My Relaxed Hair, Thinning Ends

Why Haven’t I Reached My Hair Goals?

I’ve been obsessing on and on about my ends.  I’m not sure what I should or shouldn’t be doing with them over this stretch, but I feel as if I’ve tried everything since my first set back in 2013.  And yet, in 2015 I am still not satisfied with the ends of my hair and can’t seem to get them under control.  With all the things I’ve learned about hair care over the years, you would think that this is a hurdle that I should be able to overcome with a few tweaks here and there.  But here I am two years later still trying to figure out what I need to be doing to preserve my ends so that I can retain more length.  After much thought, I’ve decided that the best thing to do is to sit down, pull back, and do a big picture assessment of what I’ve been doing with my hair since the dreaded set back of 2013.  Below you’ll find a bunch of length checks and a review of my hair care ups and downs from March 2013 to April 2015.

March 2013 is where it all began — I had my first set back.  After relaxing my hair, I had to cut a few inches off of the ends of my hair due to thinning ends.  I’m pretty sure that it was breakage because the thinning was only at my ends. 
My first attempt at a fix was to avoid heat for the next stretch, which I did with my No Heat Challenge.  I didn’t use any heat for 11 or 13 weeks and I wore either a bun or a low manipulations style that kept my hair off of my shoulders.  At the end of that no heat challenge my ends looked decent.  
After my No Heat Challenge.
And for my July 2013 Relaxer Update/Length Check my ends still looked promising and I retained length (see picture above)!  My “No Heat Challenge” was a success and I was motivated to continue on this path of limiting heat with more of a purpose.
This next stretch things started out so well.  I was continued using my No Heat Regimen and I started experimenting with new products.  I found myself using a sulfate free shampoo that did not agree with my hair.  But I still felt like I was on a good path with my hair until I randomly had a stressful wash day with a lot of tangles.  At the time I felt like the detangling struggle of that wash day was going to lead to my next set back, which it did.  However after re-watching the video of that stressful wash day, how I blow dried my hair with a denman brush contributed to the damage.  At the time I thought it was getting rid of shed hairs, but it was breaking my hair too…
After my stressful wash day.
By the time my November 2013 Relaxer happened, I was so annoyed with the return of these thinning ends that I made a bunch of changes to my regimen: weekly oil pre-poos, protein on my ends, moisturize and seal more often and limiting my relaxer stretches to 12-14 weeks.  
After this I decided to change my regimen.

Over the next stretch, I followed my rules, but I also wasn’t shy about doing roller sets and drying under a hooded dryer as I explained in my February 2014 Relaxer Update.  Thankfully, my ends seemed to do well under these circumstances.  I was pleased.  It looked like my new regimen was working.

So, I continued with my new regimen and had fun with my roller sets.  Even when I got pregnant and lazy, I did my best to maintain my hair care routine.  But at the end of this stretch, my hair was ok.  My hair was still a bit thin at the ends, but I wasn’t doing my weekly deep conditioning treatments, so it was bit expected.  And I was happy that it really hadn’t gotten any worse.
Still being pregnant and unmotivated, I kept doing what I could to keep up with my hair regimen, but I was using more heat and not deep conditioning as often.  By the time my July 2014 Relaxer Update rolled in, I would have been happy with whatever.  But to my surprise my hair overall was so much thicker than normal and I was pretty sure it was all of those pregnancy hormones that saved the day.  I was so distracted and happy about that that I forgot all about my thin ends.
Things were going so well, until the postpartum shedding rolled in.  And my focus shifted from my ends to my edges.  But once, I got that back under control, I found myself with much longer hair…
…But I was/am still dealing with those pesky thin ends at my April 2015 Relaxer Update.
Now here I am today hoping that I’m not singing the same old song with my next relaxer.  Right now, I’m focused on my hair and its progress.  Initially I wasn’t sure about what I want to do.  But after sitting down to review my hair journey, I think some things pretty clearly work for my hair and my ends:
  1. More Protein – every other week. 
  2. Weekly Deep Conditioning.
  3. Limiting Heat Usage (but if I’m going to use it go for the hooded dryer over the blow dryer).
  4. Focus on the protein-moisture balance of my ends, they need more protein than the rest of my hair.  
  5. Continue pre-pooing with oils and applying them to my ends throughout the week.
  6. Avoid Relaxer Runoff – hold my ends away from the rest of my hair when rinsing the relaxer out.  I did this with my April 2015 relaxer and I think it may help.
What do you think?
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26 thoughts on “Why Haven’t I Reached My Hair Goals?

  1. You are right with perhaps adding a little more protein to the ends. My hair is approaching APL and since I have been adding protein especially to my dry ends I am able to retain more length. I have been using ORS replenishing conditioner pak biweekly and I apply it like I am applying my relaxer from root to tip. It has made a huge difference. I also use Redken extreme strength builder (it's in a blue jar) monthly too. I have also eliminated heat for three months which was so hard but it helped my ends.

    Your hair is still gorgeous. I would continue doing what you mentioned above as working for your ends such as adding more protein, more oils, less heat and see if that helped by your next relaxer. Your hair will be back in no time. It seems to grow so fast. I'll be watching.

  2. Thanks, Susan! I appreciate your feedback. And looking back at my length checks did allow me to pause to see how far my hair has come. I have about a month left in this stretch, but hopefully these changes will result in some good news for my ends. Thanks so much!

    P.S. Your comment made me realize that I miss my Redken Strength Builder Plus.

  3. You have to remember that a set back often takes its toll on the whole hair, even if it is mostly noticable on the ends. That means, as you keep cutting of the ends, the rest of the damaged hair will be visible as that is now the ends. So if your hair was damadged, it will be like growing out a relaxer. Noting you can do to cure already damadged hair but to grow and cut. And it is a long term process. Maybe after 2 years you will see a clear difference between the new hair and the damadged parts that are left. I'm sure you will see a difference soon and maybe feel an urge to cut off that "set back parts" still left.

  4. Your hair is still beautiful! I wonder if you have a set trimming and dusting schedule or do you just cut when your ends start to look thin?

  5. My hair was thin overall from not properly taking care of my hair. Its been over a year now kn my journey and i am seeing progress. I dont shy away from protein. I use coconut oil as prepoo and sometimes mix it with aphogee reconstructor on a weekly basis. I rollerset most of the time. I have a flat iron i hardly ever use it. I have started to dust my ends every month end and i always trim about a half inch when i relax my hair. That is my plan to keep and maintain my ends. Maybe you just need to do a big trim in the ends and start from there.
    I trimmed about 2inches recently. My ends had some thinning sections that i just hated to see and it has grown back

  6. Getting setbacks suck but I always try to remember that it's called a journey for a reason. I love that you sit back and assess your hair giving a detailed timeline, your plan going forward is a really good one.

  7. Your going forward plans sounds great. Maybe consider a protective style that would completely hide your hair and see how that goes.

  8. Try Opting for more long term (3-4) weeks protective styles instead of the low manipulation styles. Maybe even 2 week PS'ing at a time so you can experiment with bi-weekly washes. Depending on what rollers you use to set your hair, your roller sets may even be harming your ends as well as they may snag on uneven rollers. Try using rolling paper or even paper-towels on the rollers first before setting.

    I know how frustrating it is to be dealing with the same issue two years in a row but your acting plan going forward should yield more favorable results.

  9. You'll make your goals eventually Kim. The relaxer run off ruined my ends I'm sure a few years ago when I wasn't protecting them. I've been applying vaseline to my ends now after oil to completely ensure the relaxer doesn't start working on them. Also spacing out my relaxer treatments for several months has helped me not overprocess my hair x

  10. Our stories are similar in that it's one issue after another. It's way exhausting. I did a post a few weeks ago about relaxer runoff. I am sure some of my protective styles didn't help either — getting lazy and not alternating the style. You will get there. Just stick to the plan detailed which is a great one, for sure! And, vaseline is a great protectant for relaxer runoff.

  11. Hi Kim I don't know what to say besides wishing my hair were this long. But I think I read on hairlicous blog that she had to change her regimen as she achieved different lengths of hair, and especially found importance of protein treatments and leaving her hair alone through use of protective styles. My fav pic of the ones above in terms of the ends of your hair are feb 2014 and jan 2015. All the best

  12. I noticed my hair was pulling, reason i said this most times after combing and i just run my hand over my hair from root to tip some hair will follow and this gave me a lot of concern, i asked some hair bloggers but got no response, so i decided to change my regimen a little bit by adding more protein treatment, so I decided to do protein treatments back to back for three weeks, i increased my moisturizing frequency too, and i did tea rinses on each washdays, I have been seeing results, no much hair coming off as before, so I hope to retain much length during this stretch.
    Your post is an encouragement, and a good one too, I also learnt few things to add to my regimen too.

  13. Thanks, DarkHoney! I try to force myself to trim with each relaxer, which is every three months. But sometimes I'll skip a trim because I'm afraid to lose the length.

  14. I was using Apogee 2 minute reconstructor as my weekly "pre-poo" at one point. I don't remember why I stopped. I may go back to that for a little bit. I think that was a great way to add protein without over loading it. Recently I've been alternating with a moisturizing and protein DC, but I like the idea of weekly protein and that might be a good way to get it in without making my wash day even longer.

    And I have been contemplating a big trim to reset. Thanks for commenting, Shantel. I appreciate your feedback. 🙂

  15. Thanks, Candice. I felt like I had to do a recap just to see what was going on. It's hard to remember what I do with my hair from week to week and especially with one stretch compared to another. This post gave me a chance to review what was working and what wasn't working for me. Hopefully, with this post and the added advice from all these comments, I can finally move past this hurdle. Thanks again for the encouragement.

  16. Thanks, Tomes. I know that's probably the best way, but I'm not too big on completely hiding my hair away. I've been trying to warm up to the idea, but I keep having flashbacks to the time I wore braid extensions and wanted to take them out after 1 week, but suffered through 6 weeks because I didn't want to waste my mom's money. Granted that was pre-hair journey, but I don't want to feel trapped like that again.

  17. Rolling papers might be a good thing to try. I have them in my stash so I'm not sure why I've never tried roller setting with them. From now on I'll be using those end papers especially if they help to protect my ends. Thanks for the tip, Sammy.

  18. I'm going to pick up some hair products later this week and vaseline will be one of them. I was using that Elasta QP hair serum that I was trying to use up, but I may need something thicker. Thanks for the tip, Lesley.

  19. Yes, Jay I read your post on relaxer runoff. And I had always ignored that tip because I thought "it's only on the ends of my hair for a few moments while rinsing (plus it's diluted with water) it couldn't be doing that much damage" but I'm beginning to think that I've underestimated the relaxer run-off theory. I think what I failed to consider is that the ends get relaxer run off on them every 3-4 months for as long as that hair is on my head. So maybe one relaxer day doesn't cause damage but the year in year out relaxer runoff ends up taking a toll on my ends. And it's annoying that I had to run into this persistent issue to realize it, but I guess it's the only way I would have taken heed. Thanks again, Jay!

  20. Thanks, Becca! Yeah, Sunshyne was on to something because my old regimen isn't giving me the same results. But hopefully with the tips everyone's been giving me, I'll be able to revamp my regimen and bounce back with healthier ends. Thanks for commenting! (And those length checks are my favorite too! lol).

  21. I'm sorry no one responded, but the pulling does sound like it might have been moisture overload. And those protein treatments should help to restore the protein moisture balance. I hope that you retain all of your growth of this relaxer stretch. And hopefully we'll both see improvement with added protein to our regimens.

  22. Hey fancyflairlady, a while back I was also experiencing a setback from the thinning ends cause I was transitioning from sodium hydroxide relaxer to Japanese straightening. The chemicals in these relaxers do not mix well, so the run off from the Japanese straightening were affecting my ends. Don't think I'm allowed to provide you a link, but if you search my 'thickening yet thinning' setback on my blog you'll find what I did to overcome my thinning ends, maybe it will help. I also plan on doing a blog post about protein layering soon. Good luck ^ ^

  23. Yahya i read your blog post. I agree with how you plan to treat your ends with protein.i have use the aphogee 2 minute reconstructor but it helped a little. I recently bought the green tea and keratin leave in within the same line and i found it works alot better. I use more of it on my ends then sparingly at the roots at they would be stronger from the new growth coming in. I will definitely repurchase the leave in. I use a moisture leave in along with it as well to balance it out. It does not leave my hair crunchy like some persons claim it does. I beleieve using too much and using it as the only leave in would resukt in that. I am also working on getting my hair full again especially my ends.
    I am never afraid to use protein weekly. I use light protein though so i wont get an overload of it. The ends are old and need all the strength it can to keep it from breaking.

  24. Yahya, I just went to your blog and read that post you wrote and thank you. It was good to go through your whole thought process and see what you decided to incorporate into your regimen. I have been doing protein treatments with every other wash day, but I probably need to use my protein leave-in a little more often because like you mentioned the ends are lacking the most protein. Also, I'm going to look into that split end mender that you mentioned. Thanks again for letting me know about your post (and your blog)!

  25. Shantel, I agree with about the protein. That's probably where things went wrong for me. I have both those Aphogee products and I'm going to start using them more regularly.

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