For a hairstyling enthusiast, few terms are more terrifying than the words “hair damage”. Although countless among us have splurged on products that claim to treat or prevent hair damage, how many of us really know what damaged hair looks like? To help identify hair damage, we’ve included some tell-tale signs to be sure to look out for.
What Is Hair Damage?
“Hair damage” is a rather broad term, but essentially it refers to hair whose cuticle layer has become severely degraded. The cuticle, our outermost hair layer, is responsible for sealing in moisture and maintaining the integrity of the hair shaft. Due to a variety of causes, this cuticle layer can become raised and damaged, resulting in hair that is unable to maintain moisture and loses strength and structure.
Testing for Hair Damage
Now that you know what hair damage is, the next step is to identify whether or not your hair is currently damaged. The first thing to do is try the “hair elasticity test”. After showering, grip a thin strand of hair with two fingers and gently pull away from the root. Healthy, undamaged hair stretches to nearly double its size before returning to its original length. If your hair is damaged, not only will your hair not stretch, but it may actually snap or break.
If you’re still unsure as to whether or not you’re suffering hair damage, here are some other notable signs:
When hair is damaged, the cuticle layer is raised, resulting in uneven, rough texture as opposed to the smooth, soft texture of healthy hair. Take a small strand of dry hair and run your fingers down the length, taking your time to really feel for texture consistency.
One of the most obvious signs of hair damage is an abundance of split ends. Hair that is damaged is often thicker towards the root and thinner at the ends, indicating a significant loss of the cuticle layer. If the ends of your hair look frayed, it’s likely that you’ve suffered from major hair damage.
Loss of Shine
Healthy hair has a flat, even cuticle layer that reflects light, creating shiny, luminous hair. Damaged hair, due to a raised cuticle layer, absorbs light, creating the appearance of dull, lifeless hair.
Its normal to find hairs in your brush or on the shower floor, but if you’re noticing excessive hair loss, then it is likely that your hair has been damaged. Hair that has been damaged due to chemical treatments, excessive heat styling, or over-manipulation becomes broken and lacks the structural integrity to properly grow out. As a result, damaged hair is likely to fall out at an accelerated rate.
No color treatment lasts forever, but any treatment that fades after just a few days is cause for concern. Damaged hair lacks the cuticle layer needed to seal in color, allowing quick fading to occur.