glamfun natural hair youtube

 

The first thing that pops into my head when I think about youtuber Karen of Glamfun is of course the very catchy tune, ‘Wash and Go’s don’t work on nappy hair.’ Recently, she has been in the spotlight for her hair struggles and decision to relax her natural hair. She spoke in depth to BGLH on that in this interview…this is not the topic of discussion today.  Instead, I want to do an analysis of what I learned from her discussion on the serious level of breakage she experienced. I think her experiences can be a great learning tool for anyone with 4c hair specifically, as well as broadly speaking to anyone trying to retain length and constantly succumbing to setbacks.

1. Doubt is a very good thing

Karen was given a diagnosis of central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia and she doubted it. I am a scientist and not a dermatologist but I’m with Karen in doubting the diagnosis. From my point of view, Karen had breakage after her hair was grown from the scalp. For the alopecia condition, there is some association with trauma to the hair follicles leading to a ‘scalpy’ appearance, not so in Karen’s case. The dermatologist suggestion of relaxing as a remedy is not ideal as relaxers are suspected to be a possible cause for tram, triggering that type of alopecia (J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. pp 37–40, 2012.). Therefore, if you doubt what a medical professional is telling you, do get a second or even third opinion.

2. Breakage happens even to the most seasoned naturals

Chery of chery818 is an example of how a seasoned natural with years of experience and very long hair can experience breakage. Don’t make the mistake of thinking serious breakage is a newbie type of error; and those who are 2-3 years into their natural journey are less likely to experience it. Typically, 4c hair is more susceptible to breakage. When coupled with length, there is more potential to knot within coils and kinks.

3. Why is your hair breaking? Erm………..because you broke it

I wrote an article 4 years ago with this exact title. In short, it’s safe to say that most of the time when you experience hair breakage, it’s because of something that you, as the main handler of that hair are doing. It is a simple answer, almost too simple for some but it underlies an important an inescapable truth which is that ultimately, you as the main handler of that hair,  have to troubleshoot and find out what you are doing wrong. Big emphasis on “you.”

4. Absolute fail safe methods – Leave your hair alone (2+ weeks)

Karen noticed that when she placed her hair in braids for a while and left it alone, it grew. For 4c hair, leaving your hair alone is an absolute fail safe method to retain length. For most 4c naturals, this means protective styling for 2+ weeks at a time by some means – e.g own hair braids/twists, well installed extensions, well installed weaves, cornrows under a wig etc.  I would generally advise against free hair methods for 4c hair e.g bunning, twist outs etc but if you are able to see low to no breakage, then it is a fail safe method for you. New methods such as the maximum hydration method have reports that some users with 4c hair experience less knotting and breakage. I would not label this method as a proven fail safe method but I would say that if you are an experimentalist, try it and observe the level of breakage for yourself.

5. Sticking points / Plateaus

For many 4c naturals, there are specific points when hair is more liable to experience high breakage.  The two most common ones are:

– hair can’t get past neck length

– transitioning hair from APL to BSL

In both cases, trying a fail safe method for a period of 6 months to 1 year could dramatically change your fortunes.

 

What steps do you take to prevent breakage?

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35 Comments on "5 Things EVERY 4C Natural Should Know About Breakage — And How to Prevent It"

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ShyG

It’s frustrating that she basically says in order for me to retain length I need to put my hair up, so I can’t wear my hair out regular in it’s natural state everyday like anyone else without it falling out or not growing? Black women myths kill me!

B2D2

For me, this is not a myth. Whether I like it or not, my hair shrinks rather quickly when I sweat and even stretched styles like a banned twist out results in tangles after only 2 days. Shrug.

kalexa1

Anyone know/recommend the softest ‘marley-type’ kinky extension hair for braiding? I find most are so rough and synthetic feeling or prone to tangling. A good one would be really helpful for protective styling.

lila

“mambo twist hair ” is softer you can wear it untwisted for the “twistout effect” It looks very natural.

Nessa

I think I’m having problems with my transition from APL to BSL. I guess I need to try leaving my hair alone more or something. I will have to figure it out. Here’s a link to another article on breakage.

http://curlkit.com/breakage/

Ley
To avoid breakage I simple braid my hair into braids, morning and at night spray my hair with water massage my scalp then apply castor oil then wrap it up with a silk head wrap. I only wear a wig when going outside. Every two weeks I rinse my hair with acv and condition and then deep condition my hair. With this routine I found at that my hair retains moisture and breakage is less compared to when I braided my hair for a weave my hair was so dry and I suffered breakage. I found out that with the… Read more »
nono

whats avc?

Chelsea LeVeck

apple cider vinegar I think
(acv)

kalexa1

I agree and have found the same. Trouble is in the hot summer months wigs aren’t desirable for a cool head. What to do? I’m still searching for a braider who doesn’t yank the living daylights out of my hair roots!

Melissa

Loose twists on my own hair & Jumbo braid extensions work like a charm on me. Just remember to moisturize regularly and deep condition. 🙂

Renaissanceeast

I actually prefer protective styles, but find that my hair mats at the roots if left in place for more than a few days. Does anyone else experience this? If so, are there styles that make it less likely?

kalexa1

Yep. I find avoiding micro or small twists helps. Chunkier or medium size twists are preferable to avoid the matting.

Tiffany
I’ve been natural for too long (6+ yrs) since the 9th grade Im now a sophomore at Howard University. I’ve experienced the most breakage with braid and twist installments. When it comes to take down time my hair snaps closes to root and mats up. I’ve tried washing and everything else while I have the braids/twists in. Also the braiders/twisters seem to be heavy handed with my hair, which is fine. More breakage. So now I’ve moved on to putting my hair in lose mini twists and I take them down every 4-6 weeks. So far its been working like… Read more »
Maureen-Ann

Hi Tiffany,

I’ve had similar experiences when I take down my braids/kinky twists, even when I remember to keep them moisturized. When you say “loose” mini-twists, are you just talking about regular 2-strand twists? How do you keep them fresh-looking for 4-6 weeks?! Mine start looking a mess by the beginning of week 2 LOL. Please pass along your wisdom! :o)

Tiffany
Check out mstanish. She has an awesome tutorial for what I mean by loose twists. Also ciprianna from urbanbushbabes she rocks them too. http://youtu.be/eiZqSEBiOJM?list=UUKcIT_FbbrsI5jYzTDAxUtQ So her hair is thicker than mine and densely packed. Basically make your twists based on your hair’s needs. Also instead of braiding at the roots I twist tightly. It looks better to me. Big tip I work with stretched hair using african threading. And after finishing each section re-thread the section of minitwists to keep them stretched until you;re done. Keeping them fresh. Hmmm. Well as my twists get older my hair starts to coil… Read more »
Yvette M
I am transitioning but I agree with JC. When I BC’ed in 2012 and protective styled continuously for 5 months, I retained every inch of growth I got. And now, during this transition, whenever I find that my hair is starting to break a bit too much, I just braid it up, cover with a wig and forget about it. I read online somewhere that if you are actively growing out your hair, its good to forget about looking cute :D. And I have taken that as my motto, when I really need to retain, I forget about looking cute,… Read more »
more

AINT THAT THE TRUTH! I’m nearing APL but fawking sick of the protective styling. The longest i had my hair in was 7 months saw a lot of growth. Now i’m in another protective style i’m in month 3 and it’s driving me crazy!! idk if i can do 5 months anymore

YellowSisi

I completely agree with Carlee and Ms LiLi. I find long term protective styling boring and I find my hair looks thinner when I take it down. What’s the aim of putting away your hair for weeks at a time? I love my hairstyles looking fresh and my scalp clean at all times.

Cygnet
I consistently did twists and plaits on my hair for about 2 years before going CG. I made sure to spritz and moisturize regularly, several times a week at least, more if I thought I needed it. What I found is that my mostly fine strands hate, really HATE, HATE WITH A PASSION! to be bound. Keeping it slightly undermoisturized was the most likely way for me to keep it from unraveling; when it was optimally (so I thought) moisturized, it would work itself free from even the tiniest plaits that I dared to do—and I didn’t dare make them… Read more »
Rose Gold

Are you 4C?

The Natural Haven
I totally disagree with those who say it is difficult to properly moisturise hair in a protective style. Many naturals do long term protective style and manage to still moisturise hair. Routines for this are sometimes daily, every three to four days or once a week. The big variability you find is because every person has different needs and NO (in caps), it is not a rule that you need to moisturise every day. I do urge you…..especially those who are struggling to read the 4c case studies here – http://www.thenaturalhavenbloom.com/search/label/4c%20Hair%20Case%20Studies There are also plenty of non-4c long term protective… Read more »
luminous

Making sure your hair is well moisturized is also an important part of preventing breakage.

Ms LiLi
Completely agree with Carlee. Putting our hair “away”is not helpful because the reason type 4 hair breaks is usually a moisture protein balance or rough handling issue. How will we ever learn to care for our hair if we always leave it alone. And if we grow hair down to the floor, at some point we have to handle our hair routinely. And if you have not learned your hair while its shorter your only going to ruin your progress with longer hair. I say,learn your hair, what it likes and doesn’t like. Always assess it to make sure it… Read more »
JenniD
I also agree. I love me some twists but they and other bounded up styles can be murder on my 4c strands if I do them continuously. This is why I always say your 4c hair is not my 4c hair. Just because we share the same texture doesnt mean you lay down the law as to what will work universally. I appreciate the advice on whats tried and true but for me protective styling weeks at a time is both unrealistic as I don’t always have the time nor patience to install twists for 3 to 4 hours. This… Read more »
Jacky
Great article and well written too. I have type 4a hair but I decided to read this article to see if I could learn from it and I did. Long term protective styling is great but I also believe in low manipulation styling as well( including twist-outs, buns, braid-outs, etc ). I’m strongly against re-twisting and re-braiding natural hair regularly( especially every night or every other night ). On looser textures that may be okay but on tighter textures… you’re asking for breakage. How I combat breakage is to start off with a fresh twist out or other hairstyle, then… Read more »
Jacky

*someone.

and one last thing… Moisturize when necessary.
I think moisturizing is an important part of any hair care regimen. Hair can be styled in a long term protective style and still experience dryness and breakage if not moisturized properly and when necessary

Carlee
I see a big flaw with the article that says braids, cornrows, extensions, or long-term “protective styles” are fail-safe options for 4c hair. I watched Karen’s channel from the beginning. She suffered from extremely dry hair. Chery also suffered from dryness, and she almost always wears protective styles. Putting your hair in a long term protective styles just makes it that much harder to moisturize the hair with water. Those styles can actually increase breakage, tangles, and dryness. Of course the only option which encourages daily washing of hair, the max hydration method, is considered as less. Washing your hair… Read more »
more

It all depends on which type of protective styling it is

Kezbokz

Look at Kinkistyles1980. She made it to waist length in 4 years. She did protective styling only on her 4C hair. Trust me, you can moisturize hair in protective styling, and it will grow, just like hers!

neuyogi
I recently started the maximum hydration method and reading JC’s article above made me nervous that my every 3 day wash n go is such a risky move. For a second i contemplated going back to the world I knew of protective styling…but the your comment, was like a douse of cold water. I remembered taking down my protective styles after 1-2 weeks and my gnarly ends, trying finger detangling after twists was not pleasant and i still had lots of little c’s and springs on the bathroom counter. It will be amazing and downright miraculous if this maximum hydration… Read more »
Araina S.
I have 4 C hair and this article came right on time as I have been natural for a little over two years. When I comb my hair out, I have seen small little curly cues fall onto the bathroom floor. It does not seem to matter how gentle I am with my hair as this is bound to happen. For the past six months I have been putting braids in my hair because my hair is very difficult for me to work with when it is in its natural state. I too have found that leaving my hair alone… Read more »
Obsidianbbw

I am dealing with this now, I got tired (lazy) and stopped my usual two strand twists..i wanted to play in my hair..I rocked buns and updos and other things…and I broke….not a lot, but enough that I sat this weekend and left it alone. I know it will grow back, so not a huge deal, but my hair is happier when I leave it alone.

Jasmine

Hello,
I am newly natural, I’ve been transitioning for 8 months and after wearing braided extensions for 4 weeks at a time on to different occasions and slicking my hair back in tight buns, I have suffered from traction alopecia, so protective styles are no longer an option for me at least for another 6 months to a year, and tips or suggestion on how to keep my hair healthy and breakage free wearing loose styles, I believe I have type 4 hair……

Just_Browsing
Simple. Keep your hair moisturized and spritz it at night, sleep on a silk scarf. Massage daily. http://blackgirllonghair.com/2014/08/3-ways-to-dramatically-improve-your-length-retention-at-night/ Moisturizing: Non-Protein Deep conditioning (2-3 times a week). More fruit (oils) based than egg/mayo (protein) based. I prefer natural products, like the edible ones you find in your kitchen pantry. Keep the conditioner in your hair for 30 minutes and rinse in cool to cold water. Hot water also strips and dries out your hair, hence I suggest cool to cold water. You may wonder about the possible food residue being in your hair etc. especially if you’re only using cool to… Read more »
Jasmine

Thank you for the tips and encouragement, I will tryout these tips : )

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