Split ends and breakage are the bane of length retention. However, sometimes hair just naturally will split and break even with the best care possible. This article is intended for those who really are doing everything right (gentle handling, happy with your wash and moisture routine), but still see split ends and breakage. If you have fine hair that has multiple kinks and a tight curl, you may be used to seeing these tiny wisps of hair when you run your hand through/over your hair or when you comb/detangle. Your hair is highly susceptible to splitting and breaking as a result. However, it is still possible to gain length provided you deal with the hair fiber correctly. Here are some tips:
1. Reduce overall styling time of free hair
The less you manipulate your hair, the less damage you do to it. The highest amount of breakage outside of detangling tends to be seen when hair strands are being styled while free. Therefore reducing this overall styling time is a big key to retaining length. For example:
- Lady A: Wears a twistout regularly. It takes 3 hours to install initial twists and after that point daily styling requires 10 minutes in the morning and another 10 minutes to prep at night. Over the course of two weeks, just under 8 hours are spent styling free hair.
- Lady B: Wears own hair twists which take 3 hours to install. The style is kept for 2 weeks at a time without undoing the twists. Over the course of two weeks, 3 hours are spent styling free hair.
- Lady C: Wears box braids which take 10 hours to install and the style is kept for 8 weeks at a time without undoing. Over the course of two weeks, 2.5 hours are spent styling free hair.
I have used typical styles and times in the examples above. The point of the examples is simply to say, reduce the time you spend styling your free strands of hair and reduce the likelihood of breakage of those strands.
2. Never go on a no-trim challenge
The more your hair naturally has a tendency to split/break, the more frequently you need to trim. Hair is predictable, if it snaps easily because it has kinks, it will always do so despite your best efforts as the kinks will always be there. Trimming should be a constant and consistent part of your routine to make sure that the broken hair is under control. Split ends or fibrillated ends from breakage will form a hotspot for pushing breakage further up the shaft. I would recommend a dusting routine where you cut off a quarter of an inch every 2 months or so. Please pick up a ruler and look at a quarter of an inch, it is not much at all, just enough to pinch off the broken ends. If your hair is long enough, a search and destroy routine can work too, but you should do it thoroughly and frequently e.g once a month.
3. Wet hands not wet hair
Many naturals will naturally begin styling by getting out a spray bottle and misting hair. If your hair shrinks easily , you may have found that this is counterproductive as hair only shrinks and it becomes more difficult to part or separate strands BUT you can work around it. A slight amount of water is all that is needed to make hair more flexible. Mist a small amount of water onto your hands, enough to get them moist but not enough to drip water off. Apply that small amount of water to a section of hair (if you work in quarters, apply to one quarter), taking care to smooth it from root to tip. Give it a minute or so to sink in then immediately start working on the section. Reapply water to your hands should your hair stop being flexible.
Do you find yourself dealing with breakage-prone hair? What practices have you implemented in your regimen to combat breakage and split ends?