This article comes from Allure.
Raise your hand if you love hair breakage. Huh, that’s weird, I don’t think a single person in the world wants anything to do with that. There is nothing cute about dry, brittle strands that flake and break off. It makes having a good hair day that much harder — and life is already pretty hard as it is. But even though breakage sucks, the good news is that you don’t have to live with it. I talked to a few experts to dish on why hair breaks and what you can do to stop it.
Without optimal hydration, hair is much more prone to breakage, so you want to ensure you’re giving your strands the love they deserve. Your hair routine should start with the right shampoo and conditioner that provide ample moisture.
Something else you should take into account is whether you’re subjecting your hair to hard water, which contains chlorine and heavy metals that are harmful to your hair. This can lead to cuticle damage and high porosity, subsequently weakening hair and resulting in breakage. Investing in a shower head filter is a simple way to combat this issue because they’re designed to filter out the harsh minerals, leaving hair stronger and looking more lustrous.
It’s no secret that heat styling makes your hair weaker and more prone to breakage over time. And as you might imagine, it’s even worse if you don’t use any heat protection. If you heat style every day, try switching things up and only using hot tools once or twice a week. Trust me: It could seriously save your strands. What’s more, applying some sort of heat protectant is crucial for preventing breakage when you do cave and use your hot tools.
Repeat after us and your hair will thank you: I will not overexpose my hair to the flatiron. Read the manufacturer’s instructions when you’re using one, and don’t exceed the maximum suggested time on your hair (typically about five seconds). Using a flatiron only once a week and only using those with ceramic plates can also help protect your hair.
When you do blow-dry, it’s best to let your hair air-dry for a bit first. Your hair will be much better off if you start blow-drying when it isn’t dripping wet. Blot (don’t rub) wet hair with a microfiber towel, which is less damaging than the classic terry-cloth turban. If you’re using other heat-styling tools, make sure, again, to use a heat protectant.
An added note on blow-drying: Stretching your hair with a brush while you incinerate it with a blow-dryer is not great for your hair’s health. A good blow-dryer dries so quickly that there really isn’t time for the hair to overheat. It’s recommended to use an ionic dryer with at least 2,000 watts of power. Ditch the big, round brush for one with smooth, synthetic bristles. Also, when you’re blow-drying, don’t yank too hard on the hair, and don’t let the dryer’s nozzle get too close.
Anyone who colors their hair on the regular understands what a struggle it can be to keep it healthy and strong, as the constant overprocessing contributes directly to breakage. Some people with severe damage may even need to make a major change (i.e. a dramatic chop) so that the hair has a fresh start and a chance to grow back in its virgin state.
Fans of chemical straightening, in particular, should consider switching to a keratin treatment, which adds a smooth coating to each strand but doesn’t mess with the cortex.
Believe it or not, your beloved cotton pillowcase could be causing your hair to break off more than usual because it creates friction between the hair and the fabric while you sleep. Instead, invest in a satin or silk pillowcase, which cuts down on the snagging while you snooze. All of these pillowcases are specifically designed with hair (and skin) health in mind.
While it might feel like the instinctual thing to do post-shower sesh, tying your hair up in a towel can actually lead to major tangling and breakage issues. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Instead, swap out your towel for an old, soft T-shirt or a paper towel, both of which are absorbent and also way easier on your hair.
This one goes hand-in-hand with the moisture factor. The more you cleanse your hair, the more it’s stripped of the natural oils it needs to stay in tip-top shape. Hairstylists recommend shampooing only three times a week (depending on your hair type, of course).
If, however, you have fine and/or oily hair that needs to be washed more frequently, you can still shampoo — just be careful. Thoroughly drench your hair with water before you lather up, then concentrate on the hair two inches closest to the scalp, since that’s where sebum collects. And rinse really, really well under the coldest water you can stand.
Click here to continue reading this article.