5 Ways to Fix Brittle Hair That Keeps Snapping Off

Consider this your secret arsenal against rough, dry, and fragile strands.

There’s certainly no shortage of different types of hair issues out there, but dealing with brittle strands poses a unique type of tress stress. Brittle hair can actually encompass a variety of concerns, as it can also be dry, rough, damaged, and dull. A few telltale signs that your hair is brittle: “Unruly tangles, seeing loose hairs break off, especially after brushing, a lack of shine, and a generally dull and lifeless-looking appearance,” according to Rick Wellman, a stylist and color expert at the Salon Project in New York City. 

But, what causes brittleness in the first place? Your hair’s texture can play a role. For example, naturally curly and textured hair typically doesn’t have as smooth of a cuticle (the outermost layer of the strand), which can lead to it feeling rough and brittle, explains Wellman. It’s also harder for the natural oil from your scalp to travel all the way down this shape of these strands than it is for straight ones, meaning it can be innately drier. That being said, the majority of things that contribute to brittleness are external factors and things that are in our control. So here’s what you can do in order to avoid those and keep strands from snapping, leaving them soft and silky instead.


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Use Protein Treatments Sparingly

When it comes to protein-rich strengthening treatments, it’s most definitely a case of ‘less is more.’ Stylist Sassy Medchill, Covet & Mane educator and owner of Goldie Co Salon in Dallas, says overdoing it on protein is one of the main causes of brittleness. The protein (keratin in particular, which is often found in shampoos, conditioners, and stylers) can easily build-up on the hair. This can both block moisture absorption and end up weighing down the hair, both things that can contribute to overall brittleness, she says. Instead of opting for protein-based formulas, look for moisturizing ones. To that point…

02 of 05

Moisturize, Moisturize, & Moisturize

It’s not a bad idea to try and use moisturizing products across the board, but, at the very least, incorporate a moisturizing deep conditioner or treatment into your routine once per week, Wellman advises. A few key ingredients to seek out: Shea butter, avocado, glycerin, and aloe, all of which are deeply moisturizing. “Shea butter is full of fatty acids and vitamins, avocado is a great source of biotin and contains natural oils, glycerin moisturizes and can help prevent breakage, especially on chemically-treated hair, and aloe is full of vitamins such as A, C, E that keep hair healthy and shiny,” he explains.

03 of 05

Be Careful With Hot Tools

It should come as no surprise that heat damage will only exacerbate brittle hair. Since it may not be realistic to ditch your hot tools entirely, the best thing you can do is to be mindful about what types of products you’re using beforehand. Prepping hair with a heat protectant is key, but you also want to be mindful about using anything that contains drying ingredients before heat styling. For example, lots of people use dry shampoo and then take a curling iron or straightener to their hair; the heat ends up baking that product (which is by definition drying since it’s meant to absorb oil) into the hair and can lead to more brittleness and damage, notes Medchill. Similarly, Wellman cautions that it’s important to avoid drying, alcohol-based products, such as hairspray; it’s even more imperative to do so before using a hot tool. Also important: Turn down your temperature settings, particularly if you have dry, brittle hair to begin with, he adds.

04 of 05

Get a Trim

This may sound simple, but it really can help. While a trim isn’t going to make all of your hair feel softer and smoother, if it’s just your ends that are brittle and where you’re noticing breakage, simply snipping them off can make a world of a difference. Not to mention that getting rid of your split ends is a boon for your overall hair health.

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Consider Your Diet

Both of the stylists we spoke with underscore the fact that what you eat can impact how your hair looks and feels. “Everything that goes into your body affects your hair health,” Medchill points out. Wellman notes that following an all-protein, no-carb diet long term can also contribute to brittle hair; according to the Mayo Clinic, those who consume low carb or low calorie diets may experience both brittle hair and hair thinning. Along with eating a well-balanced diet, focus on loading up on foods that are good sources of healthy fats (salmon, nuts, chia seeds) that can help keep your strands supple and moisturized.

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