Dry and damaged hair is not the words that inspire hair goals. The culprits of hair damage can include aging, over-styling, color treatments, or poor nutrition—all can harm your follicle, leading to brittleness and texture change. If your strands are afflicted by damage, you’re in the right place. Read on to understand the types of hair breakage and how to nourish your tresses to reverse the damage.
What is Damaged Hair?
Hair damage occurs when aggressors, like friction, heat, and chemicals attack the outer layer of your hair, leaving cracks in its exterior. Once split, the cuticle opens up, causing your hair to appear dull, dry, and brittle. If you notice that your hair is suffering from these conditions, it’s time to get to the root of the damage.
Types of hair damage:
Split ends occur when the ends of your hair split into two or more parts. Split ends are more likely to occur when your hair is dry.
Hair dye often uses peroxide to break down your natural hair pigment. Peroxide is extremely drying to the hair and can cause extreme damage. Your cuticle opens for the dye to efficiently penetrate the hair shaft.
Chemical treatments, like relaxers and perms, strip the hair and lead to breakage.
Heat damage occurs when excessive heat causes the protein bonds in the hair to permanently alter to the point that your hair struggles to retain moisture as it once did.
Aging or Hair Loss
Factors like age, diet, and genetics can determine how fast your hair grows. Your hair’s life cycle shortens with age; as a result, thinner, finer hair typically grows. Aging hair is often more prone to breakage and damage.
The good news is, it is often our daily haircare routines that cause the most damage. Keep reading for the best tips to repair hair damage in your 40’s.
Tips to Repair Damaged Hair
1- Be Ultra-Gentle with Wet Hair
Wet hair is really vulnerable to breakage. Detangling wet hair can lead to damage, so, brush or comb your hair before showering. A wide-tooth comb or natural bristle brush will help to detangle your knots in a gentle fashion. To boost your brushing technique, begin brushing your ends and then work through the mid-length. Complete your routine by brushing from your roots to your tips in one fell swoop. Lastly, make sure you’re not overbrushing your hair. The 100 strokes a day rule is a haircare myth! The excessive friction of brushing can break your hair shaft.
Avoid harsh ingredients like sulfates and alcohol at all costs. Sulfates are harsh chemicals that remove natural oils from your hair and scalp. Sulfates are drying ingredients that can lead to skin irritations, scalp dryness and dandruff, and even hair loss. It is also best to avoid products with alcohol, as they strip natural oils and moisture from your strands. Sulfates and alcohols will leave your hair thirsty and prone to damage.
On the other hand, a natural sulfate-free shampoo will offer hydration to the hair and the scalp to bring your hair back to life. Look for natural ingredients like argan oil, avocado oil, bark extract, or shea butter to reintroduce moisture to your hair.
3- Mask it Up!
The key to healthy hair is hydration! Hair masks are packed with restorative ingredients like oils, butter, lipids, and other humectants. A deep-conditioning mask can help fight dryness and breakage. Depending on the deep conditioner, it can stay in your hair from anywhere between 5 minutes to all night long. To reap the rewards of a hydrating mask, consider ingredients like avocado oil, olive oil, argan oil, shea butter, honey, and bananas.
4- Ditch Your Normal Bath Towel
Stay away from abrasive hair towels. Firstly, using a cotton towel causes cuticles to lift, which can damage your strands. Cotton towels can remove too much moisture from your hair, leading to dryness and frizz. A micro-fiber towel is a better option to gently soak up excess moisture and minimize frizz and breakage.
Additionally, protect your tresses at night by sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase to lessen friction and prevent breakage. Hair cuticles float over the pillowcase rather than being snagged by it thanks to these slick fabrics.
5- Avoid Excessive Heat Styling
To prevent dryness, don’t overuse your hot tools. Excessive heat exposure from blow-dryers, straighteners, and curling wands can dry out your ends. Heat leaves your hair cuticles open, allowing moisture to easily slip away. For the days when you can’t go without using a hot tool, ensure you use a protective spray. Also, it is safest to keep your hot tool within 200-350 degrees. You should only have to smooth or curl a piece of your hair once.
6- Say Hello to Essential Oils
Essential oils work to hydrate and nourish your locks. To maximize absorption, oils are best used on dry hair.
Repair damage by lathering your strands in these hydrating oils:
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Castor oil
- Argan oil
7- Protect Yourself from the Sun
Excessive sun exposure will contribute to hair damage. UVA and UVB rays can harm the outside strand of the hair (cuticle). Sun damage can cause color loss, brittle hair, thinning and flyaways. It is necessary to keep your strands hydrated to avoid breakage so shield yourself against sun damage with a hat or umbrella.
8- Feed your Strands from the Inside Out
As you age, your body doesn’t absorb vitamins and minerals like it used to. A nutritional imbalance often contributes to hair loss. Age-related hair loss can be a result of a vitamin deficiency or excess. The combination of a balanced diet and fortifying vitamins can support strong, healthy hair.
Implement these foods into your diet:
Leafy greens like spinach and kale, are high in vitamin C, a vitamin that helps the production of collagen and the absorption of iron. Greens will help prevent dryness by providing your hair with adequate moisture.
Lean meat is a strong source of protein, which provides your hair with structure. Lean meats like chicken and turkey, have low saturated fats and will boost hair growth.
Fatty fishes have high levels of omega-3’s and vitamin D, which supports hair strength by activating proteins in the body. Fatty fishes include salmon, herring, tuna, and sardines.
Nuts and Seeds
Zinc, an important vitamin for hair health, is found in nuts and seeds. Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids and biotin. Also, brazil nuts contain selenium, a mineral associated with hair growth. Furthermore, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds have high nutritional value. Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin A pumpkin seeds are high in protein, and flax seeds contain omega-3 oils.
The damage isn’t already done! It is often our daily haircare routines that cause the most damage to our manes. Work these tips into your regimen to repair hair damage and support healthy, hydrated hair.