Breakage: Breaking It Down

I still get breakage.  This is from my last wash day.
What is Breakage? 

It is the unnatural breaking off of your hair.  It happens to all of us; some more than others.  One of my goals while on my healthy hair journey has been to limit breakage as much as possible because pre-HHJ I was experiencing excessive breakage.  Click the link for more information to help you understand hair breakage, ways to prevent it and how to “treat” it.
Distinguishing Breakage from Shedding.

Shedding is a natural process, where the entire hair strand falls out from root to tip (best identified by the white bulb/follicle still intact at the root of the hair strand).  However, breakage is a portion of the hair strand that literally breaks away and leaves behind the rest of the hair strand.

What causes it?
  1. Being rough with how you handle your hair (detangling/styling).
  2. Over-manipulation/excessive styling.
  3. Protein/Moisture imbalance decreases your hair’s elasticity making it brittle.
    • Too much protein or not enough moisture.
  4. Excessive Heat Styling dries out the hair strands.
  5. Chemical Straightening/Relaxers dries out the hair.
    • Also, where you overlap (re-relax previously relaxed hair) it over-processes and weakens the hair making it even more susceptible to breakage.
  6. Coloring/Bleaching dries out the hair.
  7. Other: Stress, Poor Diet, Vitamin Deficiencies.
Prevention.

  1. Be Gentle with your hair.
  2. Low Manipulation/Protective Styles.
  3. Maintain proper Protein/Moisture Balance through Protein Treatments, Deep Conditioning, Moisturizing, etc.
  4. Limit your Heat usage but when you do use heat be sure to Deep Condition properly and/or use a heat protectant prior to heat styling.
  5. Avoid over-processing when using Relaxers.
  6. Increase your deep conditioning treatments and/or moisturize & seal more when you color/bleach your hair.
  7. Always work towards a healthy low stress lifestyle (and eat your vegetables, lol).

Uneven Ends Due To Breakage (Pre-Trim)
After I trimmed away the uneven ends.  Notice my hair looks thicker now.

Treatment.
Is there a way to treat breakage once it’s happened? Once it’s happened there’s nothing you can do to “undo” the damage but you can work to limit it in the future(see prevention above).  Should I cut my hair to even it out? Depending upon how much breakage you experience will determine whether you should trim/cut your hair.  The times that I have experienced breakage its been pretty extreme and resulted in “barely there” ends.  For me that meant I needed to trim my hair up to even things out.  At the end of the day it’s about what makes you happy.  Once you’ve gotten the breakage under control through the prevention methods above, you’re good.  But for me that wasn’t good enough.  I needed a start fresh with even ends.
Happy Hair Growing!

12 Comments


  1. very informative post about that issue.
    decreasing breakage to the minimum is my main goal for this year.
    hope to get it under control asap


  2. Great posssttt!! Breakage irritates the crap out of me, it seems since my last relaxer I've been experiencing more breakage than before (sigh…)

    I've been (and will be) trying to fix that in the coming weeks… again, great post!


  3. Good luck, Shika! Having to be reactive with our hair is no fun but I'm sure you'll figure things out soon.


  4. Is this your hair at different times? There is a great difference in the thickness!


  5. This was actually within a few minutes of each other. The first one is before the trim and the second one is after my trim. I should make that more clear in the post. Thanks, Dr Fromsky!


  6. Great post! Thanks for the tips. I should trim my hair after I relax it this weekend, my ends have been looking kind of crazy :o)


  7. No Problem. If you do end up trimming with your next relaxer, do a before/after pic blogpost so we can see the difference! I think it will inspire others.


  8. Yeah it sucks I had to cut 2in off, but it was worth it at the end.


  9. I couldn't agree more. I was so upset that I had to do it, but I knew that I had to. And while I was trimming away the hair I was so nervous that my hands wouldn't stop shaking. But once I was done I was so happy with the results — swanging my hair and what not. lol.


  10. Great post, I was wondering if there is a way to tell if its protein or moisture you need to focus on?


  11. Thanks, Anon!

    If my hair is dry, I add moisture. As far as knowing how much to add it's a game of trial and error: If my hair feels stringy, straw-like and brittle, I have added too much protein. If my hair feels mushy and/or it doesn't straighten cleanly/smoothly then I know that I need to be incorporating more protein. For more see my hair regimen building posts: adding strength & adding moisture. I hope this helps. 🙂

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