Hair breakage is such a big nuisance especially if you are trying to grow your hair out or to long lengths. Instead of just being frustrated, see this as an opportunity to learn more about your hair. Take the time to learn exactly what is causing the hair breakage, and how you can greatly reduce breakage and/or eliminate it all together if possible.
One basic thing that you need to know about hair breakage is that it is completely different than hair shedding. When hair sheds a full strand of hair releases from the scalp, and there is a tiny bulb at the end of the strand. Hair shedding is completely natural. Extreme hair shedding is a whole different story. You can see how I’ve dealt with extreme hair shedding here. Hair breakage is usually short and sometimes long broken strands of hair which is not the complete hair strand.
Hair breakage can be caused from many different factors.
Chemical hair treatments can weaken the hair bonds causing breakage. Rough manipulation of the hair by combing or brushing impatiently, pulling the hair tightly at the roots with styling, and even using unfriendly hair tools/accessories in the hair creates weak strands that break off. Using excessive heat styling can greatly damage your hair if used improperly or too often. Product buildup on hair can also cause hair breakage by not allowing the hair to fully absorb water therefore becoming dehydrated and brittle.
Our hair needs gentle care and preservation to achieve its fullest most beautiful potential. Let’s now take a closer look at the different factors that cause hair breakage. Let’s also look at some simple remedies to prevent breakage in the first place.
1. Deep Conditioning Treatments
One of the best ways to minimize hair breakage is with deep conditioning treatments to create moisturized hair to maintain hair elasticity. When the hair is dry, it does not have any give to it. Dry hair breaks off extremely easily.
Deep conditioning treatments that strengthen the hair strands while also providing adequate moisture is crucial. Here are examples of very easy to create DIY conditioning treatments for healthy hair. If you have naturally dry or chemically treated hair, deep conditioning hair weekly or bi-weekly is very helpful.
2. Minimize/Eliminate Chemical Hair Treatments
Any chemical hair treatment that alters the hair’s natural structure also has the ability to damage hair. It is true that when chemicals are used properly or by a professional there is less damage done. Yet it takes much more work to maintain chemically treated hair simply because the hair bonds have been altered, therefore greatly weakened compared to virgin hair.
Looking to alternate ways to color you hair with henna mixes with cassia and indigo and even honey hair lightening are the healthiest ways to change your natural hair color. Natural henna covers grays, increases hair strength and shine, and also can be applied often. With each full application of henna or a henna mix, your hair color will be deepened.
Two companies that offer henna mixes in various shades are Mountain Rose Herbs and Light Mountain Hair Color. For more information on how I use henna go here. If you use henna for conditioning or for color, it is very important to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment especially if you are experiencing hair breakage.
Other chemical hair treatments such as relaxers contain chemicals that are so strong and toxic to the body that they can literally dissolve plastic and aluminum. Maintaining healthy hair using such treatments takes intensive hair pampering, and exposure to these chemicals regularly that can cause havoc to the health of the body. It just doesn’t seem worth it in the end.
3. Rough Handling & Safe Hair Tools
How you physically treat your hair can help with maintaining healthy hair. Detangling your hair gently is very important when styling as this is where a lot of damage and breakage can occur. Detangling your hair with seamless hair tools and from the ends of the hair to the root creates less tension on the hair strands. Learning the best way to detangle your hair is even more important. Read more on detangling tips especially for curly hair here. Also never attempt to detangle hair when you know you will be rushed, or if you are in a bad mood. Avoid taking your frustration out on your hair, or ripping through it if you don’t have enough time to detangle your hair gently.
Seamless combs, wooden or bamboo brushes, satin hair scrunchies, hair sticks, leather and wood hair barrettes, etc. are all safe hair tools. When creating hair styles such as updos, ponytails, buns, braids, etc. not pulling the hair tightly in order to achieve a certain look will not damage your edges or your hair strands either. See more examples of healthy hair tools here.
4. Heat and Healthy Hair
In general if you want to grow long healthy hair, air drying your hair and minimizing heat is your best bet. Every time one uses heat on their hair, there is some wear and tear on the hair strands even when used properly. When the moisture that is removed from the hair at high temperature is not put back into the hair strands, dehydrated hair will naturally break off.
Water boils at 100° C or 212° F. Every time one uses heat in their hair they are literally boiling the water, hair’s #1 moisturizer, out of the hair strand. Most hair dryers, curling irons, and flat irons are used at a temperature much higher than 100°C or 212° F. Creating presentable hair styles with braid outs for deep waves, twist outs for curly ringlets, or roller sets are much better alternatives to heat styling hair. Hooded hair dryers are a much better option for setting these styles if you need your hair completely dry quickly.
5. Product Buildup Can Cause Breakage
One of the easiest ways to avoid product buildup is to minimize the amount of hair leave-ins/stylers used at a given time. “Cocktailing” hair products can possibly suffocate the hair strands if the hair is not properly cleansed afterwards. Suffocated hair can not fully absorb water when it is wet therefore becomes dry, brittle, and breaks off regardless of what moisturizing products or deep conditioners are used.
Properly detoxifying the hair from all hair products usually is needed if you are experiencing product buildup. Clean detoxed hair will allow full penetration of moisturizing and conditioning products. One of the simplest hair detoxes is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and bentonite clay. This combination created the perfect pH for hair and completely cleanses the hair and scalp. If you use a lot of different hair products, detoxing the hair monthly will give you a fresh new start each time. Read more on avoiding hair product buildup here.
Trimming hair is a great way to maintain the health of your ends and prevent hair splitting and breaking. You really don’t have to cut a lot off of your hair unless your hair is truly damaged. Getting rid of severely damaged ends is important if you are trying to grow healthy hair.
Even if you only cut off 1/8 of an inch of hair each month, also referred to as “dusting” the hair, you will be able to maintain healthier hair over the long run. The easiest way to cut your own hair is with this method. For monthly dusting session, take small sections of hair and cut 1/8 inch off the very ends. If you have curly hair you can also cut your hair with the curly by curl hair cutting method.
Learning exactly what can be causing your hair breakage in the first place can then help cue you in to making the changes necessary to avoid hair breakage.
It usually is never just one thing that causes hair breakage. If you are experiencing hair breakage, please take the time to make a full assessment of your hair care from beginning to end as well as looking at the ingredients that is in your hair care. If you see lots of chemicals including alcohol, sulfates, silicone, and polymers (another name for plastic), etc. you are not doing your hair any good. You can see a list of the chemicals I avoid in beauty products here. For tips on beginning a 100% natural hair care regimen read this series. This series of natural hair care articles will give you tons of ideas whether you go 100% natural with your hair care or not.
How do you avoid hair breakage?
(Image by Dawn Michelle)