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Dealing with any amount of breakage can be a stressful experience. Thankfully, changing up your hair care routine can help heal your strands and dramatically reduce your risk of experiencing future breakage – and that all starts with switching up your shampoo. Below, we’ll go over everything you need to know about breakage and discuss the 10 best shampoos for breakage that are currently available on the market.
What is Breakage?
Let’s cover a bit of hair breakage 101. The outermost part of the hair shaft – known as the cuticle – is made up of overlapping scales that maintain the strand’s structure. Hair breakage refers to when these scales weaken and separate from the cuticle, degrading the hair’s outer protective layer.
Visually, hair breakage can look like damaged, dry hairs and/or split ends. You may also notice a lot of shorter broken pieces of hair somewhere along the individual strands, which can cause the hair to look frizzy.
The Causes of Breakage
There are many different causes of hair breakage. Harsh hair styling practices (such as frequently doing tight hairstyles or overusing hot tools without a heat protectant) are a major cause of breakage, as is dyeing, bleaching and chemically treating the hair.
Overwashing your hair (even if you’re using a well-formulated nourishing shampoo) can also strip away moisture from the strands, weakening the outer protective layer in the process. Similarly, not conditioning your hair enough can also stress out the strands and cause dryness, which can increase the risk of breakage.
Diet can also lead to weaker strands that are prone to breakage. In particular, a diet that is lacking in iron, folic acid and/or zinc may negatively impact strands. Additionally, high stress levels have been linked to both hair thinning and breakage.
How to Prevent Breakage
A targeted, premium quality shampoo (as well as other hair care products) can help repair damage for healthier, stronger hair. However, addressing the root cause is important to minimize your risk of experiencing future damage. If you predict one of the causes mentioned above may contribute to your breakage, assess how you can change your routine to give your hair the support it needs.
Here are some of our top tips for maintaining hair health and reducing your risk of breakage:
- Limit Hot Tool Usage: If you’re an avid hot tool user, it’s time to take a step back. On days when you do decide to use a blow dryer, flat iron, curling iron or other hot tool, be sure to use a heat protectant to defend your hair against damage. You should also use the lowest temperature setting possible that allows you to achieve your desired style.
- Try Gentler Hairstyles: Tight hairstyles (such as high ponytails, braids, weaves and extensions) pull on the scalp and strands, increasing the risk of breakage and general damage and hair loss. Add a few gentler hairstyles to your routine to give your hair a break.
- Switch Out Your Pillowcase: Rougher pillowcases can cause friction on the hair, which can lead to breakage. Smoother pillowcases made of materials like cotton sateen, satin or silk are much gentler on the hair. This seemingly small switch can make a big difference in your strand health.
- Talk to Your Doctor About Nutritional Deficiencies: Certain deficiencies in your diet can not only increase your risk of breakage, but may also impact scalp health and lead to hair loss. If you’re concerned about how your diet may be affecting your hair health, talk to a medical professional who can advise you of any supplements or diet changes you can make.
- Don’t Overwash: If you are washing your hair on a daily basis, it’s time to cut back. Limit your hair washing schedule to two to three times a week (or even less often if it works for your hair and lifestyle).
- Use a Sulfate-Free Shampoo: When you do wash your hair, it’s important to use a quality shampoo made with nutrient-dense ingredients (we’ll go over our recommendations below). Beyond that, we also highly recommend looking for sulfate-free shampoos. Sulfates are harsher surfactants that can irritate the scalp and dry out the strands, which is especially problematic for weakened hair that is prone to breakage. Sulfate-free shampoos are made with alternative cleansers that effectively clear away residue and debris without harming the hair.
- Condition Every Time You Wash Your Hair: Even if you’re using a moisturizing shampoo, using a conditioner every time you wash your hair is non-negotiable. A quality conditioner will add moisture back to your tresses while detangling and dousing the strands and scalp with nutrients for optimal hair health.
- Trim on a Regular Basis: Getting your hair trimmed consistently will help decrease breakage. Plan to visit your stylist approximately every six to eight weeks so that they can help keep your hair in top shape.
What to Look for in Shampoos for Breakage
Shampoos targeted towards healing and preventing breakage should be made with ingredients that repair and fortify the strands. Some of the most powerful strengthening ingredients include keratin, biotin, peptides and hydrolyzed proteins.
Since dry hair is more prone to breakage and general damage, we also recommend seeking out formulas made with moisturizing ingredients, such as shea butter, plant oils (like avocado, argan, sunflower seed and jojoba oils), squalane and glycerin.
As mentioned, you should also opt for sulfate-free shampoos, since they are kinder to the strands. We also recommend sticking with clean formulas, which will be free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates and other potentially harmful ingredients.
The Best Shampoos for Breakage
Now, let’s dive into our recommendations for the best shampoos for breakage. These high-quality formulas are infused with some of the best strengthening, repairing and moisturizing ingredients, and can help transform weak, brittle hair into your healthiest hair yet.
1. Blu Atlas Shampoo
Every product that we’ve tested from premium grooming company Blu Atlas has blown us away, and this shampoo is no exception. The deeply nourishing shampoo strengthens the strands and follicles while infusing the hair with moisture and washing away impurities. Like all other products under the Blu Atlas umbrella, it has a vegan, cruelty-free and clean formula. It’s made without sulfates that can damage and dry out the hair, and is also free of parabens, phthalates and synthetic fragrances, so you can feel comfortable and confident using it in your tresses. Additionally, 99% of the ingredients in this plant-powered formula are derived from natural origins.
The Blu Atlas Shampoo is formulated with vegan biotin, a strengthening ingredient that fortifies the hair to tackle breakage and prevent future damage. It also restores moisture to the strands, promoting soft and easily managed hair. Jojoba protein works alongside the biotin, repairing multiple signs of damage, including breakage and split ends.
The formula is also infused with saw palmetto extract, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that calms the skin and enhances scalp health while preventing hair loss. Vitamin and antioxidant-rich aloe barbadensis leaf juice nourishes the strands and soothes scalp irritation while lightly moisturizing the hair. It also helps defend against damaging free radicals, thanks to its antioxidant content.
Of course, how well a shampoo cleans is equally as important as its hair health-boosting power. The Blu Atlas Shampoo is made with surfactants derived from coconuts. They work into a rich lather that thoroughly cleanses away product buildup, excess oil, dirt and debris. However, unlike sulfates, they won’t leave the strands or scalp feeling parched or irritated.
2. BondiBoost Rapid Repair Shampoo
You may be familiar with BondiBoost, an Australia-based hair care brand that is well known for its range of high-quality products that target a variety of different concerns and needs. However, if you’ve yet to try the brand’s products, you’re seriously missing out. For those dealing with breakage, we highly recommend the company’s Rapid Repair Shampoo.
This low-lather shampoo was designed to immediately nourish damaged hair so that it is left looking and feeling strong and resilient. The very first ingredient in the formula is aloe vera, which nourishes the strands and scalp with vitamins and free radical-fighting antioxidants while boosting the hair’s hydration levels. It works alongside a split therapy technology derived from the guar plant, which seals split ends, as well as hydrolyzed quinoa, which strengthens and repairs the strands and scalp. Antioxidant and alpha hydroxy acid-rich Davidson plum also exfoliates the scalp to remove dead skin cells and debris that can clog the pores.
In addition to these healing ingredients, the formula is packed with nourishing hydrators. Fatty acid-packed coconut, sea buckthorn and macadamia nut oils seal the hair cuticle and douse the strands with moisture while fortifying the hair so that it is better able to defend itself against breakage. Sunflower seed oil further moisturizes while soothing irritation in the scalp, while plant-based hydrator squalane enhances shine and fullness.
Beyond the great formula, we also love the scent of this shampoo, which has a sweet, fruity pomegranate fragrance. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free, and made without sulfates or parabens.
3. Amika The Kure Bond Repair Shampoo for Damaged Hair
Damaged, breakage-prone hair is no match for this powerful Amika formula. The Kure Bond Repair Shampoo takes fragile strands and fortifies them so that they are better able to withstand exposure to daily aggressors that can lead to damage. At the same time, moisturizing, nutrient-dense ingredients leave the hair feeling silky soft and totally smooth. The formula is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain sulfates, phthalates or parabens.
This Amika shampoo – which is fragranced with notes of clover, citrus and vanilla – is made with vegan proteins from hydrolyzed quinoa that douse the strands with amino acids to repair and enhance resilience. It also contains a bond cure technology that works to repair and bolster the bonds in the hair that are most prone to breakage and damage.
The formula is also infused with nutrient-dense, super moisturizing shea and mango seed butters. As they seal moisture into the strands, they also douse them with nutrients to lessen breakage and enhance overall health. Avocado, sea buckthorn and borage seed oils also infuse the formula with additional hair-loving vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and further help to ensure breakage-prone hair is getting the moisturization that it needs. At the same time, mild surfactants work into a rich lather that thoroughly cleanses and refreshes the hair without aggravating or drying out the strands and scalp.
If the impressive list of ingredients alone doesn’t convince you, take a look at the clinical results. This formula has been shown to make hair two times stronger. It has also been clinically proven to reduce breakage by 55%.
4. Nexxus Unbreakable Care Anti-Breakage Shampoo
Another one of the best shampoos for breakage is the Unbreakable Care Anti-Breakage Shampoo from Nexxus. We recommend this product to anyone looking to enhance their damage-prone hair on a budget, as it’s offered at an accessible price point that won’t strain your wallet.
Just as it says in the name, this Nexxus shampoo – which is made specifically for fine hair – is designed to strengthen and protect the hair to repair and prevent breakage. At the same time, it creates natural, weightless fullness in the hair as it gently cleanses away impurities.
This sulfate-free and paraben-free formula is infused with the company’s ProteinFusion Blend. This blend is packed with biotin, keratin and collagen amino acids that are packed with arginine, a key amino acid necessary for hair strength. All these ingredients work together to strengthen the hair’s inner core from root to tip. They not only work to prevent future damage, but also reduce hair loss to promote hair that looks and feels fuller.
In addition to this highly effective hair-supporting blend, this shampoo also contains watermelon seed oil. It deeply moisturizes the hair, and is also packed with some of the best nutrients for encouraging hair growth and fortifying the strands and follicles, including zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and fatty acids. The formula also features apricot kernel oil, which softens and smooths the strands as it draws in moisture, as well as spirulina extract, which is packed with amino acids, vitamin A and fatty acids that enhance hair health and strength.
5. Bumble and Bumble Full Potential Hair Preserving Shampoo
Bumble and Bumble has a well-deserved reputation for making quality products that deliver on their promises. We especially love the Full Potential Hair Preserving Shampoo for those with breakage-prone hair. It’s designed to minimize breakage and restore follicle health to prevent future damage, reduce hair thinning and promote fuller and healthier hair. It’s cruelty-free and doesn’t contain parabens or phthalates.
This shampoo has an exfoliating formula that effectively cleanses away buildup and debris that can clog the follicles and hinder growth. It’s made with the company’s Hair Preserve Blend to optimize hair strength and reduce the risk of breakage. The formula also contains panthenol (also known as vitamin B5), which infuses the strands with moisture to enhance thickness and promote a softer, smoother look and feel.
Additionally, this formula contains rosemary extract and caffeine, both of which are known to boost circulation at the scalp to stimulate the follicles and encourage the growth of strong, healthy hair. This makes the formula a particularly great choice for anyone looking to speed up hair growth. It also contains centella asiatica extract, a deeply soothing ingredient that promotes scalp health.
For the best results, you can use this shampoo with the other products in the Full Potential line. When used together, 80% of study participants said the products helped their hair look fuller after just one use. After four weeks of consistent use, 80% also agreed that their hair strength improved and that it looked healthier.
6. Fable & Mane HoliRoots Hydrating Shampoo
Fable & Mane creates nutrient-dense, high-performance formulas inspired by Ayurvedic practices and hair oiling, which is an Indian tradition. While their hair oils may be their best-known products, we think the HoliRoots Hydrating Shampoo is equally as worthy of attention. The super hydrating formula is infused with Ayurvedic extracts and other ingredients that nurture and support overall hair and scalp health, helping to reduce the risk of breakage. It’s vegan and cruelty-free, and made without sulfates or phthalates.
This shampoo is powered by centella asiatica extract, also known as tiger herb. The antioxidant-rich extract soothes and heals the scalp and hair while supporting natural keratin, promoting soft, silky and incredibly strong strands. It also cleanses and hydrates while defending against the damaging effects of free radicals. The formula also features vitamin and fatty acid-rich coconut oil, which nourishes the scalp and follicles to encourage the growth of thick, strong strands. It also moisturizes the hair and scalp while removing excess oil buildup around the follicles.
In addition to these ingredients, the formula is crafted with aloe vera to help soothe and enhance the overall health of the scalp and boost hydration levels in the hair, as well as nourishing sunflower seed oil to further nourish and moisturize. False daisy extract also works to rejuvenate the hair follicles and encourage growth, while hydrolyzed wheat protein promotes smooth, silky strands. Antioxidant-packed algae and turmeric extracts further work to defend the strands and follicles against the harmful effects of free radicals, while murumuru seed butter seals moisture into the hair.
7. Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Hair Fall Shampoo
While this Dr. Barbara Sturm shampoo is sold at a higher price point than many others on this list, we think it’s a worthy investment for anyone who wants to tackle breakage and hair thinning head-on. The gentle formula prevents hair loss and stimulates growth while fortifying and thickening the strands for voluminous hair that is less prone to damage. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free, and is made without sulfates, parabens or phthalates. It is also a fragrance-free formula, making it an ideal choice for anyone who is sensitive to fragrances.
The Anti-Hair Fall Shampoo is made with camellia and larch extracts. These extracts work in tandem to increase hair density and strengthen both the follicles and shafts to minimize breakage and hair fall. The formula also features fatty acid-rich purslane extract, an ingredient that improves scalp health by reducing irritation and itchiness. This creates an ideal environment for healthy, strong hair growth.
Additionally, this Dr. Barbara Sturm shampoo is crafted with sunflower sprout and tara extracts. These ingredients repair breakage and other forms of damage in the hair, and at the same time protect against future harm from pollution, UV rays and heat. Hyaluronic acid pulls moisture into the strands and locks it in, while pro-vitamin B5 (also known as panthenol) further boosts moisture levels to thicken the strands and enhance softness. Of course, the shampoo also contains mild surfactants that effectively yet gently remove debris and impurities from the hair.
8. OGX Extra Strength Damage Remedy + Coconut Miracle Oil Shampoo
Another one of our favorite budget-friendly breakage-repair shampoos (which you can easily find at your local drugstore) is the Extra Strength Damage Remedy + Coconut Miracle Oil Shampoo from OGX. It’s designed to repair damaged, breakage-prone strands while nourishing them so that they are stronger than ever. The formula also deeply moisturizes and smooths the hair to tame frizz and add shine.
The star ingredient in this sulfate-free and paraben-free shampoo is coconut oil. The fatty acid-packed oil deeply moisturizes the hair and nourishes the follicles. It also creates a protective barrier around the strands to reduce protein loss and defend them against environmental aggressors, helping to maintain the hair’s overall health and strength to prevent future breakage.
Coconut oil is joined by vanilla plant fruit extract, an antioxidant-rich and antibacterial ingredient that soothes the skin and improves overall scalp health, creating an ideal environment for healthy hair growth. Essence of tiare further nourishes and conditions the hair and scalp, helping to repair damage and fortify the strands.
This OGX shampoo also has what might be the most decadent tropical-inspired scent on the market. It features notes of tangerine, coconut milk and vanilla, and will immediately make you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation.
9. Fekkai Super Strength+ Shampoo
Fekkai formulas never fail to impress, and this shampoo is no exception. The Super Strength+ Shampoo does exactly what it says: it dramatically fortifies the hair to repair breakage and improve resilience so that it is less prone to damage in the future. It is vegan and cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain sulfates, phthalates or parabens. The formula also has a rich, enticing scent, with notes of tonka bean, almond and woods.
This Fekkai shampoo is formulated with an advanced bond cure technology. This technology works deep in the hair fibers, where it heals damaged ionic, disulfide and hydrogen bonds. These bonds can be damaged from a variety of aggressors (including chemical treatments, pollutants and heat), and can lead to breakage, split ends and other forms of damage.
Additionally, this formula is made with vitamin B5, which enhances moisture levels in the strands and thickens the hairs for a fuller look and softer feel. It also works to repair damage, promoting healthier strands. Vitamin E (which is an antioxidant) also defends the hair against harmful free radicals. Nutrient-dense jojoba, baobab, coconut, and rapeseed oils also moisturize the hair while improving elasticity, repairing split ends and breakage, taming frizz and fortifying the strands.
If you aren’t quite convinced by the formula, let’s go over the clinical trial results. This shampoo has been proven to promote hair that is three times stronger and four times smoother. With regular use, the formula can lead to 70% less hair breakage. It can also repair 56% of split ends after just a single use.
10. Gisou Honey Infused Hair Wash
If you haven’t tried honey-powered hair care products, we recommend starting with Gisou. This shampoo has a deeply nourishing formula that fortifies the strands and scalp to dramatically increase resilience. It also heals breakage as it moisturizes the hair. It’s cruelty-free, and doesn’t contain any sulfates.
The honey used in the Honey Infused Hair Wash is sourced from Gisou’s bee garden based in the Netherlands. It is packed with a wide range of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that bolster the hair’s strength and repair damage. The honey also contains antioxidants to protect against environmental stressors. Additionally, the ingredient works as a natural humectant, drawing moisture to the strands and scalp and locking it in to improve softness and smooth down the strands.
In addition to the honey, the formula features L-arginine, which is packed with amino acids and keratin. It works alongside hydrolyzed pea protein (another rich source of amino acids) to further repair fragile strands and reduce the risk of hair thinning. The brand’s fatty acid-rich bee garden oil blend works alongside argan oil, helping to nurture follicle health while sealing in moisture and boosting elasticity. These ingredients also support silky, frizz-free strands.
This Gisou product is yet another formula that has an incredible scent. The lightly sweet and energizing fragrance has notes of mandarin and apricot, which are partnered with honey and florals.
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