Asia Mouzone creates content for her natural hair care site Love Naptural, a site dedicated to promoting natural hair health.
Why so Much Breakage?
Natural African-American hair requires unique maintenance for its unique texture. Afro-textured hair is fragile because of its tightly coiled structure, so it’s prone to greater breakage.
This is why extra precautions have to be taken when handling natural hair. Roughly pulling, tugging, and manipulating your hair can increase damage. Carelessly combing dry hair can contribute to breakage.
It’s important to ensure that your hair is moisturized (spray it with water or apply your favorite moisturizer) before combing. Natural hair must be combed from starting from the ends and working your way to the roots.
This method allows you to gently detangle the ends first. Also, ensuring that your ends are well-moisturized and tucked away will aid in retaining length instead of increasing breakage.
Not only does rough manipulation damage natural hair, but your product use can contribute to breakage as well. Do you read the labels before buying?
Are you aware of the ingredients in the products and whether or not they’re beneficial for your hair? Products that contain alcohol can eventually dry your hair over time.
African-American hair is tightly coiled, and so this prevents sebum from reaching hair ends. Sebum is natural oil that our skin produces.
Our scalps should produce sebum regularly. Since afro-textured hair is tightly coiled and prevents sebum from reaching the ends, extra moisturizers must be added to keep our hair from becoming dry and brittle. Dry hair causes breakage.
Reasons Your Hair Might Be Breaking
- Are you applying too much heat to your hair?
- Are you over-moisturizing?
- Are you under-moisturizing?
- Do you wear your hair out often?
1. Are You Applying Too Much Heat to Your Hair?
It is because natural hair is already in a fragile state that excessive heat only weakens hair strands. Since the coily texture of afro-textured hair is weak, heat straightens those coily strands and puts them in an even weaker state.
When you excessively apply heat to your hair, you’re setting your hair up for potential breakage. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use heat at all, but if you desire to just be sure to use it sparingly.
Instead of blow-drying AND flat ironing your hair, you could allow your hair to air-dry in twists or plaits and then flat iron later. There are many ways you can accommodate heat into your hair regimen.
You can choose which time of the month you’d like to use heat—whether it’s straightening, blow-drying, or any other methods that alter coily and kinky hair texture. Just as too much sugar at one time isn't good for you, too much heat at once isn't good for your hair. Remember: In moderation.
2. Are You Over-Moisturizing?
Ever had that nauseating feeling after drinking too much water? It felt like your stomach could pop at any minute. All you wanted to do was stretch out or sit down until that sickening feeling went away.
This same thing can happen to your hair. When you over-moisturize your hair, you weaken your strands. Weaker strands lead to more snapping instead of shedding.
Shed hairs have white bulbs at the ends of their strands. Snapped strands don’t. Snapped strands is the breakage that you’re complaining and worried about. To avoid all of this, moisturize only when your hair needs it.
You can tell when natural hair needs moisture because you'll hear it. The sound of dry hair sort of mimics sandpaper or a scouring pad. Thoroughly moisturized strands are soft and soundless.
3. Are You Under-Moisturizing?
Not only is it important to avoid giving your hair too much moisture at one time, but it’s also necessary to keep it from drying. Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp. Thoroughly cleanse your scalp and replenish with stimulating essential oils such as peppermint, tea tree, or any others that you prefer.
Keep in mind that these kinds of oils are extremely potent, so they should be mixed with a carrier oil (jojoba, for example) before applying them to your scalp. You can use other natural oils to moisturize your scalp as well.
Even after caring for your scalp, it doesn’t end there. You must replenish any moisture that may have been loss from your strands during the washing process. As mentioned before, if you can hear your hair when you gently rub strands together between your fingers, then it’s time to moisturize.
Not giving your hair enough moisture can dry it out and eventually break. You can do something as simple as misting your hair with water and seal in the water with oil. Just be sure that your hair is thoroughly moisturized: Not too much. Not too little. Just enough.
4. Do You Wear Your Hair Out Often?
Natural hair can be exciting and many women want nothing more than to show off the beauty of it. So they wear their twist-outs, braid-outs, blow-outs, bantu knot-outs, and any other style that free their strands. It's wonderful to wear such styles, but doing it too much can wreak havoc on your hair.
Natural elements such as wind and sunlight can cause dry and brittle hair. It's important to incorporate protective styling. Protective styles give your hair a break. It allows you to re-moisturize and tuck away your ends. Hair ends are the oldest part of your hair. If you desire to retain length, then you have to keep your hands out of your hair sometimes.
- Use heat in moderation.
- Moisturize as necessary.
- Give your hair a break. Don't touch it.
- Consider the products you're using.
- Be gentle and patient with your hair.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Lady Summerset from Willingboro, New Jersey on July 16, 2015:
You covered a lot of bases on how to keep your hair moisturized. I'd like to just add something. Another thing that we should be mindful of is keeping the balance of moisture and protein to our hair diet. Enjoyed the article!