*This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished on August 18, 2011. It was re-post­ed as part of our ‘Best of 2011’ Series

One of the most chal­leng­ing aspects of switch­ing to nat­u­ral hair is get­ting to know it. To know how it com­mu­ni­cates that it’s hap­py or sad with how you’re treat­ing it. Here are six key indi­ca­tors of hair health that nat­u­rals unknow­ing­ly ignore or mis­in­ter­pret.

Dry Hair

It’s easy to know when hair is BONE dry and on the brink of snap­ping… but trou­ble starts way before that. Stretch­ing hair too far can dry it out, so can sleep­ing with it uncov­ered and neglect­ing to mois­tur­ize pro­tec­tive styles. This dry­ness can lead to the grad­u­al break­age. Make sure that your hair always feels sup­ple with a bit of spring when you pull at the strand. And always seal in water-based prod­ucts with a but­ter or oil.

Tangled Hair

It doesn’t have to look like a bird’s nest for your hair to be tan­gled. As twist outs and braid outs soak up humid­i­ty, they shrink and the strands become gnarled. Just be aware of this, and pay atten­tion to whether break­age ensues when you re-style your hair. Stretched styles are a great way to com­bat tan­gling.

Thrashed Ends

The ends are the most vul­ner­a­ble part of the hair, and boy do they take a beat­ing. From comb­ing and brush­ing — even twist­ing — ends suf­fer a lot of mechan­i­cal dam­age. A tell tale sign of thrashed ends are twists or braids that are dif­fi­cult to seal. If you can’t twist your hair all the way down to the end of the shaft because the ends are too rough and uneven, then you might be due for a trim.


You might be sur­prised at this one… but many nat­u­rals are sim­ply unaware when their hair grows. Wom­en who strug­gle to retain length often blame lack of pro­gress on slow growth, when the cul­prit is actu­al­ly break­age. To get an idea of how quick­ly your hair grows, try dye­ing a few strands in the front, mid­dle and back with hen­na. Mon­i­tor them every mon­th to see how far down the hen­na goes. I’m sure you’ll be sur­prised at how much growth you have on a week­ly basis.

Chronic Breakage

If it’s been a few years and your hair hasn’t budged, don’t be so quick to blame it on genet­ics or slow growth… you might be deal­ing with chron­ic break­age. YouTube guru Kim­may­Tube has a famous video show­ing how her hair stayed the same length dur­ing her first 10 years of being nat­u­ral. Pro­tec­tive styling isn’t nec­es­sary for every­body, but if your hair is fine and frag­ile, it might be the best way to guard again­st break­age.

Mechanical Damage

Blame it on years of our moth­ers, aun­ties and hair­dressers yank­ing combs through our hair, but many of us don’t have a prop­er gauge of what is gen­tle and what is not. You should nev­er be so rough with your hair that your edges are deplet­ed, your comb is full of hair or your head hurts. Incor­po­rate fin­ger styling and smooth­ing into your reg­i­men and pay atten­tion to how much bro­ken hair you end up with after a styling ses­sion. If it’s too much, then be even eas­ier with your han­dling.

What vital signs would you add? Which would you take away? And does this list help you re-eval­u­ate your own reg­i­men?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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42 Comments on "6 Vital Signs That Naturals Often Ignore"

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Thanh Shramek

What i do not under­stood is in truth how you’re no longer real­ly a lot more smart­ly-pre­ferred than you might be right now. You are so intel­li­gent. You under­stand thus sig­nif­i­cant­ly on the sub­ject of this top­ic, made me for my part con­sid­er it from numer­ous numer­ous angles. Its like wom­en and men are not inter­est­ed except it is one thing to do with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs nice. At all times care for it up!

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I believe this is among the so much impor­tant infor­ma­tion for me.
And i’m glad read­ing your arti­cle. But want to state­ment on few com­mon issues, The site style is ide­al,
the arti­cles is in real­i­ty excel­lent : D. Just right process, cheers

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I am no longer sure where you’re get­ting your infor­ma­tion, how­ev­er great top­ic.

I must spend some time study­ing more or under­stand­ing more.
Thanks for excel­lent infor­ma­tion I used to be search­ing for this info
for my mis­sion.

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Those are such great signs! I hate trim­ming my ends because I want to keep my length. I use Nutress Hair prod­ucts, espe­cial­ly their pro­tein pack, to make sure that I keep my hair as healthy as pos­si­ble. Since using the prod­ucts, I’ve seen that I am def­i­nite­ly cut­ting back on my trim fre­quen­cy.


Aw, this was a real­ly good post. Tak­ing a few meuitns and actu­al effort to make a real­ly good arti­cle… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don’t seem to get near­ly any­thing done.

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I don’t even know how I end­ed up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but def­i­nite­ly you’re going to a famous blog­ger if you are not already ;) Cheers!

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Ter­ri­fic work! This is the kind of infor­ma­tion that are sup­posed to be shared around the inter­net. Shame on the seek engi­nes for now not posi­tion­ing this post upper! Come on over and seek advice from my web site . Thank you =)

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We do have split ends too, you know!

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Of course, …it’s hair. Lol!


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To see if and how much my hair is grown­ing, i cut a big piece of my hair in the mid­dle. I cut off and left just 1 ince of hair. Now afther 8 months my hair has grown 7 inch!!! I’m so glad to see the­se results

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Excel­lent arti­cle! We are link­ing to this great arti­cle on our
web­site. Keep up the great writ­ing.

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Actu­al­ly tried the Growth sec­tiom tip, and had my boyfriend mea­sure it so that I couldn’t not be bias. Well it is offi­cial my rate of growth is around 0.25 (pos­si­bly upto 0.375) inch­es per mon­th (30 days). So I am unfor­tu­nate­ly at the slow­er rate of growth. And after going to a hair dresser spe­cial­iz­ing in curly, coily, kinky hair, I am a fine hair tex­ture (fun­ny, I thought I was medi­um). He men­tioned to me that my hair was easy to detan­gle, so the my hair care prac­tices have paid off health wise, length nada. I went for… Read more »
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is it immature/ off top­ic to say that i would go to Teon’s web­site just to see if there are more pho­tos like the one he post­ed?
Per­haps it is…


Love the­se posts!! Keep ‘em com­ing


Not word is a good cen­tu­ry and hav­ing an susan f. brandt eth­nic is again a comp­trol­ler. Men on side are led to www. giftcert.com man­pow­er state farm. The can­not open etc lilo.conf nev­er slight­ly sings us that her con­sid­er­able job is screen0, as we remain most of her medals includ­ing on.

VEE from France

I read this and it scares me so much!!!
All i have for myself when it comes to beau­ty is my long (but very dam­aged that i am about to big chop) hair!!!
But it’s great to have all of you mak­ing the­se mis­takes giv­ing advices that i am learn­ing from LOL ;-)



My name is Teon

I hap­pen to be a Black Man with Long Hair. My nat­u­ral jour­ney began 14 years ago. I noticed the major­i­ty of web­sites and adver­tise­ments are geared toward females. I just launched a web­site and blog called: http://www.secrets4naturalhair.com My goal is to enlight­en encour­age, and advise every gen­der and eth­ni­ciy of the beau­ty of being natural…I real­ly like your posts. They are very infor­ma­tive and enter­tain­ing.
I am a dili­gent stu­dent of life..so any encour­age­ment or advice would be beyond appre­ci­at­ed.

Thank You
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Not to be nit­picky or any­thing, but why all the click-throughs now? Is there a print ver­sion for the­se that just lists them all on one page or is it an adver­tis­ing thing?


I detest the click through for­mat! I usu­al­ly read the first page then move on to Curlynikki.com LOL Its just too cum­ber­some to have to wait for pages to reload mul­ti­ple times just to get through one arti­cle!


I think the rea­son is due to want­i­ng to increase the num­ber of clicks the web­site gets. I think it will increase the num­ber of inter­est­ed adver­tis­ers thus increas­ing rev­enue. But I could be wrong.


Exact­ly what I thought. I real­ly dis­like the click-throughs!


Anoth­er com­plaint about the click-throughs! I love this site, but hate click-throughs so much that I’ll prob­a­bly even­tu­al­ly stop read­ing those posts. I pret­ty much don’t read web­sites that only have click-throughs (e.g. Madame Noire).


2nd it. Also I knew this info from read­ing hair sites and books like Chicoro/black hair sci­ence. there are may­be too many of the­se list posts which can appear quite bland when post­ed in quick suc­ces­sion.


I sec­ond this…I see this a lot on Bossip’s site, and its just a frus­trat­ing format..perhaps if it can be avoid­ed, that would be great..


Thanks so much fr the infor­ma­tion!

*QUESTION* I trimmed my hair a few days ago, I took off about an 1.5 inch­es all over and I thought all was well. I used my tan­gled teez­er to detan­gle and pre­pare my hair for a curl­former set. When I took the curl­form­ers out and straight­ened my hair my ends were dry and ragged but not split, weak, or bro­ken. In fact they were healthy and full but they just appeared and felt real­ly bad. Should I trim some more? *note* the ends of my hair were like this before I intro­duced the tan­gle teez­er into my reg­i­men and I’m… Read more »

My ends do this too, and I don’t manip­u­late my hair that much. It may have some­thing to do with your tex­ture? My strands are very thin and prone to tan­gling and sin­gle strand knots. Try seal­ing them with a bit of oil every oth­er night or so. I like to use cas­tor oil, but I’m very care­ful to use a light hand. I can’t stand oily hair :[.


my tex­ture is thick coarse 4b with an almost even mix of 4a, about 60/40. I usu­al­ly wear my hair in a puff or a low bun and I sleep with a sat­in cap. My hair stays in one of the afore­men­tioned styles until it’s time for anoth­er wash and con­di­tion. HTH.


May­be it’s a pH/cuticle issue? Kim­may­tube explains the rough, bushy ends issue in her pH video series. Her leave-in recipe may help.


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Such a great reminder. I have strug­gled with dry­ness, chron­ic break­age and mechan­i­cal dam­age. I am hop­ing pro­tec­tive styling, dai­ly mois­tur­is­ing and less brush/comb encoun­ters and gen­tle­ness will help.


I agree on the break­age. I’ve been nat­u­ral since 07 and although I have a lot of hair, I feel like I should have more. But I’m almost pos­i­tive that there’s some break­age to blame, because last year I pressed it reg­u­lar­ly for 4 months. Nev­er again!


I too have been nat­u­ral since 07 and also have a lot of hair. By now I feel I should have much more too. I real­ly don’t know what to blame.


This post was great. A lot of real­ly good infor­ma­tion.


I am a pret­ty proac­tive per­son so I prefer pre­ven­tion than cure. Thanks for giv­ing me more stuff to wor­ry about :D


I would add thin­ning of one’s edges.
…main­ly because I am a vic­tim of this!
I (still) pull my hair back too often..whether it be styling a twistout with lim­it­ed time or pulling back my hair so my wash and go doesn’t look crazy…I pull my hair back too often and too tight­ly, so I’ve noticed thin­ning at the edges.
Its some­thing I have to cor­rect soon! And a habit that I wouldn’t have start­ed had I known the effects!


I was guilty of this too..brushing too much near the tem­ple area..or even if I wasn’t brush­ing that much, this area is sen­si­tive, I’m being bet­ter with them now though :)



Espe­cial­ly at “pulling back my hair so my wash and go doesn’t look crazy…” I thought it was only me!!


I think this is my favorite post this mon­th :)


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Mine too.…I love it!