New Hair Growth vs Breakage: How To Tell The Difference
For anyone trying to maintain healthy hair, those short hairs you find near your hairline can be a cause for panic. Could this be hair breakage? But before you let the panic really settle in, take a deep breath—it might just be new hair growth.
As annoying as these flyaways might be, new hair growth is always a good sign. But then again, how sure are you that it is new growth? What if you were right all along and it is broken hair?!
It's easy to mistake those short hairs for damaged hair instead of new growth (and vise versa). People can barely tell the difference between the two. This is exactly why we're here to help you figure out how to tell the two apart.
In this guide, we'll share some tips on how you can tell the difference between new growth and hair breakage. We will also share the different causes of hair breakage and how you can avoid it in the future.
What Are Baby Hairs?
First things first, what are baby hairs? Whenever you tie up your hair you probably notice short hairs sticking out around your hairline. Although they can be a nuisance if you're trying to go for a sleek hairstyle, baby hairs are actually a sign of new growth.
There are plenty of ways people are styling baby hairs nowadays. Instead of being annoyed by them, people embrace them and use them as a finishing touch to their hairstyles. They call this technique "laying your edges". These edges are reminiscent of those sleek 1920s curls.
Baby hair is usually found around your hairline at the front, sides, and at the nape of your neck. It is very soft and delicate. This fine hair also tends to be lighter in color and gives off a wispy effect.
If you notice that your baby hairs aren't soft, delicate, or wispy but rather dry, crispy, and ragged at the ends—then your "baby hairs" might not be baby hairs at all. Those are some of the first tell-tale signs that you have hair breakage.
How To Tell If It's Baby Hairs or Broken Hair
Aside from being dry and straggly, there are tons of other ways to confirm whether those short hairs on your scalp are actually damaged hair and not baby hair. Here's a list of things you should look out for:
- Baby hairs have similar short lengths all-around your hairline. If the short hairs around your mane are inconsistent in length, it's likely hair breakage
- You should have a consistent number of baby hairs all the time. If you notice that you have more baby hairs than usual or if your baby hairs only keep multiplying, that's not new growth. Your hair is breaking off.
- If your baby hairs aren't just around the hairline and you notice them further behind the hairline or on other areas of your scalp, that's breakage.
- Split ends are another clear sign of breakage.
Now you should feel more confident distinguishing between short baby hairs and hair breakage. But what's causing breakage in the first place? Let's take a look.
What Causes My Hair To Break?
So, have you figured out whether those short hairs are baby hairs or broken hair? If you discover that they're broken hairs and are wondering what's causing it, here are some possible reasons your hair is breaking:
Having dry hair is the easiest way to get damaged hair. Dryness can be caused by a number of things, from lack of water intake and improper nutrition to simply not moisturizing your hair enough.
Over shampooing your hair and chemical hair treatments such as dyeing, bleaching, perming, and so on, can also strip the natural oils in your hair and scalp and cause severe dryness.
Excessive or Improper Styling
If you frequently blow-dry, iron, or curl your hair without heat protectant, your hair will get damaged. Tying your hair up too tight can also cause significant stress in your roots, weakening your hair.
That's also why you'll notice some hair fall when you take off your hair tie and it also explains why your hair gets tangled. Towel drying can also cause your hair to get tangled which ultimately leads to hair breakage.
Your hair needs the proper nutrients to grow and stay healthy. If you aren't eating enough nutritious foods or if you just aren't eating enough, those vital nutrients won't get to your hair. Poor diets not only lead to hair breakage but also result in thin hair and prevent new hair from growing.
Our hormones play a big role in how most of our body parts function. They can also affect our hair. People with thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism have low levels of specific hormones in their bodies. As a result, people with hormonal imbalances not only get breakage, but they might suffer from hair loss as well.
Being stressed not only affects our emotions but also affects our physical well-being. People who are constantly stressed usually have a weaker immune system. Stress can also throw off our hormones, and we already know what happens when our hormones are imbalanced.
Brushing Your Hair Too Rough
You know you're brushing your hair too hard when you hear crackles, snaps, or pops. If your hair is already damaged and you aren't gentle with it, you're only setting yourself up for more hair loss.
Not Trimming Off Split Ends
There's a reason why people always tell you to get a regular trim—to get rid of any split ends. Not trimming your split ends only leads to more breakage and prevents your hair from growing longer and being the healthiest it can be.
It can even make the rest of your hair look dull and brittle, and no one wants lifeless hair. To keep your hair in the best condition make trimming split ends a part of your routine. Trust us, your hair will thank you for it.
Sleeping on a cotton pillowcase will increase friction in your hair as you move in your sleep. Friction, just like heat and other chemical treatments, damages the outer protective layer of your hair. This area is also known as the cuticle. When the cuticle is damaged your hair is more likely to break.
Tips To Avoid Hair Breakage
We know we listed a lot of possible causes for hair damage. It might seem impossible to ever get rid of hair damage with all the different factors at play. But it's really not that hard, especially if you are willing to be consistent with your hair health regimen. Here are the top tips to avoid and repair damaged hair:
We know what you're thinking, how in the world are scalp massages going to help repair your broken hair? Well, massaging your scalp not only helps you relax, it actually stimulates oxygen and blood flow into your scalp. This can lead to new growth.
You can give yourself a scalp massage while you're shampooing or conditioning your hair, or when you're applying your hair oil or serums.
Avoid the heat
If you plan on staying out in the sun, wear a hat to avoid the heat from concentrating on your scalp. Try to avoid using heating tools such as straightening irons, curlers, or blow dryers too much. But if you really can't live without these styling tools, at least use some heat protection.
Style your hair differently
If you're always straightening, curling, or tying your hair too tight, try to style your hair differently this time. Go for what we call "protective hairstyles". These are hairstyles that promote new growth and avoid hair damage by giving your hair a rest from all the harsh hairstyles we tend to do on a usual basis.
Braids, twists, wigs, and weaves are all types of protective hairstyles. But it's not just about how you style your hair but what products you use to style it as well. You need to find the right hair styling products to go with your protective hairstyles.
Be more gentle with hair brushing
Try to avoid brushing your hair while it's wet. Your hair is weaker when it's wet so if you think brushing it out aggressively will help, think again. Doing so will cause your hair to tear and damage your hair follicles.
If you find that trying to detangle your hair while dry is too difficult, try this instead. Use your fingers to gently detangle your wet hair.
Keeping your hair adequately moisturized will make it stronger and prevent it from breaking. Moisturizing can also help repair hair that's already been damaged.
There are plenty of ways to keep your hair hydrated. Increasing your water intake is the first step. Using a leave-in conditioner, homemade masks with olive oil, or hair serums packed with essential oils also boost hair moisture and growth.
For more tips on keeping your hair moisturized, here's an article we wrote about dealing with dry scalps.
Try hair repair shampoo
Some hair repair shampoos actually work the way they say they do. But other shampoo brands are misleading. Of course, not all hair types are the same. Some shampoos that work on Asian or Caucasian hair might not work the same for Black hair.
Some hair repair shampoos might even contain damaging ingredients that can lead to hair loss. If you want to know which ingredients to avoid, we have a blog post all about the different shampoo ingredients that cause hair loss.
Switch to satin pillowcases
When you switch to satin pillowcases, you don't have to deal with the friction cotton pillowcases give you. This way, you can say goodbye to damaged and frizzy hair. Plus, your hair will stay more hydrated too.
Did you know that satin pillowcases not only work wonders for your hair? It benefits your skin as well! You get fewer wrinkles, avoid acne, and also retain more moisture in your face.
Stay consistent with your hair care routine
Last but not least, if you want to avoid damaging your hair, you need to stay consistent with your hair care routine. If you are sticking to your hair care routine religiously and still notice some breakage, you might want to switch up your hair care products.
Go with hair care products that use all-natural ingredients. Natural ingredients are less likely to cause damage to your hair than other chemicals that claim to be beneficial for your hair.
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