Black hair (coiled, overly curly, kinky), is naturally fragile and prone to breakage due to its unique structure and characteristics. Black hair typically has a flat, ribbon-like shape, which means it’s more prone to tangling and knotting which leads to breakage when the hair is brushed or combed.
The ribbon-like shape prohibits natural oils from the scalp to slide down the hair strand leaving it more dry and brittle.
This can be frustrating when all you want to do is have healthy hair.
In this post, I will go over the five most common reasons for hair breakage in black women, and what you can do to get control.
So let’s dive right in.
Frequent brushing, combing, and styling can be damaging to the hair, especially if it’s done improperly or too aggressively. This is because the hair shaft can become weakened and damaged from too much manipulation. Over time, this can cause the hair to become dry and brittle, leading to breakage.
Brushing and combing your hair are important steps in hair care, but it’s important to be gentle and use the right tools. Using a fine-tooth comb on tangled hair or brushing your hair too often or too aggressively can cause breakage.
To minimize breakage caused by frequent manipulation, it’s important to use the right tools and techniques. Use a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush to gently remove tangles, starting at the ends and working your way up to the roots. It’s also a good idea to avoid pulling or tugging on the hair, as this can also cause breakage.
Finally, avoid tight hairstyles and remove braids or weaves after 4 to 6 weeks to prevent damage from excessive pulling.
2. Chemical Treatments
Chemical treatments like relaxers or hair color are popular among black women, but they can also be damaging to the hair and scalp. Chemical treatments work by breaking down the natural bonds in the hair to change its texture or color. However, this process can also weaken the hair and cause it to become more prone to breakage. Over time, repeated chemical treatments can cause the hair to become so weak that it breaks off, leaving the hair looking thin and damaged.
Chemical treatments can also dry out the hair and scalp, causing the hair to easily break. This is because these treatments can strip the hair of its natural oils and moisture, leaving it dry and brittle. When the hair is dry, it’s more likely to become tangled, which can lead to breakage when it’s brushed or combed.
To minimize the damage caused by chemical treatments, it’s important to choose a reputable stylist who is experienced in working with black hair. Overlapping relaxers or other chemicals is very easy to do when applying them yourself and will cause the hair to become excessively weak. Regular deep conditioning and hair masks are always a good idea to help restore moisture to the hair after chemical treatments and remember to give the hair a break from chemicals from time to time to allow it to recover and regain its strength.
3. Improper Hair Care
Using harsh shampoos, conditioners, or styling products that contain alcohol or sulfates, can be damaging to the hair and cause breakage. Harsh ingredients can strip the hair of its natural oils and moisture, leaving it dry and brittle. Remember…dry hair is breaking hair!
It’s important to choose hair care products that are specifically formulated for black hair and that don’t contain harsh ingredients. Look for shampoos, conditioners, and styling products that are designed for your hair type and that contain natural, moisturizing ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil. These ingredients can help nourish and protect the hair, keeping it healthy and strong.
Try to avoid over-shampooing or under-shampooing your hair. Over-shampooing can strip the hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and prone to breakage, while under-shampooing can lead to product buildup and scalp irritation. It’s important to find the right balance for your hair type and shampoo your hair only as often as necessary to keep it clean and healthy.
4. Heat Styling
Heat styling tools like flat irons or curling irons can be damaging to the hair, as they can cause the hair to become dry and brittle, leading to breakage. The high heat from these tools can strip the hair of its natural oils and moisture, causing it to become weak and damaged. Over time, excessive heat styling can cause the hair to break off, leaving it looking thin and damaged.
To minimize the damage caused by heat styling tools, it’s important to use them sparingly and to use a heat protectant product to help prevent damage. Heat-protectant products form a barrier between the hair and the heat, helping to reduce the amount of damage caused by heat styling. It’s also important to avoid using high heat settings and to limit the use of heat styling tools to once or twice a week.
Using the right techniques with heat-styling tools is a must. Use a lower heat setting when possible and avoid leaving the tool in one place of a hair section for too long, as this can cause the hair to become excessively dry and brittle. It’s also a good idea to use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle the hair before using a heat styling tool, as this can help prevent breakage.
Remember to always nourish and protect the hair when using heat styling tools. Use a deep conditioning treatment or hair mask to help restore moisture and keep the hair healthy and strong.
5. Diet and Health
The health of the hair is influenced by many factors, including diet and overall health. A diet lacking in essential nutrients like protein and vitamins can cause hair breakage, as these nutrients are essential for healthy hair growth.
Protein is a key building block of the hair, and a lack of protein in the diet can lead to weak, brittle hair that is more prone to breakage. Vitamins like biotin and vitamin D are also important for hair health and growth, and a deficiency in these vitamins can lead to hair breakage and other hair problems.
Overall health conditions can also contribute to hair breakage. Conditions like thyroid disease or anemia can affect the body’s ability to absorb and use essential nutrients. Stress can also contribute to hair breakage, as it can disrupt the normal growth cycle of the hair and lead to shedding.
To promote healthy hair growth and prevent breakage, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. Foods like fish, nuts, eggs and leafy greens are all good sources of the nutrients the body needs to thrive.
It’s also a good idea to take steps to manage stress and to maintain overall health through regular exercise and sleep. If you suspect that a health condition may be contributing to your hair breakage, it’s important to talk to your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
By taking care of your overall health, you can help promote healthy hair growth and prevent breakage.
Interested in learning more about taking care of your hair? Sign up for my FREE training Healthy Hair and Scalp to get instant access.