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

Leila Noel­liste, 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 Comments on "7 Signs of Damaged Hair"

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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! :)


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.


I went nat­ur­al for about two years -I still con­sid­er myself nat­ur­al- before dying my hair blonde about a month ago. It feels so weird. I for­got what it was like to see this much break­age, split ends, tan­gled hair and damaged/split ends. But one thing that I noticed which I find odd, is that my hair is resist­ing all mois­ture, the mois­ture just sits on the top of my hair and takes much longer to soak in than it did before.
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Is if dam­aged or no?


It looks a lit­tle dry at the end. maybe try Palmer’s coconut deep con­di­tion­ing treat­ment ?


Would get­ting lay­ers in my hair also help with dry brit­tle ends?

I am 13. Last year I straight­ened my hair every sin­gle day for school and some nights I would blow dry it. Tip: if you haven’t ever used hot tools on your hair, don’t ever! At least not every day. I hate my nat­ur­al hair. I still straight­en a lot because my nat­ur­al hair is so embarass­ing to go to school with! But the days I don’t add the straight­en­er to my hair I just wear It in a braid or any­thing else. But I have like pieces under neath my hair like the bot­tom and there is like whole… Read more »
Alezay Brown

Thank you for the Dam­aged hair info, very help­ful, I’m using a great prod­uct that is help­ing me to get healthy hair again.

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thank you for the info, very help­ful, I’m using a great prod­uct that is help­ing me to get healthy hair again, it’s Pro Nat­u­rals Moroc­can Argan Oil, it helps strength­en the hair, smooths the hair, reduces Frizz and helps pre­vent fur­ther dam­age, leaves hair healthy, shiny and resilient and pro­vides heat pro­tec­tion. :) I luv it :P


ugh! all of the above.


Wow. This is nice info. I cut my split ends off even though I’m tran­si­tion­ing.

Does seal­ing help? Ever since I’ve been tran­si­tion­ing, I’ve nev­er used heat from a blow dry­er or flat/curling iron.

For detan­gling, I’m still using my old prod­ucts from dr. mir­a­cle like the leave in, the serum, the hair potion. I do seal with my own olive oil though.

Detan­gling hurts like crazy on tran­si­tion­ing hair. I will try to comb it when I’m con­di­tion­ing my hair though. How can I get more slip for my con­di­tion­er?


Seal­ing your ends help. I like seal­ing with cas­tor oil. Some folks use shea but­ter and oth­er oils.

Detan­gle with con­di­tion­er in your hair. Try doing it before sham­poo­ing on sec­tioned (stretched/styled hair or after sham­poo­ing on wet hair. Do it care­ful­ly, from the ends up (NOT roots down) and stick to what ever method does the least dam­age.

For more slip in a con­di­tion­er, add oils (olive oil, coconut oil, etc).


Thanks a lot. By ends up, do you use a comb also?

Like do you fin­ger detan­gle also?


Fin­ger-detan­gle and then fol­low up with a wide-toothed comb. The “ends up” advice is most­ly for comb-detan­gling in order to pre­vent exces­sive break­age.


I got it. I can still detan­gle with fin­gers then comb my hair from my roots down to ends?

Brit­tle tex­ture is how I know my hair is mis­er­able and dam­aged. I have elim­i­nat­ed the prob­lem with a good wash­ing rou­tine, only wet detan­gling, a good mois­tur­is­ing sys­tem and very low manip­u­la­tion styles. I only do styles like tuck and pin or a bun now and my hair feels and looks good. I like to do afro puffs too and just spritz my puff with water and add gel and I’m ready to rock. My hair does get very tan­gled but the styles I do hide it and mean I don’t have to detan­gle. If I want to wear… Read more »
Robin Stewart

I am an African Amer­i­can pri­vate inven­tor try­ing to get my hair prod­uct out. It’s called the Fusion­comb. Please take a look at the web site and spread the word. May GOD BLESS…
http://WWW.FUSIONCOMB.COM. The Beta mod­els work well with nat­ur­al hair. Please take a look.
You can email from the site too.…

Cacey is right. The only thing you can do is pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing, and if it hap­pens, the only thing you can do then is just cut the dam­aged part off. I am a 4b/4c most­ly, and although my hair is prone to tan­gles, when my hair was dam­aged it was TOTALLY unman­age­able. I know now that my hair is comb-able *some­what* eas­i­ly. But when it was dam­aged I thought it was just my course tex­ture, but I was wrong… it was major dam­age. I have a video on my youtube about it, and my jour­ney in gen­er­al. Now… Read more »
I know peo­ple will shoot this down because they say hair is dead but I deal with chron­ic con­sti­pa­tion (yeah yeah tmi) and I see a BIG dif­fer­ence in my hair when I’m not mov­ing and when I am. When I’m con­sti­pat­ed, my hair is EXACTLY what you describe here and it does not mat­ter if i’m using puri­fied water, if i’m deep/protein con­di­tion­ing 10 times a week, if i’m mois­tur­iz­ing every­day, if i leave it alone, if i’m ten­der with it, eat­ing right, drink­ing tons of water. NOTHING helps. My hair is just extreme­ly dry and brit­tle like hay.… Read more »

Have u been on a high fiber diet? I had issies with con­tipa­tion and I start­ed using pys­lli­um husk and flax seedsin my diet it works

I have heard of dietary fiber play­ing a role in hair health as well as hair health being linked to diges­tion. This is inter­est­ing because I have severe­ly dry hair that lacks resilience and I also have had con­sti­pa­tion a lot. How­ev­er, mine has got­ten bet­ter since I start­ed tak­ing mag­ne­sium and eat­ing more veg­eta­bles, espe­cial­ly fruits. Lack of fiber is not the only cause of con­sti­pa­tion though and some ppl can­not han­dle a lot of fiber. Since the fiber thing is com­mon sense I am sure you know this already. What I would sug­gest is to sus­pect mag­ne­sium defi­cien­cy… Read more »

All the best and thanks for shar­ing with us. We’ve learned some­thing new and you nev­er know how you may be help­ing oth­ers.

Annie L.
@ lulu Con­ven­tion­al and alter­na­tive med­i­cine cite cor­re­la­tions between BM and hair loss. The­o­ries range from hair loss as a side effect of tox­ic build up of waste mat­ter and it being cir­cu­lat­ed in the blood, to hair loss as a side effect of nutri­ent and cir­cu­la­to­ry star­va­tion (lack of fiber, water and exer­cise), which may have caused the con­sti­pa­tion in the first place.  I suf­fered hair loss due to a tox­ic reac­tion to med­ica­tion once and con­sid­er diet and exer­cise impor­tant to hair health but nev­er thought about includ­ing ‘back up’ as a poten­tial hair loss cul­prit. Your expe­ri­ence sounds… Read more »

I would sug­gest you see a Gas­troen­ter­l­ogist for the constipation.…what you are expe­ri­enc­ing isnt nor­mal…

Annie L.
Signs of dam­age for me are usu­al­ly dull, brit­tle, break­ing and hyper-absorp­tive hair. Styling, tan­gles and splits not so much. I’ve done dam­age with silk pro­tein, heat, humec­tants, poor col­or upkeep, crap diet and not oil­ing my scalp before using ayurvedic pow­ders. They’re strength­en­ing, con­di­tion­ing and mois­tur­iz­ing but acidic and can cause dry scalp forc­ing it to pro­duce more sebum to com­pen­sate for the imbal­ance. My solu­tions? I killed heat, col­or and pro­tein, went low humec­tant, over­hauled my diet and nutri­ent intake and went back to WO (water-only) wash­ing. I do occa­sion­al amla-shikakai-hibis­cus masks but now oil thor­ough­ly before­hand. Anoth­er… Read more »
I had dam­aged hair. i’ve just yes­ter­day and today, for that mat­ter had to take off 2 inch­es in total. :( the bras­trap length goal that had been just about a month away from me? now, try 4 or 5. if i wasn’t ordi­nar­i­ly a scis­sor hap­py per­son any­way then i would be quite depressed about this. but i was get­ting a lot­ta break­age, my hair was hard­er to deal with- split ends just would NOT go away. pret­ty much all the signs list­ed here, i’d been in denial about and try­ing to hold on to length. my ends weren’t… Read more »

my ends have always been rough feel­ing. idk if it’s my tex­ture, or if my hair has been dam­aged since my bc. idk I think I need to feel dam­aged hair, because I don’t know what to com­pare it to..


My ends were exact­ly the same. I used to feel quite deflat­ed when I touched then and they felt so rough. Any­hoo I read the 7 ways to effec­tive­ly seal your ends arti­cle, and would you believe it, my ends are smooth as. I BC about 7 months ago, my hair is about 4 inch­es all around. So Asia maybe read that arti­cle found on this blog and see if it helps…good luck!!!



prob­a­bly cut it, the dam­aged ends…

and then get on a seri­ous mois­ture, con­di­tion­ing regime until prob­lem resolves…


we all know what dam­aged hair is. have any solu­tions as to what to do about it???


snip snip snip!


ok so what needs to be done when all this is going on???????????


there’s no way of amend­ing dam­aged hair. the only thing you can do is cut it off and start afresh

i’d have to dis­sagree. I suf­fered from real­ly bad heat dam­age for a few years.. My hair was con­stant­ly break­ing off and my curly hair turned com­plete­ly straight and thin look­ing. I had just about all of the symp­toms list­ed in the arti­cle. I was told that the only way for my hair to get bet­ter was to cut it all off but there was no way I was going to do that. So, last year I went the whole year with­out press­ing or blow dry­ing my hair. My hair is now full and my curls have came back. Not… Read more »
I agree with you 100%. My hair has only been climb­ing upward. It was suf­fer­ing severe mechan­i­cal break­age due to wet/damp stretch­ing, con­stant pro­tec­tivr styling in gen­er­al, exces­sive detan­gling and I also sus­pect glyc­erin sen­si­tiv­i­ty. Since 100% split free hair is prob­a­bly not attain­able for most ppl, I opt­ed to cut off loads and loads of dam­aged and split hairs indi­vid­u­al­ly, and trim my ends grad­u­al­ly, whilst con­tin­u­ing to deep con­di­tion, clar­i­fy and strength­en my hair. In the mean time, find­ing a reg­i­men that works for me to have healthy hair, and exper­i­ment­ing on my cur­rent hair rather than dam­ag­ing… Read more »

I would like to add that for tan­gled hair, it depends on your hair tex­ture. Some tex­tures are more tan­gle prone than oth­ers, doesn’t mean they are dam­aged.




I JUST came to the com­ments sec­tion to make a note about this. I com­plete­ly dis­agree with the state­ment that healthy hair can be eas­i­ly combed — NOT!! My 4c hair requires fin­ger detan­gling. I remem­ber being very frus­trat­ed by this when I first when nat­ur­al, but once I let go of the con­cept of “need­ing” to comb my hair based on my relax­er days and based on how some nat­ur­al “gurus” styled their hair, my jour­ney became a lot eas­i­er and my hair and I reached a truce:) 

No combs = growth for me. I fin­ger detan­gle and my hair loves it.…


I was think­ing the same thing