen, although the scalp continues to push out new hair everyday. Length retention depends greatly on personal hair care methods and required concentrated efforts to sustain it. Poor hair retention along the the hair fiber is often due to a few key categories of hair damage.

No matter how well we take care of our hair, it’s inevitable to come in contact with one type of damage or another. The damage could be from chemical processes, environmental factors, mechanical stress of daily styling and maintenance and nutritional deficiencies. An in-depth understanding of the major sources of hair damage is the first step toward achieving healthier hair.

Mechanical Stress

A major cause of hair damage is physical manipulation to the hair fiber. The damage comes from things like excessive manipulation, tension handling, rushing to detangle hair when wet, frequent brushing, rubber bands, heat producing appliances like the flat iron and blow dryer, wearing tight braids, shampooing and conditioning in a matter that causes tangles that leads to damage, etc. can all contribute to the physical damage.

Environmental Damage

UV sun rays, extreme temperatures can stress the hair. Pollutants present in the atmosphere and water can fade hair colors and disturb the hair’s internal moisture. Heavily chlorinated swimming pools, ocean water and hard water (with high concentrations of dissolved minerals) are other inhibitors to the hair’s health. See my post on Summertime to learn how to protect your hair during the summer months. 

Nutritional Deficiencies

Dietary or nutritional deficiencies can have a negative effect on the hair before it even emerges from the scalp. A great balance of vitamins and minerals is crucial to a healthy scalp and hair. Thyroid disorders, anemia, crash diets and a myriad of other factors contribute to the overall quality of hair.

When hair emergence and retention finally complement one another over the weeks/months/years ahead, your hair will demonstrate a visible increase in length.

So how do we reduce hair damage and preserve the ends of the hair so that our hair has the opportunity to increase in length overtime? By building a solid hair care regimen that protects against damage and breakage through strategic product selection and other maintenance techniques.

Sources: “The Histology of Keratin Fibres”, in Chemistry of Natural Protein Fibres. 
“The Vascularity and Patterns of Growth of Hair Follicles” in The Biology of Hair Growth, eds.
The Science of Haircare.

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