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The Link Between Crown Breakage and Porosity in Natural Hair

• Jan 16, 2014

crown

By Chinwe of Hair and Health

(This article was inspired by a conversation I had with a lovely natural, my sis, Jacqueline.)

For some ladies, hair in the crown area is more susceptible to breakage than in other regions of the scalp. The source of this susceptibility may be some sort of trauma and/or damage to the follicles. On the other hand, the source can be at the shaft level via a difference in texture, density, and/or curl pattern from hair in other regions of the scalp.

The above and many other possibilities have been mentioned in previous hair care articles. However, one possibility that is rarely discussed is that of crown breakage due to high porosity. Let’s talk about that today:

1. What is porosity? 

By now, many of you probably know about porosity, but for those who do not, here is some quick background information:

The outermost layer of each hair strand on our head is called the cuticle layer. This segment essentially helps to protect the cortex (an inner layer in the hair shaft). The cuticle consists of numerous scales that lay flat or are lifted, which impacts fluid (e.g., moisture) flow between the environment and the cortex. This is where ‘porosity’ comes into play.

Now, some naturals have relatively porous strands or “high” porosity due to cuticle scales that are lifted or in extreme cases, missing or damaged.  Other naturals have seemingly impermeable strands or “low” porosity due to cuticle scales that lay flat.  Then there are those who have strands that lie somewhere in between or what some would like to call “normal” porosity.

2. How are porosity and crown breakage related?

Just as the hair strands on your head may be a mix of different textures (fine to coarse), curl patterns (e.g., type 4A and 3C), and densities (low to high), they can also be a mix of different porosities, especially after experiencing damage. For example, while the rest of your hair may be low porosity, your crown area may be high porosity.  Consequently, two different hair care routines may be required for the crown area versus the rest of your hair (mainly in the area of moisture). Without taking that into consideration, one can end up improperly caring for the crown area (that is, by assuming that one’s whole head is low porosity) which can then lend to breakage in that region.

Some of you may be wondering, “What can cause this porosity difference between the crown and the rest of the hair?”  Well, one possibility could be direct exposure of the crown to the sun’s ultraviolet rays as discussed in this post by Shelli of Hairscapades. The thought is that because of this direct exposure, the crown is more susceptible to damage at the structural level. What are some other possibilities? My sister hypothesizes possible damage to follicles in the crown area due to high heat exposure (i.e., years of sitting under hooded driers). There are studies that associate high temperature heat with such damage (Annals of Plastic Surgery, 2000 June; Volume 44, No. 6, pp. 581–90). I would also like to add a third possibility – follicle damage due to years of using relaxers. That being said, we know that damage at that level (the follicle) can lend to hair strands that grow slower (if they grow at all), weaker, and sometimes a different texture.  Can damage at this level also affect porosity since formation of the hair shaft begins, within the follicle?  Hmm.

3. What are some steps you can take to reduce crown breakage associated with porosity?

Well, assuming your crown is more porous (and prone to dryness) than the rest of your hair, it becomes a matter of adjusting your hair care routine to account for that difference. Some possible adjustments targeted toward a porous crown area include: incorporating regular protein treatments, avoiding heat usage, and gentler handling. (For more details on these steps, read this earlier BGLH post on “How to Deal with High Porosity”.)

First and foremost, determine what it is about your crown that makes it breakage prone.  Please consult a dermatologist to help you make that determination and to rule out a potential medical condition.

 

Ladies, have you experienced crown breakage?  What was the cause?

About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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reese
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reese

OMG! this article is right‐on‐time. Thank you. I have noticed that my hair breaks and grows slower on my crown. Now my hair wash or co‐wash, deep condition and detangle routine has gone from 4 sections to 6. I have added another 2 sections at my crown so that I can properly add product to that area and especially finger detangle. I have seen a difference in shedding and moisture retention in that area.

mimi
Guest
mimi

I can testify to the trueness of this!
I suddenly decided to pay attention to my edges the other day and realised, I needed to moisturise it like twice a day (or even more).
Whilst the rest of my hair is one in 2–3 days.
I have managed to reduce it to about once (and hope it helps) a day, by dealing with castor oil, an oil that I absolutely CANNOT put on the rest if my entire head (because it’s thick and my hair is fine). But on my edges? Ooooh softness and moisturisation!!

Jacqueline
Guest
Jacqueline

Mimi, I have found that my low porosity hair loves castor oil (coconut too). My edges smooth out nicely with castor oil. It leaves the rest of my hair tacky and frizzy after a day or so. I also found that my high porosity sections love shea butter, but it is too heavy for the rest of my hair. As tricky as it can be to find what our hair likes, it can also be a fun experimenting and learning process.

Gilda
Guest
Gilda

I’m including with the percentage of people that believe the heat from sitting under a hooded dryer has contributed to the thinning of my hair in the crown. I’ve always questioned why the holes were located at the top of the dryer and stopped sitting under them years ago. The hair at the top is cotton‐y, as well as, rough and dry. It tangles more and I believe it’s either split to mid shaft or/and my hope is, it’s extremely dry. Out of everything I’m learning about my hair, I’m still a bit confused about porosity or how to determine… Read more »

honeybrown1976
Guest
honeybrown1976

I drown my crown in more moisture than the rest of my hair because it’s the driest section. Drown it!

JazzWife
Guest

Exactly!

Jacqueline
Guest
Jacqueline

Great article sis! Protein treatments are definitely helpful. I have incorporated Mill Creek Keratin conditioner and my hair is retaining more moisture at the crown. Sally’s Beauty also has Neutral Protein Filler that you can add to your moisturizing conditioners. Anything with keratin is great! Some other things that help me care for my crown are using low ph products (i.e. Knot Today or aloe vera juice/gel) immediately after deep conditioning. That instantly closes the hair cuticle. I then follow up with manual sealing (LOC or LCO method). Oils like avocado, jojoba and olive have been helpful in locking in… Read more »

Genia
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Genia

Awesome article ! Thanks for sharing

Thetruthisoutthere
Guest
Thetruthisoutthere

I have 4c cottony coils. I notice MORE ssk and needle eye splits in the canopy of my hair. I always attributed it to environmental damage, e.g. UV rays, dry air, as well as HIH. I roller set my hair 5 days ago, and while the curls are still intact on the rear and nape, the crown is a matted frizzed mess. I used curlformers and a protein styling spritz several weeks ago, and noticed a dramatic increase in broken hair. I believe the damage was caused from tugging during the curlformers installation. I want to do a protein DT… Read more »

Tabatha_Frm_ Ri
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Tabatha_Frm_ Ri

I only have a question. Has anyone experienced hair loss from using vitika oil?

anastasia
Guest
anastasia

I know many ppl love vatika(?) oil, but it makes my hair brittle and prone to breakage.

FinVoilaQuoi
Guest
FinVoilaQuoi

Thanks so much! This is very timely. I have a gaping section of broken sadness in my crown. I wish there were such a thing as a “hair cast” (maybe braids are the closest equivalent?) so I could just let it rest for a while.

caribbeancurl
Guest
caribbeancurl

3 days ago I cut about 3/4 inch of hair from around the crown area only. It was the only part of my hair that had knots, split end and mid strand splits. The only area!! So I snipped. I am glad that I have now read this article. I will try to keep this area more moisturised than usual and observe.

Tracienatural
Guest
Tracienatural

A small section of my crown area seems to shed more than everywhere else on my head. At first, I thought it might be a medical issue, but after I gave that area some TLC, the shedding reduced–but did not stop completely. Right now, I’m growing out my hair with kinky twists, which I install myself, so I make them bigger and loose to avoid any unnecessary tension. I think one of the reasons some of us have drier areas in the crown or shedding is from past practices–I used to wear ponytails constantly, and the extension was usually placed… Read more »

Christine
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Christine

If your are using real eggs as your protein treatment, you may need to consider using smaller proteins (hydrolysed) to penetrate the hair shaft.

HortonHearsA...
Guest
HortonHearsA...

I’m 4c with dense hair but fine strands. Breakage is a part of my life. My main areas that break are my dry ends which can become brittle easily and hair near the roots all over. I do not have a crown problem though it is harder to moisturise that part of the head and sometimes it gets neglected. While applying and rinsing products, I have noticed that different parts of my head are tighter coils or looser coils, the looser ones are on the crown and at the front, they are generally soft and retain more moisture. The sides,… Read more »

stephanieb
Guest
stephanieb

Sounds like my hair as well, my crown was weak for a long time, I and I think it was due to relaxer damage and the hair dryer, but using essential oils, massaging the area, and really being delicate with those areas has helped alot.

mary
Guest
mary

Wow, finally an answer to what has been going on with my bangs and crown. I hope there is a way to repair damaged follicles.

Teresa
Guest
Teresa

Massage some ACV up there. It has helped my crown tremendously. No breakage or weak strands any more. Plus I finally have some growth.

mary
Guest
mary

How often do you massage it in and what were the results?

mary
Guest
mary

Never mind the results part of my reply. I see you answered that already.
LOL

hmm
Guest
hmm

What if you’re protein sensitive?

Thetruthisoutthere
Guest
Thetruthisoutthere

I know this sounds like a ‘duh’, but ‘drown it’ like honeybrown1976 suggested. Moisturize regularly with a protein free conditioner. I experienced protein overload and tension damage several weeks ago. I stopped and put my hair on a TLC regimen of moisturizing‐only conditioners and LOC method. When my hairs’ moisture balance was restored, I did an Aphogee two step treatment to address the breakage, and resumed a moisture and oil regimen. I like Aphogee Two‐step protein treatment, but the Aphogee balancing moisturizer conditioner is insufficient for my 4c hair. I used Sally GVP Conditioning Balm. Once I realized my hair… Read more »

Tiffany W
Guest
Tiffany W

Thank you for this article! I wouldn’t say my crown experiences breakage, but it grows *considerably* slower than the rest of my hair. It does grow, but there is a 1in. by 1in patch of hair that is two inches shorter than the rest of my hair. This has been the case even when I was relaxed. Thanks to this article, I’m beginning to think I may have experienced follicular damage due to relaxers. I will do some more research to see what steps can be taken to repair this, if any! Thanks again!

Elle
Guest
Elle

Proteins
Lauric acid (coconut, palm, laurel seed oil)
Keratoplastics (Jojoba liquid)
Many oils (not sure if it’s the palmitic acid or myristic acid or both)

I also stay away from many plant extracts, however pharmaceutical grade Lanolin is a humectant and breathable sealant and has been a lifesaver for my hair (and face and body).

mary
Guest
mary

I started using lanolin a couple months ago and it really softens my hair. Smells strong though.

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

I just started using lanolin, and you’re right–that smell is something else! Mixing a few drops of jasmine essential oil and/or lavender essential oil into a dollop helped me feel less like I smelled sheepish 🙂

mary
Guest
mary

That’s funny. I added some peppermint and lavender but its still kinda strong. I got a “grease” recipe for it on line that mixes it with shea butter and olive oil and I’ve used it to seal my ends. Works pretty good. What made you try it?

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

Yeah, masking the smell is a bit tricky…I use it straight on my ends as a sealant after using the LOC method. I like how soft it makes my hair, and I’ve noticed fewer SSKs on my ends since I’ve added it to the regimen. I decided to try it because I was having moisture retention issues–this winter is crazy!

mary
Guest
mary

Yeah my ends lost their minds as soon as the weather got cold and I had to cut them off like an inch or two. SMH. Good to know it helps with SSKs I never got them in the summer but had them like crazy by the end of November.

Elle
Guest
Elle

I use the Australian Golden brand, more expensive, but it’s the mildest I’ve ever smelled. I’ve been looking into adding EOs, but am too lazy, Lol!

mary
Guest
mary

lol. I am surprised so many people are using it. Where do you get the Australian Golden brand?

Teresa
Guest
Teresa

OMG! This just happened to my hair about a month ago. I credited it to the combination of me touching the top of my head, water from shower hitting my crown and me flat ironing my hair recently. Never would I have though about my follicles being damaged. Uh..yeah! Now that I think about the many many years and an over abundant amount of money and time I have spent relaxing and hood drying, must have been pre‐damage. However, I have noticed stronger hair and length in a very short time after using apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper mix… Read more »

Dionne Armstrong
Guest

I colored my hair and wasnt keeping it moisturized properly in the crown area. Years of perming broke my hair off in the crown area but guess what? Im going to get it right! I love being natural

Shamara Howard
Guest
Shamara Howard

It is so refreshing to know that I am not the only one that has this trouble. My crown can be a dry 4B while the surrounding is 3C and 4a. I almost have the full spectrum and, because of this, I have dealt with my hair based on the weakest parts; which is the crown. I oil daily, deep condition bi‐weekly, use protein treatments very 6 weeks, and try not to comb while tangled. It is work, but I am navigating the life of a natural. Now trying to keep my hair braided for the winter to protect it… Read more »

T Lew
Guest
T Lew

I got relaxers from the time I was 5 until I was 30! I have always had crown breakage, and it continues even after being natural for 4 years. I do wonder if there is follicle damage involved because even the scalp feels a little different and sensitive. My daughter is 10 and as long as I have a say, she will never put that poison near her scalp! Hopefully with some TLC I can get that hair to stop breaking and grow as long as the rest. Thanks for the tips!

Dionne Armstrong
Guest

Coloring my hair and not moisturizing my hair properly caused my damage. Perming my hair for years startbthe breakage.

Amy
Guest
Amy

Stress, birth control, neglect of deep conditioning and protein treatments, and my hair broke off completely at the crown and sides of my head. 2 months later i’m doing deep conditions once a week and light protein treatments every 2 weeks and it’s grown about an inch and a half (slowly but surely). With so much growth since going natural (15 inches) I really don’t want to cut all my hair off again so fingers crossed this works. :/

Ricky J.
Guest
Ricky J.

Can wearing a bun daily damage my follicle?

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