Hair is dead. In other words, there are no living cells in the fiber as it grows out of the hair follicles. What that implies is that once it gets damaged, the hair fiber cannot self-heal itself like a broken skin would. For that reason, it is important to care for it properly. Here we will discuss how combing and brushing can lead to hair breakage if they are not done properly.
How Combing and brushing can lead to hair breakage
Combing and brushing naturally puts a lot of stress on the hair cuticles due to the friction created. The key to avoiding unwanted hair breakage is to keep that stress to a minimum.
- Repeated and aggressive combing is obviously bad for hair health. The constant friction chips away the cuticles and can even remove the cuticles completely depending on the starting condition of the hair. The removal of the hair cuticles weakens the fiber leading to hair breakage. In fact, high speed repeated combing is often used in labs to simulate damaged hair for experimentation.
- It goes without saying that poorly lubricated hair has a greater tendency to be damaged by the combing/brushing action. For that reason, it is always wise to use some detangling cream, leave-in conditioner, or other styling product before combing/brushing to provide some good slip.
- The condition and type of combs and brushes can make a huge difference in terms of impact on the cuticles. Used combs can strip the cuticles. Boar bristle brushes on the other hand are kinder to the hair than plastic bristles for instance.
- Combing wet hair versus dry hair will have different effects on the hair integrity. Wet hair tends to stretch very easily. During combing, the fibers may get stretched beyond their limits, causing fissures and breakage. Hair that is already weak from other chemical treatments will break even more easily from wet combing. It is recommended to remove as much excess water from the hair before detangling: Damp is better than wet. [Read here to learn how to detangle hair painlessly.]