How to Recognize Hair Breakage

Girl inspecting her hair for breakage
Photo: Ines Bazdar/Shutterstock
Q: How can I recognize hair breakage? I don't see the difference between broken hairs and new growth.
A: Seeing the difference between breakage and new growth can be difficult sometimes, and we often have to rely on some secondary clues to give us an idea of the source of the shorter hairs. But before we discuss secondary clues, let's address the primary signs of damaged/broken hairs versus new growth.
The key difference to be seen between broken hairs versus new growth is that broken hairs generally show signs of stress on the ends of the hairs. The hairs may seem distorted or stretched, or the ends appear frayed. To see these signs you may need to employ a magnifying lens, but doing so should reveal the signs that indicate breakage if there are any.
New growth would not have such signs, but it is important to consider that if you are looking at an area of the scalp with areas in which the hair is shorter than normal (such as in the forehead or forward edges along the sides) and you wear your hair in such a way as to cause stress on these areas (tight ponytails and braids), then breakage is almost certainly more clearly indicated.
There is also the fact that in such areas where there are bands of shorter hair, that if this was a result of new growth, then there would have to be shedding of the long hairs in such a timeline as to have been very notable. So, unless you noted specifically that you had a sudden shift in your hairline followed by the appearance of a band of new growth, you can feel fairly secure in presuming that the short hairs are as a result of breakage.
See also:
How to recognize damaged hair
What makes hair break more in fall and winter?
I'm having hair breakage. Should I get my hair cut even?
Ponytails and hair damage