Experiencing hair breakage is an unpleasant experience for most people. Natural hair can become dry, dull-looking, and difficult to comb without losing chunks of hair. While breaking a little hair here and there is normal, breaking hair too often is not.
This article explains what hair breakage is, its causes, and remedies you can use to reduce breakage.
What Is Hair Breakage?
Hair breakage is just as the name implies: when some strands of your hair snap, leaving it ragged and unhealthy.
This typically results in that part of your hair becoming shorter in length. Many individuals who experience natural hair breakage tend to panic and equate it to hair loss. However, hair breakage and hair loss are two different things entirely.
What is the Difference Between Hair Breakage and Hair Loss?
Hair breakage occurs when individual strands of hair break off. In contrast, hair loss refers to losing hair in large amounts due to hair thinning, aging, or hormonal changes. Hair loss may also result in difficulty growing hair back.
The primary difference between hair loss and hair breakage is that hair loss occurs from the root of the hair, while hair breakage happens when the hair shaft breaks.
Hair loss may cause small or large bald spots on the scalp, whereas hair breakage only results in shorter hair length.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
There are many factors that contribute to hair breakage, including:
- Post-partum problems
- Using products with harsh ingredients
- Applying too much heat to your hair
- Sleeping on cotton pillowcases or using cotton scarfs
- Using combs or brushes with broken ends
- Leaving braids on your head for very long periods.
- Low moisture on your hair strands
- High-manipulation hairstyles
How to Prevent Natural Hair Breakage
As I mentioned earlier, breaking a little bit of hair here and there happens to all of us. However, hair breakage that occurs too often means that your hair is unhealthy and needs help.
To help you reduce hair breakage, I have compiled 10 ways to help you:
1. Moisturize and seal your hair
To prevent hair breakage, it's important to both moisturize and seal your hair with oils. Many people make the mistake of only moisturizing their hair and assuming that's enough.
While moisturizing is important, it's not enough on its own. Your hair can easily lose that moisture and return to its dry state. That's where sealing comes in.
Sealing involves using light oils, such as coconut or olive oil, on your hair after moisturizing it. These oils help trap moisture in your hair, keeping it moisturized for longer periods.
Remember, to prevent hair breakage, you must both moisturize and seal your hair.
2. Tuck in your ends
If you have long natural hair, you may be tempted to touch the braided ends or leave them hanging loose to show off your long natural hair. However, doing so can result in hair breakage.
Constantly touching your hair or leaving it hanging causes friction that can rub moisture off your strands. This can lead to dry, brittle hair that breaks easily.
To prevent this, moisturize your hair regularly, seal the moisture in with a light oil, and tuck in those ends to reduce friction and protect your hair from breakage.
3. Trim your split ends
Split ends can occur due to harsh weather conditions, using broken combs, hair straighteners or curling irons, and more. Unfortunately, this can cause your hair to break off easily, preventing it from becoming any longer or retaining its length.
The best solution to this issue is to trim your split ends. Although it might mean losing some length, it will help you get rid of unhealthy hair.
To properly trim split ends, we recommend that you visit a professional natural hair care expert. However, if you want to do it yourself, you should buy a pair of professional hair shears. After washing and drying your hair, you can do a two-strand twist and identify all the damaged ends. Then, snip them with your shears!
4. Sleep with a satin bonnet, silk scarf, or silk pillowcase
Laying your hair on cotton or other types of fabrics can cause it to dry out and break. This is because cotton is a harsh fabric that causes friction when you rub it against your strands.
This constant friction then makes your hair break off. Instead, opt for satin or silk scarves, pillowcases, or hair bonnets. Silk and satin fabrics will help your hair retain its moisture, especially while you're asleep.
5. Avoid products with harsh ingredients
Many "natural" hair products contain harsh ingredients that can damage your hair. These ingredients include parabens, lanolin, petroleum jelly, sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oil, and others.
Using products with these ingredients can lead to hair breakage. When shopping for natural hair care products, be sure to check the ingredients section on the products to avoid these harmful ingredients.
6. Don't comb your hair while dry or wet
You may have heard the advice, "Don't comb dry hair," but you may not have heard the advice not to comb wet hair. The truth is that you shouldn't comb your hair when it's dry or wet.
Hair that is dripping wet is usually weak, and when you run a comb through it in that state, your hair is more likely to break. So, when should you comb your hair? After you have washed and dried your hair, moisturize and seal it, and then comb your hair in sections.
7. Eat fresh fruits and drink water regularly
Eating fresh fruits and drinking water regularly can help prevent hair breakage. They contain essential nutrients that can strengthen your hair follicles, promote hair growth, and reduce breakage.
In addition, they can make your hair soft and manageable, so you don't have to worry about snagging when combing. They protect the natural elasticity of your hair and prevent breakage and split ends.
8. Use a t-shirt instead of a towel to dry your hair
Many people use a towel to dry their natural hair, but this can lead to hair breakage. Towels are typically made of coarse textures like cotton, which can strip moisture from your hair. Additionally, the weight of the towel can cause your hair to break when you rub it all over your head.
There are two better options for drying your hair. First, you can wrap the towel around your head to absorb the moisture until the hair is dry. Alternatively, you can use a t-shirt instead. Simply wrap the t-shirt around your head and let it absorb the water from your hair.
9. Avoid using combs with broken teeth/ends
Whether you're styling hair at a salon or at home, always check your combs for broken teeth/ends. It's easy to spot a comb with a broken tooth, and once used on your hair, it can cause breakage even if your hair is well-moisturized.
Make sure to replace broken combs with new ones, and always use a wide-tooth comb during manipulation. If you're at the salon, insist on a better comb or even bring your own.
10. Avoid wearing tight braids
While protective hairstyles like braids are beautiful ways to style your hair, most of them require high manipulation. This occurs when the hairstylist applies a lot of pressure to your hair roots or scalp while braiding. This tension on your scalp and hair can lead to hair breakage.
Leaving your braids in for too long can also cause breakage over time. To prevent this, I recommend low manipulation braids such as knotless braids or consider braided wigs instead if you prefer wigs.