Friend 1 – Don’t know what’s wrong with my hair, but it has started breaking a lot.
Friend 2 – Ya, mine too! I have been experiencing hair loss lately!
Deja vu? Been a part of such a conversation or overheard one? Little did you notice that the two friends above are wanting to express the same emotion but talking about two different types of hair problems! Re-read it again? Yes, the two hair problems are – HAIR BREAKAGE & HAIR LOSS.
Both these terms are commonly heard, discussed and used interchangeably. As you have figured our point of discussion here by now, they aren’t the same. Let’s understand this difference better to help you tackle the concern right.
But before we do that, let’s first understand our Hair’s strength…
Human hair is as strong as a wire of iron. It can stretch and bounce back. The average person’s head has 1,00,000 to 1,50,000 strands of hair. And a single hair can support up to 100 grams in weight and a whole head of hair could support up to 12 tonnes — the equivalent of two African elephants!
However, even strong hair cannot fully combat the overpowering assault of the chemicals contained in the hair-care products available today. The colours, chemicals, gadgets and all other things you use on your hair, to perm, dye or straighten hair actually takes a heavy toll on the quality of your hair. Many people are aware of the risks involved but go ahead to maintain the style quotient. And later struggle with hair concerns. Do read our blogs on the concerns that modern hair trends pose and how styling can damage hair.
These conditions discussed above clubbed with improper hair care routines over time lead to hair breakage and hair loss. Let’s delve deeper here…
What is Hair Loss?
Hair loss, in simple terms, is when the root or follicle becomes weak and falls off. Typically this is a gradual process. Hair starts to become thin and fine thereby resulting in a reduced volume of your hair. As the root weakens further and further, the hair sheds, from its follicle as a whole. Poor diet, hormonal imbalance, and genetics are known to be major causes of hair loss.
Common Causes of Hair Loss
If you are someone who follows our blogs, you may have read the one on common causes of hair loss. If not, do catch up on it! For now, we will give a brief on the most predominant causes of hair loss, apart from your genes.
Modern-day demands are such that every individual wants to look perfect and be absolutely fit. Results – switching to sudden diet plans that are trending..not able to keep up with it? Switch again! Such erratic diet plans and changes can lead to an internal imbalance in the body. The lack of balanced essential nutrients to your hair & scalp causes hair loss. Improper meals disturb the growth cycle of the hair, thus leading to loss. Inadequate intake of water adds to this. Do read our blog on how a balanced meal is important for hair’s health.
Any hormonal imbalance in your body is bound to strike an imbalance in your hair as well. Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, prolactin in females have a great effect on the hair. Any imbalance or level fluctuations lead to hair concerns. Thyroid imbalances also cause a lot of hair problems.
Some occasions/circumstances and medical conditions like pregnancy, stressful/difficult labour, concerns postpartum, menopause or detection of a thyroid disorder, PCOD, renal failure, etc. bring a hormonal imbalance in the body. Though you may not experience sudden hair loss during this phase, visible hair fall will be observed after about 3 months from such an event triggering imbalance.
Physiological as well as emotional stress strongly affects the health of hair. For instance, typical to emotional stress – skipping meals or overeating, forgetting to drink water, not being disciplined about hair care routines, to name a few. All of which leads to hair loss. Which in turn leads to more stress! Do read our blog on how stress affects your hair.
Solutions to Combat Hair Loss
Hair loss is always triggered by a root cause. What’s most important is to consult a professional who can help you identify the root cause of the hair loss. Unless the root cause is addressed, the hair loss cannot be controlled. Further, there are different types of hair loss that need different treatments and solutions. Only a trichologist can guide you right on it.
Here are some tips at large to always keep in mind…
Now, what is Hair Breakage?
Now that we have discussed what hair loss is, let’s look at the other topic of the day.
Hair’s strength, elasticity, and health depend on how hydrated it is (its moisture content). When hair is hydrated well, the moisture in it allows it to swell or contract and thereby stretch plus bounce back without breaking. When your hair is dry it cannot stretch. It is then brittle and breaks off while you are brushing, styling or blow-drying, and in severe cases – just as you run your fingers through your hair!
Just like your body indicates irregular signs while experiencing Hair Loss, Hair breakage is something that’s quite clearly visible. Hair Breakage is when your hair shaft breaks resulting in split ends and shorter hair strands. Basically, hair breaks off from any part of the hair shaft, and not from the root as in the case of hair loss discussed above.
It can happen to all types of hair, from straight to curly for various reasons, but the most common reasons are using wrong or unfriendly hair products, over-styling with heat-aids, colour processing, bleaching, chemical treatments, improper hair care, dehydration or not getting timely haircuts, to name a few. Hair breakage is typically a reversible problem, provided you spot it and attend to it without delay. It is a temporary problem in a way that needs a permanent fix to avoid recurrence!
Common Causes of Hair Breakage
While we have indicated some likely causes in the section above, we will brief you a little more on some of the common causes here.
Excessive Heat Styling & Over-Styling
You will find a myriad of hairstyles invented to cope up with modern fashion trends. These hairstyles involve excessive usage of heat-aided tools or chemical products. Frequently using heat treatments like blow-dryers, straighteners or curling tongs on the hair remove the moisture from the hair which causes hair to become brittle and prone to breakage. Do read our blogs on the concerns caused by over styling.
Using Wrong Hair Products
Hair Colouring has been a major trend lately. Not only women but men too are now fond of trying new and different colours for hair. However, most of the products used in this process contain chemicals that can weaken the hair & make it more vulnerable to breakage. Some shampoos too that are alkaline can cause a negative charge on the hair thus creating friction between the strands and leading to hair breakage.
Improper Haircare Practices
Well, hair care does not only mean oiling, shampooing & condition regularly. It’s much more and much beyond! It is imperative that you follow a disciplined regimen that suits your hair. But you also need to ensure that you don’t unintentionally cause harm as well in the process.
Sometimes mishandling your hair can also damage it badly. For e.g. it’s believed that one should brush hair with 100 brushstrokes. Oh! my dear friends, this is nothing but a myth. Too much brushing can cause breakage. Similarly, wet hair breaks more easily as compared to dry hair. Hence, rubbing it vigorously as you do with a towel, can lead to damage, increase frizz and cause breakage. Check out our page on the most common haircare mistakes and see about avoiding them!
Not Having Regular Haircuts
Saying bye to split ends on time is crucial ‘cos if unattended these broken ends move upwards, splitting the hair shaft as they travel up the hair shaft. Split ends, hair damage, growing out hair are challenges that you will face if you don’t get timely trims. Periodical trims help you avoid this. Regular trims aid hair growth, controls damage, helps hair grow thicker and healthier, makes it easier to manage and maintain style. Medical Disorders
Eating or Thyroid Disorders affect the quality, health as well as growth of hair. While people with malnutrition and health issues that come from eating disorders face hair breakage during the growth phase – anagen itself, ones with a thyroid disorder may notice very brittle, dry & dull hair that’s prone to breakage; also leading to thinning! Solutions to Combat Hair Breakage
So, there you go. Hair loss and hair breakage, broken down for you. Remember, the key technical difference is that hair loss is when hair sheds off from its root, and hair breakage is when there is a breakage anywhere in the length of your hair shaft!
So, next time when you get into any conversation related to these hair problems, don’t get confused between the two! Hope this blog has helped you understand the difference between the two most common concerns, along with their respective causes and solutions! And do remember our handy tips on how to take care of your hair’s overall health.
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