What Causes Hair to Break?

By Cindi Pearce

  • Overview

    What Causes Hair to Break?
    You have just spent a lot of money at the salon getting your hair styled. Of course, the style and look of your dreams required that you get your hair colored. Perhaps you had it relaxed and then blown dry. Shortly after your hair transformation, you notice that your locks are breaking off. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the result when hair is exposed to certain procedures such a bleaching, dying, perming, and getting extensions.
  • Be Leery of Certain Hair Styles

    If you regularly wear your hair pulled back--or up in a tight bun--you may well be stressing your hair, and it is apt to break as a result of this stress. Don't give up your favorite hairstyles entirely. Simply give them a break. Don't wear these styles on a daily basis. The hair needs to relax, and it can only do this if it isn't tightly restrained. Alternate your styles from day to day. Teasing your hair can also cause it to break so you may want to reconsider employing this technique.
  • Trichokinesis

    Trichokinesis means twisted hair, and it is also referred to as Pili Torti hair. This is not something that anyone causes to happen; it's a condition that you are born with. It's uncommon, but it generally occurs in young, blond women who were born without hair. As their hair grows, it becomes twisted at regular intervals along the hair shaft, which causes breakage. This condition generally improves, and it may even vanish altogether with age.


  • Trichotillomania

    Tricholotillomania is a body-focused, repetitive behavior where the person picks, pulls and plucks his hair, beard, lashes, eyebrows, and pubic hairs. The picking is excessive and results in bald patches. This is considered an impulse control disorder. The disorder is treated with cognitive behavior therapy and medication.
  • Trichorrhexis Nodosa

    This condition causes the hair shaft to swell and the hair to break. The broken ends are frayed. Trichorrhexis Nodosa can be caused by mechanical trauma to the hair, such as over-exposure to heat (flat-irons, curling irons and blow dryers) as well as by dyes and bleach .
  • African-American Hair

    One of the main causes of hair breakage among African American women is traction alopecia, which is hair loss due to pulling on the hair. This can happen when the hair has been tightly braided, according to Dr. Basil M. Hantash, who is an instructor of dermatology and plastic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine. Hair stylist and owner of the Sequence Hair salon Dino Dondiego has worked with black hair for many years. He has invented a relaxing process that does not result in breakage. Dondiego agrees with Dr. Hantash, noting that traction alopecia is a big problem when it comes to African American hair, and relaxing is part of that problem. Other processes that result in breakage include weaves, extensions and tight cornrows.
  • Prevention/Solution

    Hair breakage can't be entirely eliminated, but you can do your part to make sure that it is minimal. If you're going to pull your hair back, always use an elastic covered hairband. Although it may be tempting for long-haired men and women, do not sleep with your hair in a tight knot or braid. Attempt to get the tangles out of your hair--using your fingers--before you wash your hair, rather than afterward. Don't brush your hair while it is wet. Use a soft-bristled hair brush. Wide-toothed combs are gentle on hair. Towel or air dry your hair whenever you can because excessive heat can cause breakage. Back off on the chemical products; they are hard on the hair.
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