What Does Damaged Hair Look Like?

Linda WairegiHair CareLeave a Comment

Damage Hair

Damaged or just dry? How can you tell if your hair is damaged from either heat, over-manipulation, color or chemical treatment? It can get very confusing.


What does damaged hair look like? Damaged hair looks dull, breaks off easily, is extremely thin and does not retain moisture.  In addition, you can tell that your hair is damaged if you notice a texture and color change.

Another important indication of damaged hair is excessive tangling and split ends that won’t go away even after a trim.

In this article we will review 11 obvious signs of damaged hair, how to tell if your hair is damaged using hair damage quizzes and finally touch on ways of restoring damaged hair.

11 Ways to Tell if Your Hair is Damaged

1. Damaged Hair is Dry & Brittle

Healthy hair will absorb and retain the right amount of moisture because it has a lipid-coated membrane that prevents the hair from absorbing excess water or losing the same water too fast. (1) 

With damaged hair however, the lipid layer is stripped off leaving the hair shaft bare making the hair extremely porous hence why damaged hair will lose moisture very fast and become dry.

Hence, hair that is physically or chemically damaged looks lifeless, lacking in moisture and is very brittle hence breaks off very easily.

2. The Hair Lacks Elasticity

Unlike healthy hair that stretches and flexes easily, damaged hair lacks elasticity. Hair that lacks elasticity doesn’t return to its normal hair state when it’s stretched.

Normal healthy hair is strong and has a lot of elasticity because it’s well moisturized and has adequate proteins. This perfect balance makes it possible for your hair to hold different hairstyles. With low elasticity hair, it’s very easy for hair to break whenever it’s pulled because it’s damaged.

3. Tangles Easily

You can tell that your hair is damaged if it r tangles easily and you find it takes longer than usual to comb it out.

Tangles occur because your hair is dry and non-elastic. This creates friction between the cuticles and causes them to grab onto each other.

4. Unusually High Split Ends

Signs of Damaged Hair

The ends of damaged hair look weak and split.  Split ends are when the ends of your hair become super dry and start splitting apart.

The ends of your hair are the oldest bit and been through a lot in your lifetime. Everyone has to deal with split ends at some point however when you notice that the split ends are very conspicuous and doesn’t get better even with a trim, then it’s a sign that your hair is damaged.  

5. Excessive Breakage

Damaged hair tends to have excessive breakage because it’s weaker than healthy hair.

On average, an adult expects to lose 100 hair strands per day and their head has 100,000 to 150,000 strands in total. (5) With damaged the number of strands lost increases dramatically and the hair breaks anywhere because your hair shaft if weak, non-elastic and lacks moisture.

6. Extremely Dull & Lacks Shine

If your hair used to look glossy and shiny that everyone could ask you what your secret is but, now your hair looks lifeless and dull, then it is a sign that your hair could be damaged.

The outer cuticle gets damaged losing the lipid layer that gives your hair shine.  

7. Does Not Respond to Hair Products

You can tell that your hair is damaged if in the past, your hair used to respond well to certain products e.g. butter-creams for more curls. However, things have changed and your hair no longer respond well to hair products.

With severely damaged hair, it loses its capability to absorb hair products, retain them and use them to nourish the hair shaft.

8. Color & Texture Change

Healthy hair has a deep, glossy hair color, but it loses its color when its damaged.

With severely damaged hair, the cortex is compromised. It affects its ability to holds onto pigmentation that gives hair it’s color.

Damaged hair may also have a texture change. When healthy, hair is bouncy and feels smooth to the touch. However, if your hair changes from soft, smooth hair to dry and rough hair, then this might be a sign of hair damage. Severely damaged hair can’t hold onto its usual texture because the hair is dehydrated, thinning at the ends, tangling easily and breaking.

10. Change in Porosity

A change in hair porosity especially, can indicate hair damage. It means that your hair’s cuticle structure has changes and may lead to challenges in holding onto moisture.

This is because the cuticles don’t function normally and this affects the cortex ability to absorb and return moisture.

If you suspect that your hair porosity has changed, then you should run tests to confirm. In this article we’ve covered various Methods for Testing Hair Porosity.

11. Bumps Along the Strand

If you pull out your hair strand and move your fingers slowly towards the scalp and notice bumps that may not have been there before, it means that your cuticles are raised, and could be an indication that your hair is damaged.

Bumps along the strand, particularly huge ones could also be an indicator that your hair might have excessive knots and it’s a sign of damaged hair.

Other Ways of Determining Whether Your Hair is Damaged

Use Online Quizzes to Tests for Damaged Hair

There are a few tests online that you can use to help you decide if your hair is damaged or just lacking moisture.

The Unruly Test focuses on different factors that include; how you look after your hair, how you style your hair looks and how it feels. It has a few questions that aren’t time-consuming.

Quiz: Is Your Hair Damaged? | Un-Ruly

The Beauty Riot Test looks at your hair texture, how often you wash it, if you style your hair with heat and other hair-related factors. These nine questions quiz provide simple answer options.

Quiz: How Damaged is Your Hair | Beauty Riot

The Total Beauty Test looks at hair texture, hair length, what sort of products of hair do you use, and if you trim regularly. The questions are simple to answer then you’re provided with a detailed answer on how you can improve your hair.

Quiz: How Healthy is Your Hair? | Total Beauty

I like the Un-Ruly Test because it’s easy scrolling down to answer all the queries, instead of clicking between questions like the other two tests. Alternatively, a trained stylist can tell you if your hair is damaged.

If you notice anywhere from 4 of these signs of damaged hair, it’s time you looked into ways of restoring your damaged. Here are some things you should take into consideration to restore damaged hair;

How to restore damaged hair

How to restore damaged hair
  1. Ensure you are having a balanced diet to promotes thick, healthy hair.
  2. Use gentle shampoos whilst cleaning your hair and avoid over-scrubbing it so that you don’t weaken it further.
  3. Don’t use scalding hot water on your hair, make sure that it’s closer to warm, lukewarm water.
  4. Have a hair cleansing schedule and use a sulfate-free shampoo to prevent hair follicles from getting clogged with hair products. A clean and healthy scalp is the best way to promote healthy hair.
  5. Trim the ends of your hair regularly to promote healthy ends. It will also stop split hairs from affecting the entire strand of hair.
  6. Take your time when conditioning and detangling your hair. Detangle gently.
  7. Carefully use a protein treatment as it helps repair damaged hair by attaching itself to the hair follicles and acting as a barrier.

Before you leave, you may find this recommended products page useful. Here you will find the natural hair products that my friends & I have found to be very good for natural hair.

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