Too much heat styling and frequent chemical treatments can reduce your hairs’ strength and elasticity and make it susceptible to breakage. Even though excessive hair breakage can be extremely frustrating, the good news is that the problems can often be managed by adjusting your hair care regimen.
The right combination and rotation of protein and moisture-based hair products can help maintain optimal moisture and protein balance in hair fibers, making them healthier, and more resilient to breakage. There are two important things regarding hair washing that can help reduce hair breakage: the frequency of washing and the proper selection of hair shampoo and conditioner.
Frequent shampooing can remove the protective sebum coating that naturally rests on the hair shaft; this can cause damage to the cuticle layer. Lack of natural oils results in dryness, increased friction, and hair that is susceptible to breakage. To prevent excessive dryness, individuals with dry, damaged, or curly hair should limit shampooing to once or twice a week.
Shampoos for Hair Breakage
Anionic surfactants, such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), are the most commonly used cleansing agents in commercial hair shampoos. Sulfate-containing shampoos have great lathering capabilities, and they are also very efficient at removing greasy residue from the hair and scalp. However, harsh sulfate detergents in hair shampoos can strip the hair of its natural moisture and increase friction between hair fibers, leaving hair prone to tangling and breakage.
Individuals with natural black hair or dry, damaged or chemically-processed hair should use shampoos that utilize mild cleansing systems, which are usually a combination of cationic and nonionic surfactants. Mild cleansers in true sulfate-free shampoos, such as sodium cocoamphoacetate, lauryl glucoside, coco glucoside, disodium lauroamphodiacetate, and disodium laureth sulfosuccinate, are plant-derived and less likely to cause excessive dryness.
In addition to the cleaning function, hair shampoos can have several secondary functions. Shampoos and conditioners contain special active ingredients that are added to their formulations to treat specific scalp and hair conditions, and they may have a significant effect on the mechanical properties of the hair.
Different brands of anti-breakage shampoos and conditioners reflect different technologies and contain different ingredients intended for strengthening the hair shaft and eliminating hair breakage. Ingredient-focused selections of hair shampoos and conditioners will provide you with better results than shopping for brand names. Ingredients to look for are humectants and other moisturizing ingredients, as well as hydrolyzed proteins. Two of the latest technological innovations include the utilization of ceramides and bamboo extract in anti-breakage product formulas.
These protective treatments prepare your hair for washing to minimize the drying effect of shampoos and to repair hair prior to washing. Pre-wash treatments lock in moisture, help with detangling, and increase tensile strength to drastically reduce hair breakage. Creators of Living Proof Timeless Pre-Shampoo Treatment claim that their product will reduce breakage by 85% after one use. Other brands of pre-shampoo treatment known to boost hair elasticity include Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Pre-Shampoo Treatment, Huile de Leonor Greyl Pre-Shampoo Oil Treatment, and Kerastase Resistance Soin Premier Therapist Pre Shampoo Treatment.
Ceramides for Weakened and Damaged Hair
Ceramides are a group of lipids naturally found in human hair. Ceramides act as a binder, keeping hair cuticles together, which results in smooth and shiny hair. They provide a protective layer that promotes moisture retention and helps retain the elasticity of hair fibers.
Over-shampooing, chemical treatments, and the excessive heat can deplete ceramide stores over time. Lack of ceramides results in raised cuticles, which allow moisture to escape, leaving hair dry, inelastic, and vulnerable to breakage.
Ceramides are most useful for color-treated and relaxed hair. The application of products fortified with ceramides provides damaged hair with a boost of ceramide, reinforces cuticle cohesion, and improves hair elasticity, making the strands less susceptible to breakage. Ceramides are also moisture-supporting ingredients that encourage moisture absorption and retention in the hair shaft.
Conditioning shampoos that contain ceramides:
- L’Oreal Paris EverStrong Sulfate-Free Fortify System Reconstruct Shampoo
- M72 Ceramide Keratin Shampoo & Conditioner
Hydrolyzed Proteins for Hair Prone to Breakage
Chemical treatments, excessive heat, and daily grooming can damage the protective cuticle layer, leading to chemical degradation of hair proteins. Loss of keratin induces reduced the strength of the hair fiber, which can lead to breakage.
Proteins in hair care products are large particles that cannot penetrate the hair shaft and act on the surface layer, forming a moisture-retentive film, increasing hair volume and shine.
New lines of protein-rich hair products contain hydrolyzed proteins. Hydrolysis is a chemical process in which the protein compound is broken down into smaller chains of amino acids. When incorporated into hair products, low- molecular-weight amino acids are easily absorbed into the hair, improving elasticity and luster.
Hydrolyzed keratin has been used for decades to repair damage and give strength and flexibility to hair. To meet increasing customer demand for an alternative to animal-derived proteins, cosmetic chemists developed Phyto-proteins, such as hydrolyzed wheat protein, hydrolyzed soy, and hydrolyzed corn protein.
Hydrolyzed proteins penetrate the hair shaft and temporarily rebuild damaged spots, reviving the structure of hair strands. Adding hydrolyzed protein to hair product formulations helps to increase the elasticity of the hair and reduce the probability of breakage.
Bamboo Extract for Hair Strengthening
Bamboo is the richest source of organic silica. Silica is an important component in collagen, and it plays a key role in improving the elasticity of skin and hair. When the level of silica is decreased, hair becomes brittle and more vulnerable to breakage.
Bamboo extract contains 70% silica. Silica-based hair products help fortify and strengthen hair as well as stimulate healthier hair growth. Shampoos enriched with bamboo extract helps strengthen the hair follicle/shaft, remove buildup, tame frizz, and add a beautiful shine.
Sulfate-free hair strengthening products that contain bamboo extract:
- Alterna Bamboo Shine Luminous Shine Shampoo & Conditioner
- Boo Bamboo Strengthening Shampoo
Conditioners for Hair Prone to Breakage
Regular conditioning after every shampoo is an important part of the hair care routine for people experiencing hair breakage. Rinse out conditioners form a thin coating over the hair shaft, protecting the strands from further damage and the progression of breakage.
Without using a conditioner after shampooing, the hair can become very tangled and difficult to comb. Trying to untangle wet hair without conditioner will cause split ends and breakage. Regular conditioners flatten the cuticle scales, which decreases inter-fiber friction and makes hair feel soft to the touch. The protective coating that forms on the hair helps separate hair strands and makes detangling and combing easier.
Deep Conditioners to Minimize Hair Shedding
Deep conditioners are more effective at repairing hair damage because they contain more concentrated ingredients and stay longer on the hair than instant conditioners. They usually remain on the hair for at least 15 minutes prior to rinsing. Deep conditioners are formulated as thick creams enriched with proteins and other ingredients that promote moisture retention and help rebuild inner hair strength. Adding heat to your intensive conditioning treatments allow for deep penetration of conditioning agents into the hair shaft.
Protein and moisture work together to keep hair healthy and resilient to breakage. Over-conditioning that is not balanced with protein can cause protein deficiency leading to unmanageable hair that is prone to breakage.
Preference toward protein-rich hair products can cause a deficiency of the moisture needed to lubricate hair, leaving the strands inelastic and rigid.
Deep conditioner with ceramides: Matrix Biolage Fiber Strong Cream
Deep conditioner with bamboo extract: Tree Naturals Bamboo, Fig & Lotus Flower Deep Conditioner
Leave-in Conditioners to Boast Hair Elasticity
Leave-in conditioners are used on damp hair to seal in moisture, smooth the cuticles, control the frizz and help with detangling. Leave-in conditioners give hair softness and improve manageability.
Product: L’Oreal Professional Expert Serie Sealing Repair Lipidium Double Serum uses Phytol-Keratin and Ceramides to reinforce inter-cellular cement that fills the damaged area of hair, boosts internal strength, and minimizes breakage.