*This article was originally published on September 5, 2011. It was re-posted as part of our ‘Best of 2011’ Series

Breakage and splits are a particularly sore point for naturals because they steal hard-earned length. The little ‘wisps’ of hair you see around your bedroom or bathroom — if they don’t have a white bulb on the end — are broken hairs, and split ends occur when the protective cuticle (outermost layer of the strand) is destroyed at any point along the length of the shaft. Try these tips and tricks to cut down on breakage.

1. Avoid Direct Heat Styling (Blow drying, Curling/Flat ironing, Hot Rollers, and Crimpers)

Heat removes precious moisture from the shaft, and can produce air bubbles within the shaft that weaken it. If you want to stretch your hair, try Curlformers, braiding or banding. Read more about the effects of blowdrying here.

2. Use Gentle Cleansers

Harsh shampoos can leave the hair dry and brittle and susceptible to breakage. Find a cleanser that doesn’t disrupt the moisture balance of your strands. Find a listing of BGLH readers’ favorite cleansers here.

3. Gentle and Minimal Manipulation

Be gentle with your hair and be mindful of how the tools you use affect your hair. Keep in mind too that putting in and taking down twists and braids can put mechanical strain on the hair, particularly the ends. Also remember that, while some naturals can style their hair daily, others don’t have hair strong enough to manage that. In this case, gentle protective styles might be a better option.

4. Moisture & Conditioning

Moisture is what keeps hair strands supple and pliable. Moisturize your hair with a leave-in conditioner and seal with a butter or heavy oil. How often you do this depends on how well your hair retains moisture. Some women need to moisturize daily, while others moisture every 3 to 5 days. Also, some naturals find that deep conditioning helps to keep their hair strengthened and moisturized. Read more about BGLH readers’ views on deep conditioning here.

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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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70 Comments on "8 Anti-Breakage Tips & Tricks for Natural Hair"

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Afrokinkyhair

Great tips! I’ve incorporated these tips into my regimen and they’ve helped me a ton. I’ve also tried some other things that helped as well. If you’d like to know them read this
https://afrokinkyhair.com/2016/06/11/how-to-prevent-hair-breakage-and-split-ends/.

Chidinma

If you are finding it hard to grow your front hair. The best solution for you is a hair building fiber like Sevich or Toppik. These give you immediate results of fuller front hair in less than 5 minutes. While you are busy using all these products from Castor oil to Virgin hair cream to grow your hair , Sevich Hair Building fiber provides you with an immediate solution to make your front hair look fuller. You can use it with any hairstyle. You can get yours on Konga http://www.konga.com/sevich-hair-building-fibre-fuller-edges-in-5-minutes-1873927 or Call 09099155388.

Malena

Fantastic natural hair tips here.. I’ve not been looking after my hair as well as I should have been recently, so this article is really useful to me! Thanks! :).

Naturalhair

Look on youtube, there is a woman by the name of naturalc89 she is just starting her page but she has videos of her natural hair journey, flat twists, and if you email her she responds with helpful natural hair tips and will post how-to videos on request

Edith

Hi Chinwe, you recommended castor oil for growing front hair, but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. Any clues for me? Am from Nigeria

Mary

My anti-breakage tips and tricks? Just the basic, moisturize,be gentle, minimize or stop using direct heat, trim damaged/split ends, etc.. Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks. Will add it to my list. It will surely help me lessen/prevent breakage.

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[…] Believe it or not sometimes you’ve got to trim your hair to get it to grow; this may seem a little backwards, but it’s kind of like pruning a rose bed, if you want your flowers to flourish you’ve got to clear out the dead ones so that the fresh ones can come in stronger. Blackgirllonghair.com writes: […]

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[…] [Source] […]

lorraine

Help,my hair s breaking from the infront,jst pulled out the braids,what can I use to make it grow

Dee

Did you braid it too tight? Don’t braid your hair too tight or pull on your front edges too much because you will give yourself alopecia. You can grow it back with Jamaican Black Castor Oil or you can grow it back stronger with Emu Oil. Here’s more information about Emu Oil: https://www.facebook.com/notes/naturally-naturals/benefits-of-emu-oil-for-hair/584576438265474

Beauty

Hi!

I have very kinky hair, as in Original-African-undiluted hair. It shrinks to like 20% its actual length. My problem is that it breaks when I comb, so much so I have decided to cut all of it and start on a clean slate. Please help with products that I can use, i.e shampoo, conditioner and moisturizer. I plan to let it grow naturally, no braids, no weaves, no no heat, just hair. Thank you.

Dee

Go to YouTube and find others with the same hair type as you. Also, do a strand test and figure out if you have high, low, or normal porosity hair–that will help you tremendously. Follow hair pages on Facebook for motivation, ideas, and hair education. If your hair breaks the comb when it shrinks, then keep it stretched. Here are some heat free ways to stretch your hair:

Twists
Braids
Bantu Knots
Bunning
Curl Formers
Flexirods
Wrapping
Banding
African Threading
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Candy

Great information. The more hair tips the better educated we are about caring for our hair. Thanks! Here are some good black hair tips I came across http://www.exoticallure.com/black-hair-tips.htm

Angelica

This article is a great example of things to keep in mind when building a hair regimen. Below is a link to my hair regimen using many of these techniques. I hope it will give you hair lovers a starting point and inspiration.

Angel

My front hair are all out.i have use all kinds of product but no result,what do i do.i need help.from nigeria.

Bianca D.

Castor Oil massaged on the edges regularly will bring them back…

Tina Faye

I have fine, wavy hair that tends toward dryness and frizziness. I use about a dime-sized amount of the Shielo Antioxidant Leave in Protectant on wet hair and then air-dry. I end up with shiny, wavy, frizz-free hair, which is amazing since I’ve tried pretty much every frizz-fighter around. Also, after a month I noticed my hair is breaking a lot less and overall looking healthier. Plus, the smell is amazing. Great product!

Mazoe
Hello, I have a problem…I have been natural most of my life but June of 2011 is when I started taking care of my natural hair. I have gained a lot of growth from then till now, but recently I’ve noticed that parts of my hair are broken off. Meaning, the overall hair is long but in between and around the front there are some hair that’s about half the length of my overall hair. My hair is a little bit past shoulder length and I am so confused. I’m not sure what’s causing this problem because I don’t use… Read more »
Bianca D.

Are you pulling your hair too tight in those areas with buns, weaves or extensions? Or it could be your stress area…

Dee
What’s your hair porosity? If you have low porosity hair (you can feel or see the products sitting on your hair, your hair takes forever to dry or get wet, etc) then the hair shaft is always closed. To open it to add moisture, you need to wash or spray your hair with warm liquids first and then add products. Use light oils, steamers, etc on your hair. [img[/img] If you have high porosity hair (products absorb well but escapes easily & becomes dry) then your hair shaft is always open. You can shock it close with cold water/liquids. Spray… Read more »
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from which you can create interesting blog…

posts as well!there are many strategies for getting traffic to your blog and the 3 suggestions above are based upon using your writing ability ‘off’ site! by doing so you can showcase the same writing ability you will be using to…

Rosalind

i loved the 10 tips. they r well noted. my question tho is how do i restore the hair that has been pulled from my temple area, I’ve had locks for about 5yrs then i decided to cut them off in 2010. My hair has grown back quite nicely but the temple area tho not bald is really sparse, I’ve tried olive oil shea butter and I’m trying Organic Root Stimulator Temple balm right now, should i continue or do u have another suggestion?????? please help

Laurie

Jamaican Black Castor oil work wonders for hair growth-especially the edges. I just put a little on my fingertips and massage my scalp and edges for about 10 min or so. The massaging also helps with blood circulation which also promotes growth.

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[…] FOUND AT BGLHONLINE.COM […]

lpwanted

I don’t understand the point about shampooing just the scalp only esp when people talk about using oils etc as pre-poos. One would have already have “build-up” from using differnt products during the week whether leave-in, moisturizers the works, then engulf hair with pre-poo product.How can you get that all out of hair without actually washing it. I tried that and my 4d hair was still extremely oily. I just wonder how much people are being practical on these forums.

mangomadness
The ‘shampoo the scalp’ method works like so– Upon rinsing, the shampoo that was focused on the scalp runs down the length of the hair, gently cleansing it. The heaviness of products used, the frequency of re-application, cleansing method (shampoo, co-wash, etc.) are some things that determine the effectiveness of the technique. It might not work well for someone who uses tons of product, re-applies product often and/or co-washes. I shampoo and moisturize once a week (5-7 days) so focusing shampoo on my scalp works very well for my tightly coiled hair. If a method dosen’t work for you, it’s… Read more »
Nicole

But then if you are using a sulfate free shampoo, there’s no actual way to really get rid of the oil is there?

mangomadness

That is not the case.

Sulfates are not the only cleansing agents that get rid of oil–soaps (natural or more “chemical-ly”) as well as non-sulfate surfactants (decyl glcoside, cocamidopropyl betaine, etc)–get rid of oil as well. They’re just not as harsh on the hair as sulfates can be.

K Murray

With highly textured natural hair, it seems almost impossible to not get split ends and some breakage. I have learned to accept some breakage and split ends as long as it is continuing to grow in length and thickness. It seems to come with the territory so to speak.

She Who Must Not Be Named
She Who Must Not Be Named

I agree! There is no way to elminate split ends or breakage–all you can do is lessen it’s occurance. That goes for all hair–Not just highly textured natural hair.

thefwordprod

This isn’t really on topic with the post at hand but I was wondering how to get the hairstyle in the beginning of the post

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[…] Read the Other Four Tips at Black Girl with Long Hair […]

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[…] Read the Other Four Tips at Black Girl with Long Hair Share and Enjoy: […]

Michelle

I’ve been good ot my hair as far as most of the things on this list. I don’t use heat, condition regularly, and I finger detangle. I’m just not very gentle with my curls. I dunno I get frustrated when it gets too knotty and instead of a gentle detangle I kind of just pull or cut it off. LOL I know it’s bad. Does anyone know of a really good detangler for kinky hair?

mangomadness

I like using an Lily of the Dessert aloe vera gel/oil mix or Shea Moisture Purification Masque to detangle.

Tier
Yes Keracare moisturizing conditioner works wonders and I have the tightest curl patter there it. It’s a little expensive like 14 or 15 bucks a bottle but worth it. Here is the trick. Detangle your hair before washing.create like 4 big twist.after shampooing put the condition on the ends and work your way up gently massaging it into the braids leave on a few second then add Berazilian Keratin treatment, rinse then untwist and finger through. You have to use the second conditioner because it will balance out the first condition which can be drying but great for detangle. My… Read more »
lisa
I don’t have a lot of time to fuss with my hair although I love it! I take hair vitamins, eat healthy and wash my hair twice a week. While it is still wet from shampooing and conditioning, I use Weleda Rosemary oil on my hair. I then gently untangle starting at the ends and gradually work to the root. Section with about 7 or 8 braids. I usually use a satin pillowcase to prevent breakage and drying. In the morning gently un-braid my hair and arrange with my fingers leaving down or loosely bringing hair to middle of my… Read more »
Jazz
To all! I forgot to mention that I discovered (at least for my own hair) we shouldn’t wash in that traditional sense. Literally squeeze a nickle to a quarter size worth of Pantene (for black hair of course)into a 150 Liter of filtered tap or spring water (I simply use the bottle itself). Swish to blend and then pour half the solution over your hair while in the shower (I find that to be the best way as you want the hair to fall back, not bent over in your sink). Gently massage and move around and work to the… Read more »
Jazz

For the owners of this webiste… is it okay to add your site to my blogroll? Long time admirer, here!

Peace.

Lola

I’m still trying to figure how to deal with split hair. It seems every strand I touch or look at is split from root to end. My hair is 6 inches long (been natural for 1 year) and trimmed about 4-5 times. Cutting the whole hair off is a scary thought for me. Help!

Jazz
Hi Lola! Fear not! I discovered a product while living abroad in the worst condition for natural hair and it was a savior! From the detangling, adding moisture– she really created a gem! http://www.growafrohairlong.com/ I only trim my hair once per year “just because”, but there has been no breakage, split ends or anything! My hair is so friggin long now (been natural for more than 8 years WOW) that it now takes more time to do when I’d perm, condition, blow dry and curl. Not complaining but I certainly wasn’t expecting it! Give them a try. Stay natural ya’ll… Read more »
Dami

love love love all the comments. I am also struggling with how to “encourage” anti-breakage with my hair. i wear alot of protective styles but not sure they help too much as I tend to “ignore” my hair when in them which tends to increase breakage. Once i take my braids out will def try some of the tips shared.

The washing hair in sections seems a bit confusing- will your hair truly be clean while doing this? but I guess if you wash often enough.

shannon

That was my initial concern. I banded my ends so that the braids wouldn’t unravel. I put the shampoo on my scalp and on the braids and massaged my scalp as usual. I let the water from the shower rinse the shampoo away thoroughly. I conditioned and applied my leave-in the same way. Once my hair was dry I unbraided and my hair was very soft with very few broken/shed hairs.

Erika
I posted earlier about washing in sections. I find this works well for me because I’m actually only trying to wash my scalp, not my hair, and I let the conditioner wash my hair. I actually get all up in my twisted sections, so to speak, with my fingers and massage the shampoo into my scalp up under there (sometimes I scratch too, I’m not gonna lie). And I let the shampoo sit for a minute on my scalp to make sure it’s gettin’ really clean. So it works for me and I avoid a tangled bird’s nest. Another thing,… Read more »
mangomadness

I do the same as Erika–I shampoo in twists focusing on my scalp. I never apply shampoo to my strands–the water rinse and shampoo runoff cleanses them enough.

While my hair is in twists from detangling and pre-poo’ing, I rinse thoughly while massaging my scalp. Next, I apply diluted shampoo to my scalp via an applicator bottle, massage well and rinse. Cleaner scalp and much less breakage when compared to washing loose or unraveling twists while washing.

Lynnette

Mangomadness Love the idea of the applcator bottle, Will most def try that.

mangomadness

Awesome! It works well to get my scalp clean without getting shampoo on my hair.

Another way to shampoo would be to pour a cup of diluted shampoo over your hair–that method would get shampoo on the scalp AND hair though.

Jeanna

Great tips — thanks for sharing. I also appreciate the other comments.

val

i have been moisturizing, oiling and wearing a silk scarf to bed for a long time now! my hair is growing, but it seems like no matter what i do, my hair always starts to break off when it gets to my collar bone!! does that happen to anyone else?

Lynnette

Collar bone Breakage definatley happened to me, but then i learned about protective styling. It suggest keeping the hair pinned up and moisturized for short stents of time in order to keep hair away from snags from clothing, scarves, and even wind. Great for the winter months! Ever since I heard about this I can say my hair is making it way past my collar bone. Hope that helps.
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Erika
I think the best thing I ever started doing for my hair was detangling BEFORE shampooing. I have 4b hair (probably, I’m still a little confused) and that stuff tangles like crazy. I don’t know what in the world I was thinking before when I would jump in the shower with free hair and try to detangle it with conditioner like a lot of youtubers do. Now I detangle in small sections on stretched hair AFTER soaking it in oil for at least an hour and a cheapie conditioner for a few minutes. SO much easier and it seems the… Read more »
Gaelle
Yeah, I’ve found that this basically applies to me too. I detangle before washing (I also learned that detangling from a twist-out as opposed to a wash and go, cuts my detangling time 75%! I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try wash&gos just don’t work for me. After the first or second day my hair tangles ridiculously)and then shampoo my hair in sections. 4 in the back(2 at the bottom and 2 kind of in the middle of my head), 2 on the front sides, and 2 on top. I’ve also given up conditioning, because lately I’ve noticed… Read more »
mangomadness

I agree! I finger-detangle on stretched, sectioned (10 parts) hair before shampooing. I do it one of two ways–on dry hair with conditioner or on damp hair with oil. This method leads to much less brekage than the “soaking wet, just shampoo’ed” detangling method.

Like you, I shampoo in sections focusing on the scalp. I wear stretched styles (braid outs, bantu knot outs, etc) and PS a lot as well (sock buns and cinnabuns)–no wash-n-goes for this ‘fro.

Tanya

LOL, Erika! I hear you! I don’t know what I was thinking either. That discovery was a little God-send! I thank Glamazini for that little tip. Found her blog, and followed it to youtube, lol.

Rodolfo

I have alternate vionsis of my mother yelling get the hair out of your eyes and then the horrible hair cuts she gave each of us (4) girls. She called them pixie cuts to make us think they were cute; they were not. Use a pro, and do just the bangs. BTW I think my mom reads this: Hi Mom!

shannon

I recently washed in sections (while my hair was still braided). The amount of hairs lost was minimal! Definitely something I will add to the routine.

Harmony

I do this as well but I twist the sections so they don’t get tangled and because they are easier to take a loose. My hair does a lot betther this way and I don’t get a bunch of knots or shedding.

shannon

So funny you say that, I’ve recently switched the braiding for twisting. Works much better…

mangomadness

I always wash in twist–same idea as the braids with the same results.

df

has anyone discovered that just wearing a satin bonnet is not enough? my hair is dry in the morning if I don’t cover it with silk!

Rhea

I only use silk scarves anyway. They aren’t hard to find.

Kate

I use the silk Bonnet when I’m going to sleep because I braids in and I use the scarf when I’m showering to save my hair from getting wet.

Roxy F

I was wondering the same thing, when I wash my satin bonnet i see all the oils that should be in my hair coming from it. I wondered why my hair was so dry as well. where did you get the silk bonnet to buy?

Shelli

Oh, and I wanted to add, knots and splits don’t only compromise the integrity of the strands on which they exist. They can also snag and snare adjacent healthy hair, causing more knots and splits. So, I am an avid Searcher and Destroyer to reduce the likelihood of collateral damage:)! LOL!

Shelli
I agree with mangomadness in regard to finger detangling in particular. I only finger detangle now. Although this may not work for all, I think that starting with finger detangling to work out big knots is very important. I never realized how many knots I must be ripping through with a wide-tooth comb because I didn’t feel them at all. When working knots out with my fingers, I can really tell how much pressure to apply, when to work the knot up and apart, rather than down, when a shed hair is wrapped, etc. I think I’ve saved a lot… Read more »
PG

+1 I finger detangle on wet, dirty, oil/conditioner laden hair before using a wide tooth comb and before starting the cleansing process. Most effective detangling process for me and least time comsuming in the over 1 year I’ve been natural.

Lynnette

I agree with protective styling for retaining length but not necessarily for anti breakage. I mix the majority of my hair care products so my tip would be to find a conditioner you like that is really good for detangleing and mix it with 3 parts water and 1 part aloe vera juice, then every morning I spritz before I leave out for work or to start the day. Helped me ALot with moisture especially since i got my hair colored a few months ago.

NaturellaBella

This mix sounds like great! Most detanglers contain aloe vera juice, water, and conditioning agents. Thanks for the tip!

Lynnette

your welcome I also use a little sweet almond oil on my hair when damp mixed with coconut oil, makes it a little more slippery and helps seal in moisture.

mangomadness

My anti-breakage tip–Be gentle while detangling. Try detangling dampened, stretched hair before shampooing with conditioner or oil–It may be easier for you than detangling on soaking wet conditioner-laden hair. Also, try finger-detangling before using a comb or brush (if you use one). It’ll take out major tangles before comb/brush rips through them.

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