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Dry Brittle Hair Causes Prevention and Treatment


Do not let anyone fool you, dry hair is not a type, it’s a treatable condition. Avoid falling into the trap of buying shampoos and conditioners that claim to help this condition. You need to find out what is causing the stripping down of natural oils from your hair strands. If it easily breaks or looks frizzy, dull and dry then you are prone to hair loss.  To tell if it is dry, run your fingers through it. It’s dry if it isn’t as silky or smooth as it usually is. The ends will be split too. 

Why is my hair brittle
Why is it dry and breaks easily (brittle)


Not taking good care of it is the main reason it gets dry and brittle.  Dr. Jaishree Sharad, a hair and skin expert says that

Brittle hair is generally caused by various chemical and physical treatments done to the hair fibre such as excessive curling, dying, or the improper use of other hair straightening products, excessive sun exposure. Because so many environmental and cosmetic factors may be at once, it is difficult to pinpoint one factor as THE CAUSE of hair weathering.”

When it feels dry, it could be because your scalp fails to produce enough natural oil it is not getting properly moisturized. It could also be that the strands are letting moisture escape. These conditions can be hereditary or develop over time. Old age makes scalps produce less natural oil and if you fail to moisturize it often, then it becomes prone to breakage.

Whether your hair strands can retain moisture depends on cuticles. Tight cuticles lock in moisture and make it look full, healthy and shiny. If the cuticles are loose, then moisture escapes.  Dryness doesn’t just happen, it takes time and consistent exposure. Some of the other causes of dry brittle hair include:

1. Natural elements

This includes the sun, heat, and wind. Overexposure to the sun can dehydrate it. Extreme conditions of heat can make it dry and parched too.

2. Products

Sometimes using the wrong shampoo can make it dry. If you don’t have good shampoo, rinse it with just water. This will avoid the stripping effects that the wrong shampoo can cause. 

Chemicals in treatments damage the cuticle layer whose job is to protect the hair so that they can penetrate through the middle cortex layer.  Structures which determine color, texture, and strength are found in the cortex layer.

The chemicals in these products alter these structures in the quest to change its color. By constantly using these treatments and in close proximity to each other, one dehydrates the hair. This also makes it weak and the buildup of protein caused by frequency makes the hair brittle.

3. Styling tools

Heat from styling tools like curling irons, hot rollers, blow dryers, flat irons, and most of the tools we use to make style it so as it looks goods, can strip of its natural moisture. They break down the hair structure if not used carefully.

4. Hormonal changes.

Hormonal imbalances cause symptoms of brittle hair. Some birth control pills, menopause, and pregnancy can cause shifts in the body that adversely affect it.

5. Poor nutrition

Diets that lack proteins and vitamins lead to brittle and dry hair. Eating a balanced diet with vitamins, proteins and plenty of water will protect it. If your body is malnourished then your hair will not grow healthy. This is because the nutrients required to make it strong are missing. It may fall out too if not careful

6. Diseases

Diseases like Graves disease and thyroid disease affect hormonal levels and this affects its growth and strength.

Certain medical treatments also cause dryness. For example, those used to treat psoriasis, cardiovascular disease, eczema, high cholesterol, diabetes, and hepatitis have brittle dry hair as a side effect. Some other treatments that could cause brittleness include major surgeries, gastrointestinal bypass, and transplants.

How to prevent brittle or dry hair 

Prevention is better than cure. The following are several ways you can prevent your hair from becoming damaged.

  1. Spray a light spray if you will be exposed to the sun or be in extreme conditions for long. The spray provides a thin layer of protection that prevents the wind, water and sun from penetrating the hair strands.
  2. Protective hairstyles like buns or French braids reduce stress to the follicles and require just a little (if any) styling product. You will not also have to use any hot tools used for styling it.
  3. Use a heat protectant serum of high quality before using any styling tools. This creates a shield between the tools and your hair. It also makes it easy to style even at low temperatures.
  4. Use natural products since they contain vitamins and nutrients like vitamin E, biotin, and iron that help grows it to full potential.
  5. Do not wash it every day. Maybe twice or thrice per week. Washing too much will strip off its natural oils and moisture.
  6. Use a good quality conditioner every time you wash it. A good leave-in conditioner will have essential nutrients.
  7. Use boar bristle brushes since they help spread natural oils throughout the hair. It makes it look and feel healthier and it means you get to wash it even less often.
  8. Moisturize it by taking the right diet and drinking enough water.
  9. Constantly condition cut split ends, use restorative shampoos/ conditioners and apply protective styling products to counteract styling damage.

Brittle hair treatment 

If your hair is already damaged, there are a few do it yourself tricks that can help you tackle the problem.

1. Eat healthy

The best treatment involves eating the right diet with vitamins such as B complex, c, and iron. Hair is made of Keratin, a protein, and therefore feeding it increases its strength. Dry brittle hair can be caused by a vitamin deficiency but you can prevent it by:

  • Take supplements if your hemoglobin levels are low.
  • Eating high protein diet foods like fish, chicken, soya, sprouts, milk, yogurt, paneer, and eggs.

2. Cut dead hair

Get a healthy trim by cutting out all dead hair and split ends. This is an easy way to reduce further damage since it is already brittle. 

3. Use correct styling products

Using mild shampoos when washing it and make sure that styling products, shampoos, and conditioners are moisture replenishing. Focus on the ends when conditioning and the roots when shampooing. Good products should contain coconut oil, argan oil, shea butter and olive oil.

Use styling aids with a hair softening oils like soybeans, sunflower, sweet almond oils and argan.

Avoiding heat tools like blow dryers and other treatments like straightening and perming. If you have to use styling tools, use lower heat settings and thermal protection spray. Also, use a heat protecting cream before using any heat styling tool.

Avoid products that contain alcohol and silicone. Alcohol dehydrates it while silicone creates a barrier that suffocates your strands and prevents it from absorbing moisture. Use sulfate free shampoos.

Use masks to soften the coarse hair strands and add moisture. A deep conditioning mask should be applied once a week.

4. Hairstyles

Choose hairstyles that do not stress or tear the fragile hair. avoid metallic accessories that stress it too.

Do not brush it when wet but use a tooth comb until it completely dries

5. Protect hair from harsh elements

Avoid too much sun by either using a hat to cover it or applying hair sunscreen if you will be exposed to the sun for long.