Dealing With Hair Breakage? This is Probably Why

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hair breakage

‘Tis the season for dry, brittle hair. With its blustery weather and rampant indoor heating, winter can be a real good-hair vibe killer. Other styling and processing habits can make the issue even worse. Ugh! To rescue you and your mane, we’re revealing some of the biggest brittle hair culprits out there. We’re also sharing what you can do differently to ensure you’re on the path toward glorious locks.

The No-No: Highlighting or Coloring Your Own Hair

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It’s super tempting to grab a box of drugstore hair dye or bleach, but the products found in these over-the-counter products are notoriously brutal. While you may get a somewhat decent result at first, the damage done to your cuticle can be long-lasting and, over time, create unhealthy hair prone to brittleness and breaking.

Kali Ferrara, a celebrity stylist at NYC’s The Salon Project, says to step away from the illusive aisle of boxed dyes and to call a colorist, instead.

“Most over-the-counter hair colors are harsh and drying, leaving you with a less than ideal, over-saturated, inky-looking hair color on porous ends,” she says. “If you do try and color your hair at home, don’t mix brands as you don’t know what is in each specific brand’s box and it could result in a chemical reaction that could ruin your hair or turn it into a funny color.”

The No-No: Applying Too Much Protein

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Protein-packed haircare products (e.g. keratin, amino acids) can do wonders for damaged hair, but as with all things you’ll want to practice moderation. When your hair has too much protein, it can become stiff and hard, which in turn makes it more prone to breaking off. Always follow the on-label product instructions, and when in doubt speak to your stylist about the best products for your hair type.

The No-No: Wearing Your Hair Too Tight

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“An overly tight, snatched pony or bun can cause breakage on the hairline from the tension and weight of the hair,” notes Ferrara. This is referred to as traction alopecia, AKA a receding hairline caused by ongoing tension. Instead of really tugging at your hair when pulling it into an updo, rely on hair care products that help create a smooth, tight look. For example, Mizani’s Edge Control Taming Gel, $18, creates lots of hold and shine without damaging your hair.

The No-No: Over-Using Traditional Hair Ties

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The traditional hair tie – a covered piece of elastic – is easily one of the most popular hair accessories on the market. (We’d even bet you have one within an arm’s reach, if not one directly on your wrist!) It’s also a bit of a bugger when it comes to your hair’s health.

“For women with long hair, not having a hair tie can be very inconvenient. However, the hair tie can often be too tight, causing breakage where it is wrapped around the hair,” says Ferrara. “Using a traditional hair tie is fine, but only in moderation. For fine hair use the thinner version, and if your hair is super heavy use a looser band if you want a top knot or ponytail. Also, do not sleep with your hair in an elastic.”

To give your hair a break, swap your traditional hair tie for a soft scrunchie, clip, claw, or wear your hair down. Kitsch’s Satin Sleep Pillow Scrunchies, $8, are surprisingly luxurious, and we also like the Kristin Ess Claw Clip, $10.

The No-No: Going Ham on Hot Tools

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Hot tools might be one of the greatest beauty inventions of all time, but it’s important to cool it (literally) on your usage to prevent hair damage.

“Using hot tools – including a blow dryer, flat iron, and curling iron – when you have fully wet hair is terrible for your hair and a waste of energy,” says Ferrara. “Too much heat dries the hair and makes it brittle. Direct heat can also literally burn your hair off.”

Instead, try washing your hair and letting it air dry as much as you can before breaking out the tools. Ferrara even suggests washing the night before then lightly misting sections in the morning before styling. Also, consider foregoing hot tools more frequently, and instead wear an air-dried texture. Products such as Odele’s Air Dry Styler, $12, can help create a smooth texture.

When you do heat style, Ferrara says to be mindful of the tool’s quality and the heat setting. “The iron should be ceramic and have a temperature control, and make sure to never use heat over 400°F,” she says. “Also, before applying heat use a heat protecting product. It acts as a barrier between the hair and the heat source. I like Kerastase Genesis Strengthening Blow Dry Primer, $39.”

Along with the above advice, make sure you’re washing your hair only as frequently as necessary and conditioning the mid-shaft to ends. You can use a deep conditioner once or twice a week, as well. To help combat dry winter air, use a humidifier to introduce a little more moisture into your home.

For more tips, check out 21 hair care hacks that’ll change your life!

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