We all know what healthy hair should look like, thick, luscious hair that is so strong it could pull a truck or stop a bullet. But what does damaged hair really look like, is it somebody with a bad case of alopecia or is it dried, fried hair? Or is it the hair on your head? Is it damaged? How do you know if it is damaged or not?
How To Tell:
Lack of Moisture
Your hair feels rough and dry. Roughness is a sign of dryness and damage. Healthy hair is supple and soft, not brittle and dry.
The ends look like you rescued it from the jaws of the garbage disposal. 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 telltale sign of damaged hair. If your hair is splitting soon after a trim then something is very wrong. Healthy hair does not split that easily. The minimum time for healthy hair to split is a month to eight weeks. Some healthy hair requires a trim only once per year.
You use heating tools regularly or not so regularly but you turn the heat up way too high on your tresses. After a couple days your natural hair won’t revert in sections and your relaxed hair is dry and brittle and you have split ends. Yes, your hair is damaged.
Your hair looks dull and lifeless and feels straw like, it just doesn’t look right. Worse it doesn’t feel right, you know you moisturize, in fact you have done so every day on the hour on the hour, you use gels, pomades and hair puddings and oils to seal the moisture in but your hair is spongy and limp. You might have product buildup and you may be over-moisturizing. Yes, there is such a thing.
Breaking and Shedding
Surely you know that it is damaged at this point, you just don’t want to admit it. Your hair has definitely been weakened in some way, if you see large amounts falling out when you comb, brush or style it.
You Color Your Hair Regularly
The coloring process is a hard one on the hair especially if you use highly alkaline solutions to open the cortex layer. The hydrogen peroxide in the hair dyes can leave your tresses dry and damaged.
You Relax Your Hair
Relaxers are incredibly damaging to hair and should be handled with care. It weakens the hair bonds. If for any reason one part of your hair is over relaxed or the chemical is left on so long that your scalp burns that part of your hair will be damaged.
Too Many Knots and Tangles
Your hair is constantly knotted and tangled and it doesn’t respond very well to moisture.
Still not convinced? You can try some tests.
The Feel and Compare Test
You can further compare the strands of your hair from front part or crown of your head, to hairs from the nape of your neck and your hair middle. According to the Ladies Home Journal, if you notice a substantial difference in texture from one strand to another or from roots to ends, your hair may be damaged. Comparing the strands allows you to distinguish the difference between your natural hair texture and damage.
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 ends then it is more than likely damaged at various points on the strand.
Put two or three strands of hair in water, if the water is absorbed quickly and the hair sinks it is porous, the cuticle layer is damaged causing the hair to lose its natural moisture. More on Porosity Here.
Wet hair is like 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 and if it feels mushy and limp and tangled when wet it definitely needs more protein.