Wednesday, December 26, 2012

6 Causes of Hair Breakage

Shame on me, people! My blog is over two years old and I have never directly addressed breakage! Breakage is the top inhibitor of African American hair growth. Your hair is constantly growing at an average rate of 1/2" per month adding up to 6" of brand new hair each year. If you are not seeing any growth it could be because your hair is breaking off as fast as it is growing.

Here are some common causes of breakage and what you can do about them:


Dry hair is brittle hair, and brittle hair breaks. Increase the moisture in your hair by deep conditioning weekly with a moisturizing deep conditioner. Visit my post on protein so that you can identify and avoid protein ingredients which aren't very moisturizing. Keep your hair moisturized by using a water based moisturizer (water as the first ingredient) and following it with a natural oil (olive oil from your local grocery store will do).

Moisture/Protein Imbalance

Your hair can become overly moisturized after you have been following a healthy hair regimen for some time. Overly moisturized hair is very gummy and stretchy when wet making it more prone to breaking. On the other side of the coin, your hair can be treated with too much protein causing it to become dry and brittle. Like I said before, brittle hair will break.

I learned everything that I know about balancing moisture and protein from SistaSlick aka Audrey Sivasothy. Read her article here entitled "The Fine Art of Protein and Moisture Balancing for Black Hair Care." It is truly the best!

Rough Handling

Aggressively combing and brushing your hair will cause you nothing but breakage. Treat your hair like a fine silk, especially when using these tools, or drop the tools altogether and opt for finger detangling. I have a video on the detangling technique that I use.

Excessive Heat

Believe it or not, you can actually fry your hair. I caused a lot of my breakage in my relaxed days thinking that I needed the highest setting on the flat iron. Turn the heat down! Healthy and moisturized hair will straighten at a lower temperature. This may not be popular among those new to a hair journey, but it is beneficial to flat iron less. Flat ironing more than once a week is hard on your hair. Many women on a healthy hair journey mostly wear heat free styles and only flat iron once or twice a month!

Hard Water

This cause is not often listed among the hair enemies, but I had a huge issue with this when I went to college. My peers also lost a bit of hair. If you are in your own home and have a bit of money to spare, invest in a shower water filter. If you are in a dorm-like situation you can pour bottle or jug water over your hair or use a water filtering pitcher. Chelating shampoo can also be helpful in removing mineral buildup from your hair, but overuse of this type of shampoo can lead to dryness.


Too tight braids or ponytails can lead to breakage along the hairline or where you place your ponytail. Ask your braider to ease up on the tension and move your ponytails around so that your hair does not become weak from you placing it in the same place.


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