If you look at the ends of very long hair, you will most likely see little white specks, where the hair has fractured, plus plenty of split ends. These are the cumulative effect of external factors that damage your hair over time – and you may be exposing your hair to these things regularly without even realizing.

1. Over-brushing your hair

Back in the day, brushing your hair for 100 strokes daily used to be considered beneficial – but in actual fact, over-brushing can damage your hair.

Excessive brushing and combing gradually wears away the hair’s protective layer, known as the cuticle, which is made of a strong protein called keratin. Damaging the cuticle causes hair to become more prone to breakage.

To prevent this, it’s best to use a natural comb made of wood or horn rather than plastic, or a brush with natural bristles. You should also use a conditioning rinse with a pH of about 5.5 after shampooing as this will decrease the friction between the comb/brush and the hair, and thus reduce damage.

2. UV rays

It’s not just your skin that requires protection from ultraviolet rays – your hair does too.

UV rays from the sun are extremely damaging, breaking the chemical bonds in the hair and causing irreversible damage.

Prolonged exposure to UV light also bleaches the hair, making it lighter as it oxidizes the hair’s pigment and leads to loss of color.

Wearing a hat in the sun is the best way to prevent such damage but hair cosmetics with ultraviolet protective agents will also reduce the damage to hair.

3. Hair color and bleach

Hair tints and bleaches used to change our hair color contain hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong oxidizing agent. Not only is pigment oxidized but, as with ultraviolet rays, the strong chemical bonds in the hair are broken, making it more prone to breakage.

When hair coloring is done professionally in a hairdressing salon, damage is generally kept to a minimum so that breakage will not result, and conditioning agents are applied to help maintain the hair’s texture. Cosmetically, it doesn’t matter if hair is slightly damaged as long as the damage does not lead to hair breakage.

If you are doing your own hair coloring at home, it is important to only process the newly grown hair since chemical damage is cumulative and irreversible – so chemically treating the same section of hair repeatedly will weaken it and increase the risk of breakage.

4. Blow drying and straightening

Over-heating the hair with blow dryers or hair straighteners also causes damage, especially if done daily.

The secret is to keep the blow dryer or straightener moving and at a low heat, so that one section of the hair is not exposed to concentrated heat for too long.

5. Styling

Styles such as ponytails or braids can cause permanent destruction of hair follicles if the hair is held tightly over long periods of time – I’m talking years rather than months.

Braiding of Afro or Afro-American hair, coupled with chemical straightening, can cause extensive scarring of the scalp, and frequently does. Hair extensions can also cause problems if the extensions are attached too tightly to too few hairs.

6. Too much sebum

Sebum is the name given to the natural oils produced on the skin’s surface. These oils can cause itching and infections if left too long on the scalp.

It’s best to shampoo on a daily basis with an ‘everyday’ shampoo. Your hairdresser can recommend the best shampoo to use – ideally it should have a pH of 5.5 (the same pH as the skin). Be aware that many shampoos do not state their pH on the label, so you need to check.

  1. Most people I talk to have no clue that shampoos that grow your hair faster and longer (of course with no sulfates, no parabens or DEA) even exist. Individuals now may possess longer hair and have more possibilities. Undoubtedly worth looking into it.

    If you’re studying hair loss, hair damage, avoiding scalp disorders, fast hair growth, hair health normally, almost the same thoughts apply.

    In most cases, you want to avoid hair treatments and products that include chemicals like parabens, DEA or sulfates.

    What is beneficial for your hair is good for your skin all the same.

    Clearly the content on this page hits the nail in the head for various reasons. It steers away from the usual errors and traps too many fall into- purchasing bad alternatives. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your feedback Kathern. It’s great that cleaner haircare products are becoming more mainstream and readily available online and in stores. It’s important for people to understand that healthy hair growth needs to be looked at from the inside out. In addition to that, ingredients also play a major role.

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