How to Prevent Hair Breakage: A Detailed Guide

Do you wake up to a pillow strewn with broken hair? Do your fingers come out with broken hair strands when you just gently run them through your hair? Too many strands of your hair on your hair brush? Argh, same!

If you want to know what hair breakage is, what causes it and how to prevent hair breakage, then this is the article for you.

First Things First: What is Hair Breakage?

hair breakage
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Hair breakage1 occurs when you lose your hair from anywhere below the root. The hair that is lost due to breakage usually varies in length because it breaks and snaps mid-strand instead of falling completely from the root.

The cause of breakage is the weakening of the hair due to it losing its outer protective layer. Other signs of hair breakage is hair becoming too dry, brittle and frayed at the ends.

Difference Between Hair Breakage and Hair Shedding

While some people may think any hair fall is hair breakage, that is not the case. Before we talk about how to prevent hair breakage, we need to be aware of the difference between broken hair and shed hair.

Hair Shedding

If you are experiencing hair that falls from the roots, that is hair shedding. Shed hair is a complete hair strand. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, humans should experience 50 to 100 fallen hair strands in a day.

If your hair sheds more than this amount, you will experience Effluvium, a medical term for excessive hair shedding.

Hair Breakage

Hair breakage, on the other hand, is the hair that breaks off mid-strand due to various reasons. The main cause of breakage is damaged hair2, hair that has split ends, dry and brittle hair, and hair that does not have enough moisture or protein.

In general terms, weak hair leads to breakage. When we talk about how to prevent hair breakage, we must learn what causes the hair to get weak. Let us find out the causes of hair breakage.

Causes of Hair Breakage

causes for hair breakage
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As mentioned above, the general reason for hair breakage is weak hair. There are many habits that you may have that can lead to weak hair, and in turn, breakage. Let us look at all those reasons for weak hair:

1. Genetics

The first cause of breakage can be genetics. This has nothing to do with your habits or the hair products you use. If you have inherited fine hair from your parents, it is more prone to breakage and needs to be treated as gently as possible. Fine hair is so fragile, that it can’t handle any tugging or pulling.

So if you have fine hair, you need to be very gentle with it to prevent breakage. Don’t be too harsh on it otherwise, you will be seeing broken hair on your pillow and your hairbrush.

2. Not Enough Protein

Protein Rich Food
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Keratin is a protein that makes up the hair, skin and nails in our body. Keratin3 is found in the inner cuticle of the hair, making it the heart of our hair strands. It gives bounce to the hair and gives it strength.

If the hair is not getting enough protein, it becomes dry, and brittle and begins snapping off at the littlest friction. Split ends start to form and the overall health of the hair depletes, starting damage.

Therefore, incorporating protein into your hair care routine is crucial for healthy hair.

3. Not Enough Moisture

Moisture is required by the cuticles of the hair to lock the water into the strands. If the hair is not moisturized or under-moisturized, the water particles that are in the deeper layers of the hair, namely the medulla and cortex will evaporate. This will leave the hair dry, causing breakage.

Moisturizing the hair shafts will make the hair strong, easy to manage, and soft.

4. Heat Styling The Hair

All of us must have at least one hot tool in our possessions and we must use it on our hair often. If you use hot tools like flat iron, curling iron and even blow-drying your hair frequently and you are experiencing breakage, you might want to cut down on the heat styling.

Make sure that you use a heat protection product4 like a spray or a moose when you do use your heat on your hair. Another way of reducing heat damage to the hair is by using heating tools at a low temperature.

5. Tight Hairstyles

tight hairstyles
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These days, really high and tight ponytails are in fashion. Fashion model Bella Hadid sports a slicked-back, super-tight ponytail in many of her pictures and it lifts the eyes, giving her the sexy feline eye look that she is known for.

Since Hadid made the hairstyle popular, people have made it a trend and now everyone is trying it.

While tight hairstyles like ponytails and braids look beautiful and give your face that lifted look of models, it is very detrimental to your hair.

The hairstyle puts tension on the hairline where all the baby hairs are and over time, the hairline does start to recede due to excessive strain caused by the hairstyle.

The top of the head is also under immense strain because that is where all the hair is gathered and held with tight hair ties. That is another place where people experience hair breakage.

6. Using Harsh Chemicals on Hair

Using harsh chemicals on your hair causes hair damage. Getting chemical treatments like bleaching and colouring the hair makes the hair shaft weak.

Bleach is added to strip the hair’s natural oils and colour, causing dry hair, brittle hair, and breakage. Brassy hair breaks easily and we often experience damage in the form of frizz, split ends, and hair loss.

Harsh chemicals can also be found in the hair care products like shampoos that contain hard sulphates.

7. Playing with Your Hair

Just like constantly touching your face is not good for the skin, constantly touching and playing with your hair is also not good for the hair. When you run your fingers through your hair, your fingers snag and pull on any knots you may have, which causes broken hair.

Tugging and pulling on split ends, and picking at any grey hair you may have, are all habits that contribute to damaged hair and hair breakage.

9. Sleeping on a Cotton Pillowcase

woman sleeping on cotton pillows
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Cotton pillowcases are too harsh on the hair. When you sleep on cotton pillowcases, your hair rubs against the material all night.

Especially if you tend to move around in your sleep a lot, the friction against the hair causes breakage. What is worse, the friction against the hair also makes tangles and knots in the hair.

10. Not Eating Right

Our body requires food to operate, the same is true for the hair. The hair needs certain nutrients to remain strong and facilitate healthy hair growth.

If you don’t eat enough food for the sustainability of your body, or you have some eating disorders5, the negative effects of that will be seen in the health of your hair.

Healthy hair needs food rich in protein. Hair vitamins can help keep your hair healthy, preventing breakage. But eating the right food right amount of food is very important in making healthy hair grow and preventing breakage.

11. Over-Washing The Hair

Washing your hair too much and with a heavily stripping shampoo can cause hair breakage as well as shedding. Sulphates strip the natural oils of the hair and make it dry.

People who already have a dry hair type have to be even more careful with over-stripping the hair of its oils.

How to Prevent Hair Breakage?

There are many ways you can keep hair breakage at bay. Some certain dos and don’ts need to be followed for the health of your hair. Here are tips on how to prevent hair breakage:

1. Get Regular Hair Trims

someone getting their hair trimmed
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Getting regular hair trims makes sure the damage gets cut out of the hair on time. These hair trims prevent the damage and split ends from spreading further up the length of your hair.

When the damaged ends get trimmed off, they give the appearance of healthy-looking hair, which is thick, soft, and damage-free.

Before trimming, one must make sure that one uses the proper tools. If you’re trimming your hair at home, don’t use your regular art and crafts scissors. You must use hair-cutting shears. If you get the trim done by a professional hair stylist, there is nothing you need to worry about.

2. Keep Your Hair Moisturized

If you keep your hair moisturized, the hair shaft and ends can keep the water locked into the hair fibres. This prevents the hair from getting depleted of water and drying out. As we know by now, dry hair leads to breakage. So, we must use hair care products that prevent the hair from getting dry.

Products like leave-in conditioners and deep conditioning treatments keep the hair moisturized and stop hair breakage.

But, over-moisturizing the hair is not good for the hair and can lead to hair loss. So, make sure you are not overdoing it in the moisture department. This is a crucial step on how to prevent hair breakage.

3. Reduce Heat Styling Your Hair

woman towel drying her hair
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As good as perfectly flat-ironed hair or voluminous blow-dried hair looks, a heat style of any kind causes hair loss. Not only does heat damage the hair, but we lose a lot of hair in between the plates of the flat iron or around the coils of a curling iron.

Less heat on the hair will give rise to healthier hair and prevent future breakage. So, let the hair air dry and leave it in its natural state.

If you can’t cut out heat completely, using heat-protectant products is a must. Also, make sure to not use heat on wet hair because it is more fragile and prone to breakage when it is wet.

4. Use Hair Oils

Hair oils are rich in nutrients and fatty acids, something that our hair loves. There are so many oils to choose from, each having its special list of benefits. Putting a few drops of hair oil on your scalp and giving yourself a nice massage makes the blood flow to the scalp, which in turn facilitates hair growth.

Putting a little bit of oil on the ends of your hair also makes the hair look less dry by smoothing the hair cuticle and flattening the puffy appearance of frizz.

Applying hair oil before washing your hair also helps prevent dryness. It also prevents hygral fatigue. Hair oils can go a long way in how to prevent hair breakage.

5. Proper Way To Wash The Hair

Everyone should be aware of the proper way to wash hair and things that you absolutely should not do while and after washing your hair. If you want to know how to prevent hair breakage, this is something you should know about.

Apply a mild shampoo only to the roots of the hair because excess oil and sebum collect there and that is where shampoo needs to be concentrated. Do not use excess shampoo on the mid-lengths and ends because the lather while rinsing the hair is enough to clean the length of your hair.

After shampooing, condition the ends and mid-length. Do not apply conditioner directly to your scalp. Leave the conditioner for 5 minutes and then rinse off.

Use a gentle towel to dry your hair and do not rub your hair with the towel. Damp hair is more prone to breakage and rubbing the towel against it will cause frizz, split ends and breakage.

6. Use Silk Pillowcases

Silk is a beautiful material. Not only does it have a gorgeous sheen that makes it look like the epitome of luxury, but it is also buttery smooth to the touch.

It is because of this smoothness that it is so good for the skin and hair. Unlike cotton, silk sheets and pillowcases don’t attract moisture out of the hair, leaving it smooth and moisturized.

The incredibly silky texture of the material also prevents hair damage because it does not cause friction, which means no frizz, damage, or hair breakage.

People who want to know how to prevent hair breakage need to invest in silk pillowcases.

7. Stay Away From Tight Hairstyles

Hair damage caused by tight hairstyles not only leads to hair breakage but also leads to thinning of the hairline and balding on the area of the scalp where you tie your hair.

Tight hairstyles also cause headaches for a lot of people. If you are reading up on how to prevent hair breakage, this is one habit you need to change.

Use silk scrunchies instead of tight hair ties since they are gentler on the hair. Also, wear looser hairstyles as often as you can. Not only do they look chic, but they are also sensible for hair health.

8. Stay Away From Dry Brushing the Hair

dry brushing the hair
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Brushing your hair when it is dry is a sure-shot recipe for breakage. Because there are so many knots and tangles in the hair when it is dry, the brush or comb pulls out more hair than is healthy.

The better option, especially if you have curly or wavy hair, is to brush your hair after washing it, while it has conditioner in it.

Adding conditioner before brushing or combing will help the bristles glide down your hair smoothly and it will be easier to work out the tangles. Even if you dry brush your hair, you can use hair products that help detangle the hair. There are detangler hair serums and creams for this reason.

Always start brushing or combing your hair from the ends and work your way up to the roots. Never start from the roots because you will encounter more knots on your way down than you would on your way up. This is a great tip on how to prevent hair breakage.

9. Have a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet takes care of a lot of our health problems because it has all the nutrients our body needs. For the health of our hair, we need a good dose of protein.

Foods that are rich in proteins like lean meat, eggs, and soy and dairy products should be on your grocery list if you want to treat hair breakage. This is how to prevent hair breakage.

Protein can be added topically too by way of keratin-rich conditioners and leave-in products, but make sure you don’t overdo it. Just like moisturizing products, too much protein makes your tresses dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Make sure you do everything in moderation.

A protein-rich hair mask twice a month is usually great if you have damaged hair.

Hair Treatments to Prevent Future Hair Breakage

We already spoke about how to prevent hair breakage in-depth, but what about those who already have broken hairs all over their pillow, hair brush and bathroom tiles?

If you already deal with hair breakage, the above-mentioned prevention methods are good and will help, but you need hair breakage treatments too.

1. Deep Conditioning Treatment

Using a deep conditioner once a week after washing the hair can heal dry, damaged hair. This treatment is especially excellent for people with dry hair types or hair that has lost hydration.

If your hair needs moisture, it will drink up this conditioning treatment and you will feel the difference in your hair from the next day itself. If you need to know how to prevent hair breakage, start paying attention to deep conditioning treatments.

2. Bond Repair Treatment

If you are looking into hair breakage treatments, you must have come across bond-strengthening and bond-repairing treatments. The most popular product in the stores is the Olaplex treatment product.

The disulphide bonds in our hair break after chemical treatments like colouring. Olaplex repairs the damaged bonds and makes the hair healthy again.

This treatment works wonders for hair that is breaking too because the root cause of breakage is, in fact, damaged hair. You can get this treatment done at salons and take it home to do it yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which vitamin deficiency causes hair loss?

Hair loss has only been linked to deficits in biotin, riboflavin, folate, and vitamin B12.

2. What causes hair breakage?

Stress, heat, underlying illnesses, and other factors can all contribute to hair breakage.

3. What is hair breakage?

It happens when hair strands break down becoming split and ragged rather than remaining strong from the top of the head to the ends.

Final Note

Hair breakage is a common problem among people of all ages and genders and it is nothing to be stressed about.

Unlike shedding, which is a serious issue which you need to take up with your doctor, you can treat hair breakage and take measures to prevent it at home on your own now that you know how to prevent hair breakage and keep it away for good.

So, follow the tips and tricks mentioned above and let us know your experience in the comments. Keep slaying, beautiful!

  1. McMichael, Amy J. “Hair breakage in normal and weathered hair: focus on the Black patient.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings. Vol. 12. No. 2. Elsevier, 2007. ↩︎
  2. Robinson, V. N. E. “A study of damaged hair.” J. Soc. Cosmet. Chem 27 (1976): 155-161. ↩︎
  3. Chu, P. G., and L. M. Weiss. “Keratin expression in human tissues and neoplasms.” Histopathology 40.5 (2002): 403-439. ↩︎
  4. Prasertpol, Tashatai, and Waree Tiyaboonchai. “Nanostructured lipid carriers: A novel hair protective product preventing hair damage and discoloration from UV radiation and thermal treatment.” Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology 204 (2020): 111769. ↩︎
  5. Zabielinski, Marilyn, and Antonella Tosti. “General characteristics of hair in eating disorders.” Eating disorders and the skin. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2012. 71-77. ↩︎

Last Updated on by laibaarif


Yashi Singh
  1. Recently I am suffering from worse hair breakage and it’s honestly scaring me , reading your article gave me a headstart of what might be the problem.

  2. The post came out really helpful as it is explaining the preventions as well as treatments and depending on the situation both things are important.

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