Quick tip on knowing how your hair is breaking and not shedding: Shed hair will typically have a white bulb attached to it. It is also typically longer than hair that has broken off.
The list below can go on and on, but I have decided to touch on just a few points for now. We can always come back to it later.
Cotton is not your friend
Cotton is our fabric of choice in the tropics. However it is not the best fabric for your hair because cotton’s natural disposition is to absorb moisture – makes it great for underwear and clothing in the tropics but an absolute no-no for natural hair which needs all the moisture it can get.
Buy a satin bonnet/scarf and or a satin pillowcase. Some people use all three or a combination of 2. If you have big hair, you may not be able to stuff it all under a scarf.
Some people even wear a satin bonnet/scarf under their cotton scarf – like when you want to rock a cotton turban or big Ankara scarf. Even a gele.
If you are constantly styling your hair or just generally doing something with it (combing, brushing, and smoothening with your hands – anything that introduces friction) you increase your risk of hair breakage. Low manipulation styles should correct this. Basically, just leave your hair alone!
Not every conditioner/shampoo pomade or even natural butter is for everyone. If you have really fine hair, you may find that using shea butter on its own is too heavy for your hair. A light oil may be better suited for your hair type.
If you use certain products e.g. conditioners that contain certain kinds of silicones which need to be washed out frequently, you will need a shampoo containing a sulphate to wash off the silicones properly. These shampoos are usually quite harsh and can be drying and stripping on the hair. On the other hand, if you decide to use a gentler shampoo it may not get all the silicones out and that will lead to silicone buildup which will lead to even more dryness.
Hydrate, Lubricate, Moisturize, Seal
When your hair is dry, it breaks off easier. Moisturize your hair with water and or a leave-in conditioners and seal with an oil or butter. If you have skipped the water and or leave –in conditioner and just used an oil or butter, your hair has not been moisturized.
For some reason, the word moisturize is used for oils but in the true sense of it, oils do not moisturize your hair. Oils and butters are emollients while water and leave-in conditioners (which always contain water) actually hydrate and introduce moisture to the hair.
Moisture vs. Protein
If your hair is chemically relaxed, you will need more protein conditioning treatments than a natural haired girl. That means that naturals do not need as many protein treatments and can usually go with a regime that involves supplying more moisture than protein. This does not mean that you should kick protein treatments to the curb. Just find a good balance.
- Anything that will result in or promote dry hair should be chucked out the window.
- Try to reduce frictional forces – combing, brushing and manipulation.
- Understand what products work for your hair.
Further reading (You can pick up a few points):
Hair Breakage in Normal and Weathered Hair: Focus on the Black Patient. Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings (2007) 12, 6–9.