How To Tell If Your Hair Is Damaged (9 Easy Ways)

Hair damage is a condition that affects many people at some point in their lives. Sometimes, it’s due to our everyday habits such as improper use of hair products and heated tools. Other times, it’s due to matters that are out of our control. In this article, we’re going to explore how to tell if your hair is damaged and what you can do to revive it.

Woman cutting her hair in front of a purple background

A simple way to tell if your hair is damaged is to inspect the hair strands up close. Damaged hair tends to be dry, brittle, and prone to split ends. If conditioning treatments are no longer working and the hair has lost its elasticity, these can be key signs of hair damage.

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9 Signs Of Hair Damage

There are many ways to tell if your hair is damaged, but these top 9 signs are the key ones to look out for:

1. Split Ends

Split ends often feel rough and dry, so that’s a key sign to look out for.

Split ends can make hair unhealthy, so they need to be trimmed regularly to minimize and prevent further damage.

If left untreated, they can travel up the hair shaft and make the hair appear dull and frizzy.

Another way to combat split ends is to seal your hair with oil or butter after washing it. This helps to lock in moisture and promotes hair growth.

2. Dryness

You can tell that your hair is damaged if you suffer from unusually dry hair.

Dry hair is one of the major signs of hair damage, but it could also just be a sign that the hair is in need of a deep conditioning treatment.

If a deep conditioning fails to nourish dry hair, then it’s time to look for other possibilities.

3. Breakage

When hair lacks hydration it may start to become fragile and break off.

It might start with the ends before traveling up to the roots of the hair.

This is a telling sign that the hair is damaged, unhealthy and vulnerable.

4. Hair Feels Limp and Weak

Limp and lifeless locks are a huge tell sign that your hair is damaged, especially if it happens following a chemical treatment on the hair.

When hair becomes limp, it’s usually because the hair is weighed down with residue or product build-up.

And although hair doesn’t weigh a lot in general, product build-up can significantly reduce the volume of your curls.

If you have curly hair, limp or weak hair could also be a sign of moisture overload.

Moisture overload is when you over-condition your hair. Too much hydration can actually be bad for your locks as the cuticles swell up due to excess water.

Once your hair dries, the cuticles deflate again.

This constant process of swelling and deflating can cause hair to become stretched, weak, and limp.

If you suspect you might be suffering from moisture overload, try adding more protein to your routine.

Use a protein-rich conditioner such as the Aunt Jackie’s Thirst Quenching Hair Recovery Conditioner which is enriched with grapeseed oil, castor oil, and tamanu oil.

5. Curls Stop Forming

When curls suddenly become thin, stringy, and limp then there’s definitely a problem.

Loss of curls is a telling sign of hair damage, which can be caused by many factors such as diet, disease, medications, or the hair products being used.

6. Lack Of Shine

When hair gets stripped and it starts to look dull, it will also start to lose its healthy shine.

This is usually a sign that the hair is dehydrated and will tell you that your hair is damaged. Once the hair starts to lose moisture, it becomes susceptible to breakage and uncontrollable frizz.

Invest in a thick moisturizing deep conditioner such as the Novex Mystic Black Deep Hair Mask to replenish shine.

7. Change In Texture

It might not be one of the first signs of damage, but a change in hair texture is definitely something to look out for.

If you’ve recently changed hair products then it could be attributed to that, but it could also be a sign of something more serious like hair damage.

For example, a lack of protein has been known to change the texture of hair.

8. Lack Of Elasticity

Healthy, wet hair should be able to stretch up to double its original shape before returning to normal.

Hair with low elasticity will be harder to style as it won’t hold its shape like it’s supposed to. It may also break off when stretched!

9. Hair Loss

The final way to tell that your hair is damaged is if you’re experiencing hair loss.

Hair loss is unlikely to occur in the beginning stages of hair damage, but much further down the line.

If hair damage is left untreated for a longer length of time, then this can result in hair loss and hair thinning, and quite often it can be difficult to reverse.

Ashwagandha and Moringa are known for their benefits when it comes to managing hair loss so it might be worth incorporating these into your haircare routine.

External factors may also be a culprit such as bad weather or even mold. If you are experiencing significant hair loss, it’s always advised that you see a doctor.

How To Test Your Hair For Damage

Woman looking suspiciously at her hair

These simple hair tests can help you tell if your hair is damaged and point you towards the leading cause.

1 Hair Elasticity Test
  • Make sure your hair is wet
  • Hold a strand of hair between your fingers and gently stretch the hair
  • If the hair stretches then returns to normal length then hair is considered to have good elasticity
  • If the hair breaks off or doesn’t return to normal then it has poor elasticity, which can be an indication of weak and damaged hair
2. Hair Texture Test
  • Get a strand of hair between your fingers
  • Observe if the hair feels bumpy, rough, of it has raised edges
  • If you notice any of these changes in texture then this could be a sign of dryness, which could be a warning sign that the hair is in need of moisture
3. Split Ends Test
  • Get a few strands of hair and wrap them around your finger
  • Inspect the hair strands and observe if they are split, frayed, or rough to the touch
  • If there’s only a few split ends but the hair generally feels soft and moisturized, then your hair is healthy
  • If there are more than a few split ends and it’s accompanied by dryness, then your hair either needs a trim or a moisturizing treatment

Causes Of Hair Being Damaged

Now you know how you can tell if your hair is damaged, it’s time to consider the main causes of hair damage and the key symptoms to be aware of:

Chemical Bleaching And Coloring

Hair coloring and bleaching agents are the top suspects for hair damage because they have properties that weaken the hair.

These chemicals penetrate the hair shaft and dissolve natural hair color, which in turn, makes the hair lose essential moisture that it needs to remain healthy.

Of course, the occasional coloring treatment may not cause too much damage if the moisture is restored, but generally, it isn’t recommended.

Possible Symptoms:

  • Breakage
  • Split Ends
  • Extreme dryness
  • Frizz


Heated tools are known to dry out the cuticles and affect the hair’s natural proteins.

Over time, these heated appliances can cause hair that appears to be frazzled.

When this happens, it is very hard to reverse. In fact, excessive heat use will often result in permeant dry hair that is very stiff.

Even the use of heat protectants will not provide you with 100% protection against heat damage, especially when these tools are used regularly. 

Possible Symptoms:

  • Dry hair
  • Split Ends
  • Dull-looking hair
  • Frizz
  • Lack of shine

Lack Of Moisture

You can usually tell your hair is damaged if it is lacking moisture.

Lack of moisture can be caused by many factors such as excessive heat, washing the hair too frequently, and using the wrong hair products.

With curly hair, it’s very important to get the balance of moisture just right. If the hair loses too much moisture then it will become fragile and start to break off.

Possible Symptoms:

  • Dry hair
  • Brittle strands
  • Frizz
  • Lack of elasticity  

Over Manipulation

When we talk about over-manipulation of the hair, we are referring to working the hair too much.

The more you touch the hair, style it, and wash it, you are stripping away the natural oils and putting too much pressure on the hair and scalp. 

Possible Symptoms:

  • Breakage
  • Build-up
  • Hair thinning or hair loss

Permanent Styling

There’s a lot to consider before you opt for a permanent styling option.

For instance, if you get a perm or Brazilian blow dry, the chemicals used in these treatments can result in hair strands that become weaker and fragile over time.

This strain on the hair and scalp can also lead to redness, itching, or infections.

Possible Symptoms:

  • Brittle strands
  • Irritated or flaky scalp
  • Hair thinning or hair loss
  • Breakage
  • Split ends

UV Rays

It’s no secret that UV light can damage the hair follicles and cause loss of hair protein.

The issue is that the more you are exposed to these rays without protection, the more it can continue to damage skin cells long after the initial exposure.

Possible Symptoms:

  • Changes in hair texture
  • Itchy, red scalp
  • Dry hair
  • Hair discoloration
  • Frizz

Moisture Overload

An imbalance between moisture and protein can definitely lead to hair damage over time.

Those with high porosity hair may experience moisture overload which can leave the hair in a weakened condition.

Possible Symptoms:

  • Weakened hair
  • Limp curls
  • Greasy hair
  • Breakage

How To Treat Damaged Hair

how to tell if hair is damaged

Once you’ve discovered the main causes and symptoms of damaged hair, then you’ll need to know how you can restore weak, damaged hair and prevent it from becoming more serious in the future.

Here’s what you need to consider:

Understand Your Hair Porosity

It is always much easier to tell if your hair is damaged if you know your hair porosity.

Knowing whether you have low or high porosity hair can help you choose the right hair products for your specific hair type, which in turn, can prevent moisture overload or loss of moisture.

Not all products are created equally, and you may find that you need to avoid shampoo altogether to keep the hair’s natural pH balanced and healthy.

This can prevent common hair issues that lead to hair damage.

Stop Using Heat Appliances

Damaged hair needs to repair itself by being carefully treated with the right products, but this will not make any difference if the hair is continually being exposed to heat.

If you have heat damage, you should stop using heat appliances for at least a month to two months so it has enough time to repair the weakened and damaged hair follicles.

From there, you should consider only using heated tools occasionally.

While this may be a dramatic change, it’s a decision that can keep your hair healthier and prevent hair damage in the future.

Deep Condition Once A Week

It’s important that you are regularly deep conditioning the hair to restore it to a healthier state.

Hair masks and protein treatments contain essential vitamins and nutrients that your hair needs to repair itself.

With regular use, these treatments can leave hair feeling softer, more manageable, and stronger over time.

Keep in mind that it may take several months before you notice a significant change.

Trim Your Ends

You can always tell if your hair is damaged by looking at your ends.

For the hair to remain healthy it needs to be trimmed frequently.

Split ends can make the hair become dull, frizzy, and dry, which can lead to further breakage.

Severely damaged hair will need more than a trim haircut to restore it to a better condition, but hair with minimal to moderate damage can be remedied with a trim.

Going forward it’s important to trim the hair every few weeks or whenever split ends start to occur.

Stop Coloring Your Hair

It’s recommended that you stop coloring or bleaching the hair for several months while you are trying to restore it.

This may be a big change but it’s the single best thing that can be done for damaged hair.

Once your hair is in better condition, it might be worth considering stopping the use of color treatments altogether. 

Give Your Hair A Break

Damaged hair is a sign that it’s been overworked. You can give your hair a break by wearing low-maintenance hairstyles and using gentle, natural products.

Stop using heat, chemicals, and conventional shampoo products straight away.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Coralle Skye

Coralle is an experienced beauty writer with a passion for wellness, women’s health, and sustainability.