What Does Unhealthy Hair Look Like and What Can I Do to Fix It?


Woman with beautiful long hair on white background

We all get hit by the occasional bad hair day. The average American will experience 96 bad hair days every year. That means your hair won’t want to cooperate 1 day out of every 3. Yikes!

However, if you’re having less of a bad hair day, and more of a bad hair month, that might be a sign that your hair is unhealthy or damaged. But what does unhealthy hair look like? And, if you have unhealthy hair, what can you do to fix it?

Our guide has some signs to watch for, and some solutions to give you healthy hair again.

What Does Unhealthy Hair Look Like?

No one likes to think that their hair is unhealthy. We all think that we take great care of ourselves, even though the fact that the self care industry is booming says otherwise. So, what does unhealthy hair look like? Here are just a few of the unhealthy hair warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:

Your Shine Vanishes

Has your hair lost its former luster? You might need some scalp and strand TLC.

Damaged hair cuticles won’t reflect light as well as healthy ones. That’s why damaged, unhealthy hair looks dull or blah compared to shiny, healthy hair. If you’ve shampooed, conditioned, and it still looks dull, then that’s a sign of a problem.

Where’s the Bounce?

Our hair is a surprisingly elastic substance. Natural, healthy hair is supposed to have flexibility and bounce to it. If you try stretching it out and it breaks, then your hair has become brittle and unhealthy.

Want to see if you’ve still got bouncy, healthy hair? Here’s a quick test. Jump in place in front of a mirror, and watch how your hair behaves. Did it move with you? Or does it stay put?

Going to Splitsville

Let’s face it: no one likes finding split ends. If you regularly check the strands around your face and find what seems like a constant 2-for-1 special on strands, your hair’s gone to splitsville.

Split ends are one of the most obvious signs that something’s not right with your hair. So if you find them on a regular basis, even after a trim at the salon, then there’s a deeper issue at play.

Snarling at Tangled Snarls

Tangles are the worst. They’re the bane of every person with long hair. People will follow countless old wive’s tales to prevent tangles from rearing their gnarled heads.

Here’s the painful truth: healthy hair cuticles lie flat. This lets your hair strands slide against each other easily. Damaged cuticles raise and fray. This leads to thick brambles on your scalp that even the best detangling brush can’t cut through.

The occasional snag or snare is fine, but if you’re fighting with the Gordian Knot in your locks on a daily basis, then your hair might have some issues to work out.

Your Hair’s Thinning or Falling Out

The only sign of damaged hair or an unhealthy scalp more obvious than split ends is thin or bald spots. Some hair shedding is normal. However, if your shower or sink drain feels like it’s more of a hair collector than a drain, that’s a cause for concern.

Damaged, unhealthy hair is brittle and fragile. If it’s stopped growing, or worse, feels like it’s thinning, you should contact your stylist or doctor right away. Hair loss is not something you should play around with.

Hair Feels Like a Bath Mat

Healthy hair should absorb moisture. However, healthy hair should not take on so much moisture that it becomes spongy to the touch, or mats against itself. If, after a thorough shower, your hair feels like the bath mat does when you step out, then it’s too porous, and is taking on too much water.

Welcome to the Desert

If, by contrast, your hair feels dry to the touch, even when you lather it with moisturizers, this could also indicate a problem. Hair that’s been damaged feels dry in addition to being brittle and weak. So if your hair’s feeling dehydrated, it’s time to look into treatment options.

What Can I Do to Fix It?

All of this talk of what unhealthy hair looks like probably has you checking your locks in a panic. If you’ve found yourself relating to many of the above warning signs of unhealthy hair, don’t get too worked up.

Before you get your hair into even more of a frizz, check out these tips to help fix the damage below.

Supplement Your Locks

The vast majority of Americans have nutrient deficiencies. If your hair’s dull, flat, and unmanageable, despite all the products you use in it, the issue might be coming from within.

Consider investing in keratin and biotin boosters, as well as other hair vitamins. If you use these to supplement your other products, you’ll see healthier hair in no time.

Avoid the Heat

Curling, straightening, blow-dries, blowouts, and color processing. What’s the common theme in all of these ordinary hair treatments? If you guessed that they all involve heat, you’d be right!

Heat causes insane amounts of damage to otherwise healthy hair. So, avoid it where you can. Opt to towel-dry your locks over blow-drying them. Avoid excess heat-styling where you can.

If you have to use a straightener or curling iron, use some sort of heat-protection product on your hair. Doing so will save you from frying your own strands in the effort to be beautiful.

Speaking of…

Don’t Overdo It

If you put your hair through too many processes on a regular basis, you’ll lose the healthy hair you need as a basis for the rest to work effectively. Healthy hair bounces back from styles better, and holds color better than damaged, porous hair.

Over-processing your hair doesn’t just refer to salon procedures. You can overdo it by washing and shampooing as well. Your hair only needs a wash and shampoo every 2-3 days or so.

Washing and shampooing your hair daily can lead to greater damage over time. As for the shampoo itself…

Strike Out Sulfates

A startling amount of shampoo and conditioners on the market include sulfates in their ingredient lists. Parabens and sulfates help make your shampoo sudsy and fun to rub into your scalp, but they can cause more harm than good.

Sulfates are fantastic for clearing away oily build-ups. However, like other hygiene products, they strip away everything, whether beneficial or not. This leads to drier, brittler hair that’s more vulnerable to damage.

They can also irritate your eyes and skin, so switching to sulfate-free shampoos might be better for your scalp as well!

Start With Your Nutrition

Better health is the basis for better hair. Part of the reason your hair gets damaged so easily and lacks the flexibility and strength it needs is because your diet lacks critical nutrients to nurture its growth and development.

If you’re not eating a nutritionally balanced diet, all the products in the world won’t make up for this lack of a foundation. Focus on your nutrition first; healthy hair will come later.

Take Caution With Wet Hair

Wet hair’s more fragile and breaks more easily than dry hair. If you’re twisting or gripping it too hard right out of the shower, you’re encouraging damage. Treat wet hair gently and dab, don’t rub, the moisture away.

Let your hair have a chance to dry naturally before you rush for the hairdryer on the highest setting. If you avoid twisting, pulling, or rubbing the strands, you’ll see less damage in the long run.

Consider Professional Treatment

Many salons and doctors have products to help you support and maintain healthy hair if you ask. That could mean treatments to regrow thinning hair, keratin washes to thicken existing hair, or medications to boost hair growth, depending on who you consult.

Don’t feel like you have to go it alone when dealing with unhealthy or damaged hair. Reach out to the professionals for help if the thought of all these treatments overwhelms you. Chances are, they’ll have products and guidance that will help you.

Need More Beauty Tips?

You may have once wondered, “What does unhealthy hair look like?” Now you know. If your hair’s unhealthy, it will lack luster, lose bounce, and won’t recover well from treatments. It might grow thin or even break.

However, by taking supplements and ensuring proper nutrition, you can strengthen your hair from the inside out. If you consult with professionals and use products that are gentle on hair, you’ll find guidance and put your hair through less stress. And, if you avoid over-processing it, your hair will avoid damage and become stronger.

Still in the market for more beauty tips? Looking for ways to support a healthier, fitter, more beautiful lifestyle? Check out our blog’s Health section today for more health and fitness articles like this.


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