4 Easy Hair Strand Tests for Damaged Hair + 2 More Ways to Test If Your Hair Is Damaged
By Jacqueline Samaroo
Healthy hair comes from knowing how to take care of your hair and how to spot the signs of damage. A trichologist (hair specialist) can give you all the scientific details of how your hair and scalp are doing. They can also recommend treatments for any condition you might have.
However, there are a few simple hair strand tests you can do at home to give you an idea of the state of your hair. We take a look at six of them in this article, outlining the steps, possible results, and what those results mean for your hair.
Want to find out how your hair care routine could be affecting the health of your hair? Click here to take that really great quiz!
Four Hair Strand Tests for Damaged Hair
Do these four simple tests to help you assess whether or not your hair is damaged.
Strand test #1: Hold a single strand of your hair and run your fingers down it from root to end. How does it feel?
- Smooth all the way down.
- Bumpy/Rough in one or two sections.
- Bumpy/Rough all the way down.
Rough or bumpy strands could be an indication that you have single-strand knots. They could also mean that the cuticle (outer layer) of your strands is damaged and not lying flat. Both of these could be caused by:
- Excessive brushing, combing, and styling of your hair.
- Scarves, scrunchies, pillowcases, and hair bonnets that are rough on your strands.
- Manipulation of hair when it is extra dry.
Damaged cuticles could also be the result of using excessive heat on your hair.
Strand test #2: While your hair is wet, hold a single strand and stretch it. What happens?
- It stays stretched.
- It stretches then goes back to normal.
- It snaps.
Moisture gives your hair its elasticity while the proteins that make up its structure give It its strength. Maintaining the protein-moisture balance is vital for hair that stretches without breaking and returns to its normal shape once released.
Too much moisture causes your strands to become limp and weak. On the other hand, too much protein makes the strands brittle and they break easily.
Strand test #3: What do your shed hairs look like?
- Almost all the strands have the bulb at the base.
- Almost all the strands have no bulbs; seems they were broken along the shaft.
- There seems to be an even mix of strands with and without bulbs.
Shed hairs that are missing their bulbs could be a sign of premature breakage. This usually happens with rough treatment, too-tight hairstyles, and styling of wet hair. Seeing the bulb at the ends of your shed hairs shows that they had gone through their normal growth cycle before being shed.
However, an excessive amount of shed hairs with bulbs could be a warning sign of hair loss, hair thinning, or balding.
Strand test #4: Take a look at the ends of your hair. What are they like?
- No split ends here.
- A few hairs have slight splitting at the ends.
- Some hairs have a definite Y-split at the ends.
- Some hairs have ends that are split into three.
- The ends and up along the strands are frayed.
Split ends are inevitable but large numbers of split ends and frayed strands are tell-tale signs of damage. They also increase the likelihood of your hair becoming even more damaged. This is why regular trims are recommended, even if you think your hair is in great shape. Regular salon trims will help to keep it that way!
Two More Ways to Tell If Your Hair Might Be Damaged
Apart from the hair strand tests we have covered, you can do these two simple test
Test #5: What’s most likely to happen when you run your fingers through your hair?
- They slide right through.
- They snag a bit at the end but they make it through.
- Ahhh! They’re stuck!
Knots and tangles are common occurrences, especially in naturally curly hair. However, excessive knotting and tangling can be both a cause and a sign of hair damage. Practice gentle detangling of your hair with store-bought detanglers or DIY detanglers that hydrate and moisturize your hair for maximum slip.
Test #6: Is your hair often dry?
- Never; “Hydrate and Moisturize” is my mantra.
- Once in a while.
- Ugh! My hair is always dry.
Dry hair and dry scalp are both no-nos when it comes to healthy hair. Dry hair gets damaged and breaks easily. Dry scalp is a sign that your scalp does not have sufficient amounts of the sebum your hair and scalp need to be moisturized, lubricated, and nourished.
If you think you might have a dry scalp, be sure to read How to Treat Dry Scalp – 6 Simple and Effective Lifestyle Changes.
How did you do on the six damaged hair tests? What’s the state of your hair? We want to know!