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.

Unmanageable

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.

Tangled

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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Rashonda

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! :)

gwen

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.

Kristen

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.

Inanna

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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Katelyn

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Is if dam­aged or no?

Inanna

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

Katelyn

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

Katelyn
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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Monique

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

Margerie

ugh! all of the above.

Omolara

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?

mangomadness

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).

Omolara

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

Like do you fin­ger detan­gle also?

mangomadness

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.

Omolara

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

Natalie
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.…

ashleighekari
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 »
lulu
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 »
twinz

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

Charlotte
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 »
JJ

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 »
Sue

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 »
Cacey
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 »
Asia

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..

Leslie

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!!!

merry

solu­tion?

prob­a­bly cut it, the dam­aged ends…

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

liela

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

Cacey

snip snip snip!

STACICE

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

Cacey

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

Chy
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 »
Charlotte
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 »
JJ

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.

mangomadness

Exact­ly!

Naeema

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.…

sosoulful_0125

I was think­ing the same thing

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