How To Recognize And Prevent Hair Damage

We all long for healthy, shiny hair. But in our quest for that healthy hair, we may put our hair through a lot of manipulation. So much manipulation that we start causing more harm to hair than good. That we damage our hair so it looks the opposite of what we were striving for.

Unfortunately no matter how many DIY hair treatments, hair masques, or serums you use there aren't ways to repair the damage. These treatments and products can sometimes help to temporarily cover up the damage to your hair. They may even help to prevent future damage, but products and treatments can't repair or fix hair when it's damaged.

How to prevent hair damage | A Relaxed Gal
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The best thing to do when your hair is damaged is to let it grow out while using healthy hair practices so your new hair doesn't get damaged.

Before we start getting into how we damage our hair, I want to go back to basics and talk about what our hair is. Hair is made up of a strong protein called keratin which can also be found in fingernails. The proteins are arranged into three layers:
  • The outer layer called the cuticle
  • The inside layer called the cortex
  • The center layer called the medulla

The cuticle, the outer layer, is made up of flat scale-like cells of protein and is the first defense for the hair against heat styling, chemicals, manipulation, etc. When the cuticle is damaged, the scale-like cells tend to stay raised up and don't flatten. This leads to a constant loss of moisture in the hair and constant dryness.

There are four main causes of hair damage. There are also ways to prevent them. See how at

The raised cuticle cells also allow the middle/inside layer of the cortex to be damaged. The cortex is the part of the hair that dictates the strands' thickness, color, curl pattern, and other attributes. Damage to the cortex can't be undone.

You can recognize when hair is damaged by how it looks and feels. Damaged hair will typically:
  • Feel dry and brittle to the touch 
  • Have split ends
  • Have a rough texture
  • Have little to no elasticity 
  • Easily breaks off
  • Look dull

So how do we prevent this damage? We need to know what the cause of the damage is. There are many things that can damage the cuticle but here are the four most common:

1. Direct heat from heat styling tools. By applying heat directly to the hair it cracks the hair cuticle and withdraws moisture.

2. Chemical treatments from the misuse of relaxers, perms, bleaching, and coloring. The chemicals in these treatments break and wear down the hairs natural protein bonds weakening the hair strands. Constant misuse, such as overlapping treatments, can have very damaging effects on the hair

3. Friction comes from excessive styling, combing, or even unprotected hair rubbing against a cotton pillow. This constant rubbing movement of the hair strands is what causes the damage.

4. The elements such as the sun and wind. The sun can dry out the hair and the wind causes friction and tangles.

To keep our hair from being damaged we need to reduce the amount of heat we use on it, use hair chemicals less or properly, reduce the amount of friction or manipulation, and keep our hair protected from outside elements. Check out these four posts to see how you can do all of these things and keep your hair from damage

Have you experienced hair damage? If so, what was the cause?

There are four main causes of hair damage. There are also ways to prevent them. Learn more at