Dry vs. Damaged Hair: What Does Damaged Hair Look Like?

Dry vs. Damaged Hair: What Does Damaged Hair Look Like?

Dry hair can be a real drag. But did you know that dry hair is different from damaged hair? Yes, dry and damaged hair can be frizzy, brittle, and dull—but that doesn’t mean they’re the same. How annoying, right? If you’re wondering what the difference is between dry and damaged hair, then keep reading. We’ve got your dry and damaged locks covered.

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What Is Dry Hair?

Dry hair can have a mind of its own—it changes with the weather, your lifestyle, and even your hair care routine. Unlike damaged hair, dry hair isn't something you need to necessarily repair. Instead, it's just your hair lacking its natural oils. So when your hair is feeling parched, all you need to do is give your locks a quick sip of hydration.

What Causes Dry Hair?

Well, a few things. Your hair may become dry and frizzy as the temperature changes. Dry hair can also be caused by chlorine and frequent hair washes. If you’re prone to dryness, watch out for the following and hydrate your hair as needed:

  • Environmental changes
  • Swimming pools & ocean salt
  • Washing your hair too often
  • Harsh chemicals & cleansers

How to Tell if You Have Dry Hair

Dry hair often feels rough to the touch, lacks shine, and is prone to frizz. Most people with curly or kinky hair experience dryness thanks to their texture and hair porosity. An easy way to determine whether you have dry hair is to run your fingers through your strands. If your hair feels like straw, then your hair is dry.

woman putting hair oil on dry hair

How to Treat Dry Hair

The good news is that dry hair is way easier to fix than damaged hair. Here are some hair care practices and products to help restore moisture to dry hair.

  • Moisturize & Hydrate: Coconut oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil are like a dream for dry hair.
  • Leave-in Treatments: These products are formulated for all-day hydration and shine.
  • Custom Hair Masks: Try a weekly hair mask to add in moisture during your wash day.
  • Deep Conditioner: Lock in moisture and deeply nourish your locks with a quality deep conditioner.

What Is Damaged Hair?

If your hair is damaged, it's likely brittle and accompanied by visible split ends. Damaged hair is a whole different ball game from dry hair, as it involves issues from within the hair cuticle. Damaged hair is often a result of excessive wear and tear or chemical treatments.

Dry Vs Damaged Hair: Causes and Treatments

What Causes Damaged Hair?

Here’s a quick breakdown of what could be damaging your hair:

  • Hair Dye: As fun as hair dye is, it can weaken your hair structure and cause breakage to bleached or color-treated hair.
  • Chemical Treatments: Chemically straightening or perming results in damaged or dead hair.
  • Heat Styling: Too much blow-drying, straightening, or curling leads to damage and breakage.

How to Tell If You Have Damaged Hair

Running your fingers through your hair doesn’t look so cute when you’re pulling wads of hair out. If your hair keeps breaking, you have noticeable split ends, and you’re someone who uses chemical treatments or hot tools, then your hair is most likely damaged.

Can’t figure out what damaged curly hair looks like? If your curls are looking limp, dull, and fragile, then your curls need some R&R.

How to Do a Hair Strand Test

You don’t have to visit the salon to find out if your hair is damaged. Try these simple strand tests to determine whether your hair is damaged or not:

Strand Test #1: The Single-Strand Test

Hold a strand of hair and run your fingers along it from the root to the end. Does it feel smooth? Bumpy? Rough in certain areas? Rough and bumpy spots could indicate damage, especially if you’re someone who heat styles and brushes excessively. Brush with care and avoid using hot tools, especially when set at a high heat setting.

Strand Test #2: The Wet Strand Test

Wondering what damaged hair looks like when wet? Hold a strand of wet hair and stretch it out. Does it stay stretched? Does it revert itself to normal? Does your hair snap off? If your hair’s elasticity is out of whack, then you probably have damage. It’s important to maintain a good protein-moisture ratio to make sure your hair stretches without breakage.

Strand Test #3: The Bulb Test

If you look closely, every strand of your hair has a bulb at the end of it. If some of your shed hair doesn’t have a bulb at the end, it’s usually a sign that your hair is breaking prematurely. However, if every strand is missing a bulb, it’s usually a warning sign of hair loss.

Strand Test #4: The Split-End Test

Take a gander at the ends of your hair. Are a few ends split? Do some hair strands look like a Y-shape? Do the ends look frayed? Large amounts of split ends are a telltale sign of hair damage. We hate to break it to you, but the only way to get rid of split ends is by cutting them off. Avoid excessive split ends by regularly visiting your hair stylist for a trim.

How to Repair Damaged Hair

Repairing damaged hair requires a bit more TLC, but it's totally possible. Here are some tips and tricks to help treat your tresses back to health:

  • Get a trim regularly: Trimming your ends every few months helps remove and prevent split ends.Stop heat styling - We know it’s hard, but put the hot tools down. Your hair doesn’t need that heat.
  • Use heat protectant: If you must use heat on your hair, it’s always smart to use heat protectant.
  • Ditch the dye: Opt for temporary hair colors that wash out.

Treat Dryness & Prevent Damage With AFAM

You only get one head of hair—why not take care of it the way it deserves? Whether you have dry or damaged hair, AFAM has custom collections curated to improve the health of your hair. Check out our collection for damaged hair, including products specifically formulated for sun-damaged strands.