Question from Jae:
I’ve noticed that a lot of hair has been coming out when I detangle my hair. I’m just not sure if I should be losing that much, maybe I’m a little paranoid. But if it is breaking, I really want to handle it before it goes haywire. Sometimes even when I slightly manipulate it, I’ll see some falling out.Some hair background: I wash my hair twice a week, deep conditioning when I do. I use an all natural shampoo and only shampoo once per session. I use burdock root butter from Qhemet for moisture and the balm for my scalp. Shea butter, too. I use a leave-in treatment. Oh, and also, I have no skills when it comes to styling, so I just rock a twist-out fro-ish thing. I think my texture is 4c, though the back and sides are a bit softer. Middle is waaay kinkier. I’m attaching a pic of the hair I shed when I detangle.
It is said that it is normal to lose 50–100 hairs a day. This number can vary depending on how often you comb your hair. Of course, this is not something you can easily tell just by looking, especially with the texture and thickness of natural hair. The easiest thing to do is to keep track of your shedding for a few months at a time, especially if you are a recent natural. You may need to get used to what your natural-shedding looks like in contrast to relaxer-shedding. Shedding can increase at certain times of the year, can be linked to changes in a woman’s cycle and after child-birth (hormonal), medication, illness, malnutrition, or stress.
Try reducing the frequency of hair washing. Twice a week is not a lot, but it is more necessary if you have a lot of product buildup. Many naturals don’t realize it, but with curlier textures washing is actually a lot of manipulation, especially due to the tedious process of detangling. This doesn’t matter as much with shorter hair. When my hair was short, I washed it almost every day with no problems. But with longer hair, this type of manipulation can lead to breakage, especially with the use of shampoo. Cut the shampooing down to once a week or try co-washing. My hair thrives better with co-washing. It also retains more moisture and stays softer. I do an occasional shampoo or co-wash with baking soda only if I have a lot of product build-up. Does your shampoo have sulfates in it? Because that can also dry out the hair.
For your hair type, the less you comb the better. This does not mean you should neglect detangling; because this may result in knots and tangles leading to breakage when you finally do detangle. It is up to you to decide which detangling routine works best and to pick styles that discourage tangling. Continue with the deep conditioning for moisture with every wash. If you re-twist many times during the week in preparation for the twist out, this may add to manipulation. You use great moisturizing products so I don’t believe that could be behind any breakage. If your moisturizers are working well for you, I wouldn’t change a thing! You may find it helpful to mist your twists each night then seal with oil to keep your hair hydrated.
If the shedding gets really bad, try a light protein treatment. And sometimes a good trim helps with shedding. There is no need for concern unless the shedding increases or if your hair comes out in chunks just by pulling at it. In that case, I would suggest visiting a dermatologist or trichologist.
Ladies, do you experience shedding when you detangle? How do you deal with it?
This post was originally published on September 29, 2009