Breakage: the hair care Boogeyman

Kristen McKinson

Since becoming a hair naturalista in April, I’ve found one word that ignites unparalleled fear and universal panic for naturalistas across the board – breakage.

Hair loss can be extremely frustrating, but it’s also a normal part of our hair’s growth cycle. To fully understand what breakage means, you must learn how to differentiate it from another common and perfectly normal form of hair loss – shedding.

Shedding occurs when hair is lost at the root, but strands are always replenishing themselves after shedding. Typically, we lose anywhere between 70 to 100 strands of hair daily, but can lose much more depending on stress levels and health conditions. Breakage on the other hand isn’t natural, suggesting damage. It can be caused by brittleness, dryness, lack of or too much protein, rough handling and over-manipulation of the hair.

How do you know if you have breakage verses shedding? Do a quick “bulb test.” Simply take a strand of hair from your comb or brush, and look at each end of the strand. If there is a visible white bulb, then no worries; it’s all-natural shedding. But if there’s no visible bulb, and the strands are shorter than your hair’s actual length, then you’ve got breakage.

The best cure for the dreaded breakage is always prevention. Use conditioners with humectants that help retain moisture and detangle properly without ripping strands. Also adopt alcohol-free or low-alcohol products, which can dry out your hair.

Also, consider protecting your hair regularly, whether through the use of satin scarves, wraps, or pillowcases, or through adopting low manipulation “protective” styles. Be sure to also add a great leave-in conditioner to your regimen, and try out a mix of essential oils, which can help protect by sealing cuticle. And if you do have excessive breakage, there’s no avoiding it. Getting a salon to trim raggedy ends will boost our look, while giving to a clean start for a healthy hair routine.



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