Hair breakage is a common problem, especially for natural hair that is curly, kinky or coiled. For many people, excessive breakage leads to issues with growth, which is a super frustrating experience.
Fortunately, in most cases, hair breakage is preventable and reversible. That’s why we’ve put together our simple guide on how to stop hair breakage for natural hair.
What Is Hair Breakage?
We’ll start by clearing up a common confusion. Hair breakage is not the same as shedding or split ends.
Hair shedding is a natural part of the hair cycle. We lose a lot of hair every day — between 50 to 100 hairs is the norm. An excessive amount of shedding isn’t hair breakage either; it’s more often caused by a condition called Telogen Effluvium.
You’ll be able to tell the difference between hair shedding and breakage; as for the latter, you’ll notice little pieces of hair falling out as opposed to entire strands.
Similar to the above, split ends also aren’t hair breakage. Split ends are excessive damage to the tip of your hair, causing fraying. Whereas hair breakage can occur anywhere in your hair, from root to tip.
Hair breakage is characterised by small white dots that make your hair feel dry and brittle. These dots indicate structural damage throughout the hair strand.
People with any type or length of hair can struggle with hair breakage for a huge variety of reasons which we’ll look into.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
The root cause of all hair breakage comes down to the health of your hair. The inner cuticle of hair strands is held together by overlapping scales. If these scales are damaged, your hair will dry out and break.
Although the root cause of hair breakage is simple, there are many explanations and causes of unhealthy hair. We’ll look at the most common ones.
Both your hair and skin health are affected by what you eat. Your hair needs a variety of nutrients to remain healthy and grow. This includes things like iron, zinc, protein and folic acid, to name a few.
This is why one of the most common causes of severe hair breakage is eating disorders. If your body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, the health of your hair will decline.
Often before breakage, hair is very dry. This is often a precursor to hair breakage.
Dry hair is most often linked to environmental conditions like low humidity, excessive heat or dry weather.
Speaking of excessive heat, one of the most common hair breakage causes is heat damage. If you’re using a flat iron, curling iron or hairdryer every day, there’s a good chance that’s the reason behind the breakage.
This is because excessive amounts of heat styling, or incorrect methods, damage the cuticle of your hair.
Dyes, bleach, relaxers and perms can all damage your hair. Even if your hair feels in great condition initially, this is only due to the professional treatments used in the salon. If you’re dying your hair more often than every 3 months, this is likely the culprit for your hair breakage.
In the same vein, if you avoid the hairdressers altogether, this could be another cause. Your hair needs a regular trim to stay in good condition. If split ends are left, this can cause damage further up the cuticle.
How often do you wash your hair?
Most people don’t need to wash their hair daily. If you have quite dry natural hair, you shouldn’t be washing it more than once a week.
Similar to this, when you’re drying your hair, you shouldn’t be rubbing it. Your hair is at its most vulnerable when it’s wet. So either blot your hair or wrap a towel around it to absorb the excess water.
Hair breakage can also be caused by brushing or combing your hair while it's wet, as well as through poor-quality brushes. Opt for a natural bristle or a wide-tooth comb.
If you’ve ruled out all of the above causes, your hair breakage could be linked to a medical condition.
One of the most common medical conditions that cause hair breakage is hypothyroidism. Other symptoms include low energy, weight gain and depression. If you experience any of these symptoms alongside hair breakage, speak to your doctor.
How to Stop Hair Breakage
How to stop hair breakage links back to the underlying cause of your breakage. This said, there are some good tips for maintaining healthier hair in general that can help.
Start by ensuring you have a good hair maintenance routine. Figure out how often you need to wash your hair and when you wash it, avoid shampooing the ends.
For styling, try to give your hair a break once in a while. If you really can’t resist, ensure you’re using high-quality heat styling products with ceramic plates to avoid damage. You should also make sure you’re following a good routine of styling with heat protection too.
You should also examine your diet. Consider taking additional vitamin supplements if you’re struggling to fit in everything you need.
If your hair is dry from over-processing or environmental factors, use a hair breakage treatment. These most often come in the form of deep conditioners and other moisturising treatments like oils.
For curly hair, in particular, it’s so important to make sure you’re using the right type of shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. Avoid sulphates, silicones and drying alcohols to keep your hair bouncy and beautiful.
Perfect Curls Every Time
Hair breakage is a common problem that is most often caused by unhealthy hair. But now you know how to stop hair breakage by taking better care of your hair through proper maintenance and products.
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