I don’t know a single person who is happy about suffering hair breakage (falling out). And whether hair is ‘shedding’ or breaking, we look for the quickest means to get rid of this ‘problem’ before all of our hair falls off!
Hair Shedding and Breakage are two different things.
The best way to know when hair is ‘shedding’ is to observe the hair strands as they fall out. If each hair strand is full length and has a little white coating at one end, which would be the base, it means that strand has been shed. These strands have undergone the full growth cycle and are naturally giving way for new hair strands to grow.
Shedding is absolutely normal and comes with growing long, healthy hair. An average of 60 – 100 hair strands are shed daily. Any more would be disturbing, especially if you feel like your hair is not growing fast enough.
For Breakage, if you observe your hair strands as they fall out and they are split, short and missing the little white coating, it means your hair is suffering from dryness and in most cases, mishandling.
Before your hair strands start breaking, you’ll start having split ends (the ends/ tips of each strand of hair splits into two). These contribute to tangled hair which, if not handled properly, will be ripped out during combing.
When dealing with natural hair, especially our special Nigerian hair, here are my top 7 reasons why your hair starts breaking:
Lack of Moisture
Our kinky hair is naturally dryer than straight hair. This is because it’s coily nature characterized by S or Z patterns restricts the straight passage of oils from the scalp to the tip of each hair strand for thorough lubrication.
You can’t get by without using a moisturizer on your hair. Even if you fall under the category of people who ‘do nothing’ for their dry hair but still have it grow fast, as soon as you add a moisturizer to your hair care routine, you will see great improvement in strength and appearance of your hair (I don’t mean just water here. Most people say they apply water to their hair to make it soft and that’s it. There are hair products specially formulated to increase the moisture levels of your hair while boosting health, growth, shine
Very Tight Hairstyles
Hairstyles that tug and pull at your scalp are just baaaaad! Even worse are the ones that leave you with a headache up to a week after installing them. Then there are the ones like Ghana braids which, when poorly installed, rip your hair off especially at your edges (you see the tips of the hair lift from your scalp and small clusters of hair hanging from those tips, leaving your edges bald! *sighs*
Tight hairstyles not only cause dry hair, they cause breakage, dandruff, and fraying.
This is not only applicable to hairstyles using extensions. Even simple styles like puffs and buns which are our daily go-tos can be damaging especially when worn too tight, too frequently, or using the wrong hair ties.
Using The Wrong Hair Products
We naturals commonly say
“what works for my hair may not work for yours” meaning that not all
hair products that work for one person may work for the other because of the
differences in hair type, porosity, texture and even environment.
Knowing what your hair needs will help you decide the best products to use to achieve maximum hair moisture and prevent hair breakage. From knowing what your hair needs, you will be able to make your selection from a wide range of hair products by identifying/ reading the specific ingredients that work well in your hair and are put in the products you buy.
Excessive heat styling leaves
hair weak, super light, and prone to breakage. Heat from blowdryers, hooded
dryers, hot combs, flat irons and curling irons can be very damaging to kinky
hair, especially when used frequently.
Most naturals resort to visiting their salons regularly to get their straightened as soon as it tangles or becomes ‘difficult to handle/comb’. Majority of these salons do not do any particular thing to the hair before straightening it. Specifically, they don’t use heat protectants or regulate the heat on these machines, leaving the hair even more susceptible to heat damage.
No Defined Hair Care Routine
A hair care routine usually consists of pre-poo, shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner and your LOC/LCO (Liquid Oil and Cream or Liquid Cream and Oil) method for sealing in moisture. Each step is dependent on what your hair needs are and these also help you select your hair products.
Every month, I follow a hair care routine of pre-poo, shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner and LCO for the first week, and 3 co-washes (conditioner wash) and deep conditions for the remaining 3 weeks.
Your hair care routine will help you observe how well your hair is responding to the conditioning you give it and also help you make adjustments where necessary.
Poor Combing Methods
One common mistake people make is combing their hair when it is wet or tangled, still without applying any form of moisturizer to it. Or combing their hair in the middle of shampooing or conditioning, especially when they use a shampoo or conditioner without slip. Or combing their hair using the wrong combs and brushes.
Wet hair is fragile and tangles very easily meaning it is more prone to breakage since combing involves pulling on the tangled hair in a bid to get it untangled. Forcefully passing a comb through your wet hair only pulls at the wet, tangled strands more, ripping them apart and causing damage to your ends and hair strands (breakage).
Likewise, combing your hair using the wrong combs can also cause serious breakage especially if your hair is tangled. There are a wide variety of combs for natural and straight hair for all occasions. visit thankgodimnatural.com – Combs and Brushes for Natural Hair.
When combing your hair, it is best to start from the ends and work your way towards the roots to make detangling easier.
Coloring your hair is a whole other journey which adds more excitement to hair and beauty. However, what most people don’t realize is that once you color your hair, you have to pay extra attention to it and ensure that it gets the best care in order for it to continue growing healthily. From scratch, coloring your hair must begin on healthy hair. If you already have severe hair breakage but want to color your hair, it is best to find out the reason for your hair breakage and salvage it first. Then picking out the right products and colors and having a professional hair colorist do the job.
Getting your hair colored is one thing. More important is how you maintain it after coloring. Most people I know with colored hair who complain of severe hair breakage have no hair care routine! They do nothing for their hair and more often than not, they express surprise when I mention that there are specific hair products for color-treated hair. These products are specially formulated to supply moisture to your hair strands without lifting the hair color or stripping your hair and scalp of natural oils. Visit goodhousekeeping.com to view some of these products.
RECOVERING FROM HAIR BREAKAGE
No matter what bad situation you find yourself in at any stage of your natural hair journey, there is always something you can do to make it better and learn from these small mistakes.
Some tips for hitting the high road towards healthy hair after a bad breakage encounter includes:
- Moisturizing regularly will reduce the damage done to your hair during washing, combing or styling it will also make your hair look more vibrant and healthy compared to dry hair.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up when you feel your hair stylist gripping your hair too tight.
- Be more decisive about the hair products you choose for your hair. Read the ‘Ingredients’ section on the products, and know exactly what your hair needs.
- Reduce the frequency at which you apply heat to your hair. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, you can go for as little as a blow-dry on low heat at most twice a year.
- Draw up a hair care regimen that will work for you. Take into consideration your lifestyle and your daily schedule of activities to help you pick a day that you can suitably set aside as your ‘hair care day’ or ‘wash day’.
- Invest in good combs and brushes. A lot of combs, especially wide-toothed combs. The longer your hair gets, the more combs you will need to cater to the different purposes for which combs are needed, especially on kinky hair (detangling, styling, fluffing, et cetera).
- Color your hair with a professional hair colorist, and pay attention to the few procedures you have to follow to grow your colored hair beautifully and healthy.
This way, your hair will thrive and you will be able to keep breakage at a minimum.
Do you agree with these 7 reasons? What other reasons do you think are responsible for hair breakage?