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For healthy hair - and not just healthy-looking hair - you need to take out a little bit of time every day to care for it. Yes, this might be a change from your teenage days when you thought your hair was very low-maintenance. But your body, habits and lifestyle change with time and so should your hair care routine. If you don’t adapt, you can end up with brittle, rough and dull hair. Nobody wants that, right? So let’s talk about one of the most common hair problems people face: hair breakage. 

If you thought you were the only one waking up and finding strands of hair on your pillow, think again. Hair breakage is a very common problem and almost everyone suffers from it at some point or the other. And while a little bit of hair fall and breakage is manageable, too much of it at an early age can become worrying and, in some situations, even embarrassing.  

Thankfully though, excessive hair breakage doesn’t mean you’re on your way to becoming bald. This is a problem that can be fixed most of the time, and very easily too - depending on what’s causing it in the first place.  

There are many causes of hair breakage - some serious and some not so serious. But it’s important to find out the cause to be able to treat the problem in the right manner. No amount of hair care products will do any good if the problem is actually within. Once you figure out the cause of your hair breakage, there are so many home remedies, specialised products, and even some simple tips and hacks that can reduce this problem and return your hair to its former glory.

(Also read: How to make your hair grow fast and long)

  1. Causes of hair breakage
  2. Tips to reduce hair breakage
  3. Home remedies to reduce hair breakage

There can be many causes of hair breakage, and often more than just one. Here are some of them: 

1. Stress

Stress doesn’t just affect your mind. We now know how it can affect almost every aspect of your life. Too much stress or being stressed for an elongated period of time can have many negative side-effects on your body. One of them is an increase in hair breakage. There are three main phases of hair growth: 

  • Anagen: During which your hair grows
  • Catagen: The transition stage, which signifies the end of hair growth
  • Telogen: During which your hair prepares to shed

Telogen effluvium is a condition in which the percentage of hair in the telogen stage increase - which results in more shedding of hair. It can be caused by severe stress.  

2. Haircare products

Just like the rest of your body, the pH of your hair needs to be balanced for it to remain healthy. The pH of your hair is usually between 4.5 and 5.5. Shampoos and conditioners that can match this (or come close to it) would work perfectly to avoid any bacterial growth and retain optimum levels of moisture. 

Some products, however, contain harmful chemicals, like sulphates, parabens, alcohols, etc. Some are worse than others and can completely rid your scalp of sebum (natural oil), make your hair dry and lead to hair breakage. 

3. Hair treatments

If you’re a fan of coloured and treated hair, you already know that those hair treatments come with a huge cost - and we’re not talking money. To permanently change the colour or texture of your hair, most of these treatments require the use of chemicals. And these chemicals can cause a lot of damage to your hair and weaken it in the long run. Sure, your hair will look great leaving the salon, but you’ll be able to notice more hair breakage than before.  

4. Washing hair too often

Washing your hair removes dirt and excess oil from your hair and scalp. But washing it too often can leave your hair without any sebum and moisture. This might be needed if you have extremely oily hair but if your hair is already on the dryer side, it can really suffer from this habit. 

5. Towel drying

Rubbing wet hair vigorously with a towel can cause an increase in hair breakage. Natural drying is the best way to dry your hair after a wash, you can tie your hair in a microfibre towel for a few minutes to let it absorb the excess water. 

6. Diet

You might be doing everything right on the outside but if you’re still facing a lot of hair breakage, you should look at your nutritional intake. After all, your diet has an effect on every function of your body - directly or indirectly. Some nutritional deficiencies (like reduced levels of protein, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc) in the body can cause your hair to become brittle and dry. This leads to an increase in hair breakage. 

7. Dryness 

Moisture is essential for the good health of your hair. And there are just too many things that can strip it from your hair. It can be things that are completely out of your control like extreme heat, dry weather or super low humidity. Or it can be things you’re doing consciously like regularly using hair tools that apply heat like hairdryers, hair straighteners and curling irons.  

8. Hairstyles

Yes, some hairstyles are actually more harmful to the health of your hair than others. Styling your hair in a tight bun, braid or even ponytail too often can cause it to break more because of the repetitive strain. This is also called traction alopecia and can be reversed. 

9. Not getting a cut

If you’re in the process of growing out your hair, you might skip a haircut or two thinking it might work in your favour. This is actually not the best way to go since it can lead to more hair breakage instead. Cutting off the unhealthy ends can create room for healthy hair to grow by getting rid of split ends that might extend towards the root if not cut in time.

10. Hormonal disorders

Hormonal imbalances can wreak havoc on your body. One of the not-so-horrible symptoms of some of them can be excessive hair breakage. Polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS) is characterised by an increase of androgens produced in the body. Apart from irregular periods, acne and weight gain, even loss of hair from the scalp is a symptom of it. 

Similarly, with thyroid disorders, an imbalance in the thyroid hormone can cause thin and brittle hair. It can result in excessive hair loss or breakage, resulting in some bald patches. Other symptoms are fatigue, weight gain and cold insensitivity. 

(Also read: Hair loss symptoms, treatment, medicine, prevention)

Once you figure out the cause(s) of your hair breakage, you can devise a plan that can help deal with the cause as well as the symptoms of hair breakage. In the meantime, here are a few tips that can always come in handy:

  1. Get a haircut regularly, even if it’s just a tiny little trip. Every two-three months would be suitable. 
  2. Have a balanced diet, with the right allocation of protein, iron and antioxidants. Adding fish and eggs might be beneficial as they contain biotin, which is great for hair growth. 
  3. Wash your hair with the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. Check the label to make sure it contains ingredients that aren’t extremely harmful. 
  4. Use a heat protecting spray before using tools like a blow dryer or straightener. Also, if possible, reduce the use of such tools and let your hair dry naturally. 
  5. Get checked for underlying disorders if you notice more symptoms, like a thyroid serum profile to check for thyroid disorders or a PCOS panel to check for polycystic ovaries syndrome. 
  6. Use a silk pillowcase instead of a cotton one and replace elastic hair ties with cloth-covered ones. 
  7. Only brush your hair as required as overbrushing can also lead to hair breakage. 
  8. Wash your hair an appropriate amount and not unnecessarily - if you have extremely oily hair, you may wash daily. But if you have extremely dry hair, you can wash your hair even just once a week. 
  9. Some treatments are better for your hair than others. If you much colour or treat hair, ask your hairdresser for suggestions of what would be less harmful to the quality of your hair. Some hair strengthening treatments can help reduce the damage when combined with hair colouring, so inquire about those as well. 
  10. Reduce exposure to extremely stressful situations if possible - not only for your hair but your overall health as well. 

(Also read: Grey hair causes, symptoms, treatment, prevention)

If you’re looking for natural ingredients that can help with hair growth and reduce hair breakage, you’re going to get a lot of suggestions. From apple cider vinegar to avocados - people have tried everything under the sun to get shiny, healthy hair. Not all of these are well-researched and scientifically-backed though. If something works for you, go on and continue doing that. If you’re looking for a new hack though, here are some home remedies that you might want to give a try. 

Aloe vera

An excess of sebum can clog hair follicles and keep hair from growing back. The application of aloe vera can help remove the sebum to unclog the pores as well as soothe the scalp. 

How to: Take some pure aloe vera and massage it gently onto your scalp. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Proceed to rinse it out with lukewarm water. Try this once and if it doesn’t make your hair too dry, you can repeat it once a week. 

Coconut oil

We’ve all heard of how oiling is good for your hair but here’s the science - coconut contains lauric acid which has a high affinity for the protein - which is what your hair is made up of. Application of coconut oil reduces the loss of proteins. Coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft, which helps protect it from external factors that might cause breakage. 

How to: Heat up some coconut oil and use it to massage your scalp for 10 minutes. Dip a towel in warm water, wring it to remove excess water and tie up your hair with it. Keep the towel on for as long as it’s warm or 30 minutes and then proceed to shampoo your hair well. Repeat this once or twice a week. 

Fish oil 

Dermal papilla cells regulate the growth and development of hair follicles and are located right under them. Fish oil promotes the growth of these cells. 

Fish oil also contains antioxidants that improve skin and hair health.

How to: Mix a spoon of fish oil with olive oil. Massage your scalp with it for 10-15 minutes. Wait an hour and then you can wash your hair. Repeat once a week.  

Ginseng

Ginseng works a bit like fish oil - it stimulates the dermal papilla cells to develop new hair follicles. Ginseng may also induce and elongate the anagen state in which the hair grows. 

How to: Mix ginseng oil with coconut or argan oil. Apply to your scalp and massage gently for 10 minutes. After an hour, wash your hair with shampoo. You can repeat this twice a week. 

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