Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/16/2022
Has your hair lost its shine? Maybe it appears more straw-like than strand-like, or maybe you’ve started noticing hair breakage in different areas. From a luster-less appearance, split ends, hair breakage or even bald spots, damaged hair can take on a variety of appearances.
We’re guessing you’ll agree that none of these things are ideal hair appearance characteristics. After all, most of us dream of bouncy, shiny, thick strands rather than any of the things listed above. So, how can you ensure your tresses look more like they belong in a hair commercial?
First, you need to understand what can cause damaged hair. From there, you can utilize different treatments and habits to keep your locks healthy and thriving.
There are a number of paths that can lead to dry, brittle hair. Most commonly, hair care habits that you have can lead to unhealthy strands. This includes things that either take away moisture from your strands or put unnecessary stress on your hair.
Some of the more common causes of hair damage include:
Being to vigorous when you shampoo (or when you towel dry hair)
Brushing your hair when it’s wet and tugging at tangles (wet hair is fragile)
Using hot tools — like a blow dryer or straightener — on too high a heat or too regularly
Hair products with a long-lasting hold
Tight hairstyles, weaves or extensions (these put pressure on the scalp and can lead to hair loss
Coloring, perming or relaxing your hair — or any other chemical treatments
Now for some positive information: If your hair is damaged or you’re dealing with brittle hair, you can absolutely turn that ship around and sail right on back to healthy hair.
Some of the ways to do this are through lifestyle tweaks, but there are also products and medications that can revive your strands and give you lustrous, smooth hair.
If you need help figuring out what you should do, it may be worth consulting with a professional. Until then, read up on some treatment options.
Research shows that a lack of iron and zinc in your diet may have an effect on your hair. In addition to this, if you’re experiencing hair loss, increasing your intake of these vitamins and nutrients may boost hair growth.
If you’d like to get more zinc in your diet, try foods like crab, oysters, pork chops, oatmeal and peas. Want to boost your iron? Consider eating more spinach, poultry, seafood, lentils, white beans and nuts.
There’s really no good reason for you to smoke. It can lead to so many health issues — like cancer and other diseases.
Cigarette smoke is a pollutant that can cause hair damage. This smoke has even been found to damage the DNA of the hair follicle. Yikes.
How you shampoo matters. Ideally, you want to gently massage the shampoo into your scalp. Then, when you rinse it out, let the water do the work. Don’t rub your strands to get it out. That’ll only make already brittle hair more prone to breakage. And try to let your hair dry naturally when possible.
Oh, and don’t skip the conditioner! The whole point of a conditioner is to replace moisture. They can also increase shine and volume.
There are a variety of conditioners to choose from — from ones intended for daily use, to leave-in conditioner and deep conditioning masks.
Interested in a leave-in conditioner? They are meant to be applied to wet hair after a shower to moisturize and detangle hair.
Another option is a hair mask, which can really turbo-charge hydration.
Taking omega-3 fatty acids or making sure you have enough of them in your diet can help keep your hair healthy.
A study looked at 120 women over six months and found that omega-3 and omega-6 (both are antioxidants) can improve hair density. Translation: they can help you score thicker hair.
There are plenty of foods with omega-3s in them, including:
Salmon, mackerel and tuna
Chia seeds and walnuts
Another option is to take an omega-3 supplement.
Coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which can help protect your locks. Plus, coconut oil is packed with fatty acids. As mentioned above, these can encourage hair health. Finally, it penetrates the hair shaft deeply, which can help prevent breakage.
Many people use coconut oil as a hair mask.
Biotin supplements have become quite popular, and there’s even early research showing it may help with hair health.
That said, much more research needs to be done. It’s also worth noting that you probably get enough biotin in your diet.
Still want to try a biotin supplement? It can’t hurt! Hers offers biotin gummies.
This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. Basically, constant pulling can lead to permanent hair follicle damage and, ultimately, hair loss.
If you have extensions or a weave, make sure they don’t feel tight or like they’re pulling on your scalp. As for hairstyles, the looser, the better.
The sun can harm your skin, but it can also damage your hair. UV radiation can cause your hair to lose proteins and weaken over time.
To prevent this from happening, wear a hat in the sun.
If hair loss is your issue, try topical minoxidil. It is FDA-approved as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia (genetic hair loss) and is often sold under the brand name Rogaine®. It can be found in a 2% solution or 5% foam.
Minoxidil encourages your blood vessels to open so that more nutrients and oxygen can get to your hair. It akso elongates the growth period for your hair, which means more follicles are created to replace the hair you lose.
If you’re dealing with hair loss, you’ll want to work with a healthcare professional to determine the cause of your hair loss. From there, they can prescribe the right medication for you.
Dry hair is on nobody’s hair type wishlist. Beyond dryness, damaged hair can look patchy, frizzy, dull or sparse. This type of damage may also give the appearance of thinner hair — the exact opposite of that beautiful luscious hair we all dream of.
Bad habits — like frying your strands with hot tools or not washing properly — can lead to this damage.
How to stop hair breakage? Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to revive your hair strands and get back to healthy hair. Some options include medication, a good diet, and supplements.
To figure out what your strands need and how to address your hair damage, consider starting by filling out Hers hair care assessment.