Thursday, September 16, 2010

All About Hair: The Hair Breakage Checklist

 I'm so going to try a Pompador. [source]

Part of maintaining a successful total regimen starts with properly diagnosing common issues. It is often the misdiagnosis and subsequent "prescriptions" that leads us to frustration when dealing with our natural, transitioning, or relaxed hair. This article will focus on breakage, its causes, and most importantly how to eliminate it. For your convenience, a PDF of this article can be found here
You may notice small pieces of hair on your sink, clothing or floor while combing/styling. If you aren't sure whether or not it's a shed or broken hair [although the length of the hair should give you some indication], take a look at the ends. If you see a white bulb it is a shed hair, if you don't see anything on the end of the strand, it is a broken hair

[1] Improper moisturizing regimen: Remember that the order in which you apply products is very important. Most oil molecules are too large to properly penetrate the hair shaft. As a result, it covers the hair shaft acting as a barrier which can lock moisture in and unfortunately out

Improper moisturizing routine? Here's your treatment:  Apply leave-in conditioner to freshly shampooed and conditioned hair. Then apply your oil to seal in the moisture.  

[2] Lack of moisture: Regardless of if you are natural, relaxed or transitioning, it is imperative that you implement regular deep conditioning treatments. Hair that lacks moisture is more susceptible to breakage, especially near the ends of your strands; as they are the oldest parts of your hair. 

Lacking moisture? Here's your treatment: Deep condition once weekly with heat for about 30 minutes, or one hour without heat. Moisturize as needed with a light moisturizer suitable for daily use. [Oyin Juice's & Berrie's is a fave]

[3] Protein overload: Too much protein can cause brittle, stiff, dry hair that is susceptible to breakage. There will be significant breakage during manipulation of the hair.

Protein overload? Here's your treatment: (1) Implement a series of weekly deep conditioning treatments reinforced with natural oils like Olive Oil or Brazil Nut Oil. This will correct moisture deficiencies and eliminate breakage while combing. (2) Make sure you rinse protein treatments out thoroughly, I recommend following the same method as my detangling + shampoo video, by working with the hair in sections. It is very easy to overlook leftover product when rinsing your hair, and it's imperative that you rinse out any remnants of your protein treatment. 

[4] Too much moisture:  Moisture overload can also cause breakage [usually during styling sessions] as the hair strands need various forms of proteins to maintain it's structure. If your hair feels mushy/stringy or lacks elasticity when wet, it's safe to say your strands are overloaded with moisture. 

Too much moisture? Here's your treatment: Apply a protein treatment to freshly shampooed hair to restore the natural protein levels in your strands. Be sure to follow up with a deep conditioning treatment so that your hair remains properly hydrated. 

[5] Chemical Treatments [Color Services], Thermal Styling [Pressing/Curling] & Relaxers: These services can all make hair more susceptible to breakage due to the degeneration of the fibers in your hair.

Did chemical or thermal services leave you with excessive breakage? Here's your treatment: Apply a reconstructor to freshly shampooed hair to fortify your tresses and nourish the follicles. Follow up with a deep conditioning treatment to hydrate and restore optimal moisture levels.  

[6] Split Ends: Holding on to split ends can also cause breakage. The extent of the breakage depends on how high the split has traveled up the hair shaft. The longer you go without trimming, the further up the shaft the split will travel before it eventually breaks. 

Split ends? Here's your treatment: There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that you will have to trim. While there are many products on the market that claim to "fix" split ends, the truth is it's only a temporary fix to a permanent problem. The good news is that once you trim, you will be on your way to retaining length again!

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  1. Excellent post! My hair got healthier and longer when I realized that oil doesn't moisturize. WATER does. So everyday, no matter what my hairstyle, I wet my hair a little with water mixed with a condish of my choice. Sealing the end with oil or something thick like shea butter or Qhemet's Heavy Cream works well too.
    - savvy

  2. great checklist! everyone should have it to ensure that their hair will thrive

  3. Really great post...thanks so much for the many reminders!...Btw, I'm fairly new here and you have provided such a great and informative place to visit. Keep up the great work!:)

    Take care.


  4. Great info. Sometimes I forget that I have to change it up and change the order of my routine to get better results.

  5. Thank you so much for this excellent post! Very informative.

  6. I have overly porous hair. Could that be the reason why my hair breaks off more easily? And I'm noticing that my hair always grows longer and faster on my right side than my left.Its always been like that though lol...Fustrating.

  7. this is a great post! I think people use natural ingredients and assume its all good, without realizing that each has unique properties and uses. you broke it down step by step. great post!

  8. Can the lack of relaxers cause breakage? I'm transitioning (17 weeks now) and I've noticed slight breakage.

  9. GREAT post. Thanks so much for sharing this information.

  10. What would you recommend as a good reconstructor?

  11. Great informative post! Thanks for the tips. Well I am using conditioner everytime when I use shampoo.

  12. Since you seem to have a knack for photography, do you know how to achieve that timesless/aged look in the photograph in the post?


  13. thanks for the excellent post.. I am nearing the end of my (texturizer) transistion. I was told by my beautician to stop washing my hair so often becuz it is drying my hair out. How often do you think I should wash it? and with the protein treatment, did I read it correctly "shampoo, protein treatment AND a deep conditioner afterwards''?

  14. I so appreciate this article!! I'm transitioning and trying to control the breakage. I'm printing this out right now!

  15. Do you apply the oil to the wet hair after you deep condition or after you dry the hair a little bit?

  16. Hey Nikole,
    I was wondering do you know of any great concoction that can help me with my traction alopecia.I have this problem for a year and I have been using Black jamaicain castor oil and all kinds of essentials oils with little success.Do you know of anything else I can try
    Thank you

  17. So. Kind of totally unrelated to this post, but I LOVE the way Solange's scarf is tied in this pic, and since I consider you to be guru of all things fly and creative, I was wondering if you knew how to do that and if so, could you PLEASE give a brief tutorial?? lol

  18. I'd love to read this article on breakage as I am starting to have some issues. Both of the links in the article are duds. Can someone share or point me to them?


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