One of the biggest problems being faced my people who wear their hair natural is breakage. It is the kind of hair loss that can be stopped with a little tweaking. Just a slight change in the way things are done, can make a world of difference. The main reason for breakage is the way the hair is styled.
Some of the styling methods that always cause breakage, can include but are not limited to heat styling, aggressive brushing, sleeping on wet hair or rough fabric, pony tails and pulling the hair into tight styles, tight braiding or some protective styling. Excessive uses of weaves and wigs, are also contributors to the problem.
Early signs of breakage can be seen in the form of constant frizz or consistent dryness. When these signs occur, it means that the writing is on the wall - is time to take action before the problem becomes more damaging.
Here are a few things we can do to help the follicles grow and flourish.
Clean Scalp: Cleanse the scalp to ensure that nutrients can be distributed to the hair follicles, encouraging hair growth. A dirty scalp is caused from dirt, dead cells and excess serum sitting on the scalp. This blocks the pours and suffocates the follicles. Lack of nutrition to the follicles causes hair breakage.
Quench Hair Thirst: Condition the hair so it gets remains hydrated. Dropping oils on a clean scalp, distributing those nutrients from the oils to the hair follicles, is a positive action for hair growth. Keeping the hair hydrated, also entails hydrating the strands with either a conditioner or moisturizer. That will keep the strands moisturized, which will make them less susceptible to breakage.
Detangle the right way: The first rule of detangling involves wet hair.DO NOT detangle hair that is dry. The hair will break off. Use a rinse off conditioner or simply wet the hair before detangling. Secondly, the tools used are important. Please use a detangling brush or a wide tooth comb to detangle the hair. This will put less tension on the hair, enabling less or no breakage.
Practice a Nourishing Hair Routine: Using products that work for the hair is a vital part of minimizing breakage. Try using products that are not harsh or contain chemicals that will damage the hair follicles over time. Keep a routine or as I like to call it, a regimen that works for your hair. A regimen has to done consistently, every two weeks or every month.
Deep Conditioning: This should be included in the hair regimen, and should be practiced as needed. I like to keep this as a separate process, as certain hair types will not need it as often as others will; (4C type hair will need more deep conditioning than 3B hair type, for example). Please pay attention to the time use for the deep conditioner - do not keep it in the hair for longer than intended.
Try Protective Styling: I try to keep this as the last resort, because there is somewhat a thin line between "good" protective and "bad" protective styling. There is a concept that it is better for the hair, the less it is handled or manipulated. This is true to a certain degree. Braiding the natural hair is a "good" protective style as long as it is braided loosely. Adding extensions to braiding, borders "bad" protective styling; if it is tightly done or if it is kept on over 6 weeks, that is damaging for the hair. In addition, if the scalp is not moisturized for the duration of that time (6 weeks) that the extensions are kept in, dirt and build up become an issue..
Head covering: It would be remiss of me not to mention head coverings, as they are source of protection for the hair, from dirt and particles that could very well cause a dirty scalp, and also from the environment that could cause damage, but on the other hand, wearing a head covering for extended periods without letting the scalp breath, is also detrimental to the hair growth process. Head coverings are not limited to hats but also include weaves, wigs and non-silk hair scarfs.
The last two options given above are what I like to call "borderline protection", meaning that the intent is to protect the hair, but in reality it can do severe damage to the hair.
A few other practices I frequently talk about:
- Wear a silk or satin hair bonnet or silk or satin pillow cases
- Use a microfiber towel for drying the hair or just air dry if that is an option
- Eat healthy foods
- Practice self care (reduces stress)
Hopefully, the points shared here will help minimize the amount of breakage experienced. Hair breakage is the reverse of hair growth - we are all striving for hair growth.