I’ve written about hair loss before and what you can do to remedy it. But there are still a lot of people who don’t even realize how they’re damaging their locks in the first place. It’s easy to blame genetics for your less-than-stellar-looking hair. But the truth is, you may have no one to blame but yourself for your damaged tresses.
Think about it. Have you done any of the following?
- colored it
- blow dried it (daily)
- straightened it
- curled it
- washed and rinsed (twice or more every bath time)
- layered on various hair products
- styled it vigorously
- gotten highlights or lowlights
Did you say yes to one or more of the above? Well, you should know that the list isn’t anywhere near as exhaustive as it really is.
Human hair is composed of keratin fibers. These fibers have three layers:
- medulla – innermost layer
- cortex – middle layer
- cuticle – outside layer that protects the tightly bundled inner layers
Hair could grow an average of a quarter of an inch every month. It keeps on growing for up to 6 years. Once the growth phase is done, your hair strands fall out. This is the only way for newer hair to start growing.
Genes do affect hair growth. By that I mean that for some people, the hair cycle doesn’t take as long as 6 years. Some just need a couple of years to complete and restart the cycle. This is why some people can’t seem to grow their hair for very long. Another thing dictated by genes is hair thickness, which is defined by how small or large the hair follicles are. When follicles shrink in size, though, there’s a chance a person will end up bald.
But it is the extrinsic factors that affect the hair growth cycle more than DNA most of the time. Styling, for example, can damage hair cuticles and expose the inner core. What you end up with is dry and luster-free hair.
What else could you be doing that’s damaging your locks?
- Heat Styling
High heat will damage hair. Do it often enough and you’re pretty much killing your tresses.
Here’s what you’re doing wrong:
- setting your drier to high heat
- applying heat directly against the hair
- not using heat protectant
- using a metal brush
To help prevent damage, do the following.
- Do not heat style hair too often.
- Use low or medium heat setting only. Same effect, but less risk of burning hair.
- Distribute heat more evenly by using a nozzle.
- Use non-metal brush.
- Dry the roots only. Let the rest go natural.
- Use a protectant.
- Hair Products
Hair products are plenty and easily available in the market. Of course, a majority of them are packed with ingredients that are not even necessary and are bad for your hair. These include harsh chemicals, alcohol and sulfates.
Therefore, if you must use a hair product, choose one that’s sulfate-free or those with natural ingredients like coconut and jojoba oil. This will help hydrate hair and prevent it from drying out.
Much like with your skin, the sun can also damage your hair and dry it out. Look for hair care products that carry UV protection.
- Frequent Treatments
Treatments may be damaging your locks.
- Bleaching removes hair’s natural pigments. That makes it weaker and more susceptible to damage.
- Perms break the inner bonds of hair, making it weaker, duller, drier and more brittle.
- Highlights and coloring changes the inner hair structure. This could affect luster.
One hundred brushstrokes a day will release the natural oils in the scalp and leave hair shiny and full. Isn’t that what your elders always told you? It may be true, but be careful you don’t overdo it. The last thing you want or need is for friction to give you split ends and breakage.
There’s always that one person with envy-inducing locks. But your genes aren’t the only ones preventing, or helping, you get the same shiny and bouncy tresses. Look at what you’re doing to your hair and you’ll see that you may be sabotaging your own glorious hair.