Hair Loss vs Hair Breakage: What Is The Difference?
People around the world suffer from hair loss and hair breakage. While these are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. And while one might be less serious than the other, that doesn't make either of these issues any less significant. Both hair loss and hair breakage can lead to long-term - if not permanent - effects on your hair. And without proper treatment, your crowning glory may not stand a chance.
In today's article, we want to clear up any confusion between hair loss and hair breakage. We'll explain the differences and share tips on how you can tell which hair problem you are suffering from. Let's dive in!
Hair Loss vs Hair Breakage: The Differences Explained
Hair loss and hair breakage ultimately lead to the same situation, which is having less hair on your head. However, they are completely different things with different causes, risk factors, and treatment options:
What Is Hair Loss?
Hair loss or hair shedding occurs when the root or hair follicle weakens and falls off the scalp completely. Usually, this happens gradually, but in some cases, hair loss can be rapid. Either way, the end result of hair loss is having thinner hair on your scalp with significantly less volume.
For both men and women, one of the most common causes of hair loss is male/female pattern baldness. This is a genetic condition wherein the hair falls off and does not regrow. For men, the first signs of male pattern baldness are a receding hairline and bald spots. For women, hair usually starts to thin at the natural partition of the hair. Learn more about why hair growth is genetic in our previous blog!
Other common causes of hair loss include dietary imbalance, hormonal imbalance, and stress. Let's discuss each one:
- Dietary imbalance. Certain vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients are essential in the healthy growth of hair, including Vitamin C, Vitamin A, B vitamins, iron, and protein. If your diet is deficient in these nutrients, it can lead to multiple problems, including slow wound healing, fatigue, poor night vision, and, of course, serious hair loss.
- Hormonal imbalance. In women, hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin have a vital role in hair health. That said, hormonal imbalances can lead to hair problems, such as hair loss. Common hormonal conditions that can cause hair loss include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menopause, difficult labor, and renal failure, among many others.
- Stress. Stress can cause hair follicles to go into the "resting" phase, which makes them unable to produce new strands. As time goes by, this causes hair to fall out more easily even without much tension or force, leading to thinner, less voluminous hair.
What Is Hair Breakage?
Hair breakage is when the hair shaft breaks, leading to split ends and shorter hair strands. The hair follicles are still producing new strands, but the existing strands are broken or damaged. So, why does this happen?
The strength and elasticity of your hair depend on its moisture content. When they are well-hydrated, hair strands are able to stretch and bounce back without breakage. In contrast, dry hair strands are brittle, inelastic, and much more prone to breaking while you are brushing, drying, styling, and--in worst cases--even while you're just touching your hair.
As we've said before, the causes of hair breakage differ from that of hair loss. Here are the most common ones:
- Excessive heat styling. Healthy hair can withstand up to 450 degrees F of heat. However, constant application of heat will eventually strip the hair shaft of moisture, which, as we've said before, will lead to dry and brittle hair.
- Frequent dyeing. The chemicals in most hair dyes are strong enough to damage hair and make it more susceptible to damage. This is why you will usually see severe hair breakage in hair that has been dyed over and over again with minimal rest time in between.
- Rough treatment. Hair is strong, but that doesn't mean it can withstand vigorous towel-drying, excessive combing, and too-tight hairstyles without suffering damage. Hence, treating your hair roughly is most likely going to lead to breakage, split ends, and frizzy hair!
Sometimes breakage might be confused for new strands of hair growing in. It might be difficult to tell the difference between new hair growth vs. breakage, so make sure to check out our previous article to see which one you have!
Hair Loss vs Hair Breakage: Which Am I Suffering From?
Now, let's get into the real reason you came here today - figuring out whether you're suffering from hair loss vs hair breakage.
So, you've noticed that your hair is thinner than before, and you're finding an alarming amount of hairs on your brush every morning. But how can you tell if you're suffering from hair loss or hair breakage? We've laid out their biggest differences in the previous section, but the specific problem that you have may not always be obvious.
To make it easier for you to determine which hair problem you're suffering from (and find a solution ASAP!), here are checklists of their signs, symptoms, and risk factors:
The biggest sign that you are suffering from hair loss is when you see the bulb on the end of fallen hairs. This is called club hairs, which is known as hair that has fallen out at the root. Apart from that, you may be suffering from hair loss if you:
- Have recently gone through a tough pregnancy, labor; or have started menopause
- Are diagnosed with hormonal problems, e.g. PCOS, thyroid disease
- Are constantly experiencing massive amounts of stress
- Frequently skipping meals, overeating, or forgetting to drink water
- Have started a restrictive diet, e.g. a diet that severely limits your consumption of animal protein
- Have family members that have female/male pattern baldness
The tell-tale sign of hair loss is seeing a tiny white bulb at the end of your fallen hair. So, the most obvious sign that you're suffering from hair breakage is not seeing that bulb of your hair fall and seeing frayed ends instead.
Moreover, hair breakage may be your problem if you:
- Use heat styling tools frequently
- Put your hair up in tight hairstyles
- Bleach or dye your hair frequently
- Habitually treat your hair roughly, e.g. aggressive towel-drying, excessive combing/brushing
- Not oiling or conditioning your hair
All that said, however, it is possible that you are suffering from both hair loss and hair breakage. You can tell if this is the case when your hair falls with the root intact and you have split ends to match. Needless to say, you need to act quickly if you want to prevent further hair fall and damage. So, let's talk about how you can treat and prevent both hair loss and hair breakage.
How to Treat Hair Loss and Hair Breakage
Whichever hair problem you may have, early treatment is essential. That said, let's move on to the most effective ways to treat and prevent hair loss and hair breakage.
How to Treat Hair Loss
Fortunately, hair loss is not always permanent. The best way to treat hair loss is by going to a dermatologist or a trichologist (a doctor that specializes in hair problems, including hair loss, hair breakage, oily scalp, etc.). Once you determine the underlying causes of hair loss, you can then start applying solutions that prevent further hair fall, which often include:
- Eating a balanced diet with enough vitamins, minerals, and protein to keep your hair strong and healthy; as well as eating more foods that promote hair growth
- Drinking enough water
- Learning how to manage stress
- Following the hair care regimen prescribed by your dermatologist/trichologist
How to Treat Hair Breakage
Unlike hair loss, hair breakage is often easier to treat. This is because the causes of hair breakage are often linked to how you treat your hair instead of internal causes. That said, the treatment and prevention of hair breakage are usually through making haircare changes, such as:
- Using heat styling tools and strong chemicals (hairsprays, dyes, bleach) less frequently
- Finding looser hairstyles or giving your hair a break in between tight hairdos
- Oiling and conditioning your hair frequently
- Handling your hair gently when towel-drying, combing, brushing, styling, etc., especially when it is wet
- Using a leave-in conditioner, especially during dry days
- Protecting your hair from the sun
- Following the hair care regimen prescribed by your dermatologist/trichologist
Final Thoughts On Hair Loss vs Hair Breakage
Hair loss vs hair breakage, no matter the severity, can be incredibly frustrating to deal with. Not only are you losing your precious hair, but there is also that constant fear of your condition getting worse. No one needs that kind of stress in their life. So, if the amount of hair on your bathroom floor is getting concerning, act quickly and find out if it's hair loss or hair breakage, then apply the treatment strategies that we've mentioned above.
But what if everything you try doesn't seem to work? Don't fret - all hope is not lost! Whether you're suffering from hair loss or hair breakage, the right hair growth serum can breathe new life into your gorgeous hair. With Allurium Beauty, you can restore your hair into its former glory - permanently! Let our African American hair growth products change your life.