I think one of the top issues I had while transitioning from relaxed hair to natural hair was preventing breakage. Breakage is the result of your hair not being strong enough, or able to withstand being manipulated. Even healthy hair can break if the force is great enough and limits are exceeded. Breakage was also a motivator for me to be chemical free. There are a number of ways to stop, and prevent breakage from happening. Here are five tips that I find useful and would suggest to others.
Trim your ends!
I know it can be hard to let go of your hair, but if you neglect to trim your ends when necessary you’ll end up losing a lot more in the long run. Some sources suggest trimming every couple of months. I suggest trimming when necessary, because you may not have split ends or damage after 6 months. BUT if you ignore damaged ends they’ll literally fray, and split up the hair shaft like a loose rope unraveling. The only way to correct this is to cut it off. There are products and methods you can use to temporarily solve this, but extreme split ends are definitely preventable. Neglect in this way can go from needing a minor trim to needing a major cut! Split or damaged ends can become dehydrated quickly, which leads to brittleness. This brittleness is what makes your hair snap off at its weakest point.
Be mindful when using heat!
Over use of heating tools, and lack of heat protector can lead to damaged hair strands, follicles and/or scalp. All of these need to be healthy to maintain health hair, length, and to prevent breakage. Over time heat will lead to damage if used in excess. Heat damage can come from curling irons, flat irons, hair driers, hot rollers, and even the sun! Constantly applying heating tools to your hair weakens it. You can cause permanent damage the first time you apply a heating tool to your hair by incorrect use!
Maintain a healthy diet!
I don’t mean start a crash diet, swear off meat, and sign up for a marathon. You should however be conscious of how healthy, and what you eat. Good nutrition and healthy hair do correlate to each other. An imbalanced diet consisting of too many sugars and fats (for example) can be a cause of dry, brittle hair. Both of these lead to breakage. Eating a well balanced diet will allow your scalp and hair to be at its healthiest condition. If certain vitamins/nutrients are missing then you’re depriving your scalp and hair of what it needs to stay strong and to combat breakage.
Moisturize & condition!
Keeping your hair sufficiently conditioned and moisturized will help it maintain its flexibility and elasticity. The more flexible and elastic the strands are the less likely they are to break from tension, stretching, and general manipulation. Water is a great moisturizer, and conditioning your hair while it’s wet is one of the best times! Hair absorbs conditioner the best when it’s clean, and rid of buildup. I’d suggest washing at least once a week. If your hair is dry, from lack of moisture, then waiting longer to wash it is doing more harm than good. Moisturizers will penetrate the hair and conditioners will help smooth and seal it in. If your hair is breaking very easily, lack of moisture is most likely the culprit.
Beware of tension!
Constant tension on any part of your hair will eventually lead to breakage, thinning, or even permanent hair loss. Tension can come from headbands, elastics, rubber bands, hair ribbons, braids, ponytails, etc. Frequent rubbing (friction) from elastics, for example, can weaken the hair at that section. Over time this part of the hair can break off. Pony tails that are too tight can also cause excessive tension at the hair line. Continually doing this can damage the individual hair follicles permanently, leading to traction alopecia. If you’re getting headaches, a sore scalp, or tender head from a style/tool, then it is too restricting!
While transitioning it’s very important that you stay aware of your hairs condition and state. Preventing breakage will ease the process, and help you maintain length!