By Joe Parker of Cush Cosmetics
Hair breakage is the ultimate, frightening result that occurs because of hair damage. And, it appears that every proverbial road of broken hair strands leads to only one word-stress. As you can see below, you have six stressors that you should avoid as much as possible to prevent damaged hair and ultimately hair breakage.
The Root Cause Analysis for Hair Breakage
Here’s how I, the scientist, think about hair breakage. Hair breakage is the defect. The root cause of the defect (hair breakage) is damaged hair. Hair becomes damaged because of excessive stress on the hair system. There are six types of stressors (also called failure modes) that lead to hair damage:
- Mechanical Stress
- Thermal Stress
- Chemical Stress
- UV Stress
- Hydral Stress
- Environmental Stress
Fortunately, hair breakage can be measured because it is something that you can readily see. However, on the other hand, hair damage might be a little more difficult to discern because you simply might not know the definition. So what is hair damage exactly?
The Definition of Acutely Damaged Hair
Your hair is damaged when it is missing cuticles, has cracked cuticles, has a misalignment of cuticles, or has raised cuticles. Again, in order to avoid damage to the hair, and ultimately, hair breakage, you must prevent the damage from occurring. Remember the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?“ Well it applies to hair as well and the only way to prevent hair damage is avoid or minimize stress to the hair system.
Again, stress is the driver for hair damage. The most prevalent types of stressors in the natural hair care community are mechanical, thermal and chemical stress. When hair is damaged, look for the following signs and behavior:
- Increased porosity and hair dryness
- Increased split ends
- Increased brittleness due to decreased elasticity/suppleness
Let’s delve a little further into the three types of stress for natural hair care styling: mechanical, thermal, and chemical stress.