Since graduating from college, Estelle spent a long time developing her skills and building her career in publishing. When the time came to lead the team at a book launching event, Estelle was excited about the much-awaited opportunity. However, a startling discovery dented her self-confidence and affected the quality of her work. She woke up one morning to find out that her hair lost its former glory due to months of poor hair care practices, poor lifestyle choices, and underlying health issues.
Having to deal with dry and brittle hair is one of the most frustrating things for women like Estelle. To compound this problem, they struggle to set aside enough time to investigate the issue and resolve it. To help such women, who may be students, full-time mothers, executives, or teachers, this article examines the reasons behind dry and brittle hair. It also discusses ways to combat the problem of dry, brittle hair and how to prevent it.
Causes of Dry & Brittle Hair
The causes of dry, brittle hair can be broken down into the following factors:
- Physiological factors
- Lifestyle factors
- Hair care practices
1. Physiological Factors
The different stages in a woman’s life can trigger physiological changes which manifest themselves in different ways. Dry, brittle hair is one such manifestation.
- Childbirth – Soon after delivering a baby, a woman’s estrogen production falls dramatically and this causes the hair cuticles to become weaker, resulting in brittle hair.
- Menopause – The discontinuation of a woman’s period also halts estrogen production and leads to brittle hair.
- Thyroid disorder – A thyroid condition (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism) is responsible for hormonal imbalance. The abnormal level of estrogen often affects the health of the hair.
- Stress – High levels of stress in modern women like Estelle who have to juggle career, children, and social commitments, cause too much or too little estrogen production. This, in turn, results in brittle hair.
2. Lifestyle Choices
It might help Estelle to reconsider some of her lifestyle choices which are affecting the health of her hair. Alcohol consumption, smoking, exposure to the sun, heat-styling, and using products containing silicon and sulfates are all harmful to the hair in the long run.
- Alcohol consumption – Beverages containing alcohol tend to dehydrate the body and hair. Consuming too much of them can cause women like Estelle to have dry hair.
- Smoking – Smoking affects the hair indirectly. It causes the skin and hair to age prematurely. It also diminishes the skin’s and hair’s ability to retain moisture thus leading to dry skin and hair.
- Exposure to the sun – The sun’s UV rays can damage the skin and hair, making them extremely dry and brittle.
- Heat-styling – It is almost certain that Estelle uses heat-styling tools regularly. Exposing the hair to heat from hair tools over an extended period can damage the hair, making it dry and brittle.
- Using products containing silicon and sulfate – Silicon and sulfate dehydrates the hair and weakens the hair cuticle. Over time, the hair becomes dry and brittle through the consistent use of silicon-based and sulfate-based hair products.
3. Hair Care Practices
How well Estelle looks after her hair will affect the health of her hair significantly. Her hair will continue to be dry and brittle if:
- she undergoes chemical hair treatments frequently,
- neglects to deep condition and moisturize her hair regularly, and
- uses hair products and hair tools that are not suitable for her hair type.
Remedies for Dry and Brittle Hair
To solve the problem of dry and brittle hair sustainably, Estelle needs to improve 3 areas of her life:
- general wellbeing,
- lifestyle, and
- hair care practices.
1. General Wellbeing
Estelle should see a family physician regularly to rule out any underlying health issues and to ensure long-term good health. If medical tests detect a thyroid disorder, she should seek medical treatment for it immediately and follow her doctor’s guidelines to speed up her recovery. If the cause is stress, she should learn and apply stress management techniques to help restore her hair to good health.
For hair that is strong and soft, Estelle must avoid alcohol and smoking. She must also take precautions to protect her hair against sun damage and heat damage from styling tools. These are discussed in more detail in the following section ‘Hair Care Practices’.
3. Hair Care Practices
A woman’s hair care regimen should be designed according to her hair type. The first thing Estelle must do is stop all chemical treatments (if she has done any) because they weaken the hair cuticle and impede moisture retention in the hair shaft. She must also use sun protection cream for her hair with an SPF number suitable for her hair type. This will keep her hair from drying out while working outdoors.
A deep conditioning treatment twice a month is essential to bring back much-needed moisture to her hair. If she has textured hair, she must continue to use moisturizing hair masks to prevent the problem of dry and brittle hair. She must also avoid silicon-based and sulfate-based hair products because they strip the hair of its natural oils, leading to dry and brittle hair. Hair products free from silicon and sulfate can be expensive, but the high cost will pay off in the long run.
Estelle must ensure that the hair products and hair tools she is using will not damage her hair. She must make it a point to buy only those products and tools which are suitable for her hair type. Therefore, if she has fine hair, she must use only those cleansers, conditioners, and styling creams that are formulated for fine hair.
Heat-styling tools play an important role in every modern woman’s hair care routine. Estelle is no exception. The repeated use of heat-styling has a detrimental effect on the long-term health of the hair. Therefore, heat protection is a vital first step in any heat-styling process. Estelle should choose a heat protection gel, spray, or cream depending on which form will suit her hair type the most. She must also take care not to hold the hair dryer and other styling tools to close to the scalp and to avoid a high heat setting at all times.
Heat-styling tools with ceramic, tourmaline, ionic, and titanium technology are safer to use on fine and damaged hair. Therefore, a ceramic, ionic, or tourmaline hairdryer is worth investing in. Hair curlers and straighteners built with similar technology are also recommended for optimal hair health. Hot rollers with a ceramic core and ionic technology are great for women like Estelle. The next section has more information on such hot rollers.
Hot Rollers for Dry & Brittle Hair
A hot roller set with multiple heat settings will allow Estelle to choose the temperature most suitable for her hair condition. It is even better if the set comes with more than a dozen rollers in 3 different sizes and each roller has ceramic flocking and is infused with argan oil. The ceramic flocking prevents the rollers from overheating the hair and the argan oil infusion helps to control frizz. A combination of ceramic, tourmaline and ionic technology enables the hot rollers to heat the hair from the inside rather than the outside. This prevents split ends, frizz, and dry, brittle hair.
Dry and brittle hair must be handled with extreme care. To rejuvenate her hair, it is important for Estelle to treat any health issues which are contributing to her hair problem, switch to a healthier lifestyle, and adopt hair care practices which will ensure healthy hair. For curly hairstyles, Estelle will benefit the more from hot rollers than from curling irons because hot rollers are safer and healthier than curling irons.
- Women’s Health, 6 Reasons Your Hair Is Dry and Brittle, Jan 12, 2015
- Schwarzkopf, Help for Dry and Brittle Hair
- Ayesha Muttucumaru, THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR DRY AND BRITTLE HAIR, November 21st 2017