BREAKAGE IN NATURAL BLACK HAIR
WHY IT HAPPENS AND HOW TO MINIMIZE
Because the natural oils produced in the follicles have a harder time reaching the hair shaft, those with curly, coily, and kinky hair tend to have drier hair than those with straight or wavy locks. The drier the hair, the more prone it is to breakage in this fragile state. So, learning how to properly moisturize and hydrate your natural hair will be key to length retention.
We’re taking a deeper dive into why hair breakage occurs, how it differs from shedding, and how to minimize its effects.
What Causes Hair Breakage?
Understanding what causes hair breakage is the first step toward preventing it and improving your hair health if you experience breakage. There are a lot of ways breakage can be unintentionally encouraged, like:
Using chemicals: Using relaxers or texturizers (AKA perms, AKA AKA creamy crack) can cause significant damage to the hair shaft.
Adding color to hair: Like other chemicals, hair color can be damaging to hair and lead to breakage, especially if you’ve also used chemicals on it, such as a perm.
Using heat: When going from a curly to straight style, flat irons, curling wands, and hot combs (hold your ears) can cause significant heat damage. Applying a heat protectant can help prevent damage before it occurs and reduces the chances of unhealthy ends.
Lacking moisture: Dry hair is damaged hair. Even if you’re rocking a protective style, if your hair isn’t properly moisturized, you’ll get breakage.
Lacking overnight care: Protecting hair overnight using a silk/satin scarf, scrunchie or pillowcase, bonnet, or pineapple-ing can help keep your strands from experiencing tons of friction overnight against dry or harsh fabrics. That prevents hairs from getting caught between fibers, oils being absorbed into the pillow case, and can even prevent acne breakouts.
Breakage and Shedding
To many with natural Black hair, breakage may look similar to hair shedding—but they’re not. Shedding is common, natural, and expected. Humans shed an average of 100 stands of hair a day! Hair falls out to make room for new strands to grow. Depending on your hair’s growth cycle and rate of shedding, you may see more shedding at different times. Hair shedding occurs at the root of the hair, so you should see a bulb at one end of the stand and its length should match the length of your hair. Especially after having a protective style in for weeks or months, you will see many hairs naturally shedding once the style is removed.
Hair breakage, in contrast to hair shedding, can occur at any point along the shaft. So, your hair will have varying lengths and be shorter than the overall length of your hair. Hair may look patchy and have some sections that are shorter than others—like the crown, by the nape of your neck (or kitchens, IYKYK), and the front of your hair. There’s a difference between breakage and baby hair, okay?
Hair Breakage Treatment for Natural Hair
Breakage can be one of the biggest problems that plague naturals, but it’s possible to repair your hair with the right tools and products to keep hair healthy and get that coveted length retention.