Brittle vs. Thinning Hair: Two Types of Hair Loss

Sometimes it’s tough to figure out why your hair is acting up. Do you have brittle, dry, breaking hair? Or, is your hair thinning? If you’re not aware of the common characteristics of damaged hair, you might assume the wrong hair loss issue.

Knowledge is power, and accuracy about your hair issues is the best move towards re-growth or thickening. So, how can you tell the difference? And what can you do to fix it?

Let’s examine brittle hair first, and then tackle thinning hair.

Brittle Hair

Split ends. Dry hair. Breakage when you wear a pony tail or updo. Brittle hair can look dull, lackluster, and problematic. It’s on a continuum like dry skin; some brittle hair is just a bit dull, while other brittle hair will break off in your hand. Ways to tell you’re looking at brittle hair include:

  • Tangles when wet, and looks spongy prior to drying
  • Dye jobs and coloring fades more quickly than it should
  • Hair feels rough and dry to the touch
  • Hair often breaks when put up in ponytails and lacks a general elasticity of healthy hair

Hormone imbalances, malnutrition, and neglect can cause your hair to become brittle. But mostly, what causes this sad state of hair affairs are the outside elements and your lifestyle. Chlorine from pools, UV rays from the sun, and other chemicals can infiltrate your hair and leave it brittle.

The worst of the worst for brittle hair babes? Heat styling and blow drying. Curling irons and straighteners also often get too hot and can hurt the hair. If your styling products heat to more than 340 degrees, you could have a problem. Anything over 400 degrees applied directly to your hair will likely dry it out, break it, and cause bitter brittle problems! Water bubbles inside your hair can also occur at these high heats. This will virtually eliminate your hair’s ability to have “bounce.”

Another common sign of damaged hair? If your brush is getting clogged with loose strands. Hair is supposed to fall out naturally, not all the time. And not in large quantities, ever.

Thinning Hair

Most people shed between 50 and 100 strands of hair each day. These get on our clothes, our floors, and in our cars and offices. When you’re losing more than 250 hairs per day, you may have a thinning hair problem. While thinning hair affects women of all ages, most notice it after menopause. 30 million women in America alone have thinning hair problems.

If your hair is thinning, there are visual signs – most notably, a marked thinning on the top third of the hair, nearest the scalp. If you can see lots of your scalp poking out from under your hair, you may have thinning issues. If your ponytail seems thinner or more fine, and if your middle part is wider than in past years, you may also be exhibiting some signs of hair thinning. If your hair feels different than it did in past months or years, you might have thinning hair. When your new hair growths are more fine and less bulky and thick than your old hair, this is female pattern baldness rearing its head. In this type of hair damage, the follicles shrink, and will eventually quit growing altogether.

Stress or trauma could be the cause of your thinning hair or hair loss. Allergies, vitamin deficiencies, or not getting enough protein or silica could also be contributing factors. Female pattern baldness, however, is 90% genetic. It’s not always up to you how thick your hair will stay at different points in your life or as you age.

Hair Loss Solutions

The best ways to fight brittle hair include:

  • Don’t wear your ponytails too tight, and try to avoid metal hair accessories and clips. Buy no-breakage ponytail holders, and try not to stress your ‘do.
  • Check your products. Are your shampoo, conditioners, and styling products also extra moisturizing? Make sure you apply moisture replenishing products on your hair, especially if you have a history of brittle or breaking hair. When you put on conditioner, focus on your ends. That’s where the most brittle part of your hair will be.
  • Ditch the blow dryer, curling iron, and hot iron straightener! If you absolutely must use heat styling, make sure to lower the amounts of heat and the time spent applying heat to your hair. If you can, use some type of spray or cream for thermal or heat protection before you touch your hair to heat. Heat will make your hair brittle and can potentially cause breakage.
  • Hair softening oils are luckily becoming more popular in products for styling. Argan oil, sunflower oil, or coconut oil will do the trick!
  • Ditch your brush for a wide tooth comb. This goes mostly for wet hair. Combing is the most gentle means of detangling.
  • If thinning hair is what ails you, you might need to visit a doctor or medical professional. Medication can stimulate re-growth of your hair, or – at the least – slow down hair loss. Products like Rogaine contain Minoxidil, and you can purchase these over the counter at any pharmacy or drug store. If you stop doing these treatments, however, your hair will likely continue to fall out.
  • Last but not least, whether your hair is thinning or brittle and breaking, make sure to take a look at the amounts of nutrients and micronutrients in our diet. You need to make sure you’re getting protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B3, as well as silica and other micronutrients. Good luck!

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