By Jc of The Nat­u­ral Haven Bloom

On the sur­face of it, it is a very sim­ple for­mu­la — the less your hair breaks the more length it will retain. How­ev­er, this for­mu­la is decep­tive­ly sim­ple because many times break­age goes com­plete­ly unno­ticed. There are things that we regard as nor­mal for nat­u­ral hair and to some extent they are default prop­er­ties of hair.  For exam­ple, the curlier and the kinkier the hair, the more dif­fi­cult it is to run a comb through it. How­ev­er in order to keep gain­ing length, the break­age asso­ci­at­ed with groom­ing nat­u­ral hair needs to be tack­led and min­imised. This is the sto­ry of hid­den break­age, how to rec­og­nize it and how to fix it.

1. Comb persistently stopping or getting stuck in hair

Short Term Dam­age: Break­age usu­al­ly long strands (i.e more than half of total length)
Long Term Dam­age: Cre­ation of mid shaft splits which even­tu­al­ly break
Why is it ignored: The long strands that break can eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en for shed hair
Most at risk hair:  All curly hair regard­less of width of curl, hair with kinks, nat­u­rals with thick  indi­vid­u­al strands(often because  it is assumed that the hair is strong and can take vig­or­ous comb­ing)

Every sin­gle time you run a comb through your hair and it stops, you need to also stop. The comb stops because it is at a tan­gle.  Press­ing down on the comb is not the solu­tion and in fact can be a rea­son for your hair to start break­ing. The phys­i­cal force could eas­i­ly snap hair. Con­tin­u­al­ly rub­bing hair at the same spot can cause mid shaft splits in kinky hair.

Pos­si­ble res­o­lu­tions to com­bat this prob­lem rely on you exper­i­ment­ing with your hair and find­ing what method of comb­ing suits your hair. The method you choose should ide­al­ly allow you to detect tan­gles very ear­ly on. This could be con­di­tion­er comb­ing, fin­ger detan­gling or switch­ing from wet detan­gling to dry detan­gling or vice ver­sa. Hair brush­es often aggra­vate mid shaft splits so avoid them ide­al­ly or min­imise how often you use them.

Your check point: Look at the strands of your hair after detan­gling and see if they real­ly have a hair bulb or not. A bulb means a real shed hair, no bulb means break­age.  If you have many mid shaft splits, be care­ful about stretch­ing and comb­ing your hair.

2. Tiny wisps of broken hair

Short Term Dam­age: Break­age usu­al­ly short strands (i.e quar­ter inch sec­tions)
Long Term Dam­age: Cre­ation of torn fib­ril­lat­ed ends which even­tu­al­ly become split ends
Why is it ignored: As the hair that breaks is very short, many dis­re­gard it
Most at risk hair:  hair with kinks, fine indi­vid­u­al strands, small or tight curls, hair that is reg­u­lar­ly heat treat­ed.

If you need to dust your clothes or coun­ter top after comb­ing your hair to get rid of tiny lit­tle bits of hair, your hair is break­ing. Often this hap­pens with dry comb­ing rather than wet/conditioner comb­ing. This does not mean that your hair can­not be combed dry, it just means that in order to suc­cess­ful­ly do that, you have to be extreme­ly gen­tle.

One clear indi­ca­tion that you may suf­fer from this form of break­age is if you always need to repeat­ed­ly come back and detan­gle the ends of your hair. The pos­si­ble res­o­lu­tions again lie with exper­i­ment­ing, your skill lev­el and how well you under­stand your hair. Exam­ple solu­tions include encour­ag­ing your hair ends to clump (either nat­u­ral­ly or à la cipri­ana) or if your hair can­not  clump opt­ing instead to gen­tly stretch out the hair at the end or tuck the ends in. If your hair gen­er­al­ly breaks in this way, avoid­ing heat use at the ends of hair will elim­i­nate heat relat­ed dam­age that can accel­er­ate split end for­ma­tion. When unrav­el­ling twists or braids, use a prop­er tool that will not tear your hair.

Your check point:  Wear a white shirt/top when han­dling your hair. You will eas­i­ly see if you have short bro­ken hair.

Ladies, have you expe­ri­enced the­se hid­den signs of break­age? How do you deal?

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13 Comments on "2 Major Causes of Hair Breakage Revealed"

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BriA
omg I can’t tell if my hair is break­ing or if it’s the shit­ty job from when I went to get my hair straight­ened at a hair salon -nev­er eva eva again- ugh­hh it’s annoy­ing because I know I def. didn’t have all of the­se short strands around my head before I went there.……I know I have some break­age from doing pro­tec­tive styling but it can’t be this much and I feel I’ve nor­mal amount of shed­ding con­sid­er­ing I wash every 1/2 weeks — ugh this is frustrating.….….So if your hair sheds will a new hair grow in its place?… Read more »
Leilani

I have both. I’ve been fin­ger detan­gling , may­be I’ve just been too harsh.

Jodi

May­be u need to try imple­ment­ing fin­ger detan­gling in your reg­i­men and see how that works for you. Recent­ly I just went back to fin­ger detan­gling because I dis­cov­ered my wide-toothed comb, even though it is seam­less, was still caus­ing splits and break­age on my long fine-medi­um hair strands. Some­times you just have to exper­i­ment around with dif­fer­ent tech­niques just to fig­ure out ide­al­ly what works best for you and your hair.

Sandra

I have the sec­ond type, and I real­ly want it to stop! I usu­al­ly have my hair in braids or twist, but when i comb my hair its bro­ken pieces like crazy :(.

Kira

Me too! I’ve been search­ing for a solu­tion. Even after I trim it some­times I still get those lit­tle bro­ken hairs. My hair is still grow­ing but them ends is a hot mess. Although no one knows it but me. ~.~ UGH THE STRUGGLE! LOL

Aisa @ 4 Us Naturals
I get both kinds of break­age. My hair seemed to take off the first year but now after 2 years and 2 months I see lit­tle dif­fer­ence in length. My hair seems to be shed­ding and break­ing like crazy to me although every­body else thinks it looks super lus­trous and healthy. I know I need to pro­tec­tive style but I got­ta stop the hair com­ing out when I even twist it. It is often a ball of hair and it is too tan­gled for me to sep­a­rate to check for the bulb. Some hairs have the bulb oth­ers don’t and… Read more »
Melinda

Thanks for post­ing the link to Ciprina’s arti­cle! Cause the arti­cle on this site made no sense to me. Per­haps I’m just slow.….

Rachel

@CaP and @Tiffany: Thanks! I checked out this method and I’m going to try it.

Tiffany

Cipri­ana is one of the cre­ators of Urban Bush Babes on Youtube, also a fea­tured wom­an on this site. She has a long-term pro­tec­tive style called loose strand twists. Check her out

CaP

This is a la cipri­ana http://urbanbushbabes.com/?p=10980

Rachel

Thanks for this arti­cle. I’m more prone to the sec­ond type of break­age, but I feel I am get­ting it under con­trol. How­ev­er…

“solu­tions include encour­ag­ing your hair ends to clump (either nat­u­ral­ly or à la cipri­ana)” –> What exact­ly does this mean?

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