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How To Tell If Your Hair Is Damaged (7 Tips!)

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The one thing that no one wants to ever hear is that they have damaged hair.

Having hair that is damaged seems like the end of the world, it’s not, there’s just no going back on it.

The truth is it’s better to know the signs that show your hair is becoming damaged now before it happens, rather than waiting for it to happen and then trying to deal with it.

It is very similar to knowing that your car engine has a problem.  All those warning lights on your dashboard give you an indication that there is a problem.  The lights are there as a warning to you so you can deal with things before they get any worse.

Same for your hair. 

If you can learn how to tell if your hair is damaged early on then you are in a much better position to do something about it rather than waiting for it to become glaringly obvious and at the point of no return.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common signs that your hair is damaged.


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How to tell if your hair is damaged


How To Tell If Hair Is Damaged: 7 Ways

Damaged hair will usually present itself in a number of different ways.  You don’t need to wait for a professional to tell you that your hair is damaged.  There are some very clear telltale signs that you should be on the lookout for.


1. Your Ends May Look Shabby And Weak

The ends of your hair give away so much information. They are the oldest part of your hair and therefore the part that needs the most love and attention. If something is up with your hair you can usually find the answer in your ends.

The ends of your hair may start to look very frayed and not seem to match the rest of your hair strand.

If your hair is straightened it will be even more evident.

Take a close look at the ends of your hair if they are looking very thin then it’s a clear indication of some type of damage.

The main culprits of damage to the ends of your hair are split ends. This can be caused by heat damage or friction.

The only thing that you can do when you have split ends or ends that look shabby is to trim them off.

If you are worried that having to trim your split ends will be more like a hair cut then you can take it slowly and trim in intervals. In all honesty, it’s best to just bite the bullet and get it done so your hair can be allowed to grow out properly.

The problem with split ends is that they travel so if you leave them for too long they will only get worse, not better.


2. Your Curls May Look Lifeless

Have you ever seen a person with voluptuous curls that just seem to be popping all over the place?

Then you look at yours and they seem to be just laying around chilling doing nothing much.

Well, this is a sign that you probably have some form of damage happening. If your curls are more flat than curly then it could be that your hair is lacking moisture.

Moisture helps to breathe new life into your hair.


Popping curls


3. Detangling Takes Much Longer Than Usual

If your hair is seeming to take much longer than usual to detangle even with large amounts of conditioner layered on to help give your hair some slip, this is another clear indication of hair damage.

When this happens it means that you probably have a lot of split ends and that the cuticles of your hair are damaged causing your hair to become unnecessarily tangled.

Your best option here is to trim it.  Alternatively, you could try a protein treatment first to see if that could help to repair some of the damage. You can find a protein treatment here.

A strengthening treatment like this one can also be very useful.

While protein treatments are good for damaged hair they will only work to a certain degree. You need to be aware that if your hair is too severely damaged then no matter how much protein or treatments that your do you use, you will not be able to repair the damage.


Related posts: Does your hair need protein?


4.  Bumpy Strands Of Hair

Take a strand of your hair, if it feels bumpy all the way down you probably have quite a few single strand knots happening.  There isn’t really a whole lot that you can do to get rid of single strand knots once they appear, but you can prevent them from becoming worse.

If you would like to know more about how to do this take a look at this article.

Single strand knots are not the only cause of a bumpy hair strand that you should be aware of. The bumpiness that you feel could also be caused by gaps in the hair strand due to damage.

You can get this type of damage from the over manipulation of your natural hair. This also prevents your hair from growing.


5. Dry And Brittle

The lifeline of all hair is moisture especially if you have curly or kinky hair types.

Without the proper moisture methods, you leave your hair at the mercy of the elements of the weather and anything else that your hair comes into contact with.

Your hair is like a plant and without water, it can not grow.  Anything that is not growing is dying or stagnant at best.

If you are experiencing severe dryness in your hair then you need to up your moisture game as part of your hair regimen.

Regular deep conditioning sessions might be all it takes for your hair to get back on track.


Related post: How to seal moisture in your hair


6. Breakage

When you take a look at your hair and you see areas where parts of your hair are shorter than others the chances are that it is breakage.

You can also take a look at your comb or hairbrush.  Analyse the strands of hair that are in it.  Feel the strand from top to bottom.  If you feel a bulb at the end of the hair then it is probably just natural hair shedding.  If on the other hand there is no bulb then it’s most probably going to be hair breakage.

If it is breakage then you need to either trim it you have a lot of split ends and deep condition as well.  Either way, I would take a long hard look at why your hair is breaking.


7. No Snapback

Curls always have a story to tell.

A healthy hair strand should allow you to pull it slightly and then it snaps back into a curl again.

If when you pull your strand of hair and it breaks then you may be due for a protein treatment.

Your hair should be able to be pulled without causing damage to it.

If you are experiencing breakage when doing this then your hair has lost its elasticity.

If when your hair is wet and you pull it a little and it snaps then you need moisture. You can try this deep conditioner to help rectify the problem. If you pull it and it returns to normal your hair is healthy.

If when you pull a strand  and it overstretches and does not go back into a curl then you need protein. This is a treatment that you can try.


What Does Damaged Hair Look Like?

Hair that is damaged is fairly easy to spot.

The first thing you will notice is split ends. You will notice that the ends of your hair look quite straggly and not as healthy as it was before.

You may also notice that you will have patches where the strands of your hair are much shorter than the rest of your strands of hair.

If you put your hair up into a bun or a ponytail you will notice that your hair feels a lot thinner than what it once was.


Can You Repair Damaged Hair?

Sometimes you can repair damaged hair depending on the severity of the damage.

The usual treatments are either deep conditioning or a protein treatment.

In more severe cases a trim or a cut is necessary. Without a trim, the damage will remain.

Dead hair can’t grow so there really is no point in clinging on to it.



What Causes Damage To Hair?

1. Colour Damage

If you like to regularly colour your hair this could be the source of your problem.

Colouring your hair can cause dryness and make hair very brittle.


2. Over Manipulation

Doing a lot of different hairstyles that require you to pull and tug at your hair causes breakage.  It’s always best to keep hairstyles low manipulation.  Twistouts are great for this.

Save the more elaborate hairstyles for special occasions if you can.


3. Lack Of Moisture

If you are not regularly conditioning your hair and keeping it moisturised you will definitely get breakage happening.

Use the LOC method to help you retain moisture in your hair.


4. Chemical Treatments

Any chemical treatment that you do to your hair is a risk.

If you like to do them often then you need to be aware of the risk that you are taking.


5. Hair Utensils

Brushing and combing hair can sometimes be too harsh.  If you can learn how to finger-comb your hair it’s much more gentle on your strands

If finger combing does take your fancy then make sure you use a wide-tooth hair comb instead and comb from the tip to the root gently, a little at a time.


6. Heat

Heat is a problem for many of us.  If you are going to straighten your hair always use a heat protectant.

When blowdrying and keep the heat on the lowest possible setting so you don’t lose moisture from your hair.


Related post: How to straighten your hair without using heat


How To Know Your Hair Is Damaged Beyond Repair

There is damaged hair and there is severely damaged hair. If you have quickly noticed that your hair is becoming damaged then you might be just in time to do something about it.

Using protein treatments and deep conditioning may be able to help you at this point.

If your hair has gone beyond this, it could be that your hair is damaged beyond repair. Once that happens you have little alternative other than to cut your hair back to the point at which your hair is healthy.

If you are seeing a lot of split ends upon close inspection and they have begun travelling. Or no matter how much you try to add moisture to your hair and it just does not feel the same anymore then your hair could be damaged beyond repair.


Final Thoughts On How To Tell If Your Hair Is Damaged

We’ve all had to deal with hair breakage before.  If you find you have any level of hair damage its best to deal with it head-on and don’t bury your head in the sand.

It may not even be as bad as you initially thought.

If you are in any doubt, get a hair professional to take a look.


Related posts:

Bumps from having braids too tight? Here’s what to do

Why is my hair breaking?

10 Tips for keeping your hair healthy and hydrated


How to tell if your hair is damaged


Natural hair that is damaged


Monday 18th of October 2021

Great article. My hair became damaged from washing it too much and not deep conditioning. I was using a product I love that has excellent slip but doesn’t seem to add moisture back onto my hair. I have never been able to wash, condition and detangle my hair so fast. This led to me redoing my twist-outs every 4-5 days and I even started wearing wash n go’s. This was impossible with any other product. My hair grew really long and maintained its thickness but it’s so dry- it feels like hay. I’ve started deep conditioning now hopefully I can save it. 😌.