Damaged Hair: Causes & Symptoms

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Dry locks, dull hair, split ends, and easy breakage are all synonymous with hair damage. The good news is that it is possible to reverse this damage by taking good care of your hair. But first, it is important to understand the composition of hair to better treat your condition.

It is important to understand the structure and growth of hair. Hair is a thread-like outgrowth that grows from a follicle. It is mainly composed of keratin and divided into three morphological regions, namely the cuticle, medulla, and cortex. The cuticle is the outermost layer of the hair, while the medulla is the middle layer of the hair and the cortex is the innermost layer of the hair and the hair is attached to the scalp through the cortex.

What is Damaged Hair?

Hair is said to be damaged when either of the layers of the hair is physically or chemically altered. This alteration in the layers of the hair also causes dryness of the hair. Keratin, which is the main component of hair, gets dissolved, causing the hair shaft to become thin.

A young woman holding her dry hair


The reasons for hair damage are different for different people and might range from ordinary practices that cause hair damage all the way to some extreme procedures that cause damage. Let us look at the common reasons that cause hair damage:

  • Hair treatments and harsh brushing: Aggressive brushing and backcombing are considered some of the physical causes of hair damage. When the hair is brushed, combed, blown dry, or styled, mechanical damage can also occur. The physical manipulation that entails even the slightest tugging and pulling causes hair damage. Blow dryers, curling irons, crimpers, and combs used for straightening cause a depletion in the moisture levels of the hair. Exposure to heat during the use of styling equipment damages the hair cuticles. Thus, frequent hair styling may result in extreme hair damage.
  • Exposure to UV rays: Exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause the layers in the cuticle of the hair to fuse with each other. This leads to a loss of elasticity of the hair, making them prone to mechanical breakage.
  • Chemical processing: Permanent or frequent coloring, permanent waving, or straightening can cause an alteration in the chemical bonds of the hair and the loss of tensile strength. This also causes the moisture to evaporate from the hair.
  • Excessive shampooing: Excessive shampooing is one of the major reasons for hair damage. During the shampooing process, when hairs are rubbed against each other, they cause erosion of natural oils that can lead to the deformation of the hair. It can also deplete the natural oils present in the hair.
  • Lack of nutrition: The lack of nutrition is perhaps one of the most undermined factors in damaged hair and hair lossScientific studies suggest that a lack of nutrition in food is one of the reasons for hair damage and hair loss in otherwise healthy individuals. A lack of protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals tend to have damaged hair and ultimately lose hair.


There are signs that indicate that your hair is damaged. Some of them include:

  • Split ends
  • Brittle texture
  • Breakage
  • Dullness
  • Tangles
  • Porous hair
  • Lack of elasticity
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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