Black women genetically have a drier hair texture due to the structure and chemistry of their strands. Afro-textured hair is either kinky, curly, or coily (or a mixture), and that makes it hard for the natural oils (sebum) to reach the full length of the hair to keep it moisturized. Women with straight hair will experience oily and sometimes dull looking hair because of excessive sebum reaching their strands.
So how can women of color prevent breakage? Let’s find out!
How to prevent breakage in Natural hair.
- Minimize heat usage.
Heat (especially direct heat) is very damaging to the hair because it dries the hair out which can lead to breakage. Heat breaks the hydrogen bonds in the hair and saps the strands of moisture. So when you think all is well with the world, you just may end up having lots of little hair in the sink. Our hair is already dry, so please don’t add fuel to the fire. You can use heat protectant when you use a flat-iron, blow dryer, or curling iron on your hair. This however does not guarantee that you won’t have heat damage or breakage.
Challenge yourself to use heat maybe half as much as you do now. For example, if you use heat 4 times per month then reduce that to twice per month. Your hair will become thicker, shinier, and just overall healthier.
Moisture is very important for afro-textured hair. Our hair tends to be drier than other hair types, so its imperative that we use water or a water-based moisturizer in our daily regimen. Water gives the hair elasticity which protects the hair from excessive breakage and dryness. It also provides flexibility in order for the hair to be styled without tangling and breaking.
Moisturize your hair daily or every other day to maintain the moisture levels in your strands. Don’t forget your DC’s every weekend girl!
3. Comb your hair less.
Yaasss! This is the truth right here. Afro-textured hair is very fragile, and combing it everyday means introducing more ways to break the hair. Every start of a twist or turn in the hair strand is a point of breakage, and excessive manipulation is a sure way to break them off.
I comb my hair once a week on wash day,and finger detangle as needed throughout the rest of the week . This has helped me to retain a lot more length than before. When you comb your hair you will see hairs in your comb, but this doesn’t necessarily mean your hair is breaking. Everyone’s hair sheds, and you can expect to lose about 80-100 strands per day. However, breakage and shedding are not the same thing.
If you see little strands in the sink that don’t match the length of your hair this means it is breaking and not shedding. Each time you comb your hair you are tearing away at your hair strand and over time the hair will break off. Instead of combing everyday, you can finger detangle to minimize breakage.
4. Don’t overdo protein treatments.
The hair is made up of the protein called keratin (97%) . The hair does requires protein treatments for strength and resilience to prevent breakage during manipulation/styling. However, too much protein will cause breakage. Protein treatments cause the hair to become very hard and dry, so you will need to follow-up with a deep conditioner to add moisture to your hair.
Using too much protein in your regimen will lead to ‘protein overload’. Protein overload is characterized by hard, dry, straw-like hair that will break as soon as you comb it. So if you think you’re experiencing protein overload then I would advise you to :
- Check your product ingredients for any protein.
- Stop using protein products for the time being.
- Amp up your moisture treatments until your hair is back to normal.
Read here to recover from protein overload.
A good rule for protein treatments is to use them ever 4-6 weeks or based on your hair’s condition. If you use heat, color, or manipulate your hair often then you might need treatments more often. Experiment with your hair until you find the right balance.
5. Moisture-Protein Balance.
Moisture-Protein balance is important in your regimen. If you use too much protein your hair will become hard and brittle, and it will break off. If you moisturize your hair too much then your hair will become soft and mushy, and you will experience breakage. If you go too far in either direction then you will have breakage, so the key is to have balance.
How do you find the balance? The protein-moisture balance is not 50-50, it is more 70-30. 70% moisture to 30% protein. It varies from person to person because everyone’s hair is different. Trying to figure out what works for you takes trial and error. Some daily styling products have proteins in them, so you need to be careful. Check your products to see if they contain protein, and use that to adjust the frequency of your treatments.
List of proteins commonly in your products:
Hydrolyzed oat flour
Hydrolyzed silk protein
Hydrolyzed soy protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Hydrolyzed wheat protein
Potassium cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
TEA-cocoyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed casein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed hair keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed keratin
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed rice protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed silk
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed soy protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl hydrolyzed wheat protein
Cocodimonium hydroxypropyl silk amino acids
Cocoyl hydrolyzed collagen
Cocoyl hydrolyzed keratin
6. Protective Styling.
Protective styles are one of the key things to help you retain your length, however, it can be detrimental to your growth if you leave them in for a long time (more than 6 weeks). Your hair still requires moisture and a lot of T.L.C, so you will need to keep up with deep conditioning, protein treatments, and daily moisturizing. Also, having tight braids and extensions in for too long can cause traction alopecia (balding), and if it is severe then there is a chance that your follicles might be damaged. This may prevent hair regrowth.
7. Do not manipulate dry hair.
I would not recommend detangling/styling dry hair because it may lead to breakage. Dry natural hair takes the shape of whatever it is molded into, so if you are trying to detangle without adding any moisturizing components then you will encounter knots, tangles, and eventually breakage.
Mist the hair lightly with water then apply a moisturizer, leave-in conditioner, or a detangle to make it easier on yourself and ultimately your hair.
8. Protect your hair at night.
Most bedding materials are made from cotton, and cotton sucks the moisture out of your curls. Sleep with a silk or satin scarf at nights to protect your hair. You can also use a satin pillow case if you choose not to use a bonnet or a scarf.
9. Trim your ends!
YES! Cut those split ends off. I know this may seem counterintuitive to your goal of having long hair, but you should focus on the health and not the length of your hair. If you don’t trim your ends you will end up with single strand knots which will break off during combing/manipulation. This will cause split ends that will cause further breakage up the hair strand.
Get some new hair scissors that you only use for cutting your hair, and cut those split ends as soon as they show up. There is nothing you can do to repair your split ends, so don’t waste your money on products that promises a fix.
10. Be careful of hair accessories.
Tight/metal hair accessories will often do you more harm than good because they can snag on your hair and cause breakage. Use plain accessories that are hair friendly.
Putting that color that you’ve always wanted on your hair can be fun at first, but it may eventually leave your ends dry and brittle. There are a lot of products out there that are formulated for color treated hair, but the truth is, it is very difficult to keep your hair healthy even with those products.
A little word of caution, try not to use excessive heat or manipulate your hair too often if you have color treated hair.
12. Baby your ends.
Your ends are the oldest part of your hair, and they require a lot of T.L.C if they are going to stick around. Treat them as if they are precious to you. This doesn’t mean you should hold onto them if they are damaged, and in this case you should go ahead and cut them.
On a daily basis I mist the length of my hair with water and apply my moisturizer then seal. I then put some oils (usually olive oil) on just the ends to keep the ends moisturized. Do not put oils on the ends without moisturizing them first. Oils do not moisturize your hair and will cause your ends to remain dry.
13. Do not towel- dry your hair.
Try not to use a towel to dry your hair because the fibers on the towel will snag the ends of your hair and break it off. Instead use an old cotton t-shirt to absorb the water, then proceed with your moisturizing and styling.
14. Don’t wear your hair out all the time.
Yes I know you want to look cute and all, but girl when you’re not trying to be cute put that hair up off your shoulders in a bun or some twists. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have fun with your hair sometimes because after all that’s why put so much effort into it. However, try wearing it down maybe 50% of the time then wear it up off your shoulders/clothes the other 50%.
15. Do not style your hair when you are tired/angry/in a rush.
Doing your hair when you are frustrated, tired, or in a rush will most likely cause breakage. You will most likely handle your hair very roughly, and remember I said that you need to treat it like fine silk if you want it to grow. Set some time apart for your hair, but if you don’t have the time at the moment then save trying to do your hair for when you have some free time.
What’s your number 1 tip that you use to prevent breakage?
Thank you again for stopping by for another post.I hope that this was helpful to you, and I would love it if you would share it with other ladies who would benefit from these tips. You can share, like,and follow for more posts using the links below.