When your natural hair is damaged, anything from its appearance to the ability of your strands to absorb and hold moisture may be affected. To add to this, hair damage ranges in severity and cannot always be 100% repaired without a trim. Addressing any damage in your hair will allow you to make the proper changes to your hair care regimen and ultimately lead to healthier, happier tresses in the long-run. Here are 5 tell-tale signs your natural hair is damaged:
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1) YOUR HAIR DOESN’T HOLD MOISTURE FOR LONG
One of the tell-tale signs your natural hair is damaged, is that it cannot hold moisture for long. Your hair’s ability to hold and absorb moisture is known as its porosity. When your hair is at a normal porosity, it is able to readily absorb moisture as well as keep it. If you find that your hair dries up quickly especially after you moisturize it, this means that moisture is freely escaping from your strands and could signal hair damage. The reason your hair may not be able to retain moisture is often times the result of damage done to the hair cuticle, causing it to become highly porous.
Highly porous, or high porosity hair, is where the scales of the hair cuticle are in a raised state. It is a natural hair trait for some, but high porosity hair is typically caused by some sort of damage or chemical alteration to the hair (e.g. color hair dye or heat tools). One of the main traits associated with high porosity hair is difficulty retaining moisture. Due to the damaged hair cuticle being in a raised state, those with high porosity hair may find that moisture absorbs easily into their strands, but escapes just as fast. So, if your natural hair does not hold moisture for long, this could be a sign that it is damaged and highly porous.
2) SOME OF YOUR HAIR STRANDS ARE A SIGNIFICANTLY LOOSER CURL PATTERN THAN THE REST OR CLOSE TO STRAIGHT
A more noticeable sign of damage in your natural hair may be seen in its appearance. The appearance of your hair can change if it is damaged as the protein bonds throughout your hair have been altered. Your strands consist of a protein called keratin. This protein structure helps to give form to your natural curl pattern.
So, if any of your strands are a significantly looser curl pattern than normal or close to straight and straggly, this may be a sign that the protein bonds that form your hair have been weakened or damaged beyond repair. Heat and chemical use are big culprits of this. Once the protein bonds in your hair have been damaged, it is often irreversible and the damaged pieces will eventually have to be trimmed off. In the mean time, there are some products that can help to alleviate certain problem areas and strengthen your strands.
3) YOUR HAIR TANGLES UP EASILY AND FREQUENTLY
If you find that your detangling process is a long, tedious and seemingly frequent task, it could signal that your natural hair is damaged. Frequent tangles mean that your strands easily intertwine with each other. Tangles are normal for any hair type. However, excessive tangling could indicate that the hair cuticle is not laying smoothly. When the hair cuticle is in a damaged and lifted state, your strands are more prone to looping around each other.
A healthy hair cuticle should lay flat and smooth. A damaged hair cuticle will make your hair feel rough to the touch and frizzy in appearance. These frizzy fly-aways can also loop around each other and create tangles. To add, highly porous strands could be another possible cause of excess tangles and indicate damaged hair.
4) YOUR HAIR IS BREAKING OFF EASILY
It is normal for hair to shed. However, no matter how inevitable it may seem, breakage should not be a norm in your hair care routine. If you find that your hair keeps breaking off easily, this is a big sign that your natural hair is damaged. When your strands are breaking off with ease, this means that they are in a weakened state and have more than likely lost their elasticity. Strong, healthy hair strands should be able to spring back to their natural form and curl pattern when stretched or gently tugged.
If your strands are breaking off at the slightest manipulation done to your hair (e.g. when brushing or styling), this could be the result of damage done to the structure of your hair that has left your strands in a weakened state. As mentioned previously, heat, hair dyes, relaxers, etc., can all permanently damage and alter the protein bonds throughout your hair.
5) YOUR HAIR ALWAYS LOOKS DULL AND FRIZZY
Another one of the visible signs your natural hair is damaged is if your hair always looks dull and frizzy. When your hair is moisturized, it should give off some degree of shine and smoothness showing that moisture is locked in and your strands are hydrated. If your hair is always looking dull and frizzy, your strands are lacking adequate hydration and / or lacking the ability to retain it. Excessively frizzy hair could also indicate that the hair cuticle is not laying smoothly nor sealed. The hair cuticle should be able to lay smoothly to lock in moisture. Over-processed hair also commonly looks frizzy and dull in appearance as the protein bonds in the hair have been impaired.
With a few of the signs your natural hair is damaged in mind, click here to see how to get your natural hair healthy again: