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5 Steps to Breakage Proof Your Natural Hair

Avatar • Nov 20, 2013

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Growing longer hair every year is a goal that many naturals have in mind. It is a goal that has been achieved by many and yet remains elusive to some. If you are looking to get serious about gaining hair length, then it is time to start setting goals to breakage proof your hair. Here are 5 key tips:

1. Accept no less than a gain of 3 inches per year

If you find your hair growth to be stagnant or you find that you gain less than 3 inches per year, you should consider that your hair is breaking at a fast rate. It is true that hair has a terminal length when it stops growing but hair could take as long as a decade to get there. It is also possible to have a slow growth rate but even low estimates put a slow rate at around 4 inches per year.  Therefore breakage proof hair should be able to gain an additional minimum of 3 inches per year with a little room for trimming and dusting.  More growth is always welcome but a minimum standard is necessary to define what breakage proof hair is.

2. Consider all hair loss: Do not separate shedding from breakage 

Many of you will be able to quote that it is normal to shed 50–100 hairs per day and therefore expect perhaps if you have been in a protective style for a week or two, quite a bit of hair may come out. The problem is that it is actually not uncommon to shed much less than 50 hairs per day and furthermore, not many of us have the inclination to actually look at each and every hair after detangling to determine if it has a bulb and is therefore shed hair.  One of the worst things to do is to expect plenty of hair to be lost during a detangling session. This can lead you to unnecessarily comb or brush a section of hair with more wear inflicted on your hair. Your general aim should be to minimise all hair loss.

3. Stop breakage at the root : Detangling should be pain-free

The bottom line is that detangling your hair should never under any circumstances be painful. If it is, then you need to consider detangling in smaller sections or changing your method of detangling.  Pain at the root leads to breakage at the root and results in long sections of broken hair that can be confused for shed hair (see point 2 above).

4. Stop breakage at the ends:  Dip twists or braids in oil before undoing

If you are an avid protective styler, you may find that it is routinely difficult to undo the ends which may have intertwined (meshed) strands. Some may spend a lot of time picking at the ends leading to wear and tear of the hair. The simple trick to this is to soak (and I mean soak) the ends in a light oil e.g coconut, olive oil, jojoba oil for a few minutes. You will find it much easier to then proceed with undoing the hair as the oil gives extra slip. Feel free to reapply the oil whenever you find your undoing tool of choice getting stuck. The same trick works well too for hair which may have been left free for long and shrunk over time.

5. Choose the correct detangling method : Not the one you like but the one that works

If you like the ease and speed of your detangling method but find that your hair growth is stagnant, it may be time for you to pick a different method even if it is more tedious as your choice should be beneficial to your hair growth goals. Some hair suits dry finger detangling while other people prefer conditioner combing or wet detangling. There is no single right method, all methods are valid provided they yield the results of breakage proof hair which is a net gain of hair length every year.

Ladies, have you tried any of these steps? How do you breakage proof your hair?

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Tee
Tee
7 years ago

Nice article. I retain a good amount of my hair during the year but I am always looking to retain more. I’ve never heard of soaking the hair in oil but I am definitely going to try it.

kxlot79
kxlot79
7 years ago

I really liked this article! I should be closing the year with 17.5″ to 18″ of hair at my longest layers and I am going for SIX inches of retention next year. I can practically SMELL that 24″ of hair. I should be waist length by then and I never considered #2 or #4 so they could definitely be the tide turner for me. I’m going to monitor ALL hair loss for six months and soak my ends in oil before manipulating and see if I notice a difference in my retention!

Dianne
7 years ago

Great article! Will recommend this to our readers too!!

coffeeandfingernails
7 years ago

Will definitely try dipping my twists in oil as I always get those knots at the end and they often end up breaking in my attempts to detangle them. Also, don’t know if this works for others but switching from shea to avocado butter has had an amazing difference in my hair strength. I feel like I could pull a tractor trailer without breaking a strand!

Angelina
Angelina
7 years ago

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Good advice!!! Will follow to pass bsl

Esione ASAKOME
7 years ago

this is just crazy beautiful hair!!!!! I cant wait till I achieve such lushness!

Nicie Daniels
Nicie Daniels
7 years ago

Thanks for the tips. I will most define try dipping my ends in oil before I untwist.

cacey
cacey
7 years ago

i will definitely second that it is quite common to get under 50 hairs a day. i know for sure that my breakage is around 30, 40 at the high end, but normally it’s more like 30 a day or even less. when i first heard/read the quote of 50–100, my eyes bugged because i was just like…wow, if i shed as much as 100 hairs a day i’m pretty sure i’d be bald or at least would have drastically thinner hair.

Hyspin
Hyspin
7 years ago

Good article except #1, it is impossible for me my rate of growth is 3 inches a year give or take 1/4 inch, with dusting I will always put under 3 inches. 🙁 so being below 4 inches and that dusting takes off about a quarter inch and trims about half inch what would be a realistic retained length for me?

Hyspin
Hyspin
7 years ago
Reply to  Hyspin

Note: my retained length is a different amount.

Jc
Jc
7 years ago
Reply to  Hyspin

A realistic aim in my view is to retain somewhere between 50–75% of your growth. This means about 1.5 to 2 inches per year. If your growth rate is 3 inches, your goal should be to really prevent any form of damage because conserving as much hair as possible is necessary to gain length. In my view, while it is possible to have a low growth rate such as 3 inches per year, it is actually not that common. Conditions such as anaemia (including sickle cell trait induced anaemia which many people of African origin can have without knowing) can… Read more »

AC
AC
7 years ago
Reply to  Jc

This sickle cell trait induced anemia you speak of, can it be found online? I have sickle cell trait and this interests me.

Jc
Jc
6 years ago
Reply to  AC

I also have sickle trait too and did have anaemia which I have managed to treat and prevent with iron supplementation. Since you know that you have sickle cell trait, you should go to your doctor and ask for an iron and haemoglobin test. It will tell you whether or not you have anaemia. You can find sources online but it is probably best to just see your doctor.

sirrena
sirrena
7 years ago

Hello everyone, I am having trouble retaining length and although I have managed to get my hair just past my shoulders I am looking for more. My hair is a mixture of 3s and 4s and is very curly and wavy. It is pinned up most of the time as I am trying not to use any heat on it whatsoever. The winter is hard because that means I cannot put water on my hair and then go outside. I have been trying to upload a photo but the page does not want to work with me but I welcome… Read more »

Kayla
Kayla
7 years ago
Reply to  sirrena

Maybe try switching to finger detangling? I noticed that a lot of my hair breakage comes from styling tools like combs and brushes. This website has great articles on it. A word of caution: finger detangling is time consuming, so if you can’t do it 100% of the time, just try to make sure to finger detangle before combing/brushing your hair.

xyzebra
xyzebra
7 years ago

Great list. I need to be more careful in un-twisting my twists, oiling the ends will help.

Lauryn
Lauryn
7 years ago

I think one good addition would be to detangle based on how your hair feels at the time! Sometimes I grab the detangling comb and I can tell my hair isn’t having it, so I get in there with my fingers. I love how natural hair really DOES tell you what it likes and doesn’t like — we just have to LISTEN 🙂

The mane captain
7 years ago

I will try soaking hair in oil the next time i take down a twist. Its just that I always wear a twist out afterwards and greasy hair isn’t cool.
as per growth rate, I also retain about 3inches per year when you factor in regular trimming, dusting and breakage, coupled with slow growth.
themanecaptain.blogspot.ca

Ellipsis
7 years ago

Anyone dealing with small ‘c’ shaped pieces (only when wet). I have tried EVERYTHING. increasing moisture. increasing protein (i did one at a time…increased moisture when it didn’t work i increased protein). My hair doesn’t FEEL dry, is thick, shiny and soft but i see small ‘c’ shaped pieces when my hair is wet. I dont use shampoo ( i use 1tsp Baking soda..leaves me hair SOOO soft and clean) and i only use shea mix to seal damp hair. I even trimmed still nothing. Any help?

Amor
Amor
7 years ago
Reply to  Ellipsis

I’ve seen them too, but it’s only because I wasn’t very nice to my hair. Also, have considered that your hair could be in one of those stages? How are you detangling? What’s going on internally? How are you styling? Once you start the process of elimination you can figure out what’s wrong.

RukiyatG
7 years ago
Reply to  Ellipsis

Sounds like you could be due for a trim. The small c shaped pieces are more than likely broken ends. I found that when I gave myself a trim and started moisturizing my ends with aloe vera gel mixed with a little emu or coconut oil the small c shapped broken hairs stopped! Hope this helps 🙂

Fayla
7 years ago

Great article! I will be trying the oil dipping. Also I have found that tea rinses are amazing for stopping shedding. Hibiscus, lavender, & rosemary are great herbs to make a tea from. Or you can also do black tea rinses, but if you opt for black tea rinses opt for only using it on the scalp as it can make the hair strands hard. Follow a black tea rinse with a dc 🙂

Knotty Natural
7 years ago
Reply to  Fayla

Great advice Fayla!

I used my tea rinses as a final rinse after I DC! The LOC method usually gives me all the moisture I need 🙂

sirrena
sirrena
7 years ago

I will try to finger detangle and try to wash in sections even though it seems like that will take longer in the shower. I will also try dipping my ends in oil to give them more slip. I am trying to do a new challenge for this year. I did notice a lot of shedding or breakage so I guess I can start tea rinses as well. right now I am just past my shoulders but I am hoping for at least 3 to 6 inches for the upcoming year. yeah!!!

Jordan
7 years ago

Oooohh I need to soak my ends! That’s my downfall! I’ve never read that! okay, yes! good to know.

Precious
Precious
7 years ago

So I just feel as if my hair is super breakage prone. But then again, I only touch my hair about 10 times out of the year. I’m addicted to braids… Any suggestions to retain length with braids installed?

Irisestill
Irisestill
6 years ago

Any suggestions on heavy duty moisture rich styling products for the winter? I know I’ve tried everything for my 4C hair.

Joanne Torku
Joanne Torku
6 years ago

I hate combing my hair. It always hurts so bad. Even when it is wet.

Sophie
Sophie
6 years ago
Reply to  Joanne Torku

are you putting in adequate amounts of conditioner on your wet hair before detangling?

Bettan
Bettan
5 years ago
Reply to  Sophie

I detangle my hair with conditioner and coconut oil and then i rinse it out with cold water.

Erin
Erin
6 years ago

I do check all my hair for bulbs a little tedious, I have noticed in the most part they are full length strands with bulbs I appear to be getting a lot more shedding than breakage, I am trying to work out why my hair sheds so much. I am going to try the oil dipping might help with ssks, the shedding hair seems to tangle dragging on other hairs causing more hair loss. I have used acv which worked wonders to stop hair meshing although the herb tea rinsing sounds interesting thanks for that advice Fayla 🙂

Latonya
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6 years ago

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J4ZZZ
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6 years ago

Hello,

What kind of twists are these in the pic for this article and how are they achieved?

Thank you in advance,
J4ZZZ

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LadyDulayne
LadyDulayne
6 years ago

Sadly, I have actually measured my hair growth by measuring my roots after coloring and I discovered my hair only grows 3 inches in an entire year. One quarter inch every month.

So even with keeping it moisturized and protected, with trims, I will never see more than this.

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Annie O
Annie O
5 years ago

learned a lot…like it. i practice wet detangling which is used in my processed her and conditioning detangling that works best with my now natural hair.

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4 years ago

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