The most obvious symptom of hair damage is hair breakage which is usually observed in the shower or after styling hair. But before getting to that stage, there are subtle signs that your hair will display indicative of damage. Knowing what they are can help you take preventive measures against breakage or further damage.
The signs of hair damage
1. Crunchy hair when it dries
Sometimes, after you finish shampooing, you may notice that some areas dry up quicker than others to the point that they become crunchy and dry. This is an indication that these areas might have more damage than others. Most likely in those areas the cuticles are raised or missing, or the hair fiber has lost its integrity (has cracks or fissures).
2. Hair Color seems to fade quickly
Of course, all colors fade over time, and darker richer tones fade quicker (see article). But if you been sticking to the same shade, and you’ve noticed that your color doesn’t seem to retain its vibrancy as well as it used to ( from 6 weeks to 3 weeks for example), then this is a possible indication that your hair health might be compromised.
3. Lack of shine
Hair that has non-uniform surfaces with raised cuticles, cracks and fissures etc, is usually dull as well. For the hair to exhibit shine, the cuticles need to be well aligned. Of course certain products will have oils and such to give shine to the hair, so this may be a tricky symptom of hair damage to evaluate. However, lack of shine is usually accompanied by the other symptoms mentioned here.
4. Water soaks in quickly
Healthy hair naturally has a lipid layer (oil) consisting primarily of 18-methyleicosanoic acid (18-MEA) on its surface that helps keep the hair flexible and soft. In damaged hair, this layer is usually sabotaged, allowing water to penetrate the hair very easily.
5. Lots of flyaways
Flyaways are usually indicative of dry hair (lack of moisture retention) or dry environment and can also be a result of breakage. You might start noticing more of the shorter fibers sticking out. This usually occurs in combination with other symptoms, when the hair starts to experience damage.
6. Tangled ends
Have you noticed that your comb/brush gets stuck near the ends of your hair a lot lately? This might be a warning sign for breakage and split ends. When the hair gets damaged, it also entangles more resulting in further damage.