Developing a hair regimen is a key way to achieve healthy hair. It requires you to develop a routine of healthy hair practices. We all know what we think healthy hair should look like: thick, shiny, bouncing hair that blows in the wind and has a healthy sheen. But what does damaged hair really look like?
The beauty of knowing whether your hair is damaged or not is that you can do something to stop the damage in its tracks before it takes over and gets to a level where it becomes hard or tedious to repair.
Split ends: Wrap small sections of your hair around your finger or a pen. Any small, uneven strands sticking out indicate that you have split ends, a sure sign of damaged hair. Healthy hair does not split that easily. 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.
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.
Extreme breakage and shedding: Your hair has definitely been weakened if you see large amounts falling out when you comb, brush or style your locks.
Thinning or balding: This is always big cause for alarm, if you have thinning edges, you are putting too much tension on that fragile hair and that could be from braids that are too tight, wearing headbands too often that are pulling at your edges or from wigs or weaves. Your hair needs time to breathe between added hair applications like weaves whether glued or sewn, your hair needs a break from tight styles like braids too. Thinning hair or bald spots is a huge sign that your hair is struggling so rescue it.
Tangle: Healthy hair is supple and moisturized, so it should not 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.
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 sticky or you have a problem with fly-aways, 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.
Elasticity test: Wet hair is elastic, take a strand and gradually pull. Healthy hair can stretch up to one third beyond its natural length and then shrink back to normal. If your hair snaps after stretching a little it needs more moisture, if it stretches more than usual and then breaks, it needs more protein. If it feels mushy, limp, and tangled when wet, it definitely needs more protein.
Colour fade or hype absorption: Damaged hair is more porous than healthy hair, resulting in problems when you want to colour 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 colour fades faster, as the excess porousness of the hair releases too much of the colour when you shampoo your hair.
Hairbrush test: Look in your hairbrush or if you don’t use a brush, look in your comb. Is your hair coming out mostly from the roots or do you see broken off hairs all over the floor or sink. If your hair is breaking off in the middle or on the ends, then it is more than likely damaged at various points on the strand.
Hair is Extremely Dry: Since African hair is so kinky/coily, it is difficult for our natural hair sebum to reach the ends of our hair. For this reason, moisturizing your hair should be a key focus of your hair regimen. If you notice that your hair feels very dry and brittle, then you should take special attention to moisturizing your hair.