Nov 12, 2015

Hair breakage repair and prevention

If your hair is damaged, you've likely noticed it snapping. Often, damaged hair is very dry, brittle, and fragile, causing it to break with styling or washing. It won't grow quickly because of this breakage, which can be extremely frustrating, making it important to use hair breakage repair treatments to restore it to better condition.

What causes hair breakage?

Hair breakage is a result of hair that has been weakened through heat or chemical damage. Bleaching is often a significant cause, and dyed blondes tend to be more susceptible to the problem due to the amount of lightening that is required to achieve and maintain a pale hair colour.

Other processes that can lead to hair breakage include the way you style it, how much sun exposure you get, and even how you handle it when it is wet. Heated styling tools damage your hair much more readily if you're not using a protection spray or serum, and exposure to the sun's radiation can also lead to weaker hair.

How is hair breakage prevented?

Proper hair breakage repair requires you to look at the factors that are causing damage to your hair and attempting to mitigate as much of this damage as possible. In the case of heat styling, damage that leads to breakage can best be avoided with heat protection products. These products act to disperse heat more efficiently and prevent it from damaging the inner structure of the hair shaft.

Schwarzkopf Bonacure - Moisturises and repairs
Chemical treatments should also be kept to a minimum. This means dyeing your hair less often and avoiding the use of bleach, relaxers, or perming solution wherever possible. All of these processes can lead to hair breakage by damaging the structure of your hair. If you can switch to demi-permanent or semi-permanent dyes, this is one way to avoid this damage because these kinds of dyes are much gentler on your hair.

You also need to look at environmental exposure and mechanical stress to avoid potential damage. The sun, and even the way you handle your hair when drying or styling it are potential causes of breakage. When hair is wet, this is when it is weakest and most prone to snapping. It's best to avoid combing wet hair or scrunching it up roughly with a towel to dry it. Use a brush on wet hair and start by brushing from the ends to prevent knots and tearing. A warm blow dryer temperature is better than using the maximum temperature if you have the time to spend longer on it.

Finally, if you have dry hair, this is another cause of breakage. Dry hair is more fragile than hair that is properly moisturised, causing it to break readily. Address any dryness with conditioning treatments like Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator, Schwarzkopf Bonacure, or your own favourite brand if you have one.

Treating hair breakage

If you are already facing hair breakage, it is still good to attempt to prevent further damage, but you will need to take a more active approach to stop your hair snapping and strengthen it up. To do this, you will need to add protein back into your hair to strengthen the damaged cortex and stop hair snapping.

Protein can be in the form of hydrolysed wheat protein, keratin, amino acids, or even silk protein. In most cases, treatments and products which contain keratin and arginine are the most effective for strengthening your hair. This is because keratin is what your hair is made out of, and it is the closest substance to its original structure. Arginine acts in more of a supportive capacity as it has the ability to absorb into damaged areas of your hair cortex and seal up these weak areas.

In order to stop your hair from breaking, you need to use a protein product fairly often at first. This will help stop the problem quickly and prevent any further weakening of your hair. Once this has been achieved, usage of these products can be reduced to every two weeks to maintain your hair's strength and prevent future breakage.

For light damage and breakage, you may find it easiest to simply apply a leave-in treatment after washing your hair. Redken Anti-Snap is one of the most effective products for this as it contains whole protein, as well as amino acids like arginine that adhere to the weakest areas without weighing hair down. This product can be applied to damp hair after washing and also prevents dryness and frizz.

If the damage is more severe however, you will need a stronger protein treatment like ApHogee Keratin Reconstructor for adequate hair breakage repair. This product is applied to hair and left for two minutes to add keratin protein and other beneficial ingredients into your stressed hair. Other effective treatments include Redken Cat and Nexxus Polymedic. Of course, if you already have a brand you prefer, you may find a hidden gem within that brand.

Hair that has suffered the worst damage is more of a problem. It will respond to any of the treatments above, but it's difficult to save hair that is this bad. You'll know if your hair is this damaged because it will feel like jelly when wet and simply tear apart if handled. The best thing to do in this situation if a trim is out of the question is to spray ample amounts of Redken Cat or another strong protein treatment into the hair before allowing it to dry gently. It will take many treatments before it is strong enough for the breakage to fully stop.

A keratin treatment is the most intense form of repair treatment available and this may be a better option in this situation. However, these require a lot more time and expertise to apply to your hair and the process is best left to a salon if you don't know how to do it. Your hair will also need to be subjected to heat to seal in and activate the treatment, which can place further stress on your hair until the treatment begins to work. If you have hair that is like jelly, strengthen it as much as you can with strong protein treatments and then consider a keratin treatment to stop breakage and save your hair.

With the right care, snapping hair can be repaired and further breakage can be prevented. After you've repaired your hair, you will still need to treat it with care though. It needs time to fully recover and it's best to avoid any more processing with chemicals or heat wherever possible to keep it strong and healthy from this point onward.

More information:
  • Remedies for frizzy hair - Frizz got you down? Tame your mane with these treatments and tips for wild hair...
  • Deep conditioners - Find out how to add moisture to severely dry hair and quench its thirst with a deep conditioning treatment...
  • How to get healthier hair - Discover the most common hair problems and the secrets to treating and preventing them...

Do you have a question about hair breakage repair or need help fixing damaged hair? Leave a comment for tailored advice...

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