One of the greatest myths is that black hair doesn’t grow. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All hair grows, black hair included. On average, hair grows at a rate of ½ inch per month, however proper hair care and genetics play a huge role in the speed at which your hair grows. We’ve all experienced periods where it seems like our hair just isn’t growing or won’t grow past a certain stage. Rest assured that your hair is indeed growing and will continue to grow. The reason why you aren’t seeing length however, is due to natural hair breakage. If hair breakage is equal to growth, your hair will seem as if it is not growing at all.
For many of us, length retention is a major goal and hair breakage is a severe roadblock to achieving that goal. As the world remains on lockdown and we are left with lots of leisure time on our hands, there is no time like the present to channel some of our stress, anxiety and uncertainty (which I know we all are feeling) into something positive and productive like the care, strengthening and growth of our natural hair.
Who doesn’t want to emerge from lockdown with a head full of long and most importantly, healthy hair! I know I certainly do!
Keep reading to find out why your hair is breaking and how you can fix it!
1.) Lack of Moisture
Moisturising natural hair….how groundbreaking! Jokes aside, sis…your natural hair is thirsty! Hair dryness is one of the key culprits of natural hair breakage so retaining moisture for naturals is a must!
Achieving maximum moisture retention begins on wash day. Your wash day routine including the products you use will determine how moisturised your hair will remain throughout the week/weeks. When it comes to retaining moisture on wash day, understanding your hair porosity is extremely important. Your hair porosity determines how well your hair absorbs moisture. It also serves as guidance for how to retain and seal moisture in your hair and the best products/ingredients to help you do this. I found this article on hair porosity, as well as this one, to be super helpful.
Some key tips for wash day to retain moisture and reduce hair breakage include:
⁃ Use warm water to cleanse your hair as it allows the cuticles of the hair and the pores of the scalp to open up and absorb the moisture and remove any dirt, build up or residue from the hair. Cold water should be used for your final rinse after conditioning as it does the opposite, closing the cuticles and pores of the scalp and sealing in all the moisture. It also helps to add shine and reduce frizz.
⁃ Regular Deep Conditioning! This contributes to reducing natural hair breakage and split ends and helps to keep your hair hydrated and healthy. If you do nothing else, do this!
⁃ Use a cotton T-shirt or microfiber towel to dry your hair. This helps to reduce friction on your strands as well as smoothes the hair cuticles and lessens frizz.
Depending on your hair porosity and the health of your hair, you may also want to consider incorporating pre-poos and hot oil treatments into your wash day routine to help with moisture retention. For moisture boosts throughout the week/weeks, many persons recommend the LOC (Liquid, Oil, Cream) or the LCO (Liquid, Cream, Oil) methods.
2.) Detangling on dry hair/Detangling from root to tip
This one I wish we had all known during our childhood as it would have made combing our hair as kids much more bearable! We probably might have broken a lot less combs as well! To reduce natural hair breakage, it is best to detangle on wet hair if using a comb, brush, tangle teezer or whatever your detangling tool of choice is. This gives your hair much needed slip and allows the detangling tool to glide through easier. If you prefer to detangle on mostly dry hair, it is best to dampen the hair with water/leave in conditioner and finger detangle as much as possible, then go in with your detangling tool (optional).
As for the best method for detangling your hair, always comb through from tip to root. This process allows you to tackle any knots and tangles, which are often found at the ends of the hair, and ensures that you don’t create any additional knots/tangles.
3.) Sleeping without Hair Protection (i.e satin/silk scarf, bonnet or pillowcase)
So I know you didn’t just go through all the trouble of washing, detangling and sealing moisture in your hair just to go to sleep without any hair protection. Don’t do it sis!
Your cotton pillow cases will absorb all the moisture you worked so hard to retain leading to hair dryness. Rubbing your hair against cotton for a prolonged period causes friction to your hair cuticles which, along with dryness, leads to natural hair breakage.
Satin/silk materials don’t absorb moisture and the smoothness of these materials allow the hair cuticles to remain flat. Sleeping with a satin/silk headscarf, bonnet or pillowcase (especially great for those of us who can never find our bonnets the morning after lol) will help your hair to stay moisturised, reduce frizz, maintain hairstyles for longer and saves you money in the long run (alleviating the need for constant styling products!).
4.) No Trims / Irregular Trims
Cut off dead ends for growth! This applies not only to your hair but also to your personal and professional life. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to fully repair split/damaged ends. While we may be tempted to hold on to split/damaged ends as they give the illusion of longer hair, this is extremely harmful to the health of our hair and future length retention.
Let it go sis.
5.) Too much heat
Frequent heat use can cause dryness, damage to the hair shaft and hair breakage.
So…How much heat is too much heat? Well, it depends on your own hair. Take into consideration your hair type, porosity, density and overall hair health. It is important to know your hair and its limitations.
If you do use heat on your hair, be sure to use a heat protector.
However, if you’re using direct heat on your hair everyday or even several times a week, it may be safe to say that might be too much heat.
6.) Over Manipulation of Your Hair
Natural hair is beautiful, gravity defying and versatile but it is also time consuming, and requires a great understanding of how best to care for it. Now that we see more and more images of black hair (particularly Type 4 Hair) prospering in length, volume and health it can be tempting to want to constantly experiment with our hair to see how we can achieve our own personal best. While our intentions are good, constant manipulation of our natural hair causes dryness and hair breakage.
The truth is, natural hair thrives the most when left alone for prolonged periods. This is why protective styles like mini twists, braids, wigs and weaves are so beneficial and many persons experience hair growth when wearing these styles. However, when protective styling, don’t forget that your hair still needs to be cleansed, moisturised and a chance to breathe from time to time if it is to truly flourish and be healthy.
Along with these six (6) useful tips for reducing hair breakage, remember that what you feed your mind and your body also has an effect on your hair.
In these uncertain times, we are all doing the best we can. There certainly is no right or wrong way to cope with this pandemic and its adverse effects. It is my small hope that these hair care tips (and future hair care tips and blogs to come soon) serve as motivation, enjoyable reading or just a welcomed distraction from everything that’s going on in the world.
Stay Well. Stay Safe. 🙏🏾
Here are a few more natural hair tips to help you along your natural hair journey Queen!
UNTIL NEXT TIME 🙂