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2 Major Causes of Hair Breakage Revealed

• May 22, 2012

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?

About The Natural Haven

Scientist on a hairy mission!

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

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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?


This is a la cipriana


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


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.….

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 »

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 :(.


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


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.


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

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 »
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