How To Stop Hair Breakage: Effective Ways You Need To Know [AU] 2023

Elesa Zehndorfer

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD, Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

how to stop hair breakage

Struggling with hair breakage? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we are going to take a look at the anatomy of a hair follicle to understand exactly why your hair can become brittle and damaged and experience breakage. That way, you become empowered with knowledge about the fundamentals of how to stop it! Then, we’ll look at the best ways to treat damaged hair and prevent hair breakage, including using argan oil.[1] 

Next, we delve into why great nutrition (prioritizing superfoods, vitamins, and minerals) will maximize the likelihood of healthy hair growth. And we’ll share exactly why male and female, Caucasian, Asian, and Afro-American hair requires different optimized treatments. Finally, we’ll share our top tips to make your hair grow faster. 

Time to let our hair down and dive right in!

What Causes Hair Breakage?

Hair breakage occurs when hair follicles become weak and brittle, causing split ends, tangles and knots, and dull and flyaway hair. Let’s take a deep dive into the science to see how the structure of your hair[2] can be damaged to cause your mane to transform from luxe to lank.

If you take a strand of your hair between your fingers right now, you will be touching the outer cover, or cuticle, of the hair follicle.[3] The cuticle is essentially a thick, chemically-resistant cover that protects the core of your hair shafts from environmental damage, e.g., pollution and chemicals from hair straightening products. This cuticle has around 6 to 8 layers and consists mainly of keratin protein and lipids. The positive benefits of keratin on hair health explain why it remains a key ingredient in so many hair masks and conditioners.

The Importance Of Healthy Cuticles

So, how do our hair cuticles affect how our hair looks and feels? Well, a healthy cuticle is essential for maintaining the integrity and strength of our hair, partly because it protects the hair’s keratin protein. Specifically, a lipid layer surrounding the cuticle cell, known as the epicuticle, contains 18-methyl eicosanoic acid;[4] this is a branched-chain fatty acid, also often referred to as 18-MEA, which makes our hair feel manageable, shiny, and strong.

The hair follicle also includes the cortex, which is about three-quarters of the mass of each hair fiber. It has a coiled, helical structure and is responsible[5] for hair strength and hair elasticity. So long as our cuticles and cortex remain healthy, our hair will likely look and feel great, too.  

Causes Of Hair Breakage

So, what causes hair breakage? A common cause is using alkaline hair treatments, such as dyeing, or straightening products, which strip our hair cuticles of 18-methyl eicosanoic acid. Without it, our hair cannot remain structurally strong or in good condition.

In fact, these alkaline-based hair treatments can be so damaging that they currently constitute the leading cause[6] of hair breakage and damage. And that can cause split ends, dull, frizzy hair, and slower hair growth.

A perm, or permanent curling procedure, is also known to damage the integrity[7] of the coiled, helical structure of the hair fiber and to also remove 18-MEA, which can, in turn, cause poor structural condition and breakage. Loss of 18-MEA will also cause hair to become less hydrophobic;[8] this is a term in which the hair, when less hydrophobic, becomes less resistant to water, i.e., more porous.  This increased porosity is a problem because it can significantly increase the risk of hair damage.

The Importance Of Nutrition

Poor hair quality can not only result from external treatments, like heat styling, especially for wet hair. It can also result from less than optimal internal processes within the body, like those resulting from poor nutrition. A diet that lacks adequate serum ferritin (iron) and D2[9] levels, for example, has been found to cause hair loss and hair degradation in female teenagers and adults. This is a particularly problematic issue for teenage girls, who, at the onset of menarche, are at far greater risk than teenage boys of experiencing low iron levels.[10] If you suspect nutritional deficiencies,[11] it’s a great idea to approach your doctor for a test.

Another cause of hair degradation and loss is alopecia areata,[12] an autoimmune condition. Both men and women can have this condition and its risk rises with age.

Hormones can mess up our hair, too, with menopause[13] a known cause of hair degradation in women and male pattern baldness[14] a problem for middle-aged men. The good news? There are some effective hair products out there that may help improve or even reverse hair loss, while many men may also benefit from FDA-approved medications that target hair loss.

Don’t Get Aggressive

Finally, aggressive anionic shampoos[15] (those with powerful cleaning properties) can aggravate hair breakage, damage, or aging and can even cause contact dermatitis. It’s subsequently worth looking out for — and avoiding[16] — certain preservatives such as captan, methyl dibromo glutaronitrile, and diazolidinyl urea, and added fragrances and surfactants, e.g.,  cocamidopropyl betaine, lauryl polyglucoside, and decyl glucoside, that might be listed in the ingredients of your shampoo.

Perhaps unbelievably, chemicals as aggressive as formaldehyde might be sitting in your bathroom cabinet right now! A 2018 study reported hair stylists had developed asthma[17] from repeated exposure to formaldehyde-based hair straightening products.  

Similarly, a study comparing commercial keratin-based hair straightening products reported that most were over the maximum 0.2% safe concentration of formaldehyde set by the US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel. Many of these products were even labeled to be formaldehyde-free. e.

Since 2019, formaldehyde has been banned in some U.S. states from inclusion in any hair care product due to its classification as a carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic substance.[18] However, it is still widely available in many well-recognized brands and products. It can appear as formaldehyde or indirectly from DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, glyoxal, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, or quaternium-15 that may appear on ingredient lists.

How To Stop Hair Breakage Effectively

Luckily, there are some really effective ways to stop hair breakage and hair loss naturally and heal damaged hair, starting today. Here’s what you can do to stop natural hair breakage from today: 

how to stop hair breakage

First, if you have bleached or chemically treated hair, invest in a great shampoo and conditioner or hair mask. Your hair will actually have a higher affinity[19] to conditioning treatments, e.g., coconut oil or argan-based treatments, meaning a greater bang for your buck when it comes to results! That also means avoiding potentially aggressive shampoos and other hair-cleansing products that might be high in surfactants, preservatives, and fragrances.

how to stop hair breakage

Second, choose a diet rich in vitamins and minerals to power healthy hair growth. Superfoods — that is, foods high in valuable nutrients — should form the foundation of your meals. 

The Power Of Collagen

how to stop hair breakage

Third, consider collagen-based products and treatments. Collagen[20] has been proven to improve hair shedding, degradation, and loss through its antioxidant and keratin-supporting properties. Struggling to find a great collagen product? You can check out our leading recommendations here.

how to stop hair breakage

Fourth, stop hair breakage instantly by stepping away from harsh hair treatments, i.e., dyes or straighteners, and go au naturel for an instant boost.

how to stop hair breakage

Fifth, choose a hair care product that has been developed specifically for your hair type. Caucasian and Asian individuals tend to have more keratin layers[21] in their hair cuticles than African-American individuals, with black hair also tending to be less dense. That means that stopping hair breakage in African-American hair may require more preventative, intensive strategies, such as the use of deep conditioning treatments, coconut oil, and fewer hair styling products. 

how to stop hair breakage

Finally, find a strategy that works for your life stage. We know that the structure of hair changes with age.[22] Children tend to have very fine, smooth hair because they have no medulla in the hair. Conversely, the medulla, present in the follicles of older people, is what tends to contribute to gray, white, coarseness, and overall aging of the hair. Embracing your status as a silver fox and investing in a great conditioner are both great strategies to counter this process!

Tips To Make Hair Growth Faster 

Looking to stop hair breakage fast? Then read on. Here are our go-to tips for faster-growing hair!

  1. Make sure that you are eating a healthy, superfood-based diet high in vitamins, e.g., vitamin B, that has been found to directly impact[20] hair growth, and supplement with collagen.
  2. Use a great shampoo and conditioning product free of allergens, potentially dangerous preservatives, and surfactants to prevent hair damage and protect your hair.
  3. Cease the use of hair straightening, curling, bleaching, dyeing, drying, and relaxing techniques. Put down the curling iron, and also let hair dry naturally, where possible. Too much heat styling is ultimately a major cause of hair breakage. Reduce friction in the towel-drying process by patting down rather than rubbing the hair.
  4. If you do dye your hair, incorporate an argan oil-based conditioning product or hair serum. This strategy has been shown to protect[23] hair against coloring-related damage.
  5. Consider natural supplements like arnica,[24] coconut oil,[25] or another hair oil of your preference to encourage faster hair growth.
  6. If you have over-processed, fine, or brittle hair, lots of split ends, or increased hair loss, consider adding a moisturizing shampoo, deep conditioning treatment, and heat protectant to your usual routine. 


Now that we’ve covered the best ways to stop hair breakage for different genders, ages and ethnicities, there’s only one thing to do — enjoy your beautiful hair by taking care of it from the inside out!

To do that, we recommend eating the best, most nutrient-rich foods, sleeping well, and taking care of your immune system. It also means investing in some wonderfully rich conditioning treatments, taking a break from styling products, and keeping your hair healthy with a collagen supplement. 

Our final takeaway? Embrace your natural locks, whatever style or color they may be, and simply let your natural beauty truly shine through! 

+ 25 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Gavazzoni Dias, M.F. (2015). Hair cosmetics: An overview. International Journal of Trichology, [online] 7(1), p.2. Available at:
  2. Dias, M.F.R.G., Loures, A.F. and Ekelem, C. (2021). Hair Cosmetics for the Hair Loss Patient. Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery, [online] 54(04), pp.507–513. Available at:
  3. Yang, F.-C., Zhang, Y. and Rheinstädter, M.C. (2014). The structure of people’s hair. PeerJ, [online] 2, p.e619. Available at:
  4. Morganti, P. and Morganti, G. (2020). Natural polymers for natural hair: the smart use of an innovative nanocarrier. Nanocosmetics, [online] pp.267–285. Available at:
  5. Nagase (2019). Hair Structures Affecting Hair Appearance. Cosmetics, [online] 6(3), p.43. Available at:
  6. Kathiresan, S. and Meenakshisundaram, O. (2022). Effect of alkali treated and untreated cellulose fibers and human hair on FTIR and tensile properties for composite material applications. SN Applied Sciences, [online] 4(3). Available at:
  7. Tokunaga, S., Tanamachi, H. and Ishikawa, K. (2019). Degradation of Hair Surface: Importance of 18-MEA and Epicuticle. Cosmetics, [online] 6(2), p.31. Available at:
  8. Fernandes, C., Medronho, B., Alves, L. and Rasteiro, M.G. (2023). On Hair Care Physicochemistry: From Structure and Degradation to Novel Biobased Conditioning Agents. Polymers, [online] 15(3), p.608. Available at:
  9. Rasheed, H., Mahgoub, D., Hegazy, R., El-Komy, M., Abdel Hay, R., Hamid, M.A. and Hamdy, E. (2013). Serum Ferritin and Vitamin D in Female Hair Loss: Do They Play a Role? Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, [online] 26(2), pp.101–107. Available at:
  10. Sekhar, D.L., Murray-Kolb, L.E., Kunselman, A.R., Weisman, C.S. and Paul, I.M. (2017). Association between menarche and iron deficiency in non-anemic young women. PLOS ONE, [online] 12(5), p.e0177183. Available at:
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  12. Darwin, E., Hirt, P., Fertig, R., Doliner, B., Delcanto, G. and Jimenez, J. (2018). Alopecia areata: Review of epidemiology, clinical features, pathogenesis, and new treatment options. International Journal of Trichology, [online] 10(2), p.51. Available at:
  13. Grymowicz, M., Rudnicka, E., Podfigurna, A., Napierala, P., Smolarczyk, R., Smolarczyk, K. and Meczekalski, B. (2020). Hormonal Effects on Hair Follicles. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, [online] 21(15), p.5342. Available at:
  14. Mirmirani, P. (2015). Age-related hair changes in men: Mechanisms and management of alopecia and graying. Maturitas, [online] 80(1), pp.58–62. Available at:
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  16. Lazzarini, R., Costa, L.L., Suzuki, N.M. and Hafner, M. de F.S. (2020). Allergic contact dermatitis by shampoo components: a descriptive analysis of 20 cases. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia, [online] 95(5), pp.658–660. Available at:
  17. Dahlgren, J.G. (2018). Asthma from hair straightening treatment containing formaldehyde: Two cases and a review of the literature – James G Dahlgren, Patrick J Talbott, 2018. [online] Toxicology and Industrial Health. Available at:
  18. López-Sánchez, L., Miralles, P., Salvador, A., Merino-Sanjuán, M. and Merino, V. (2021). In vitro skin penetration of bronidox, bronopol and formaldehyde from cosmetics. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, [online] 122, p.104888. Available at:
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  20. Trüeb, R., Arias, E., Floriach, N., Moreno-Arias, G., Camps, A. and Arias, S. (2022). Targeted nutritional supplementation for telogen effluvium: Multicenter study on efficacy of a hydrolyzed collagen, vitamin., and mineral-based induction and maintenance treatment. International Journal of Trichology, [online] 14(2), p.49. Available at:
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Elesa Zehndorfer

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo Kathy Shattler

Dr. Elesa Zehndorfer is an academic, a multi-award-winning writer, a Pilates coach and personal trainer, and author of five titles for a globally leading academic publisher. Dr. Zehndorfer earned her PhD from the School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences at Loughborough University in 2006. Her research interests focus on the application of physiology theory to both orthodox, and seemingly disparate, fields (such as finance, politics & management).

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo Kathy Shattler

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