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Summer break: Hair breakage following the summer season

Shiny hair can convey health and youth. However, summer can wreak havoc on your tresses, causing hair breakage. The medical term for split ends is trichoptilosis, and the  medical term for broken hairs is trichorrhexis nodosa. Causes of hair breakage include UV  radiation which can cause oxidation of structural proteins in the hair, leading to a rough outer surface of the hair shaft and decreased luster.  Additionally, oxidative stress due to radiation causes a loss of water retention in the hair, making the hair dryer and more brittle  and susceptible to tangles and breakage. Just as with our skin, melanin in the hair absorbs and filters damaging UV rays. Thus, gray hair or blonde hair (including highlighted hair), which have less melanin, are more susceptible to UV-induced damage than darker hair. During the summer, chlorine and other chemicals in swimming pool water also cause oxidation, similar to the UV exposure. Copper from the pipes and algicides in pool water are of special concern. Heat styling the hair for special occasions during the summer can add to the damage. Here are some recommendations to help with hair breakage when it is unavoidable:

  • Wash your hair every other day with conditioning shampoo followed by a moisturizing conditioner.
  • Deep condition every week.
  • Comb damp hair with a wide-set, blunt-tooth comb because wet hair is more elastic and subject to fracture.
  • Let your hair air dry whenever possible.
  • When styling your hair, blow dryers are much less damaging than flat irons or curling irons.
  • Flat irons or curling irons should never be used on wet hair.
  • Use heat protectant products on your hair before styling.
  • Limit the number of chemical treatments (including color) to no more than 2-3 per year.
  • Experienced stylists should perform chemical treatments with the products selectively applied to the roots if the ends were previously treated.
  • Wear a hat or apply a leave-in conditioner within zinc oxide for UV radiation protection.
  • Wear a swim cap in the pool. (This may not be in style, but it works!)
  • Rinse your hair immediately after swimming.
  • Use shampoos and conditioners with trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinic acid to remove copper from the hair.
  • Trim damaged hair frequently to help minimize breakage.

Keeping in mind some of these unique environmental causes of hair breakage during summer can help to prevent yearly damage. Luckily, there are several options for intervention and the potential to regain healthy, shiny hair.

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