For most naturals, hair breakage can be an unpleasant experience. Your natural hair is dry, dull-looking, and hard to comb without losing chunks of hair. But, hair breakage is nothing to panic about. While breaking a little hair here and there is perfectly normal, breaking hair too often is not. In this article, I will be explaining what hair breakage is, its causes, and remedies you can use to reduce breakage.
What Is Hair Breakage?
Hair breakage is just as its name implies. This is when some strands of your hair snap out, leaving it ragged and unhealthy. Usually, when strands of your hair snap out like that, that part of your hair becomes shorter in length. Many naturals tend to panic when they experience natural hair breakage 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?
As already explained, hair breakage happens when you lose some strands of your hair. On the other hand, hair loss means when you lose your hair in huge chunks and this may happen as a result of hair thinning, aging, or hormonal changes. Also, you may have problems with growing it back. The key difference between hair loss and hair breakage is that hair loss happens from the root of your hair. Hair breakage, on the other hand, happens when your hair breaks from your hair shaft. While hair loss may leave small or big bald spots on your head, hair breakage only leaves your hair shorter in length.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
There are many factors that contribute to hair breakage and they include:
- Post-partum problems
- Using products with harsh ingredients
- Too much heat application on the hair
- Using cotton pillowcases or scarfs to sleep
- 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
Like I mentioned earlier, breaking a little bit of hair here and there happens to all of us. However, hair breakage that happens too often means that your hair is unhealthy and in need of a fix. To help you reduce hair breakage, I have compiled 10 ways that will help you with that:
1. Moisturize and seal your hair
To prevent your hair from breaking, you should moisturize and seal it with oils. Most naturals make the mistake of only moisturizing their hair and leaving it at that. While I highly recommend you moisturize your hair, your hair can easily lose that moisture and return to its dry state. So, what do you do? Seal! Sealing is the process of using light oils such as coconut oils and olive oils on your hair after you have moisturized the hair. These oils help trap the moisture so that your hair stays moisturized for long periods. Remember, to prevent hair breakage, you must moisturize and SEAL.
2. Tuck in your ends
If you have long natural hair, chances are you will touch the braided ends of your hair often. You may also tend to leave the ends of your hair hanging loose. That's fine, we all like to show off our long natural hair. Unfortunately, constantly touching your hair or leaving them to hang loose can result in hair breakage. How? Well, constant contact with your fingers or the nape of your neck rubs moisture off your hair leading to dry, brittle hair that breaks off easily. So, what do you do? Moisturize, seal, and tuck in those ends!
3. Trim your split ends
Split ends could happen as a result of harsh weather conditions, using broken combs, hair straightening or curling, etc. Of course, the end result of this is that your hair breaks off easily. This can also stop your hair from getting any longer or retaining length. The best solution is to trim these split ends! Yes, it might mean losing some hair but it will help you get rid of unhealthy hair. How can you properly trim split ends? I recommend that you visit a professional natural hair care expert to do this. However, if you want to DIY, buy a pair of professional hair shears. After washing your hair and drying it, you can do a two-strand twist. Next, identify all the bad ends and snip with your shears!
4. Sleep with a satin/silk scarf or pillow case
Laying your hair in cotton or other types of fabrics is one way your hair can easily get dry, leading to hair breakage. This is because cotton is a harsh fabric that dries out the hair and causes friction when you rub it over your strands. This constant friction then makes your hair break off. Instead, you should 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
There are several "natural" hair products out there that contain harsh ingredients. These ingredients include paraben, lanolin, petroleum jelly, sodium lauryl sulfate, mineral oil, among others. These ingredients are harsh for your hair and may lead to hair breakage. So, the next time you go shopping for natural hair care products, make sure you check the ingredients section on the products.
6. Don't comb your hair while dry or wet
You may often hear the, "Don't comb dry hair" advice, but not the "Don't comb wet hair" advice. So, Either way, 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 becomes breaks off easily. So, when should you comb your hair? After you have washed and dried your hair, moisturize and seal, then comb your hair in sections.
7. Take lots of fresh fruits and water
Taking lots of fresh fruits and water can help you deal with hair breakage. They contain essential nutrients that will strengthen your hair follicles, promote hair growth, and reduce breakage. They also make your hair soft and manageable so you don't snag when combing. They protect the natural elasticity of your hair and prevents breakage and split ends from happening.
8. Use a t-shirt and not a towel to dry your hair
It is common practice for most people to use a towel to dry their natural hair. However, this can lead to hair breakage. How? Most of these towels are made of coarse textures such as cotton that strips moisture out of your hair. Also, the weight of the towel may cause your hair to break when you rub it all over your hair. There are two better options you can use instead. First, you can wrap the towel around your head to absorb the moisture until the hair is dry, or you can use a t-shirt instead. just wrap the t-shirt around your head and let it absorb the water from your hair.
9. Don't use combs with broken ends/teeth
Whether you are styling hair at a salon or at home, make sure to check the combs for broken ends. It will be hard to miss a comb with a broken end, as soon as it is used on your hair, it will cause your hair to snap even if it's well-moisturized. Ensure that you replace your broken combs with new ones and always use a wide tooth comb during manipulation. But if you are at the salon, insist that they use a better comb or better still, just carry yours along.
10. Avoid wearing tight braids
While protective styles like braids are beautiful ways to style your hair, most of them require high manipulation. This happens when the hairstylist applies a lot of pressure to your hair roots or scalp when braiding. This tension on your scalp and hair can lead to hair breakage. Leaving in your braids for too long can also make it break off overtime. To prevent this, I recommend that you do low manipulation braids like knotless braids or go for braided wigs instead, if you prefer wigs.