3 Tips For Dealing with Natural Hair That Constantly Breaks and Splits

natural hair split ends

Split ends and breakage are the bane of length retention. However, sometimes hair just naturally will split and break even with the best care possible. This article is intended for those who really are doing everything right (gentle handling, happy with your wash and moisture routine), but still see split ends and breakage. If you have fine hair that has multiple kinks and a tight curl, you may be used to seeing these tiny wisps of hair when you run your hand through/over your hair or when you comb/detangle. Your hair is highly susceptible to splitting and breaking as a result. However, it is still possible to gain length provided you deal with the hair fiber correctly. Here are some tips:

 

1. Reduce overall styling time of free hair
The less you manipulate your hair, the less damage you do to it. The highest amount of breakage outside of detangling tends to be seen when hair strands are being styled while free. Therefore reducing this overall styling time is a big key to retaining length. For example:

– Lady A: Wears a twistout regularly. It takes 3 hours to install initial twists and after that point daily styling requires 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 minutes to prep at night. Over the course of two weeks, just under 8 hours are spent styling free hair.

– Lady B: Wears own hair twists which take 3 hours to install. The style is kept for 2 weeks at a time without undoing the twists. Over the course of two weeks, 3 hours are spent styling free hair.

– Lady C: Wears box braids which take 10 hours to install and the style is kept for 8 weeks at a time without undoing. Over the course of two weeks, 2.5 hours are spent styling free hair.

I have used typical styles and times in the examples above. The point of the examples is simply to say, reduce the time you spend styling your free strands of hair and reduce the likelihood of breakage of those strands.

2. Never go on a no-trim challenge

The more your hair naturally has a tendency to split/break, the more frequently you need to trim. Hair is predictable, if it snaps easily because it has kinks, it will always do so despite your best efforts as the kinks will always be there. Trimming should be a constant and consistent part of your routine to make sure that the broken hair is under control. Split ends or fibrillated ends from breakage will form a hotspot for pushing breakage further up the shaft. I would recommend a dusting routine where you cut off a quarter of an inch every 2 months or so. Please pick up a ruler and look at a quarter of an inch, it is not much at all, just enough to pinch off the broken ends. If your hair is long enough, a search and destroy routine can work too, but you should do it thoroughly and frequently e.g once a month.

3. Wet hands not wet hair
Many naturals will naturally begin styling by getting out a spray bottle and misting hair. If your hair shrinks easily , you may have found that this is counterproductive as hair only shrinks and it becomes more difficult to part or separate strands BUT you can work around it. A slight amount of water is all that is needed to make hair more flexible. Mist a small amount of water onto your hands, enough to get them moist but not enough to drip water off. Apply that small amount of water to a section of hair (if you work in quarters, apply to one quarter), taking care to smooth it from root to tip. Give it a minute or so to sink in then immediately start working on the section. Reapply water to your hands should your hair stop being flexible.

 

Do you find yourself dealing with breakage-prone hair? What practices have you implemented in your regimen to combat breakage and split ends?

The Natural Haven

The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

15 thoughts on “3 Tips For Dealing with Natural Hair That Constantly Breaks and Splits

  1. These articles are great but I miss the style icons :(… bglh hasn’t had one in a minute… i can’t wait til I get my hair to where I want it to be so I can be a style icon one day :)

  2. Great post! My hair is beginning to break a bit (line of demarcation- colored natural edition). These are helpful tips that I know but forgot as my hair grew. Time to revisit the old faithfuls.

  3. #3 Especially! My hair shrinks up to 75%-80% of its true length and this has been so helpful to me and I try to spread the knowledge it makes de-tangling a breeze because your hair stay relatively stretched yet lubricated enough to de-tangle gently. Same goes for conditioner just a small amount for finger de-tangling!

  4. Finally something for the fine highly textured girls. I am a fine 4c hair girl here. My strands are so fragile that even with the best practices it still breaks. I am going to implement the more frequent trimming AND i need to add that styles that are as low manipulation to take down as possible are good too. I find that tiny little box braids require so much manipulation of the ends that they aren’t worth it. I make braids with twists down the last two-3 inches of hair and pin them up 50% of the time. But honestly, I am hitting such a growth/styling rut that I give up on growing loose strands free. Hair like mine hates to be free and on its own so why ever do it? If i am constantly in twists or braids, WHY NOT get sisterlocks??!

    • I am in the same boat. I find that putting my hair in mini twists or crochet braids help a lot. I currently have crochet braids so I can play with the crochet hair without causing any damage to my own hair. I also make sure to examine my ends and trim accordingly.

    • Hi, fellow 4-Cotton-er here

      Just a few things…
      Anything besides your actual hair is heavy (to the root) and pulls at the root. (Which can cause the hair to fall out, especially at the weakest point, the hairline.) (I wore super light yarn braids and lost a half inch to an inch of hair line. Lucky me.)

      It also dries the ends of the hair, because moisture is drawn out from the hair more quickly where it is thinnest (check: take a handful of hair, trace from root to tip, see how the thickness reduces as you proceed downwards).

      When your ends are very dry, it splits/breaks easily.
      (my cousin wore braids for 4 weeks, ended up with 2 inches worth of ruined ends, that had to be trimmed. Total hair loss was more than hair gained)

      Pulling hair back (especially too tightly) actually wreaks havoc on the hair strands. The strands rub together, like two thin branches. If the branches are dry, they snap, if not they bend.

      Basic hair analogy: take a dry stick and a green stick. See how many ways you can manipulate either of them without damaging them. This is your hair, if its dry as a stick, that is the many ways you can play with it vs when its hydrated.

      Thats why its important to hydrate
      (water in the body and on the hair. Remember to air dry)

      Same goes for when the green stick goes dry. Keep in mind that wet hair dries eventually, and if pulled too tightly. *snap* snap break *break* especially if you’re readjusting it during the day.

      Also when you Add something mechanical like a pony tail ring, it applies pressure to the hair strands, and can cause breakage especially if put in too tight.

      If wearing one on wet hair *break* break snap *snap* (eventually). The hair moves against each other as it dries, coupled with the pressure from a pony tail ring (especially one put in too tight) is just begging for breakage.

      With all this in mind; I decided to grow out my hair by putting it in cornrows that are not too tight while refreshing weekly.

      Not only did i retain length but I also got that hairline back. Yay for me!

  5. My hair is very fine, kinky, 4c/4b, Its extremely fragile and breaks quite a bit. I’ve been using amla oil for a month and the shedding and breakage is 80%-90% better. It smells kinda herby and like liquorice, but the smell goes away after a day.

  6. I wish I had done number 1 sooner. I didn’t retain length because of having free hair for too long. Hopefully I will turn this around since I’m protective styling again

  7. OMG, I had this problem last night. Well actually it was snarling and knotting together and then it would break when I would try to work out the knot. I was so bummed.

  8. Guilty of #1 and #2. Was always wetting my hair, but gave wetting my hands a try and it worked a lot better. Thanks for the article.

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