Head Strong

Got brittle hair or broken strands? Hair loss due to breakage or hair damage doesn’t have to be the be-all and end-all of your crowning glory. And while celebrity images might make the idea of having lush, full and abundantly thick hair seem daunting, the journey to full and strong hair is entirely possible. Understand what causes hair loss and breakage, so you can learn the best ways to control and prevent it.

What causes hair loss?

The Anatomy Of Human Hair

According to Dr. Vicky Jolliffe, a dermatologist specializing in hair loss, it is normal for us to lose 100-150 strands a day, and this number can be on the higher end in the warmer months.

Causes of hair loss can run the gamut from health issues, prescription medicine, prolonged stress and hormonal changes. Jolliffe adds that nutritional factors are also very important in the hair cycle, and increased amounts of shedding have been found in people with thyroid problems, low iron, or low vitamin D.

"Crash diets, illnesses, recent surgeries and childbirth are all known factors in causing increased hair shedding, by shifting the hair’s cycle from the growing part to the shedding part."
- Dr. Vicky Jolliffe

As far as stress is concerned, Jolliffe says that in her experience, increased hair shedding in women is often seen as a response to stress. This is different from hair loss caused by hair damage and breakage.

What about hair breakage?
Despite the fact that hair is one of the strongest natural materials in the world, it can break, especially due to over-processing, excessive styling and exposure to damaging environmental factors like UV rays and certain minerals. Those minutes spent using a blow dryer or brushing aggressively each morning add up, and eventually lead to hair breakage and loss.
Styling can be especially harmful to wet or damp hair. Wet hair has been shown to break 15 times faster than dry hair because water alters the hair’s cuticle and makes it more susceptible to damage.
Colouring your hair and the buildup of damaging minerals like copper can also lead to breakage, as both can break down hair’s structure.

So how do I fix it?

A dermatologist would have to make a personalized diagnosis before prescribing anything specific, but Dr. Jolliffe says that she generally advises patients to take vitamins for hair in order to improve general hair health.

Minimizing trauma to the hair and scalp will aid in preventing against hair breakage and loss. After cleansing and before combing or styling, remove wet hair’s excess moisture by wrapping a towel around it. Pantene Scientist Mike Davis, an expert in hair breakage, advises using conditioner to decrease styling stress. A wide-toothed comb (as opposed to a brush) is ideal for removing tangles, which can cause pulling and tugging of hair.

As for keeping that color intact, using shampoos and conditioners specially formulated for color-treated hair can keep breakage at bay by decreasing damage to the hair fibre. Pantene’s shampoos add another layer of protection with the antioxidant damage-blocking technology that helps prevent the buildup of damaging minerals.