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What Does Damaged Hair Look Like? Can I Reverse the Damage?

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We’re all too familiar with the anxiety that creeps up on us when our hair strands start to become different from what they’re used to. Whether they look and feel dry, brittle, frizzy, or porous, there’s one word for all of them – damaged. 

Here's how you can easily spot damaged hair and what you can do to bring it back to its luscious state. 

Table of Contents:

  • What Does Damaged Hair Look Like? How to Tell if Your Hair is Damaged
  • Treating and Preventing Hair Damage

What Does Damaged Hair Look Like? How to Tell if Your Hair is Damaged

If you’ve come to doubt your hair’s healthiness, chances are it’s not as healthy as it should be. Still, damaged hair does not look the same for everyone. Damage can take various forms that you may even think are normal if you have never done the proper research. Here are the 10 main signs that your hair has begun screaming for dear life: 

It’s Dry and Fragile

Usually, hair absorbs and keeps in the perfect quantity of moisture because it’s surrounded by a lipid layer that prevents both retaining too much moisture and the loss of necessary hydration. 

When that lipid layer is damaged, the hair remains exposed and porous, which means that it loses all hydration and easily becomes dry, brittle, and prone to breakage

It Looks and Feels Dull 

No more natural shine? Odds are your hair has sustained considerable damage. Healthy hair bounces off light easily because of the moisture and the lipid layer, but once that is destroyed, your hair follicles will start looking dull and lifeless almost immediately. 

It’s Hard to Brush

Another sign that your hair is damaged is how easily it tangles and how hard it is to get it detangled. That is because the hairs will grab each other during moments of friction. 

WOW tip: using a special detangling hair brush can make all the difference by helping prevent unnecessary hair breakage. 

detangling hair brush


Lack of Elasticity

Damaged hair does not go back to its natural form if it has been stretched out, unlike healthy hair that is very flexible. There are many reasons why your hair lacks elasticity, but the most common is a lack of adequate hydration and proteins. Just like dry hair, it’s prone to breakage. 

Frizz 

Maybe one of our worst enemies when it comes to our hair’s appearance, frizz can be a clear sign of unhealthy hair, and this is because it’s directly linked with many other signs – if your hair is dull, dry, and breaks easily, then it’s probably very wild and frizzy as well. 

Thinning

If you know for sure that you used to have thick hair that showed little to no scalp, and now your scalp is exposed, your hair might be thinning. 

It's normal to start having thin hair at a certain age, and it can also be caused by factors such as stress, but sometimes hair damage can also come as thinning, probably because of too much breakage with no time to grow new healthy hairs at the root. 

Different Porosity 

The hair’s ability to hold moisture is called porosity. You can have low, medium, or high porosity hair. 

If you notice that you can't get your hair wet as easily as before or that it weighs more after a shower and does not dry as well, it might mean that the porosity has changed. For this to occur, there has to be a shift in the integrity of the hair cuticles, likely due to damage. 

Your Products Don’t Work Anymore

If your hair started losing interest in products that it once loved and showed results, it means that something has drastically changed in its chemical responsiveness. Your (probably) damaged hair will need a routine change, adequate to its new needs. 

Split Ends

Split ends are relatively common even if you trim your hair regularly, but they are usually just there: at the ends. If you find that your hair has split ends going very high, about to the middle of your hair length, then that’s a clear sign that it has been through a lot of damage, and it continues to suffer.

Excessive Breakage

It’s normal to lose around 100 hairs per day, so this might go unnoticed, especially if you are used to applying a bit of force when you brush. But damaged hair, in particular, breaks quite easily. 

Look at the hairs that fall off to see if they seem like they have been ripped out. Also, if you do shed more than usual, it’s a sign to take a closer look at your hair’s health. 

Treating and Preventing Hair Damage

Now that we’ve identified the many manifestations of damaged hair, here are some tried and true hair tips you can use to reverse the damage to your hair strands and to prevent it all together:

Lay Off the Heated Tools

Don’t use heated tools as much, especially if your hair looks very dull. Trust us; it probably does not need to be fried off. Instead, try to opt for a naturally styled look, or if you must use heated tools, make sure that you use them at the lowest available setting!

Cut out Bleach and Color

Speaking of frying off, laying off box dye (and bleach) will be a tremendous help for the health of your hair. Box products contain many harmful chemicals that attack the integrity of your hair strand, and so, using them regularly can do a lot of damage to the long-term health of your hair. 

Opt For Moisturizing Hair-Care Routine 

Want to be proactive in preventing damage? Provide your hair with the nutrients it requires by introducing a lot of protein-rich nourishment and moisture into your hair routine! 

Coconut milk hair mask


The “you can’t go wrong with this” WOW moisturizing combo consists of the
coconut milk conditioner and hair mask for optimal hair strand hydration, coupled with an argan oil treatment for that added post-conditioning shine! 

Argan oil


Of course, not every product will work the same for all hair types, but opting for natural products is always a good step to take to test what works best for your hair’s revival. 

Stick with Lukewarm Water

As we’ve just mentioned above with the use of heated tools, hot temperatures can be quite damaging. Surprise, surprise, that also applies to hot water. 

At most, use lukewarm water on both your hair and skin, and if possible, give your hair a last cold rinse before getting out of the shower. 

Pat, Don’t Rub!

Finally, don’t rub your hair (or your skin) vigorously with a towel! Not only does this irritate your scalp, but it can also damage your hair follicles and make them even more prone to breakage. 

Instead, pat it gently to avoid frizz, breakage, and split ends, and try to use a microfibre towel if you can!

Marius Capra

Charismatic copywriter, intrepid linguist, and advertising aficionado. To make a long story short, writing has always been both my greatest passion, and the one thing that would always bring me comfort - whether it was in the form of short stories, poetry, or academic writing. I love to write because I live to express myself as authentically as I can, and I am a firm believer in the fact that words can always do you justice… if you choose the right ones of course.

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