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Is Your Hair Damaged? Here Are Some Easy Ways To Tell

Learn how to tell if your hair is damaged, as well as what hair should look and feel like when it’s healthy, and how to address and prevent damage.

Let’s face it: Having fabulous hair doesn’t always come easily. Whether it’s visiting the salon regularly to keep our color looking fresh or using hot tools to create cascading date night waves, the fact of the matter is that these hair habits can really take a toll on our mane over time. While many of us are no strangers to hair breakage, hair damage can also be quite sneaky, creeping up on us when we least expect it.

Damaged hair may be an inevitable part of life, at least to some degree, but that doesn’t mean we can’t equip ourselves with the knowledge to keep our hair in the best shape possible. Keep scrolling to discover our expert tips on how to know if your hair is damaged—including some of the most obvious (and not so obvious) signs of hair damage and the must-have products to minimize damage and help keep your hair looking healthy.

Good hair day by @beautyxsyd and @redken.

What Are the Signs of Damaged Hair?

When it comes to this common hair concern, the truth is that hair damage can be a bit complex, with many possible causes and signs that vary from person to person. There’s really no limit to the ways that we can unintentionally wreak havoc on the look and feel of our strands. Luckily, there are some clear signs of damage that are pretty hard to miss.

For example, you’ll probably notice changes like split ends, brittle or dry texture, and even hair thinning. But that’s not all. When hair becomes damaged, it can look dull and lackluster, frizzy, unruly, and will tangle more easily—making it nearly impossible to brush through. Damaged hair that’s crying out for some TLC will probably also have some noticeable breakage and shed more strands than usual. Taking a moment to slow down and really have a close look at your hair is sometimes all it takes to catch onto the fact that your hair is showing some signs of damage.

Good hair day by @janag_hair.

What Does Very Damaged Hair Look Like?

Knowing how to spot the difference between minor damage and extreme hair damage can make all the difference when your hair is in distress. So, what exactly should you look for if you suspect your tresses may fall into the “very damaged” category?

For starters, you might notice all the regular telltale signs of damage becoming more noticeable—from flyaways and tangles to split ends—which can all make hair increasingly hard to manage. Plus, the more fragile your strands become, the more likely they are to break, resulting in short patches of broken hair around the hairline and throughout. Extreme damage can sometimes lead to problems like noticeable hair loss, hair thinning, or even bald spots.

Good hair day by @hairbykassandra.

What Does Healthy Hair Feel Like?

We all have different hair textures that make us unique. So it’s important to cast aside comparison here, and remember that what embodies “healthy hair” for your mane might look totally different from other people in your life. But one thing we all share in common is that the cuticles of healthy hair are closed, meaning they will lie flat and smooth.

Healthy cuticles translate into tresses that have a shiny, smooth texture, and not to mention, are better equipped against humidity. Simply put, your hair should just “feel” healthy to you when you run your hands through it, with effortless movement.

Good hair day by @baileyroseking.

Can You Fix Hair Damage?

Now that you’re well-versed in how to know if your hair is damaged, let’s talk about how to fix damaged hair. Unfortunately, there is no way reverse hair shaft damage, like split ends and breakage. With the right hair care routine and regular haircuts, however, you can keep split ends at bay and help your hair appear healthier.

The best thing you can do in any case is to pay attention to your locks and try to catch damage as early on as possible. This way, you can focus on protecting the hair, locate the root cause of the damage, and put an end to it. Along the same lines, if you want to prevent future damage from happening, you’ll want to avoid whatever may be placing stress on your strands. Learn more about what some of these common causes may be in our expert guide to hair breakage.

Good hair day by @juanasanchezespin.

How Can I Have Healthy Hair?

Whether your locks have been through neglect or mechanical, chemical, or thermal damage, there’s no reason to stress. We know it can feel pretty daunting when you first spot hair damage, but there are plenty of small, consistent steps you can take to restore the look and feel of your hair and help to prevent further damage. Instead of beating yourself up about it, let’s talk about what you can do to get to the root of the problem and prevent further damage to your beloved mane.

Good hair day by @hairbyalyssa.nicole.

Reassess Damaging Hair Habits

A professional hairstylist can help you assess the damage (especially if it’s bleach-related) and recommend the best at-home tips, in-salon treatments, and products for damaged hair. However, there are definitely some basic damaging practices to avoid if you want to keep hair breakage and heat damage to a minimum. These include turning the temperature down on hot tools and getting trims approximately every four to six weeks. You should also be extra gentle when styling and avoid any friction-causing hair accessories or extremely tight hairstyles (opting for natural, protective styles instead).

Choose Gentle Shampoos and Conditioners

Healthy hair requires both protein and moisture to look its absolute best. Try choosing repairing shampoos and conditioners, like Redken Extreme Strengthening Shampoo And Conditioner, to give your damaged strands the TLC they crave. This hair-strengthening duo for damaged hair and split ends uses a strengthening formula, with an exclusive new RCT protein Complex, for up to 73% less breakage when used as a complete system. And don’t forget a reviving leave-in conditioner for additional softness and shine, like Matrix Total Results Unbreak My Blonde Reviving Leave-In Treatment.

Add Restorative Hair Masks and Treatments

Getting your hair back on the road to wellness will require adding some deep conditioning products to your hair care routine. Treat your strands to a deeply nourishing hair mask at least once a week, such as L'Oréal Professionnel Absolut Repair Instant Resurfacing Masque. This hydrating essential is the ultimate hair nourishment. It helps instantly restore very damaged hair, while deeply nourishing weakened hair with its irresistible buttery formula.

Not a huge fan of hair masks or can’t find the time? Try Redken Extreme Anti-Snap Split Ends Hair Treatment or Kérastase Initialiste Advanced Scalp & Hair Serum—a specialized scalp and hair treatment that helps hair become thick, strong, shiny, and resistant to breakage.

Extreme Play Safe Heat Protection and Damage Repair Hair Treatment

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Extreme Play Safe Heat Protection and Damage Repair Hair Treatment

All in one hair protector that protects your hair from heat, fortifies the strength of your hair and reduces heat damage.

Old price $10.00 New price $6.00
One size available
1 fl oz

Always Use Heat Protectants When Heat Styling

Using a heat protectant product is absolutely crucial before reaching for that curling iron, curling wand, or straightening iron. We recommend an option like Redken Extreme Play Safe Heat Protection And Damage Repair Hair Treatment for damaged hair, since this all-in-one leave-in treatment fortifies the strength of your hair, reduces heat damage, and helps prevent split ends.

Interested in more expert hair advice on how to treat and prevent hair damage? A licensed hair professional can help you choose the best products for your hair type and advise you on how to maintain gorgeous, healthy-looking hair.

Shop for all of our favorite products for damaged hair.

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