7 Signs of Damaged Hair

By Jae Ireland

When your hair is damaged and dry, you’ll find that it is harder to deal with than usual. If you don’t know whether your hair has been damaged by years of coloring, constant heat styling or everyday abuse, you can look for seven clear signs that your hair has been damaged. If you recognize these signs in your hair, it may be time to stop over-processing your hair and begin fostering healthy hair by taking better care of it.

Dull and Lackluster

Hair that is damaged won’t have a supple look. You may find that you have to resort to a silicone spray to enhance your hair’s shine, or that even after deep conditioning your hair still looks dull. This is a sure sign that your hair is damaged and the shafts are no longer smooth.

Brittle Texture

To test whether or not your hair is damaged, hold a section of hair upside down so that your ends are pointing upward. Run your finger over the end to test the texture. Are they soft, or are they hard and brittle? A brittle, dry texture denotes a damaged hair shaft that is not absorbing moisture well.


If your hair was previously easy to style and quick to take care of, and you find that your hair is having a harder time holding a style, is constantly staticky or you have a problem with flyaways, then your hair is probably damaged. Dry hair causes it to break into short pieces that are harder to managed. Damaged hair won’t hold a style as easily as healthy hair will.


Healthy hair is supple and moisturized, so it shouldn’t be hard to comb out after a bath or shower. Damaged hair will clump and stick together, making it hard to get through, even with the aids of leave-in conditioners and styling products. If your hair is constantly tangled in knots and hard to comb out, it could mean that it is damaged.

Split Ends

You can look for split ends by wrapping a section of hair around your finger near the end of the hair and watch for ends that stick up when the rest of the hair is wrapped around. Split ends are a separating of the end, caused by dryness and harsh treatment. There is no way to treat split ends but to cut them off, as the hair becomes so damaged it cannot be fused back together again.

Susceptible to Breakage

If you notice more hairballs in your comb or around your room/bathroom, it could be a sign of damaged hair. Damaged hair that is dry and brittle will snap off more easily. While some hair loss is normal, when you see a large increase of it, you can count on damaged hair as being the culprit.

Color Fade or Hyper-Absorption

Damaged hair is more porous than healthy hair, resulting in problems when you want to color your hair. The dye might absorb too much into the hair, giving you a too-dark result that you didn’t want. You also may find that your hair color fades faster, as the excess porousness of the hair releases too much of the color when you shampoo your hair.

Ladies, how can you tell when your hair is damaged?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...


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41 thoughts on “7 Signs of Damaged Hair

  1. my hair is damaged. I big chopped Oct 2013 and it is Sept 2014 and I only have about 3 inches of growth. My hair appears to be damaged at the roots. Not sure what to do other than big chop all over again.

    • Healthy hair comes from a healthy scalp, so maybe that’s it. I use ORS’s Scalp Scrub and it helped damaged areas of my scalp.

  2. Nutress Stop-Break Hair products work great for damaged hair! I use their products all the time. My hair has gotten stronger and healthier after every use. I guarantee these products will make your hair flawless! :)

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