Winter is finally letting up. Though almost over, it is prime season for natural hair setbacks. No matter how hard we try, mishaps happen to the best of us. Our curls get snagged on our favorite furry sweaters, wool hats, and cotton scarves. Some of us are looking forward to ditching those “protective styles” we rocked all winter–mostly because those same “protective styles” ended up making us cut five inches rather than grow five inches.
The main culprit for this type of setback: breakage.
As we all may know, we lose about 50 to 100 hair strands a day. This amount of shedding is totally normal and should not affect the length or density of our strands. When breakage occurs, however, hair unnaturally splits, leaving some parts of your hair unintentionally shorter. Trust me, everyone’s hair grows, about six inches per year on average. The reason your hair is taking forever to reach your #hairgoals could be repetitive breakage.
Causes of Breakage
Breakage is often caused by mistreatment of the hair (not properly moisturizing, excessive pulling, etc), or frequently using harmful styling techniques (using the wrong hair ties, excessive heat styling, tight braids/weaves, etc). It can also occur when natural hair gets in contact with the wrong materials. As mentioned earlier, natural hair gets easily tangled in materials like cotton. Excessive rubbing against these materials can cause the hair to break off. So, be careful about drying your hair with a cotton towel or exposing your hair to cotton hats and sweaters.
“Also, using combs and brushes with broken teeth or broken bristles and excessive use of protein treatments can cause breakage,” said Fawnne Smith, Master Hair Stylist, Cosmetologist, and owner of Salon Noa in Virginia Beach. “Transitioning from relaxed to natural can also cause the hair to break” said Smith. “I recommend seeking a professional natural hair stylist to treat the hair and reduce the breakage.”
Smith also strongly discourages self-diagnosis or self-treatment of damaged hair, “It can cause severe damage to the hair,” she emphasized.
Some other causes could be styling on wet or drenched hair or a diet that is low in protein, iron, zinc, or Vitamin B-12. Air-drying could also wreak havoc on your natural hair.
To avoid brittle strands, properly moisturize the hair as often as needed.
“Moisturize hair daily with a water-based leave-in conditioner. Also, moisture hair weekly while the hair is in protective style,” recommended the hair expert. If you’re on the hunt for a good leave-in, go get your hands on our Butter than Love Pudding, Butter than Love Whipped, or Get Slick Hair Smoothie.
Regularly adding moisture leaves the hair strong and able to endure various hairstyles.
Speaking of hairstyles… avoid tight buns, ponytails, and other styles that leave you with a pounding headache. This manipulation over-stretches the hair and leaves your strands more susceptible to breaking.
Popular protective styles like box braids, faux locks, and lace front wigs can also do a number of damage if not done properly. “Do not wear protective styles longer than recommended by their stylist. To wear any day longer than recommended can lead to breakage,” said Smith.
The master stylist also recommends vitamins, but cautions naturalistas to seek medical advice to confirm if taking vitamins are advised by your doctor.
Ironically, trims are also important in preventing breakage. According to Smith, it is essential to “trim the hair on a regular basis to prevent frail, weak ends.”
If you’re not experiencing the growth you desire, breakage could be that thing holding you back. Add these tips to your hair regimen and you’ll be on your way to butt-length tresses!
For advice on how to grow long, healthy hair, check out this Wonder Curl video.