Hair breakage 101

  Everyone loses some hair daily but if you notice that you’re losing more hair than normal, you’ve got to check it! It might be shedding or breakage. If you see long hairs with the hair bulb, this is probably shedding. This is caused by stress, hormones, change in diet, pregnancy, etc. You can reduce this by taking a good oral supplement, eating fruits and vegetables, taking adequate protein in your diet, checking your stress level.

     On the other hand, if you see shorter strands, your hair is breaking. The main causes of hair breakage are:

  • Too much moisture (or not enough protein)
  • Too much protein
  • Excessively dry hair
  • Over-processed hair
  • Excessive or inappropriate manipulation
     If you have been conditioning your hair every week and it’s still breaking like crazy, check the ingredients in your staple conditioner(s). If there is no protein in the conditioner, then you might be suffering from excess moisture! Yes, this can make hair break too. What you need to do is to deep condition with a protein conditioner. Afterwards, tweak your regimen by using a light protein conditioner at least once or twice a month. I use Organics Root Stimulator Replenishing conditioner as my light protein conditioner once a week.
     On the other hand, it you condition your hair weekly and your conditioner has proteins in it, you might be suffering from protein overload. If you comb your hair and it snaps immediately or breaks as soon as you touch your hair, your hair probably has too much protein. What you need to do is to clarify your hair and follow up with a moisturizing conditioner. Continue using ONLY moisturizing conditioners until your hair stops breaking. Afterwards, limit your use of heavy protein conditioners to once a month or even once in two months. Use only light protein conditioners frequently. If you want to know about light and heavy proteins, read this.
     If you don’t moisturize your hair especially your ends often, this can also cause breakage. Simple solution: deep condition and aim to moisturize your hair more frequently. You can also baggy your ends.
     In addition, if you use brushes on your hair, this could cause breakage.
     Opt for wide-tooth combs or even finger-combing. I prefer to finger-comb my hair. Excessively tight weave-ons and braids can also cause hair breakage. So can keeping them in for longer than 4 weeks. Bonding hair directly to your scalp or hair can also cause hair breakage. You have to be careful when taking down your hair extensions.
     Other reasons for hair breakage are over-processing, relaxing previously relaxed hair and coloring hair. Try not to let your relaxer stay in your hair for longer than the recommended time. While doing a touch-up, don’t let the relaxer touch previously relaxed hair. When you wait at least 8 weeks between touch-ups, it’s easier to see the demarcation between new growth and previously relaxed hair. This heps to prevent ‘re-relaxing’ those previously relaxed areas.
     If your hair is still breaking, see a good stylist! They might recommend something else!

Dr Fomsky

Related articles:
Causes of hair breakage

About the author
Dr Fomsky

Nigerian-born Dr Fomsky is a God-lover, a wife, a mom of three and a medical doctor by day. She is very passionate about hair, skin and weight management. Since she had babies, she's been struggling to keep her weight and her tummy down!
At night, she likes to read books, write blog posts and leave comments on other blogs. She lives in Paris, France and is also the author of Solving your relaxed hair breakage book
HAIR TYPE: 'Texlaxed' hair, High porosity, Fine hair strands, low to moderate density
CURRENT LENGTH: Between shoulder and armpit length
LOVING: Argan oil for sealing, Brown Butter Beauty Love Deep conditioner, Shescentit Blueberry Co-wash conditioner and Hairveda Red Tea Satin Moisturizer
LONG-TERM PLAN: Trim off bone-straight ends (6 inches left) over time

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15 Comments to Hair breakage 101

  1. Louise says:

    I lose hair all the time, and when I got pregnant my hair changed a lot it got straight but shedding got worse, even when I took pre natal vitamins. I almost never use the iron because of this but I never thought about protein, I´ll change my mosturizer and see what happens, thank you so much.

  2. Ifai says:

    I suspect excessive manipulation and inadequate protein are the culprit in my case. My breakage is so tiresome. I’ll take your advise and incorporate weekly light protein dc. no wonder my hair reacts VERY WELL to protein conditioners like Organics Hair Mayonnaise. I will revert with results when I take down my weave.

    • Dr_fomsky says:

      Organics hair mayonnaise is a really good protein conditioner. Keep using it and reduce your manipulation of your hair. Make sure u take before and after pictures of your hair journey to catalog your progress

      • Ifai says:

        I really need to start taking pics. My hair has improved greatly. I alternate between Organics hair mayonnaise and Organics cholesterol with tea-tree oil. These products are superb on my hair. My mom was surprised to see how full my hair is now. I have also learnt to detangle properly. this has greatly reduced breakage. I don’t leave my hair for stylists to detangle anymore. they care less and comb as carelessly as they desire.

        • Dr_fomsky says:

          My dear, I have the same problem : I don’t have a lot of pics. I guess cos it’s because I only do a length check every three months when I touch up. I’m soo happy for your hair growth!!

  3. Christina says:

    I relaxed my hair a month ago…. In the begin it is good near the end of the relaxer it go,s bad and my hair always breaks off. I mean the end of the month the middle and back of my hair breaks bad and I have to get my hair cut because I dont no what else to do… a black woman I just want my hair to grow long and beautiful. Too stop getting hair cuts. Having breakage stop my scalp is always too dry and hair someone please help me!!! Christina

  4. […] The difference between protein and moisturizing conditioners […]

  5. Amber says:

    Really great article. Thanks for the information. I suffered a lot of breakage after washing after my recent take down. I started a 3 month challenge and have been applying JBCO and sesame oil to my scalp 3-4 times a week and spraying a protein leave in conditioner into my braids for a month now. My hair has grown and feels softer but the breakage is worrying. Do you have any advice? Should I continue with both products?

    • Dr_fomsky says:

      Sorry for the delayed response. I am only just seeing this comment. No you should stop using both products including the protein leave in conditioner (which I believe might be the culprit). Re-introduce them one at a time and see if your hair breaks more with any of them. That way, you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact product responsible for your breakage. Take care.

      • Amber says:

        Hi. Thanks for the advice. I have since ceased using either product. I have been able to repair my hair to some degree. It is just the ends that keep snapping off when combed. Is there anything I can do to stop it or do I just need to cut off those bad ends. I pre poo with glycerine and olive oil overnight and was with a moisturising shampoo then condition with body shops’ banana conditioner. I’m scared to re-introduce either product for fear of reversing the progress I have made, especially the the protein treatment as I agree with you it was most likely the culprit!

        • Dr_fomsky says:

          Glad you were able to figure out what was causing the breakage. With regards to your ends, make sure you apply enough conditioner to your ends each time you condition your hair. In addition, you can try moisturizing your ends every night: mix a few drops of oil with your moisturizer and apply to your ends every night. If that doesn’t work, then you might need to trim the ends lightly. And by the way, that body shops’ banana conditioner sounds really yummy!! 😛

  6. C says:

    Hi! Can you help me out? Every time I put my hair even in a loose braid it starts getting shriveled up strands and tapered ends. I never see the broken hairs in my clothes or anything but it appears to be breakage. I only wear a loose braid at night. I have been breastfeeding for two years. I eat lots of fruits and veggies as well as meats and brown rice. Plus I eat yogurt, and sprouted nuts and seeds. The last time I had bloodwork done I was told it was excellent. I want to wear a loose braid at night because if I sleep on my hair it gets split ends. I drink water and have low porosity hair. My hair refuses leave-in conditioners so I deep condition, I use water and grapeseed oil. My ends are healthy, my hair does not appear dry. My hair is fine and hair products seem to worsen the breakage as do buns and braiding.

    • Dr_fomsky says:

      Took me a while to understand your comment but I think I do now. I think you should do a cross wrap at night when going to bed. That will keep your ends straight and prevent them from shrivelling. If you have breakage when you use hair products, you can reduce the frequency of using them. Do you use products with protein? That could be a cause of breakage when you bun or braid your hair too. I have a friend with low porosity hair and she doesn’t like grapeseed oil. Have you tried a more absorbent oil like avocado oil or olive oil?

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