If you’ve noticed more strands in your shower drain or hairbrush than usual, you might have weak hair. Hormonal changes, aging, stress, heat styling, and color treatments can damage and weaken your hair, causing it to thin, and in extreme cases, fall out. But fear not, with a few hair care tips and simple lifestyle tweaks you can strengthen those strands and optimize your hair’s ability to grow stronger than ever. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about how to strengthen your hair.
So how do you know if you have weak hair? If you’re experiencing any of the following, you probably have weak hair.
The following are some of the most common causes of weak hair.
photo and style by Mélanie Guille
Your scalp health is an important place to start on your quest to strengthen your strands. Strong hair needs a healthy environment to thrive. Replace your regular shampoo with a clarifying shampoo once a week to remove dead skin cells, sweat, environmental pollution, and oils that accumulate on your scalp. Any build-up (including dandruff) can lead to weaker hair. See our previous post on how to fix a dry scalp for more info on scalp care tips.
Protein and complex carbohydrates are the keys to maintaining strong hair. Load up on fish, eggs, and lean meats. Include a portion of complex carbohydrates, like brown rice, or oatmeal, with each meal. The vitamins in things like leafy greens, almonds and avocado also promote strong hair.
Your hair has especially high nutritional requirements. But hair is a non-essential tissue, which means meeting these requirements can be difficult through diet alone. So what are the best supplements for stronger hair? There are six key nutrients needed for stronger strands, including:
Ensure you choose a brush that doesn’t damage your hair’s outer cuticle, which will leave strands vulnerable to damage. Opt for a brush with rounded, plastic prongs and a cushioned base, to avoid damaging your hair’s outer cuticle. And never brush your hair starting at the roots as this causes friction on the hair shaft, resulting in damage. Start at the ends and gradually work your way up.
Your hair is made of keratin, so the more keratin you put back into your hair, the stronger it will be. Protein fills in the little gaps in weakened strands, and fortifies the hair while conditioning. Adding a keratin spray into your hair care routine will strengthen your hair and prevent split ends.
Stress can do actual damage to your hair. Stress can lead to micro-inflammation of your hair follicles, making hair weaker as it grows out and even causes you to shed more than usual. Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol also disrupt the hair cycle. Because of this, some women notice their strands seem thinner at the start of their period. Everything from yoga, to meditation, to a self-care routine can help you relax: check out these stress-management activities as a great way to start unwinding.
photo by @karlibobarley
Hot tools like flat irons and blow dryers are huge offenders when it comes to causing damage and weakening your strands. Cutting your hot-styling sessions down to twice a week can really cut down on the damage. And anytime you use heat you MUST use a heat shield for your hair. Or try going cold turkey for a couple of months to give your hair a chance to grow stronger. See our previous post on perfectly air-dried hair for tips while you go on your heat hiatus.
If your goal is strong hair, avoid crash dieting or fad diets at all costs. This kind of eating deprives your hair of nutrients and energy, both of which can lead to hair loss. Be sure you’re shampooing with an anti-breakage shampoo and steer clear of tight ponytails. They can cause breakage and pull hairs from their follicle. Try to avoid any tight hair ties, like elastics, that could put extra stress on the hair. You’ll also want to limit your intake of high-mercury fish like tuna and swordfish as they can cause thinning hair.
A hair mask is an important part of any healthy hair care routine. But if you’re looking for stronger strands, a repairing hair mask is essential and likely the answer to many other hair concerns. Whether you’re battling weak hair and breakage due to sun, hot tools, or chemical treatments, a hair mask can help make your hair stronger by improving hydration, texture, and more. Coconut oil makes an amazing conditioner and DIY hair mask. Try this one with egg for stronger hair:
Coconut Oil and Egg Hair Mask
Silk does not absorb your hair oil as a cotton pillowcase will. Dry hair is weak hair. You’ll notice a huge difference in the strength of your hair once you start sleeping on silk.
If you plan to wear your hair down and your weakened damaged strands are all that you see, use a nourishing hair oil to disguise them. Lightly pat down the problem areas and flyaways with your fingers or comb them with a toothbrush. If you have curly hair, your breakage is probably less noticeable because your broken ends can hide in the coils (so lucky you!). But if you’re a curly-haired girl looking to cover up damage, lightly diffuse a brushable hairspray all over from an arm’s length away to set the breakage into your curl pattern. Changing up your usual part also covers breakage on the top.
Hormonal changes, aging, stress, heat styling, and color treatments can all weaken your hair, and in extreme cases, cause it to fall out. But with our hair care tips and simple lifestyle tweaks above you can strengthen those strands and have the healthy, strong hair of your dreams!
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor
cover photo by Michelle Dufflocq