I was having a discussion about hair breakage with some friends of mine and they were asking my advice on how to correct the issue in their lives. It was hard to fully give them a proper education about the state of hair when it is on a path to breakage. But what I was able to do was give them different product recommendations based off of what I could think about at the time. (SCROLL down to the bottom to skip to the TIPS section)
My number one hair goal is to have healthy hair and a healthy scalp. I would say that this goal is probably the same for anyone, male or female that has hair on their heads. After that, hair goals become more aesthetic because the culture we live in focuses so much on appearance. I will be honest, along with healthy hair, I have a goal to grow my hair as long as it can get. Now, this can change if I decide to chop all my hair off on a whim or do something that limits me from seeing maximum length. If a persons hair or scalp is unhealthy, they may start to see their hair breaking off. Hair breakage is a miserable thing that can stifle hair growth and halt the goals we have set out for ourselves. Hair breakage is like an unwanted hair cut… it sucks.
We have to remember that our hair is very fragile and deciding to baby the hair after you begin to see visible damage is counterintuitive because it may be too late to preserve the problem areas. Because of the intensity of hair styling in our culture, the breakage we are seeing on our tresses is more drastic than ever before. The practices of continuous heat styling, permanent hair coloring, chemical relaxing, sulfate cleansing, and using rough styling tools daily aids to the extreme breakage many are seeing throughout their hair.
When hair is breaking (slowly or all at once), it is more than likely due to improper protein AND moisture balance (along with ALL of the factors mentioned above). Often times one might attribute breakage as a result of dryness and on the other hand, one might think of hair breakage as a lack of hair strength. In reality, hair breakage is a combination of both and can be remedied with the addition and rotation of protein and moisture products, and a healthy hair care regime.
When choosing the correct products for YOUR hair (everyone has different hair needs, so choose products based on what your hair wants/needs) always read the ingredient labels. It is important to read the labels of the things you put into your hair, as well as the foods you put into your body. When it comes to selecting moisture based products, you want to look for WATER as the first, or one of the first ingredients on the list. The reason for this is because water is moisture. It is the most important ingredient for black hair because the hair tends to be drier due to texture and curl pattern.
Water does not make hair dry, it is what keeps the hair moisturized. I always say that if your hair is dry it needs water. You can add water to your hair when you wash and condition, co-wash with a cleansing conditioner, or use a water based moisturizer or leave-in!
When choosing a protein based product you want something that is going to allow the proteins in the product to bind to the small spaces of the cuticle layers in the hair. Proteins like keratin, different amino acids, collagen, and milk protein, are known as hydrolyzed proteins (look up hydrolyzed proteins for hair online for more information). Products like protein rich deep conditioners are great for rebuilding hair fibers and rebuilding the strength of the hair, especially for those with chemically relaxed strands in need of protein supplementation due to the harsh effects of the relaxing process.
When choosing new products to add to your hair care regime, make sure that you are rotating your products. I would not recommend using a protein based treatment every week because you do not want to put your hair on protein overload. Switch out your protein treatments with products that are more moisturizing when needed. When I do hair, I make sure to asses the state of the tresses before I proceed with any products. Again if my hair is dry, I need to add water in some form, if it feels weak, I usually will do some form of a protein treatment. Then, I will rotate my routine for the next wash day.
Another important part of the hair care process is to develop a Healthy Hair Care Regime. A Healthy Hair Care Regime is a plan that gives you direction on how you are going to care for your hair. I think having a Healthy Hair Care Regime is important for those who want to regrow hair or have a specific hair goal in mind.
If you feel like your hair is extremely damaged from breakage and in need of some TLC try to implement the tips below into your routine.
1. Sulfate-free shampoo.
Sulfate-free shampoos are great because they gently cleanse the hair. They are not as harsh as sulfate based shampoos. Sulfates are compounds in cleansing products that completely strip the hair of its moisture and oils which can lead to hair breakage if used on a regular basis. I only recommend a shampoo with sulfates if the hair needs to be clarified. (However, there are more natural products that can be used for clarifying purposes). When you are using any shampoo, focus only on the scalp. because you do not want to dry out your strands with the product.
2. Moisturizing conditioner.
Black hair is like a sponge, it loves to soak up moisture. Moisturizing conditioners are great because they replenish the hair strands with tons of moisture. When applying your conditioner, be generous. You can even use heat if you are using you moisturising conditioner as your deep conditioner.
3. Deep conditioner.
This is the step where you can really pamper your tresses. Same method mentioned above applies to your deep conditioner. I recommend using heat and allowing your strands to soak up all of the goodness your deep conditioner has to offer.
4. Moisturizing leave-in conditioner.
Helps you maintain moisture, softens, and prepares your hair for your styling products.
5. Seal with an oil.
Use an oil/oil based product after your moisturizing products to seal the cuticle layer of the hair which helps the moisture stay inside.
6. Carefully Detangle.
Use your fingers first to detect any knots, then use a comb and/or paddle brush to finely detangle and smooth the hair.
7. Low Manipulation
Keep hair manipulation and styling to a minimum and avoid using heat tools as often too.
I hope the information above makes sense, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!