It’s one of the most common practices in the world but for the longest time, hair styling has been blamed for the occurrence of hair loss. It’s time to set the record straight about the extent of damage hair styling can inflict on your luscious locks.
Hair loss is largely the result of genetics and hormones, however, lifestyle and environmental factors such as nutrition, hair styling and chemical exposure can come into play. Some methods of hair styling are universally damaging to the hair but most of the time, once the insult has stopped, the root portion should grow back.
Hair breakage and hair loss as a result of styling can often be reversed once the underlying cause is dealt with, however, poor hair styling can instigate female pattern hair loss. Still, in any case, medically proven hair loss treatments such as minoxidil can be used to generate new hair growth while supplements and hair growth boosters will support the treatment and repair the damaged hair.
Hair colouring and using heat will not cause hair loss but it is damaging to the quality of your hair. Chemicals and heat used to dye, bleach, straighten or perm the hair can cause the shaft to break off, resulting in temporary hair thinning but the root is rarely affected to such an extent that it would result in permanent hair loss. However, since hair growth slows down with age, cosmetically damaged hair will be present longer on older people. For this reason, it is advisable that all chemicals used on mature hair should be weaker than those used on younger hair.
“Hair is basically a textile – it looks the best when new and degrades with age and use,” says American dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, M.D. “The basic rules of hair dyeing are always staying within your colour group, preferably dyeing the hair no more than three shades from the natural colour.”
If you must change your hair colour, choose a temporary dye or one that is formulated with natural ingredients. These alternatives are not as harsh and will not present the extent of damage chemical dyes do.
Heat styling products like curling and straightening irons can dry out even oily hair if they’re used too much. Use a heat protective spray or serum every time you use them and never use these styling tools on wet hair or high settings. You should really give your hair at least a two day break each week from styling.
Pulling the hair tightly in a ponytail and the constant grip of hair extensions and tight braiding can cause some hair loss, especially in the temple area. This is called traction alopecia and if not corrected, the hair follicle may be permanently damaged.
Hair loss as a result of traction alopecia can be stopped by adapting your hair care to a more nourishing regime. Get the hair extensions removed, take out the braids and let your hair be in its natural state for a while. For those who wear ponytail styles, Dr. Draelos recommends switching from an elastic hair tie to a loose-fitting fabric scrunchie.
“[Women] who wear ponytails report that their hair is no longer growing, when in fact it is repeatedly broken at the same distance from the scalp due to the trauma caused by the tight rubber band,” Dr. Draelos said. “That is why I recommend that rubber bands should never be used.”
For people with damaged hair, the perming solution should be weak and left in contact with the hair for as short a period as possible. The relaxing procedure straightens the hair and can make it easier for some people to groom. However, Dr. Draelos cautioned that the grooming should be done gently to avoid hair fracture.
Some hair supplements are beneficial for circulation and the delivery of nutrients to the hair follicles, but high strength minoxidil is the only proven hair growth stimulant. It is the only hair loss solution currently both MHRA licensed and FDA approved for the treatment of female pattern baldness.
Brushing or combing should be limited to when the hair is dry to avoid stretching the moist fibres to the point of fracture, and when selecting a brush, look for bristles that are smooth, ball-tipped, coarse and bendable. Additionally, brushes used while blow drying should have widely spaced bristles to prevent increased heat along the brush, which could damage the hair.
“If you notice that your hair is becoming brittle or looking dull or damaged, you should consult [a specialist] immediately to determine the cause and how to treat it. Repairing damaged hair takes time, so the sooner you address it, the sooner you’ll notice results.”
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.