Whether you have natural, treated, colored,braided or dreadlocks, Hair breakage is a common problem that faces many people across the Globe. Before we rush in to the solutions, we should first understand what hair breakage means and what causes it so that you can pick on exactly what affects you and get the right solution.
Hair breakage can happen to any hair texture because of many reasons that we will later discuss in detail in this article. I will break it down in a few segments to help you understand what it is, why you may have this problem and what to do to fix it.
What is hair breakage?
When the hair cortex is damaged due to several reasons, the hair becomes brittle and prone to separate itself from the main shaft. This is what is termed as breakage. When this happens, you cannot retain your hair length and start thinking that your hair is stunted. That is not necessarily the case as we will see in the following paragraphs.
What are the causes?
There are several causes of breakage that i will explain briefly in this section.
Heat damage – This is basically the result of often using high heat to style your hair. This can be done by a blow-dryer, flat iron, hot comb or straightening brush. The use of excessive heat weakens keratin (which gives your hair its shape) in your hair and that makes brittle and easy to break.
Over processed hair – This happens when you exceed the recommended processing time when applying hair straightening products better known as relaxers.
Dryness – This could be as a result of several factors including hot weather, Not drinking enough of water and too much heat including washing with hot water.
Excessive styling/ manipulation – By this i mean constantly manipulating your hair by combing, brushing and braiding.
Tight hairstyles – Braiding your hair is a good protective style but when its tightly done, it does more harm than good. You know your braids are tight when it feels uncomfortable to the touch and feels itchy shortly after braiding. Sometimes you can even get a headache.
Poor diet – Like we always hear, you are what you eat. Hair grows from inside and your eating habits may cause your hair to break.
Untrimmed ends – The ends are the oldest part of your hair.Logically they are exposed the longest to the elements. They may have splits which can with time extend to the hair shaft leading to breakage. Fizzy can also lead to breakage.
Cotton pillowcase – Cotton is good for your skin but can lead to hair breakage. This happens when you turn your head during your sleep. Your hair rubs onto the pillowcase which reaps moisture and oil from your hair and eventually breaks it.
Towel drying- Yes! as much as it sounds crazy, towel drying your hair can also cause breakage. It is because of the coarse texture and dryness of the towel which roughs up the hair shaft.
Stress – The same way stress affects your general health, it can also lead to breakage because it pushes a great deal of hair follicles into a resting phase. Resting phase is when the hair follicle decreases in size and detaches from the main shaft. This phase normally lasts anywhere between 40 and 100 day.
Thyroid disorders – The thyroid gland is an important hormone gland which plays a major role in the human body function. It is important for the growth and development and metabolism in the human body. Both hyper (high hormone production) and hypo (low hormone production) thyroidism can cause hair breakage because of the hormonal imbalance.
Treatments and remedies.
Now that we are aware of the possible reasons as to why your hair is breaking, lets tackle each problem on its own because when it comes to this topic, i don’t believe in one size fits all. So now lets start with :-
Best remedy is to avoid heat styling altogether, but you and i know that now and then we don’t have the time and patience to air dry hair. In this case, always use a good heat protecting product before applying heat on your hair.
– Use the lowest heat possible that suits your hair texture on a good blow-dryer.
– When you want to use a flat or curling iron, ensure that your hair is properly dry first. Since we all have different hair textures, which means different heat levels, know your hair texture and get the right temperature that suits your hair.
– Don’t over do it. When using heat, don’t stay too long on one part.
2. Over processed hair.
First of all, relaxing your hair is already making your hair go through a lot and leaving the chemicals longer than required just makes the situation worse. Before using a relaxer, you need to know your hair texture and scalp sensitivity then you can pick out the right relaxer for you.
Follow the instructions to the latter to give you best results and avoid damage. Many do this at home to minimize costs but i recommend a professional especially if you are touching up. you might think you are saving now but later you may have to use far much more products to correct the mess you created and eventually it becomes more expensive than having it professionally done.
- Use a wide tooth comb when dealing with your hair.
- Treat your hair with a protein rich deep conditioner regularly and alternate with a moisturizing deep conditioner. Too much of protein makes your hair tough and hard and too much moisture will make your hair dull, gummy and greasy. That’s not what we want, right? find a balance of the two and you are good to go.
- Be gentle to your hair by simply avoiding unnecessary manipulation. Keep a hairstyle at least for a week.
- Avoid heat during this repair period. T-shirt dry or use a micro fiber towel and air dry.
- Moisturize and seal your hair before styling.
- Last but not least, be patient. It takes a while but its gonna be fine.
Here, start by using a mild shampoo and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. Deep condition your hair regularly( every fortnight is great). Go easy on protein treatments and heat since these will add insult to injury.
Use a t-shirt or a microfiber towel to dry instead of the regular cotton or terry cloth towels.
Make sure you moisturize and seal your hair as often as necessary depending on the porosity of your hair. Hair porosity simply means the ability of your hair to absorb and retain moisture. High porosity- your hair absorbs and loses moisture fast and low porosity is the opposite.
If your hair absorbs and loses moisture fast, you may need to use rich moisturizing hair lotion or butter and use an oil that agrees with your hair to seal like Jamaican black castor oil, grape seed oil and jojoba or a blend.
If your hair slowly absorbs and loses moisture, you should also use a rich moisturizing hair lotion or a moisture rich leave in conditioner and seal with oils like olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
4. Excessive styling/Manipulation.
I know this might be difficult to swallow but hey, you want good hair right? So when your hair is open/ unbraided, change your style after at least a week to avoid constant brushing and combing. Keep your hair up as much as you can to prevent it from rubbing against your clothes which will cause dryness and frizziness. I know you want to enjoy your open hair for as long as you can, but better safe than sorry.
If your hair is braided, try to style it also weekly to avoid pulling every now and then and allows the hair to rest.
5. Tight hairstyles.
Some people believe that when your hair is tightly done, it looks better and takes longer to loosen. This is wrong because the discomfort that comes with it can be seen in your face. And when time comes to take it out, you will meet your edges on the comb. Hair can be moderately done and still look good. So ensure that your edges aren’t pulled as you try to look good.
Also don’t put too much tension on your hair when having up do styles like ponytails.
6. Poor diet.
As said over and over again, you are what you eat. So eat a balanced diet and incorporate a lot of water. Keratin is a hair growth hormone produced by biotin of which a boost of it in your diet if you have a deficiency will help improve your hair. Foods like eggs, berries,spinach,fatty fish like salmon, avocados,sweet potatoes, nuts,seeds (sunflower,chia,flax), soybeans, beans, meat, shrimp and oysters just to mention a few are good sources of essential vitamins and minerals that stimulate hair growth. Incorporate some of these in your daily diet and you are good to go.
7. Untrimmed ends.
Now this may sound bizarre especially when you are trying to retain length. When i say trim your ends, i mean just about an eighth of an inch of your hair once or twice a year depending on how badly damaged your ends are.
You can dust (a few millimeters) once and trim once. You can have it done professionally or by yourself. Just part your hair in small sections, comb and fold the hair over your fingers and snip off the transparent-ish section. Voila!
Don’t worry so much about the `gone´hair. It is just hair,it will grow and your ends will look healthier and better.
8. Cotton pillowcase.
Ideally, a satin pillowcase would be perfect to ease the friction but Since cotton pillowcases are all over, in hotels, holiday apartments planes and the list goes on, you might want to use a satin bonnet or scarf to cover your hair before you sleep. This you can easily travel with and not worry about the fabric of the pillowcase wherever you are going.
9. Towel drying.
This is simple! Just get a clean old t-shirt or a microfiber towel like Deva curl towel which is meant to decrease frizz and enhance curls without damaging your hair and you are good to go.
The good news is that hair breakage and loss due to stress grows back when the stress triggers are addressed.
- First step is to seek professional help from a therapist.
- Get regular exercise.This helps manage stress.
- Avoid being alone by attending open functions or gatherings.
- Practice some kind of relaxation by doing yoga or some deep breathing exercises.
11. Thyroid disorder.
First thing to do is to seek professional help from your doctor. This way you will know what nutritional deficiencies you have then you can address start from there.
Tips on healthy hair length retention.
Now that you have figured out what causes your hair to break and how to fix it, you are just getting started on a healthy hair journey and here are some great tips to help you in the journey.
- Clean hair, scalp and head wrap – This is a no brainer. When your hair has a lot of build up of products, first of all its disgusting and nothing you add on it will work. You need a clean scalp and hair so your products can do what they are supposed to. With clean hair, you definitely need a clean head wrap or scarf or bonnet .
- Wash your hair in parts (At least 4) depending on the thickness of your hair. – This helps you to penetrate all areas of your scalp easily.
- Detangle in parts using a wide tooth comb – This makes dealing with your hair easier than to detangle all at once.
- Trim or dust when necessary – If your ends look good let it be and keep doing what you are doing.
- Eat healthy and drink lots of water.
- Deep condition regularly with protein and moisturizing treatments.
- Minimize styling and also don’t over stay with a style especially braids and weaves (4- 8 weeks max).This may cause knots that will give you problems when detangling.
- Minimize heat on your hair or avoid it for a while. The less the better.
- Detangle from ends to roots whenever you do whether damp or dry hair.
- Keep your hair moisturized and sealed.
- Avoid micro braids. Go for medium to large braids.
- Massage your scalp regularly to increase blood flow in your head which will in turn stimulate your hair follicles.
Good to go!
Overall, everyone is different and have a unique hair regimen that works for them. Just pick helpful tips and do you. Get a good set of products – A good shampoo, conditioner,deep conditioner (Protein and moisturizing), leave in conditioner, hair lotion and sealing oil- and stick with them for at least half a year to give your hair a chance to adjust to them. If you switch frequently, you may miss the chance to know what exactly is good for your hair.
Great that you have reached this point. Did i miss something? Or what would you like me to address? If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact me and i will be glad to read and respond to you. You can also leave a comment and i will be happy to respond.