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10 Ways to Prevent Hair Breakage

It's probably time to put down the hot tools.

What Is Hair Breakage?

Damaged hair can take on many forms, such as frizzy hair or split ends, that eventually lead to your hair breaking off. If you have shorter strands around the hairline or your hair feels thinner at the ends, it’s likely a result of hair breakage. Breakage targets dry strands, which are usually a result of frequent bleaching, heat styling or even over-manipulation. If you’re simply brushing your hair and end up with a fistful of strands, or notice that your once voluminous mane is thin and withered at the ends, you’re likely experiencing hair breakage.


What Does Breakage in Hair Look Like?

When hair is healthy, the scales on each strand’s cuticle line up together, which creates smoothness and shine (what we all strive for, basically). When hair becomes dry or damaged, the scales can spread apart in every direction, resulting in hair that looks frizzy and brittle in texture, and may even eventually lead to splitting. Hair breakage may also show up as unintentionally choppy and uneven length, as well as inconsistent texture and rough strands.

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What Causes Hair Breakage?

Unfortunately, there are many things that can contribute to and cause hair breakage and most of them are interconnected. Below we’re digging into some of the most common causes across different hair types, including what causes hair breakage in natural hair and curly hair breakage.  


1. Excess Heat Styling

Too much heat styling can cause your hair to become dry and damaged, which will eventually lead to breakage. If you suspect your hair is close to breaking, avoid hot tools as much as possible and opt for a heatless style like overnight beach waves or a protective style


When you must blow-dry your hair or use another heat tool, be sure to protect your strands with a heat protectant like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In or the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Weightless Blow Dry Primer, Heat Protectant.


2. Over-Processing

Just like the rest of your body, your hair needs moisture to stay healthy and excessive processing like keratin treatments, relaxers and hair coloring can dry out your hair and lead to breakage. When hair becomes overly dry it can feel straw-like and for long hair especially, since the ends of your hair are furthest from the scalp and are easily more overprocessed (as new growth comes in, we process again), they are most likely to show signs of dryness first. 


3. Hair Bleaching

Whether you bleach your hair in order to sport a platinum style or you lighten it to add a punchier color to your tresses, the result can be the same: hair breakage. Hair bleaching is an aggressive process that not only removes pigment from the hair shaft, but it also lifts a lot of necessary oils and moisture your hair needs to stay healthy. If you aren’t rigorously working to put that moisture back you can ultimately end up with hair that’s brittle, dull and breaking.

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4. Overwashing

This isn’t just for those with an oily scalp; we’re all capable of overwashing our hair. The bad news is, it can have dire consequences on your mane, especially if you’re trying to grow out your hair. You can dry out your strands (and your scalp) if you excessively wash hair that’s already been stripped of moisture, and not replenished. 


Limit your wash days and when you do cleanse and condition, switch to a hydrating shampoo and conditioner like the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron Plump Hydrating Shampoo, Paraben-Free and the L'Oréal Paris Elvive Hyaluron Plump Hydrating Conditioner, Paraben-Free. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, this hydration-retention duo delivers long-lasting moisture for soft, shiny and bouncy strands.


If your hair feels extra dry, try hair slugging with a hydrating oil to replenish strands.


5. Tight Hairstyles

One factor that causes hair breakage in natural hair and other hair types is styles that put too much tension on the hair and scalp. Ponytails, braids — including box braids — and other high tension hairstyles should be avoided most of the time. If you do need to wear one of these styles make sure it’s for a brief period, use the right tools to install it and be careful with the take down. If you pull your strands aggressively or use metal and other tools that can cause damage to your hair, you’re putting in a bid to be a resident at hair breakage city. Trust us, it’s not a cool place to live.


6. Stress

Stress doesn’t do any good in pretty much any situation and according to the Mayo Clinic, it can lead to hair loss and hair breakage. The good news is stress and hair loss don’t have to be permanent so once you lower your stress levels, you may see your hair improve. The bad news is that hair breakage and hair loss aren’t always one and the same. Temporary hair loss that comes from the scalp producing less oil (due to stress) can be resolved with lifestyle changes and the right products, but hair breakage that stems from an autoimmune disorder can be a lot harder to reverse.


7. Childbirth

Postpartum hair breakage is a very real thing, and as per the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it’s common for new moms to experience excessive hair shedding. It typically peaks about four months after giving birth, but most women should see normal hair growth in the months following.


10 Ways to Prevent Hair Breakage

Now that you know what causes hair breakage, it’s time to learn how to prevent breakage — it’s more than simply avoiding those things. Read on for ten tips that can help put an end to your hair breakage concerns.


1. Don’t Tug on Tangles 

According to the AAD, hair breaks more easily when it’s wet, so never pull on wet tangles with a hair brush. Instead, slowly work a wide tooth comb through damp strands, starting from the bottom and working your way up to the roots. If you hit a tangle that you can’t delicately work through, apply conditioner or a detangling spray like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free 21-in-1 Color Caring Spray, Leave In to help loosen the knot.


2. Limit How Much You Brush

Contrary to what you may have been told as a kid, brushing your hair 100 times a day is not the route to shiny, silk strands — it’s the opposite. The AAD states that 100 daily brush strokes can actually lead to the formation of split ends, which leads to breakage, so, put that brush down. If you want shiny, silky strands, you’re better off reaching for a hair gloss like the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss.


Additionally, a glossing hair care system is a great way to get shiny hair. We recommend the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing Shampoo, pH Balanced the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing Conditioner, pH Balanced and the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Glossing In Shower Acidic Glaze. First, massage the shampoo onto wet hair, lather and rinse. Spray the glossing treatment all over wet strands and leave on for one to three minutes (don’t rinse it out). Then follow up with conditioner, rinse and style your hair as usual. 


3. Protect Hair From Heat 

As we mentioned above, too much heat styling can lead to breakage so it’s vital to apply a heat protectant before you start. When you use your heat tools, opt for the lowest heat setting and only pass through each section of your hair once. This is especially important if you have curls and want to avoid curly hair breakage since your hair type is more sensitive and hair damage from heat can affect your curl pattern over time. Overall, the less heat you use, the better. 


4. Use a Reparative Hair Treatment

Adding a hydrating hair mask to your routine can make a huge difference when you’re trying to avoid breakage. We love the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Savior Fiber Mask, which is formulated with collagen peptides and a protein concentrate that wraps around damaged hair to repair it. Clap the cream product together to transform it into a fibrous mask to target weak lengths.


Editor’s tip: Excessively hot water can strip strands of essential oils, which can leave hair feeling dry, so always rinse your hair with lukewarm water. 


5. Try a Different Hairstyle

According to the AAD, continuously wearing the same hairstyles, like tight braids or ponytails, can tug on strands and cause tension, which can lead to breakage. Try wearing your hair down or switching things up with a messy ponytail or a loose, low bun. Low tension hairstyles should become your BFF.


6. Use a T-Shirt to Dry Wet Strands 

After washing your hair, your first instinct is probably to rub your hair with a towel to sop up any excess water. Terry cloth towels can be rough and cause friction which can lead to breakage, so reach for an old cotton T-shirt instead. Carefully blot your hair instead of rubbing to soak up all the excess moisture.


7. Wait Before You Start Blow Drying

When you blow dry your hair immediately after washing it, it can take what feels like forever to fully dry your hair and that exposes your hair to more heat damage. It’s a good idea to wait until your hair is about 75 percent dry before you reach for the blow dryer. You’ll expose your hair to less heat and spend less time drying.


8. Don’t Color Your Hair Too Often

We know how annoying it is to have dark roots but coloring your hair too often can be the cause for your hair breakage. Dry hair is more susceptible to breakage and coloring your strands too frequently can cause dryness and damage, leading to breakage. It’s good practice to wait around four to six weeks (or longer) between hair dye sessions to preserve the integrity of your hair.


9. Sleep on a Silk Pillowcase 

If you’re a wild sleeper, friction between your hair and your pillowcase can actually lead to breakage. Silk or satin is gentler on your hair, so consider investing in a silk pillowcase so you’re not roughing up your hair while you sleep. As an alternative, you can also wrap your hair up in a silk scarf or satin bonnet before bed. 


10. Get Routine Trims 

Split ends can lead to breakage and sometimes the only (and best) way to deal with that is by having them snipped off. This is why routine haircuts are so important. If you’re dealing with lots of breakage, you may want to give your hair a fresh start and try a dramatic cut like a pixie cut or a wavy bob.


Next: How to Fix and Prevent Split Ends


Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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