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Curly Nikki

4 Major Causes of Hair Breakage

By January 27th, 202138 Comments

4 Major Causes of Hair Breakage

Healthy hair is important to women regardless of hair type or texture. Do you know any woman who wants to walk around with bald spots or hair that is falling out and/or shedding excessively? Chances are you don’t. If not taken seriously, breakage can cause lasting affects on your hair’s health.

1. Hairstyles – If there is tightness or tension on your scalp from any style chances are you will suffer from severe breakage. Although hair is comprised of protein, keratin to be exact – it is fragile especially around the nape and crown. If there is tugging, pulling, pressure, tightness this can lead to bald patches.

From my own personal experience I can tell you that the way you choose to style your hair is important in preventing and/or minimizing breakage. Recently, I wore synthetic extensions styled in braids for two months. At the time, I had them done I was wincing in pain at the tightness of the braids on my scalp. I suffered major breakage at the crown of my head as a result.

2. Styling Tools – Excessive use of heat related tools like blow dryers, flat irons, curling irons, hot rollers, etc will weaken your hair’s cuticle. Limit the frequency of usage and minimize the length of time the heat is in contact with your hair. If you are using heating tools excessively make sure to deep condition your hair on a weekly basis.

3. Manipulating Wet Hair – If your hair is wet try to minimize its manipulation. Wet hair is more susceptible to breakage than dry hair. Use a detangler to reduce tangles and knots. Also, use a wide tooth comb to section and detangle. If a brush must be used, make sure to start at the ends and work your way up while holding your hair taut at the base.

4. Styling Products – The excessive use of chemical processes like coloring, straightening, and bleaching will dry your hair out if not maintained properly which will in turn cause, brittle, vulnerable hair susceptible to breakage. Limit the use of these products and be sure to condition accordingly when necessary.

Of course there are other factors that also contribute to hair breakage – such as illness and/or nutrition. However, these four factors are controllable by you. If you are able to minimize these causes you will be doing you and your hair a great service.

Have you recently dealt with breakage?
What was the culprit?
What are you doing to remedy things?


  • Megan Harris says:

    I have that same problem! I tend to do my hair everyday! I rarely ever have the same style for more than one day. That is why I really need to find a natural hair stylist. The only time I go to the hair dresser is when I get my hair straightened and that needs to change.

  • Simonr says:

    i so love this site!

  • Karia Daniel says:

    Hair Thermalizer helps reduce breakage and promote healthy hair growth with moisture retention!! Check out!! Place in browser and see for yourself! I absolutely love it and No, its not a chemical or texturizer :))

  • Natural Noni says:

    Well I have always done light detangling w/t coconut oil to prepare myhair for washing but then I realized how much easier it was to detangle my hair and I started finger detangling my hair w/t coconut oil and just my fingers. I don't detangle again and keep my hair in twist. I do however finger detangle my daughters hair w/t conditioner after I drench it w/t water and her hair breaks less than when I did it before w/t my wide tooth comb. So finger detangling or wide tooth comb is best and being very gentle w/t lots of patience!

  • ✎ Justine Monikue ✖ says:

    I agree; my hair is a lot easier to manage when it's wet.

  • Adeola Adegbusi says:

    I think a lot of people have such hair length differences including myself. And I agree curly hair is mire pliable when wet. My hair is crunchy when dry and so it breaks easily when I try to handle it.

  • Adrienne Moore says:

    even though you stopped highlighting your hair, how are you wearing it? and what are you using for moisture? yes, color can be damaging, but there may be something else that continues to cause damage.

  • Relationshipdna says:

    I agree with Globetrotter…I cannot touch my daughter's hair if it's not completely damp. I only comb her hair after a wash and I have no issues with breakage. I only wish
    Y mother knew this trick. It would have saved me a few years of pain and saved me a couple thousands of dollars from salon visits to slap on that creamy crack.

  • Jill says:

    My hair started breaking off on the left side four years ago. I used to get high lights about every 4-5 months, For one year I stopped high lighting, cut it short and stopped using heat. I still have this problem. Please help.

  • Deborrah Cooper says:

    I've been using organic coconut creme straight out of the carton for the most part as my conditioner, but 2x a month I mix it with an overripe avocado in the blender and put that on as a pre-poo. I use an oil based shampoo bar to wash my hair that is wonderful. And a concoction I created that moisturizes, detangles and helps style my hair for twists that contains flax seed gel and Red Roobios tea. A spriz of rosewater, aloe and oil on a daily basis and I'm done. I have VERY little shedding, no breakage and my hair is shiny soft and healthy. Wasn't always this way, but I've discovered what works and I'm not changing!

  • GlobeTrotter5K says:


    "If your hair is wet try to minimize its manipulation. Wet hair is more susceptible to breakage than dry hair. Use a detangler to reduce tangles and knots."

    Detanglers are made of liquid = wet.

    Spritzing my hair with water helped me to detangle my 4b/c hair pretty well too.

    This is the first time I am hearing that it is better to comb hair while dry. In my personal experience this could not be farther from the truth.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am completely natural since august of last year and I had the big chop and my hair grew then once I got color in my hair of last December my hair started rubbing out or something not sure what happen but it is in the middle of my head, but the rest is growing. What cold I be doing wrong? I use color shampoo and conditioner along with redskin and a vitamin treatment. I even comb my hair and I don't see any hair coming out.

  • Eklctc says:

    My issue is breakage but it's very specific. The hair in the very center of my head is always shorter than all the way around (natural or not) and, currently, the lower, left side is the shortest strands at approximately 2 inches compared to the 3-6 inches of the strands on all other sections of my head.

    Additionally, water is part of my daily haircare regimen and my hair is at it's most manageable when spritzed with water. I do my best not to use any products that have alcohols and unnatural ingredients. I use apple cider vinegar when I need to wash out build-up, shea butter leave-in conditioner and a homemade concoction of shea butter,coconut oil, and olive oil for moisture plus I sleep with a satin bonnet on yet I can't seem to get control of this middle and lower middle breakage I am experiencing.

  • cammi89 says:

    so is it unhealthy to comb out and twist up my hair when it is wet? it is more manageable when wet so i usually try to twist it up small then.

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh and remember that curly (natural black hair in this case) is more susceptible to breakage at every turn. Literally. Those areas where one ringlet meets another is most vulnerable and needs that care and consideration…with patience. So that is why the slip and moisture is needed.

  • Anonymous says:

    Totally agree with anonymous 6:32. When I read it initially I was taken aback. Well the truth is, manipulating straight hair when wet will cause breakage but when it comes to curls it s a different story. Because water provides that well needed moisture and slip to curls it is always best to detangle, style or comb when wet or moist (whether with conditioner, oil or other moiturizer). So…recap: straight hair = no moisture manipulation and curly hair = only moisture manipulation.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think the manipulating dry hair applies to straight hair in this case as opposed to curly hair; which we all know is best manipulated wet. I'm really late by the way lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    My personal experience with detangling and combing my hair with minimal breakage is during the shampoo/conditioning process, where it is soaking wet, and has a conditioning shampoo, or conditioner on it, the comb glides through it with ease. Combing through very curly natural hair is totally difficult for my black natural hair. So for me, combing dry does not make sense, I end up with hair all in the comb and over the floor, even with a detangler put it, it only softens it enough to comb through very very gently. Much easier wet with plenty of conditioner.

  • cellotlhicks says:

    My hair is doing well at the moment. I've gone from CBL to APL since December, but this stil helps. I need to make sure I don't slip back into any bad habits. Like anon 1143 said, my hair is also more prone to breakage when I comb it dry. If I wet it and use conditioner, the comb goes right through, and I barely lose any hair. I use the tangle teazer and only need 2-3 go throughs to get it like I want it. I understand that doesn't work for all, but it does for me.

  • Anonymous says:

    Wet vs Dry manipulation: My hair will definitely break when manipulated dry. When manipulating while wet, I make sure it's SATURATED with water and conditioner so that it's super slippery. Then I detangle the ends gently with a wide toothed comb, then follow by detangling the whole thing in small sections with a Denman brush. This is my HG hair treatment. I BC's last year and my hair has grown 7 inches at least. I get very little breakage, less shedding than ever before, and my curls are beautiful and defined.

  • Purple Cocoa says:

    Moisture and stress are my problems. I get lazy with the moisturizing every day

  • Dezinediva says:

    i know for a fact that natural hair benefits from water to help with detangling. I have made my own natural hair tonic/leave in conditioner/moisturizer- mix 1/4 all natural organic aloe vera gel with 3 cups boiled/distilled water and 10 drops of peppermint and 12 drops tea tree oil, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Jamaican black castor oil (or any other oil besides the Jamaican black castor oil ONLY). Put it in a container and shake it up to disperse the oils. Make sure you don't do this while it's still piping hot.

    You can use this for many different applications- as a hair detangler, as an alternative to shampoo (at least 1x a month you must clarify your hair to remove any build up of product), you can use it as a leave in spritz and to replace wetting your hair with plain water.

    I also use it as a toner and face spritz (play with the amounts of oil and water used to limit oily skin); as a cleanser/astringent for bug bites, rashes, itchy skin conditions, etc.

    I also have poured this mixture in the tub and soaked with it. It's truly magical!

  • Gigi says:

    To explain/clarify Anonymous –
    Hair when in a wet state is more pliable, stretchable than dry hair. A quick observation is when your hair is wet and shrunken you are able to lenthen/stretch it to its full potential. Scientifically, the reason wet hair is more prone to breakage as mentioned is because when hair is wet the hydrogen bonds that hold hair together weaken therefore losing some of its strength. Hope that gave you a bit more clarity.

  • Anonymous says:

    I had a lot of time on my hand Saturday morning (LOL) and read so many hair blogs that I don't know which lovely person to attribute the following theory to :-

    'Some single strand knots may be caused by sections of frayed (split) ends that curl back and entangle other frayed fibers. The fibers can knot upon themselves or entangle other split ends.


    I never looked at it from that point of view, I believed that my 4b-c coils were inherently doomed to create "fairy knots" or "pixie knots" just because it was 4b-c! Or that hand-in-fro was the cause of SSK!

    I examined my SSKs using this new descriptor and found that many of them were composed of frayed fibers and were located distally to a mid-strand split.

    It would appear that I created the mid-strand split from rough detangling; the mid-strand split began to fray, the frayed fibers caught other frayed fibers and formed a knot.

    My NEW goal is to reduce the tugging and harsh handling that causes my hair to stretch and fray.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with 9:21PM – Maniplation of wet hair vs dry hair was beneficial for less breakage. Please explain/clarify!

  • The Brklyn Beauty says:

    @ Quita and @Fab Fresh, my hair was breaking off like crazy in the back of my head last winter and that is also where I sleep. Although I did use a satin pillowcase I think the breakage was a combination of lack of moisture/hand in hair syndrome/over manipulation with re twisting it just about every other day 🙁 I think everyone has a spot in their hair that maybe weaker than other areas. I tried everything weekly deep conditioning, cowashing, sealing ends but it ended up breaking off. So now it's like 1 inch in the middle and 4 inches elsewhere. Although I am protective styling now w/ micros I think I will have to cut it eventually to even it out. Breakage can definitely be traumatic tho

  • Bianca says:

    Stress breakage.
    I am working to change my reactions to stress and take care of my needs. I can't continue to put my life on hold!

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with Anonymous 9:21PM. I too thought I'd read/heard that manipulation of wet conditioned hair resulted in less breakage vs manipulation of dry hair. Please explain/clarify!

  • FabFreshandFly says:

    @ Quita. That is the side that I sleep on, but when I used to flat iron and wrap my hair, I never noticed a difference in the length. I think I will have to invest in a satin pillowcase instead of the satin bonnet and try just a simple braid out instead of the two strand twist. Thanks for the tips!

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with Anonymous 9:21PM, I thought I'd read and heard that the manipulation of wet conditioned hair resulted in less breakage vs manipulation of dry hair. Please explain/clarify!

  • Unknown says:

    @ FabFresh, do you sleep on that side of your hair? For me, the majority of my breakage is in the back of my head, where I sleep. Too much contact with the cotton pillow case, and low blood circulation for an extended period of time has left me with 2 1/2 inches in the back, and about 4 1/2 everywhere else.

    I also damaged my edges due to a bad braid job. Way too tight. I'm slowly learning what habits to change and the biggest has been the satin pillow case. It helps by keeping moisture in my hair which makes it less susceptible to breakage. Also, I stopped wearing headbands and anything that causes tension to my edges. High moisture and low manipulation has been working but I can't wait to be able to wear protective styles that look nice so I can just let it be for a while with minimal maintenance.

  • Anonymous says:

    "Manipulating Wet Hair – If your hair is wet try to minimize its manipulation. Wet hair is more susceptible to breakage than dry hair."

    Interesting, I thought it was the exact opposite…hmm…

  • FabFreshandFly says:

    I have some serious breakage issues, but it is only on the right side of my hair. I do everything exactly the same on each side, but no matter what I do, it seems like this side is just stifled. I wash, deep condish, detangle, style in low manipulation styles, use a satin bonnet, co-wash, seal ends with oil, and just no luck. Anyone have any suggestions for this perplexing issue?

  • Dorian @ Big Apple Style says:

    Too tight hairstyles are no joke…many years ago I used to religiously where micro braids. And although my hair grew a lot overall, I ended up thinning my center front hairline a bit and it's just now thickening up again! 🙁 Major drag…it's also part of the reason I switched from braids to other forms of styling. Don't be afraid to tell a braider that they're braiding too tightly! I'd rather make them redo it than to risk hair damage.

  • Anonymous says:

    I find that a majority of my breakage stems from detangling or hand in the hair syndrome. The breakage has improved due to detangling weekly and using protective styles, but practice progress.

  • zarwaylay says:

    That picture!!! :-/ Gracious!! Not moisturizing enough was the culprit of my breakage problem.

  • DiJah says:

    My hair is shedding and i hate it!! Granted I'm the one to be blamed. I do weekly washes, air dry and then flat iron & blow out my hair (I do use a heat protectant). I slap some deep conditioner in there but i never add heat. I also clip my ends every month. I'm trying to do better y'all :/ I moisturize my hair every other day & I'm trying to use products with the least amount of cones. I'm a work in progress I tell ya! I'm dedicating this summer to healthy hair 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    That photo made me cringe lol Way to make us focus and pay attention

    This is definitely ongoing for me. The most vital part so far has just been leaving my hair alone, putting it in styles that I can't mess with it throughout the week. I do still like my loose hair though 😉

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