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#6 Observable Signs of Unhealthy Hair

In our bid to attain some hair goals, we put our tresses through trials and tribulations. The constant wear and tear often leaves us with damaged hair, which requires much effort to repair! In some instances, is even near impossible.

Thus, no matter what look we try to achieve as our hair goal, the health of our hair should always be put first. Having healthy hair ultimately translates to us looking good and feeling good. For which hairstyle doesn't look on point when your strands are looking more glossy, elastic, and alive?

However... with so many combinations of hair types and textures, what does healthy even look like? Some people say hair that's frizzy or fine are unhealthy signs - but what about those with frizzy, fine locks from birth? With so many hair variations, it's hard to define a specific appearance as healthy. Instead, it might be more meaningful to look out for unhealthy indicators.

Check out these 6 observable signs of unhealthy hair - in which, we also explain why "frizz" and "tangles" are tricky to use as health markers. ######Identify them, know its causes, and find out what needs to be done - and you'll be on your way to truly beautiful hair, ######regardless of the hair goals you want to rock.

"btn btn-block btn-clear"split-ends

"btn btn-block btn-clear"dandruff

"btn btn-block btn-clear"breakage

"btn btn-block btn-clear"frizz

"btn btn-block btn-clear"tangles

"btn btn-block btn-clear"dullness


  • Identify: A normal, healthy strand of hair is usually intact from root to tip. Split ends are the ends of hair strands that have split/branched out into 2 or more separate sections.
  • Causes: As your hair becomes dry and brittle, often from heat styling and harsh chemicals in the hair, the hair shaft becomes more porous and weak. This allows the fibres to split. These hair fibres may split because of a lack of protein and other essential minerals that help strengthen it too. Therefore, your diet could be a contributing factor to split-ends.
  • Needs: Split-ends have to be cut off, as you can't repair them. If trimming is not possible in the near future, you can hide it temporarily with a hair mask or leave-in conditioner that retains moisture and strengthens the hair shaft.



  • Identify: Little white/yellow flakes that are dead skin cells caught in your hair after it has been shed from the scalp. This is often accompanied by a dry, itchy, irritable scalp.
  • Causes: Insufficient cleansing of the scalp, dry skin (because of shampooing too often, or being in cold and dry climates), allergic/sensitive skin, or skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. This reflects more of problems with your scalp, but it ultimately affects the state of your hair and its overall appearance.
  • Needs: The frequency of which you shampoo your hair should be moderate, depending on your hair type (if excessive hair oils are produced, making your hair look flat, wash more frequently), and always wash thoroughly. Use shampoos with milder ingredients and use conditioners that promote moisture. Seek a dermatologist if the dandruff problem gets really significant and persistent, as the cause could be an underlying skin condition requiring medical attention.


  • Identify: Hair feels fragile and breaks off easily, but there are two main types of breakage: Breakage that occurs either in the middle of the shaft or from the root. Hair breaking in the middle of the shaft feels like straw, lacks elasticity/bounce, and is described as brittle. This type of breakage signals dry and damaged locks. Hair breaking from the root (AKA hair shedding) is normal, however, will result in hair loss if it occurs too frequently. Hair breaking from the root results in whole strands falling off, with or without the hair bulb, and they may or may not feel brittle to the touch.
  • Causes: Brittle hair breaking off in the middle of the shaft, signify that those strands are dry and damaged. The causes are most likely: excessive use of heated tools, use of harmful chemicals in hair, and the lack of hair moisture and oils. It could also point to your tresses needing more protein, to strengthen hair shafts. Hair shedding, on the other hand, can be a sign that your scalp (and thus, body too) is not receiving enough nourishment. It could also indicate an over-production of cortisol (often linked to stress), which in turn, instructs the adrenal glands to stop releasing growth hormones that promote hair growth. Hair shedding could also suggest hormonal imbalance (estrogen levels) or underlying medical conditions, like iron deficiency and alopecia.
  • Needs: The solutions to brittle hair that breaks mid-shaft should focus on hair hydration and on avoiding hair processing methods as much as possible. Excessive hair shedding can be tackled by making dietary changes and diminishing stress levels. Biological causes would require an investigation by medical practitioners. It is normal for women who are pregnant or undergoing menopause to experience some hair loss due to lowered estrogen levels - moderate exercise, nutritious diets and reduced stress would help limit hair loss. Post-partum hair loss may go on for 3-4 months, and shouldn't be a cause for concern.


  • Identify: Hair strands that stray from the usual hair direction and pattern.
  • Causes: Strands that are frizzy imply that the layers of your hair cuticles are raised. It is tricky to use frizz as a marker for unhealthy hair, since frizz can be a result of humidity, damage from over-processing hair, or genetics. Humid climates (or seasons) cause excess water molecules to enter and swell up in hair cuticles. This results in the strands losing its shape and turning wiry. Harmful practices, such as excessive heat styling and the usage of harsh chemicals on the hair, dry up your locks over time. In the case of frizzy hair that has resulted from genetics, hair follicles are shaped to produce frizzy hair texture naturally - therefore, for those with frizzy hair by birth, using other markers to monitor the health of your hair might be more effective.
  • Needs: On more humid days, try out products that combat frizz. Another way to combat frizz temporarily is to have your hair tied up, this reduces the surface area in which moisture can enter. These products seal cuticles to prevent too much moisture seeping into your tresses. Hair-damaging activities, such as the use of tools and chemicals, should be kept to a minimum. Keep using leave-in conditioners and hair masks that moisturise your mane too.


  • Identify: Strands of hair that intertwine with each other to form knots, making it tedious to comb through hair fully.
  • Causes: Strands snag at each other when there are damaged cuticles (of split-ends, dry hair, processed hair) that do not enable them to slide off one another smoothly when combed through. Strands may get tangled up not because of hair damage, but when your hair is messed up intentionally; is not brushed regularly; is super long/thick/curly. Curly/frizzy hair textures that aren't smooth mean that hair cuticles don't lie flat, making it more likely to knot. This does not mean such hair textures are less healthy than smoother hair textures, rather, it is just a result of their physical properties. Using other markers to monitor the health of your hair might be easier in such cases.
  • Needs: Tangles shouldn't be allowed to build up, as they become harder to undo. Make detangling more frequent if you have hair texture/length (especially past shoulder-length) that is more prone to tangle, and recognise hair-damaging activities that you might be engaging in to reduce its frequency/eliminate them.


  • Identify: Hair does not reflect light well, and looks more matte than shiny (no matter the colour).
  • Causes: Hair can be lacklustre for several reasons. Dullness that is caused by your hair cuticles being damaged and having moisture drained from it, should be a cause for concern. Damaged cuticles make your hair more dry and porous, making it difficult for light to reflect off its surface (bleached hair often looks dull for this reason). Hair oil (natural/synthetic) also has a part to play - when it isn't sufficiently distributed, your locks don't get that lustrous look. Also note that curly/wavy hair textures absorb light in their coils and kinks, this usually makes their maximum shine lesser than the maximum shine of straighter textures (that allow light to bounce off more effectively). This does not mean such hair textures are less healthy than smoother hair textures, rather, it is just a result of their physical properties. Using other markers to monitor the health of your hair might be easier in such cases.
  • Needs: Hair oils or hair masks are good if your scalp is not producing enough oil and your hair is having trouble retaining moisture. Gentle, thorough brushing of your hair, allows oils to spread out evenly in your tresses. Avoid overly-processing your hair and sufficiently replenish vitamins like protein, iron, and biotin.

Conduct regular visual and tactile tests to stay on top of your hair's condition, and if you've identified sudden changes from its normal state (hair becoming way more tangled, dull, or frizzy out of the blue), then take the time to try out these suggestions. Most of the solutions boil down to ensuring your body receives sufficient nutrients, your hair maintains moisture, and your cuticles are not directly damaged and split open too often.

It is important to take into account other factors that are less controllable like: genetics, hormones, ageing, environment (humidity, wind, and sun exposure), underlying diseases/hair conditions and medications. It is also essential to understand how the properties of different hair types (genetic contributions) may make some signs tricky to identify and make certain hair goals more/less achievable than others.

East Asian hair fibres are thicker and so, appear more voluminous and are less prone to split-ends or brittleness. Curly hair types are more likely to tangle, because the tendency for strands to naturally coil around each other is higher. Shine is easier to attain for straighter hair types, simply because of the scientific properties of a smoother surface. Hair goals need to take these into consideration so that we make realistic, healthy hair goals every time.

Messages telling you that smoothening out your frizz or creating luscious volume is the way to go - have got it entirely wrong. The best hair goals should emphasise on maintaining healthy hair; while bringing you individual confidence and identity; and while, still, adding diversity!

Because, how boring would it be, if everyone walked around with the "straight-top-loosely-curled-bottom-hair" look? ######(Yes, it's that hairstyle all TV actors seem to have these days.)


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