Hair Damage Causes – 13 Reasons Why Your Hair is Damaged

By Leah Williams •  Updated: 03/07/22

I have always been one who tends to experiment with her hair. I have dyed my hair, curled it, straightened it, and even played with it using a variety of styling tools. And you guessed it right, I ended up having split ends! Okay, it was my fault, big time. This prompted me to figure out the most common types of hair damage causes in order to not make these mistakes again!

What is Hair Damage?

Hair damage occurs when your hair strands are exposed to different types of aggressors such as intense heat, harsh chemicals, and friction. These aggressors can damage the outer layer or the cuticle of your strands thus leaving them more vulnerable to dryness, brittleness, and hair loss just to name a few. Although it is not easy to repair your damaged mane, knowing what steps to take to prevent it from happening in the future is the best thing to do.

What Could be Causing Damage to Your Hair?

Based on my research, a healthy hair strand will typically have overlapping cuticles that protect it from damage. When this protective covering is lost, then you are bound to see some brittleness, dryness, and frizziness too. There are plenty of possible causes for damaged hair to occur such as:


Stress does play a part in poor hair health. One particular type of stress that is related to your mane being prone to damage is tellogen efluvium. What happens here is that the follicles become dormant to the point that the cycle breaks off along with your strands. Fortunately, your stress levels can be managed by exercising, talking to friends, or immersing yourself in things that you love to do. The better you are in coping with your stress, the better it will be to your hair and your overall health.


Your diet also contributes to your hair’s health. If you are missing important nutrients, you might notice that your mane will look dull, dry, and prone to breakage. It would be better if you load up on zinc, folic acid, and iron in your daily meals to improve your hair’s condition. As much as you would like to order takeouts all the time, it would be better to prepare your meals yourself since you will have more control over the ingredients.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia can cause malnourishment where damage to the hair being one of their symptoms. Since your strands aren’t getting the nutrients that they need, they have the tendency to fall off midcycle. If you or someone you know have these conditions, it would be best that you seek help as these can lead to further health problems.


If your thyroid is not producing hormones as it should, you can expect to see various symptoms, such as poor hair health, to occur. Hypothyroidism can cause massive hair loss which is evident after taking a bath or while brushing. Other signs that may occur include weight gain, depression, and even low energy levels. When these symptoms appear together with clumps of your strands falling off, you should have your thyroid checked.

Hair Damage Causes – 13 Possible Ways You Could Be Ruining Your Hair

Physical Damage

What else can cause your hair to become damaged? Well, it appears that hair breakage can also be brought about by everyday habits that we barely think of. Here are a few examples of why hair damage is likely to happen.

  1. Aggressive Hair Brushing
    You might have grown up to your mother brushing your hair constantly when you were young, with her saying that a hundred brush strokes are needed to keep your mane looking healthy and strong. Unfortunately, this is just a myth, with experts recommending that you should only brush your hair when you are going to style it. They even suggest that you use a wide tooth comb when you brush your strands to prevent pulling and breaking. Constantly brushing your hair will not make your hair healthy as the friction on your strands can break the protective covering, leaving your hair open to the various elements.
  2. Bad-quality Hair Ties
    Hair ties do come in handy when you want to keep your mane away from your face as much as possible. However, using the wrong ones can also have an effect on your hair such as breakage, especially the elastic ones. The problem here is when you tie your hair way too tight that it pulls at your scalp and your cuticles. The good news is that it is possible to resolve this issue by choosing the right type of hair ties and letting your hair down as much as you can. If you are going to put your hair up, do so loosely to minimize the stress that you are putting on your hair.
  3. Tight ponytails
    Wearing a tight ponytail may give you that sleek look, but it can be tough on your hair’s protective covering. This is because of the pressure that you are putting on your hair strands when you pull your hair up in a tight hairstyle. Add to this the possibility of using the wrong type of hair tie and you shouldn’t be surprised when you lose a few strands once you remove it.
  4. Poor Blow Drying technique
    Using a blow dryer to dry and style your hair at the same time is all well and good. However, blow drying your wet hair is a big no-no since your strands are still brittle with the excess moisture. The best approach here is to blot the excess water using a microfiber towel then blow dry. You can also let your wet hair air dry by doing other tasks such as preparing breakfast, doing the laundry, or checking your emails.Take note: when you are drying your hair with a blow dryer, is to avoid stretching your strands with your brush. Skip the round brush and opt for one that has soft, synthetic bristles that are less damaging. Also, don’t put the dryer’s nozzle way too close to your hair because too much heat can damage it.
  5. Heat styling on dirty hair
    Another reason why hair damage can happen is when you are styling your hair even when it is dirty. You might be thinking that skipping washing your strands for days can save you from hair damage, but it appears that loading it with dry shampoo then using styling tools to make it passable is enough. Unfortunately, it does lead to breakage.
  6. Over and under-washing hair
    Yes, it is possible to over wash and under wash, your hair and they both have some negative effects on your mane too. Overwashing is when you regularly wash your hair with shampoo which is not recommended since this can remove the natural oils on your scalp and hair.Under-washing, on the other hand, is when you are skipping on washing your hair with shampoo and just go straight to conditioning it. Both these practices can lead your hair to become brittle, dry, and prone to breakage. Find the right balance here by washing your hair every other day.
  7. Extensions not removed properly
    Those who have fine or sensitive hair may go for wearing extensions to add thickness. Yes, wearing extensions can cause damage, but what’s even more damaging is when you remove them. If you are wearing one, make an appointment with your stylist to have it professionally removed to minimize the negative effects on your real hair.
  8. High heat from styling tools
    Hair breakage can also be caused by using styling tools cranked up to high heat without using any heat protectant for your poor strands. It’s true that there are some hair types that can withstand high heat, but if you are not sure what type of hair you have, it is best that you put the temperature around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure that you apply heat protectant on your strands even before you use styling tools on them to prevent damaging them.

Chemical Damage

What causes hair breakage? Well, exposure to chemical-laden products can also damage your hair just like below.

  1. Color-damage
    The worst thing that you can do to your natural hair is to overprocess it with hair dyes. On a good note, not all color treatments are bad, just like the gloss treatment. This treatment actually helps make strands stronger. However, if you will be bleaching your hair on your own is not recommended as this process must be done by a professional. Additionally, dry hair is caused by poor hair care after getting a hair treatment so pay attention to what your stylist is saying.
  2. Chemical straightening treatments
    Some people want to have that super straight hair that they are willing to be exposed to chemical straightening treatments. Unfortunately, too much of this can weaken your hair to the point that breakage is inevitable especially when you don’t follow the aftercare protocols. If you are considering straightening your hair, talk to your stylist, and ask questions about the procedure and what to do afterward.
  3. Poor ingredients in shampoo and conditioner
    Do you know what goes inside your favorite shampoo and conditioner? Who would have thought that your regular hair care may be the one that is actually damaging your mane? Well, it appears that there are ingredients used in these hair products that are doing more harm than good. Ingredients that you should avoid are sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and silicones just to name a few. Each one of these ingredients has a negative effect on your strands such as drying them out, causing irritation on your scalp, and even hair loss just to name a few. The best approach here is to be more vigilant with what goes on in your shampoo and conditioner or look for natural alternatives instead.

Environmental Damage

What can cause hair to become dry and brittle? Aside from those that are mentioned above, it appears that the environment that we expose ourselves to can also contribute to the damage to our strands. What are these environmental damages you ask?

  1. Overexposure to chlorine and ocean water
    Dry hair is a common occurrence in those who are often exposed to ocean water or chlorine in swimming pools. The problem here is that these two environments can remove the keratin from our strands thus making them quite dry to the touch. It can even remove any effects from the treatments you had for your mane. If you had just colored your hair and you went to the beach or the pool to swim, then expect that your lovely colors will get affected one way or the other. The best way to minimize the damage is to wash your hair first before heading out into the waters and applying a hair mask or conditioner to it.
  2. Hair sunburn
    Is there such a thing as hair sunburn? Apparently, it does happen to us, we are not just aware of it. The concept is quite simple really. If you are protecting your skin from the sun, so should you protect your scalp from the intense heat when you are outdoors. For those who spend most of their time outdoors, you should apply sun protector on your hair and scalp too to prevent them from getting burned. You’ll be glad that you did this since you will be able to keep hair healthy even while enjoying the outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Hair breakage can happen even to the best of us. I would have to say that I wasn’t paying much attention to my hair’s condition until I started noticing that more split ends started to appear. It was my fault that I didn’t mind what I use on my strands that I ended up having to cut a good chunk of my hair just to get it back in shape. If you are planning on going all DIY with your hairstyle or hair care, I would suggest that you pay attention to the causes of hair damage mentioned above so you can take appropriate actions.

Leah Williams

Leah Williams is the founder of Lucky Curl and has been in the hair care and styling industry for the last 15 years. Since then, she has developed incredible expertise and a deep understanding of how to treat and style the most difficult hair types and is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the readers of Lucky Curl.

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