Hair Breakage: Prevent It Before It Starts

When new growth appears at the roots at an average of a quarter inch or more per month, it indicates that the scalp it grows from is healthy enough to produce hair naturally. However, when the length does not increase, this is indicative of breakage. Not to confuse breakage with shedding, breakage occurs at a weak spot along the hair shaft and not from the root. There are numerous reasons why breakage occurs and in all instances needs addressing immediately.

Heat Damage

A common reason for breakage is heat damage. Improper heat styling techniques such as hot curling, flat ironing, blow-drying and straightening combs, can easily damage the hair when not executed correctly. Thankfully, there are products available that coat and protect the hair shaft from excessive damage due to heat styling. Recognizing the difference between hair types is essential in maintaining the proper health of hair. Purchasing heat styling products with temperature options is a smart start to ending breakage due to excessive heat damage. For women with fine hair, styling under low heat is advised, as this hair type is much more fragile and takes to heat styling faster.

The Fix: Use a heat styling protectant like to Frizz-Ease by John Frieda to guard against further damage. Women with fine hair should not apply temperatures over 300 degrees to their hair. Turn the dial down a few notches and reduce the heat.

Chemical Processing

Women of all races indulge in the vast selection of hair color; however, Black women are at a disadvantage because our hair is already naturally drier than that of Caucasian women. In order to maintain the health and moisture of our hair, regular conditioning, and treating is necessary in controlling breakage. When our hair undergoes chemical processing, the hair shaft is stripped and the strands are weakened. Hair bleaching is a harsh process that has caused thousands of women extensive damage and hair loss. Relaxers can have the same effects that bleaching does when not applied properly. Additionally, use of the incorrect type of relaxer can also cause hair breakage and hair loss. It is imperative to purchase only hair products that are hair type specific. Finding a conditioner suitable for your hair ailment is very easy and just requires a small amount of research. Never use a conditioner or treatment that is not designed to treat the current condition of your hair. This is just as bad as over processing. Some conditioners have a built-in timer where the chemicals reaction weakens to the point of ineffectiveness after a certain amount of time has passed. These types are better because sometimes-busy schedules and multi-tasking does not allow for precise timing. In any event, leaving treatments on longer than instructed processing time can do more damage than good.

The Fix: Use only products specifically designed for certain hair types. When possible try to follow the manufacturer’s directions thoroughly. Always follow chemical processes with deep treatments and remember to follow up as often as necessary.

Hair Accessories & Clothing

Every woman wants to feel beautiful while wearing her favorite accessories but at what cost? The end of the hair shaft is extremely delicate and susceptible to breakage quite easily. Clothing such as coats and scarves can rub against the hair end causing the tiny ends to become entangled with the fibers of the clothing. Constant contact with fibers other than silky and satin-type fabrics will cause damage to hair ends causing them to split and eventually break. While many Black women enjoy the look of wearing their hair down, it is not advised to do so too often, especially when you do not readily have the option of wearing smoother fabrics. Sleeping with hair opened on cotton and linen pillowcases contribute to tangles, dryness, and breakage. Hair rejuvenates at night and needs to be protected while sleeping.

The Fix: Whenever possible, eliminate the use of elastic and rubber band hair accessories that pull and break the hair shaft forcefully. Try to limit the amount of non-protective styling in your routine. Always wear a satin cap at night or sleep on satin pillowcases, this helps retain the hair’s moisture while you sleep.

Summary: Black hair is much more fragile and prone to dryness and breakage because of the naturally curly texture. The curlier the hair the drier it is, that is the rule of thumb. While it is easy to fall victim to excessive breakage, it is also just as easy to prevent it. No matter how funky your styling becomes through the week always remember that less is more when it refers to hair. The less you bother with it, the happier it is. Whether natural or relaxed the best thing one can do for her hair is to regularly treat and condition.


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Author: Kendra Turnquest

I am a freelance writer, photographer and graphic artist hailing from the fabulous islands of The Bahamas. I love all things beauty and mostly I love having the opportunity to share my wealth of knowledge and convey it to my readers in a fun way that they enjoy reading while being informed. I am also a makeup artist and I do plan to share a few of my video tutorials on Black Hair Media as well. I do thank you for reading and please do come back soon.

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  1. I really liked this article. I am recovering from a setback from heat damage. I reached APL and then had to trim back to SL because of the breakage and split ends. Now I’m pledging to use heat only once a month (twice at the most) hopefully I will get back on track! Thanks for the info!

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    • Thanks for reading. I do wish you great success in your quest for long healthy hair. If there is anything else you may want to share concerning your hair journey, please feel free to drop a line! 😉

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    • I had to trim back from touching BSL to a little above APL due to the split ends caused by a particularly low quality flat iron. now i’ve outlawed heat for the time it takes me to grow my hair to MBL.

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