By Chinwe of Hair and Health
Three major sources of manipulation to our hair are detangling, styling, and washing. When it comes to detangling, we can reduce breakage by combing on damp, lubricated hair or detangling with our fingers instead. When it comes to styling, we can adopt a protective style routine and reduce heat usage among many other things. However, when it comes to washing, how can we develop a routine that reduces breakage? Well, here are six steps to get you started:
1. Apply coconut oil before washing
Each time we wash our hair, our strands may undergo stress from swelling and shrinking during water uptake and eventual evaporation. This can lead to breakage, split ends, or other damage over time. Research has shown that applying coconut oil to the hair prior to washing can reduce this stress (known as hygral fatigue). Allow the oil to penetrate overnight before washing in order to reap the benefits.
2. Lather once instead of twice
Additional lathering can strip the hair and yield dryness that can later translate into breakage. To reduce this stripping, try lathering only once instead of twice or more. It is important to get your hair clean but not necessary to get it “squeaky” clean. If you are prone to product buildup and this routine is insufficient for cleansing, then reevaluate your product use or shampoo collection.
3. Massage your scalp, not your hair
Massaging, or essentially, rubbing the hair while washing, can cause tangling and a bit of breakage. Instead, massage your scalp only. Allow the water and shampoo to run from your scalp to your strands for cleansing. If that is not sufficient for you, try scrunching your hair instead of rubbing it.
4. Wash in sections
For some naturals, washing the hair loose is just asking for trouble. Cleansing wet loose hair (especially longer, coilier hair) can create tangles and eventual breakage from attempting to remove these tangles. Rather, wash your hair in braided or twisted sections in order to mitigate these issues.
5. Use a microfiber towel or cotton t‑shirt
Due to its structure, the traditional towel can snag our kinks, coils, or curls and yield a bit of breakage. Instead, use a microfiber towel or a cotton t‑shirt, which are both gentler than the traditional towel.
6. Blot or plop but do not rub when drying
Rubbing the hair with a towel after washing results in friction, which can cause a little damage to the cuticles and a bit of breakage. Rather, blot the hair gently to remove excess water. If you have some time, an even better option is to plop the hair. How do you do this? Simply wrap your freshly washed hair with a towel or t‑shirt and allow it to airdry in that manner for fifteen minutes or longer. (Plopping also speeds up the drying process.)
A little bit of breakage while washing is inevitable since we are manipulating our hair during the process. However, if you notice more than a normal amount of breakage even after all of these steps, then you may want to follow up with a deep protein treatment, trim off the damage, assess your diet, or consult your doctor/dermatologist.
Ladies, how do you reduce breakage while washing?