Avoiding and managing hair breakage
May 30, 2013 10:45 AM   Subscribe

My hair does this. Is there a way to avoid so much breakage, and how do I effectively tame/straighten the existing broken hairs without causing more damage?

Every morning I blow dry my bangs, but use the dryer very minimally on the rest of my hair. I almost never use a curling iron, hair spray or other products, besides Desert Essence Organic Raspberry shampoo and conditioner, and occasionally I buy a jar of Keihl's Olive Fruit Oil "Deeply Repairative" Hair Pak and use it a couple times a week. The Keihl's seems to cut down significantly on tangling (my hair is very fine and tangles super easily) but I still have breakage and these crazy flyaways. Any advice? Thanks!!
posted by Josephine Macaulay to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How often are you washing your hair? My hair is wavier than yours, but when I cut back to every other day my flyaways weren't as bad.

I recently switched to sulfate-free shampoo and stopped using silicone (dimethicone) products in my hair - which is harder than it sounds, there's dimethicone in EVERYTHING that claims to ease frizz - and now my flyaways are almost nonexistent. It's amazing. I also only wash once or twice a week, but scrub with conditioner every day, the mechanical action of scrubbing is enough to get my hair clean between washes.
posted by hungrybruno at 10:50 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

My hair was like that when I was on the pill. Since switching to non-hormonal birth control (copper IUD), my hair is healthy and I no longer describe it as "fine" (which I used to).
posted by rada at 10:51 AM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: I have these, and they're mostly growing hairs, not broken hairs. Smoothing/flattening balms help a lot. My favorite, although pricey, is Phyto. For me, it's worst after shampooing and after blow-drying wet hair. I try to minimize both of those activities.
posted by quince at 10:53 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have these too, mostly thanks to the humidity where I live. I use Moroccan Oil on my hair and it helps a lot with the flyaways. Also, the problem was much worse when I used to wear a ponytail on a regular basis.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:58 AM on May 30, 2013

Yep, I get these. One thing that REALLY killed them was getting a Brazilian blowout, but that's expensive so I've stopped doing it. It's worth a try though!

I agree that overwashing could contribute to these.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:00 AM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: Could it be from brushing your hair to hard or too often? Or pulling apart tangles while your hair is wet? I also have super fine, tangle-prone hair, and it has been so much healthier since I started using sulfate/phosphate/paraben-free shampoo (Moroccan Oil brand) and air-drying my hair. I shower at night and then go to sleep with my hair kind of fanned out on the pillow. My hair is thicker since it's not breaking off, shinier, and has more body.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:09 AM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: Be very careful when you comb/brush your hair wet. Use a wide-tooth comb or a plastic-bristle paddle brush and work your way up slowly from the ends. If you ever hear a little pop as you're brushing, that is your hair breaking.

Also, if you towel off your hair, just glide the towel over your head (or gently roll it up in a turban), don't use it to rub your hair.

Be careful with ponytails (loose braids are less damaging) and never, ever tighten a ponytail by dividing the tail in two and pulling in opposite directions.

You may also consider sleeping on a satin pillowcase, it's gentler on both your hair and skin.
posted by payoto at 11:11 AM on May 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think that's necessarily breakage. My hair looks like that and I totally baby it--no sulfates or cones, washing only every three days, etc. I just have the type of hair that has lots of random lengths. Do you also have lots of short wispy hairs at your hairline? That could be a clue that it's just the type of hair you have. A flat iron is the only thing that makes mine go away, but of course that is a recipe for breakage down the line.
posted by HotToddy at 11:13 AM on May 30, 2013

I get these little frizzies too. I went on an outright war against them one year and did a couple of things that worked:

1. I stopped going to bed with my hair in an elastic; I found that caused a lot of breakage.

2. I still get them, but not as bad. Also, have you tried John Frieda's "Frizz Ease Serum?" It does help with them.

3. Also, I can never fully get rid of the frizzies, but nthing using a flat iron - that works pretty well too.
posted by MeatheadBrokeMyChair at 11:18 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

My hair is extremely thick, quite curly, and very short, I've literally never blowdried it in my entire life aside from when I get it cut in a salon, but I get these annoying little things, too. Always heard of the little broken-looking bits referred to as "flyaways."

To combat the frizz, I use Aveda's Light Elements Texturizing Creme (a little goes a very long way; I've had my tub for well over a year, probably two) which smells AMAZING and works wonders. Before that, I used TiGi Bed Head Smoothing Stuff.

LUSH Retread conditioner is made for this very purpose, and when I regularly shampoo with Godiva there is a remarkable decrease in flyaways as well. A couple drops of straight jojoba oil brushed through your hair from your scalp line would likely help, too.
posted by divined by radio at 11:19 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I wash my hair almost every day because it also tends to be oily, and looks it when I don't wash it. I try to skip washing about twice a week (maybe Wednesday and Saturday, for example) to give it a break, but sounds like skipping more would be better.

I'm not on any kind of birth control and I don't wear an elastic to bed, so those are unrelated.

I'll check out the products mentioned (and warned against). AND, I'll be much more careful with brushing and ponytails!

Thanks all for the suggestions!
posted by Josephine Macaulay at 11:24 AM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: I wash my hair almost every day because it also tends to be oily, and looks it when I don't wash it.

Have you tried dry shampoo? Sometimes my hair looks better with a day's oil and some dry shampoo in it than it does freshly washed.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:30 AM on May 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

My hair is like that too. First of all, I don't get to have long hair. I wish I could but it just doesn't suit my hair type. Secondly, I blow dry my hair with a round brush to smooth it some. Thirdly I use ghds. I use Paul Mitchell serum which helps smooth it.
posted by hazyjane at 11:41 AM on May 30, 2013

It looks and sounds like we have very, very similar hair. Not shampooing mine makes me look like an oil spill and dry shampoo never worked either (I have tried dozens of different brands). I use the FrizzEase serum recommended above and it works like magic.
posted by cooker girl at 11:46 AM on May 30, 2013

When I transitioned into washing less, it took a couple weeks of just walking around with less-than-pristine hair on the non-wash days. Eventually my hair/scalp realized I wasn't going to be stripping the oil out of it every day and started producing less oil.
posted by hungrybruno at 11:47 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Everyone has those a little bit. Put mayonnayse on your hair as a leave in once a week and rinse it out with cool water. Stop blow drying, be more gentle when you brush, never rub your hair when you're washing or drying it (to wash it, lather your scalp and let the shampoo run through your hair... never pile it up on your head like they do in commercials! To towel dry, just squeeze with the towel, don't rub). Use a strengthening shampoo and a satin pillowcase. Wear your hair down less frequently and in a protective style like a braid more frequently.
posted by windykites at 12:34 PM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Are you eating enough protein? When I changed my diet to include more proteins and fats my hair became noticeably stronger.

Try reducing the amount of handling you do, also. Be kind and gentle in the ways you touch it. Comb instead of brush, use a t-shirt to dry instead of a terrycloth towel, and don't yank or pull when you put it up.
posted by epanalepsis at 12:44 PM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: Yes, skip shampoo days whenever possible. I used to get greasy hair even though I washed every day, and since I started skipping washes my scalp has calmed down a lot. I regularly wash every second day now, and my second day hair looks fine. Ponytails/braids and dry shampoo made it tolerable enough to get through the gross transition phase. Try to touch your hair as little as possible. Not only does the oil on your hands end up on your hair when you touch it, it stimulates your scalp to produce more oil. And touching will cause more frizzies and flyaways.

I too have tried many dry shampoos, and the one that finally worked for me is a dirt cheap drugstore one - Batiste in the original "clean & classic" scent. My friend has the same baby fine, oily hair as me and she swears by it also. Unlike other dry shampoos I tried, it sucks up oil without making my hair clump together and doesn't feel too gritty.
posted by keep it under cover at 12:46 PM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: Having wavy hair but it looks like non stop frizz.

What has helped:
Organic keritan treatment (warning: EXPENSIVE)
wide tooth comb
this keritan oil seemed to work better than the morroccon oil. Their shampoo and conditioner has worked nicely too (but again, you're talking $30 per bottle)
posted by stormpooper at 12:50 PM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: Make sure you are using some kind of heat protecting product before using a blow dryer or other heat tool. Anything labeled as "straightening" will probably do the trick.
posted by radioamy at 1:13 PM on May 30, 2013

Best answer: For tangles and fly-aways: I use John Frieda Smooth Start Conditioner. It comes in "hydrating" and "repairing" -- the latter is more effective for frizz but it's too much for my oily scalp. It's labeled for use on dry hair, but I use it anyway. These are very slippery conditioners, so they're super easy to distribute through the hair. I comb my fingers through my hair after I apply it and feel almost no drag or resistence.

Sometimes I use other smoothing products after I dry my hair, but the conditioner does most of the work.
posted by wryly at 2:28 PM on May 30, 2013

When you shampoo every day, your hair produces more oil to replace the oil you're stripping from it. Shampoo way less. I have long hair and shampoo around 3x a week. There's a transition of a few weeks where your hair will look worse, not better, but my hair is so much less oily now.

I still get a lot of little hairs like that, but mine are mostly due to wearing either a tight high ponytail or a high bun every day (no other options- my job is pretty strict). I try to keep it out of an elastic as much as possible other than that.
posted by kro at 8:47 PM on May 30, 2013

My hairdresser's advice: cut way back on the washing, like once a week is best, twice at most. He said to use lukewarm water only as hot water encourages more oil/washing etc encouraging the cycle. Avoid tying your hair with elastic bands as this encourages breakages, use a wide tooth comb only and never on wet hair and use heat on your hair as little as possible. Also use a hair and nail vitamin supplement if you can though it will take a while to see results from that. Colouring also damages your hair but for me it's a necessary evil. (Alternatively, get pregnant, my hair and nails have never looked better. A somewhat drastic solution to the issue though!)
posted by Jubey at 3:49 AM on May 31, 2013

Nthing satin (or silk) pillowcase. That did wonders for my hair.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:23 AM on May 31, 2013

To those recommending washing hair less often, this very much depends on the individual. As I mentioned in a fairly similar question, I washed my hair every 2-3 days for my entire life, and it was always greasy yet still frizzy. Switching to everyday washes (from the advice given in that thread) has made it look far, far better, rather than damaging it as I was always told. So cutting back on the washing is worth a try, but your hair might actually need daily washing.

I have very similar hair to you and haven't found much that helps, so I'm watching this thread for suggestions. I think using a wide-tooth comb to detangle and the occasional boar-bristle brushing has been an improvement over my previous daily brushing. I also do a warm-olive oil treatment every few months which helps a bit, but I would like to find something that works better. The Frizz-Ease serum mentioned up-thread only makes my hair look greasy and not much less frizzy, unfortunately.
posted by randomnity at 11:20 AM on May 31, 2013

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