No matter your gender, age or profession, experiencing damaged hair or hair loss of any kind can be stressful.
How we look affects the way we feel about ourselves and even the way we carry ourselves through the world. Fashion icon Iris Apfel once said, "If your hair is done properly and you're wearing good shoes, you can get away with anything."
While we can't help on the shoe front, we've done a deep dive into a common frustration: hair breakage at the crown of your head. What causes it, and can it be treated? Don't jump to becoming a daily hat person just yet — here's the run down on how to keep your hair healthy.
How can you tell your hair is breaking at the crown?
First things first: where exactly is the crown of your head?
Also known as the vertex, which literally means the highest point, the crown is at the very top of your scalp towards the back . If you've ever seen a photo of Ariana Grande, you'll know it's usually where her ponytail lives.
If you're experiencing hair breakage at the crown, you might notice thinning hair in this area. It could look like
- Hair thinning
- A small patch of hair loss, or
- Damaged hair or shorter hair strands around the crown (this might look like split ends)
It's important to keep in mind that it's normal to lose hair regularly. In fact, it's estimated we lose around 50 to 100 scalp hairs each day . More than this could be an indicator of hair loss, which is different to hair breakage.
What's the difference between hair loss and damaged hair?
They may look or feel similar, but there's a big difference between hair loss and broken hair.
William Gaunitz, certified trichologist, explained to website RealSimple that, "while hair loss and hair thinning is an issue with the absence of hair growing from the scalp and hair follicle, hair breakage is a break in the hair shaft below the surface of the scalp" .
Gaunitz contrasted this with hair loss or hair thinning, which occurs when the density of the hair becomes thinner and is a "prolonged decrease" in the overall volume of the hair. This is the type of hair loss that is more associated with old age.
So if you're struggling with broken hair, the first thing to do is work out what is causing it.
What causes hair breakage at the crown?
Hair breakage can be caused by a whole range of environmental and lifestyle factors.
And if it's localised on one area like the crown of your head, it might be easier to pinpoint why exactly you're losing hair.
Here are the most common culprits.
Remember Ariana Grande's aforementioned ponytail? It's a great look, undoubtedly. But most normal people without access to stylists (and a collection of wigs) can't pull it off without some hair damage.
A lot of cute hairstyles involve hair pulled back or using tiny rubber elastic bands, but these take a toll over time.
Tight ponytails or tight braids can put too much tension on the hair follicles, especially if worn regularly, and eventually lead to breakage. If you're also noticing scalp soreness, this might be causing the breakage.
Heat styling tools
For generations now we've known that too much heat is no good for our tresses, but sometimes it's unavoidable. If you can, try lowering the heat settings on your straighter or curling iron to find the sweet spot between effective styling to avoid future hair breakage.
Some blow dryers have a 'cool setting' — consider investing in a blow dryer that has one.
Blasting cold air after a blow dry (or throughout, if you have thicker hair) can help soothe your hair during the process.
Lack of moisture
If you've ever gone hog wild with bleach you'll know how brittle and fragile dry hair can get. Regardless of whether you dye your hair or not, dry hair is an indicator of your hair's health, and a sign you might want to give it some moisture.
You might also consider avoiding blow drying for a while, too.
Hair breakage and hair loss can be an indicator of certain disorders like hypothyroidism .
If you're noticing other symptoms like excess fatigue, joint pain or sudden weight gain, consider speaking to your doctor or healthcare professional.
Not having regular haircuts
There's a reason hairdressers recommend having regular trims and it's not just so they keep customers.
Cutting your hair frequently means any split ends are regularly cut off, and also means you receive nice scalp massages too, which stimulate blood flow on the head.
Seeing a professional hairdresser also ensures your hair is being washed with specialist, high-quality products (no harsh chemicals), and they can provide personalised advice on how to ensure healthy hair and prevent future hair breakage.
Does hair breakage grow back?
The long and the short of it is yes, you can treat damaged or broken hair so your overall head of hair can grow back .
Individual hairs that are broken will keep growing, but depending on how bad the damage is you may need a haircut to snip off split ends.
Dermatologists have reported that hair loss and breakage can be remedied with proper cleansing and styling practices .
It's worth investing in a good hair care routine involving specialist products, and minimising the use of heated products like blow dryers or curling irons.
How to treat hair breakage
The good news is there are things you can do today to take steps to remedy any hair damage. Here are some tips direct from dermatologists :
Hair growth treatment
Expert hair treatments address every stage of hair regrowth to prevent hair breakage while helping to fix hair breakage simultaneously.
If you're experiencing hair loss, Software’s prescription hair loss treatment may be worth considering.
Our hair loss treatment is ideal for targeting hair thinning or shedding, sparse or bald patches and receding hairlines. And, whether your hair loss is related to genetics, stress or hormones, our treatment is based on decades of dermatology research, so you know you're getting proven results from trusted medications.
Software has 3 treatments for every stage of hair loss: the Strengthen treatment plan is a daily capsule that protects against hair loss by decreasing testosterone production which can cause hair thinning and gives your hair follicles a better chance of staying active.
The Regrow treatment comes in the form of a daily capsule or topical foam and contains an active ingredient that promotes blood flow to the scalp, stimulating hair into a ‘growth’ phase, which helps thicken hair follicles and encourages hair growth.
The Strengthen + Regrow treatment plan is the most clinically effective approach to hair loss and has been proven to reduce hair shedding at 3 months and increase hair density at 6 months .
Simply take our quiz to find a hair loss treatment for you, start a text-based consult with an Australian GP, who will tailor your treatment plan and you'll receive ongoing support from our medical team.
92% of women experience a loss of confidence and self-esteem when they experience hair loss and Software is here to help.
Deep conditioning treatments
Treatments like a hair mask can help moisturise and strengthen hair and can stimulate hair growth.
Make sure you are treating your hair gently during washing as well — gently massage the products into your hair, and if you have thick or curly locks, consider using a wide tooth comb to brush treatments through and help the detangling process.
Use heated tools sparingly
Heat damage is a common culprit of damaged hair, but if you can't avoid it, consider using hair products like a heat protectant spray beforehand. Try letting your hair air naturally a few days a week for optimum hair health, and ensure you're not vigorously brushing wet hair.
Use a wide tooth comb especially if you have fine hair or tresses prone to getting tangled.
If using these tools, keep the temperature low, and never use tools like curling irons or straighteners on wet hair.
If you're a swimmer
Wear a swim cap if swimming in chlorinated pools, and make sure you wash your hair immediately after.
Other factors that affect hair growth and quality
We know it's trite to simply say 'reduce stress!' as though it's simple, but stress really does affect all aspects of our well-being, including our hair health .
The good news is that stress-related hair loss is shown to be temporary and reversible. If you're trying really hard to stop hair breakage, it's worth thinking of your hair as just one part of your overall health and well-being. Try to look after yourself holistically.
Diet and nutrition
If your body is lacking in certain vitamins or minerals, it can present as hair loss or breakage . This can be caused by poor diet, eating disorders, or simply accidentally not consuming enough variety.
If you're experiencing sudden hair loss alongside other physical symptoms, consider speaking to a healthcare professional to double-check you aren't nutrient-deprived.
Vitamin D, in particular, is associated with hair loss of various causes .
We're used to slip-slop-slapping our face and body, but did you know UV affects hair strands too?
UV rays can cause brittleness and damage the hair shaft, making it more prone to breakage . The simplest way to avoid sun damage is to pop on a hat, although some products now contain zinc oxide to prevent UV damage.
The main takeaway
We all want healthy hair, and it can be distressing or confusing when brushing hair leads to a minor meltdown. The good news is that almost everyone will experience hair breakage from time to time and in most cases it's very treatable.
The first thing we'd recommend is checking the cause of the breakage: do you aggressively brush wet, tangled hair? Are you blow-drying every day? Doing chemical processing like perms? Consider doing an audit on your hair health to ascertain the culprit of the damage.
Remember there is help available such as specialist hair loss products, and lifestyle changes you can make that will prevent future hair breakage and promote healthy hair growth (we're looking at you, maximum heat hair straightener).
If you take care of your hair and get regular trims, you should notice a change in the look and feel in just a few months.
Image credit: Getty Images