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Curly Nikki

The ‘B’ Word…

By January 27th, 202124 Comments
The 'B' Word...

by Sawah of Discovering Natural via Hairscapades

I’m talking about “Breakage.” We’ve all experienced
this at one time or the other.  But do you know the difference between
Breakage and Shedding? I was totally clueless about this prior to

When I was relaxed, I would have a lot of hair breakage and over the
years, I thought that was normal. I just thought if you comb your hair,
you should experience seeing hair left on the comb or brush. I didn’t
realize that there was such a thing as shedding.
Let’s understand the differences between breakage and shedding.

What is Shedding?
Hair that has been shed is one that has come to the end of its
life cycle. It usually contains a white bulb at the end. This is normal.
Research as shown that we shed an average of 50-100 hair strands per
day.  Sounds scary, huh? Well, new hair is suppose to grow where the
shedded hair was.

What is Breakage?
This is the process of the hair breaking, not at the root, but
somewhere in the strand of the hair.  It is not normal because in all
cases the hair has not gone through the normal hair life cycle. 
Breakage can occur from mishandling of hair, lack of proper nutrients,
or excessive styling.

When hair is deprived of proper moisture, breakage can occur. It is
very important to keep your hair properly moisturized. Daily
moisturizing and weekly deep conditioning will help you with breakage.
Try to use water-based products, because these products provide the best
moisturizing agents. Don’t forget to seal your hair with some oils or

In addition to moisture, you will need to strengthen your hair
strands. This can be done by adding protein products to your hair
routine. Protein is known to help rebuild weak hair strands. There are
several protein treatments products that you can use. It is important to
properly follow the product application instructions.

Mishandling of hair can also cause breakage. I notice less breakage
when I do not use a comb on my dry hair.  If I want to comb my hair post
wash day, I spritz some water mixed with a little leave-in conditioner
and carefully either finger comb it or use a wide-tooth comb. On wash
days, I always finger detangle my hair with some oil or conditioning

When styling your hair, try not to pull too much at your edges. The
edge and nape of your head are more prone to breakage. Keeping hair in
a pony tail all the time can cause breakage at the point where the hair
is gathered together.

When you understand the difference between hair breakage and
shedding, it will help you address the problem and keep your mind at
rest in determining what steps to talk to minimize breakage.

How are you handling breakage?


  • watkinsabob says:

    sometimes i don't know whether i have a breakage problem or i'm just paranoid when i see hair both long and short in my sink. I just keep telling myself, eh, its just hair…it will grow back 🙁

  • marianela says:

    I get a lot of breakage too however, I know its my own doing because when I am in a rush to take the kids to school I rip out my hair with brushes just so I could get out the door. I am hoping that I will learn to treat my hair a lot better. I have done keratin treatments which has helped my hair to break less but its not for everyone.

  • Unknown says:

    I can't stop my hair from breaking, now I'm adopting the finger combing method and then, only when I'm relaxed and not tired or hungry. But right now, my hair is in senegalese twists, got to grow these babies back.

  • Anonymous says:

    Please don't leave DT on too long. I think that has contributed to my mid strand splits and split ends.


  • Anonymous says:

    My hair sheds excessively, but i have alot of long thick natural hair, so i consider it normal. When i had a perm i would have to gather up my shedded hair off the floor when i took down my wrap. Even now when i blow out my hair & wear it straight it will shed alot. But i pay close attention and make sure the hair is not broken, because then it would be damamged. I only comb my hair every 2-3 weeks(wear twist outs, mini twists) so when i do wash and detangle in the shower i have alot of hair shedding, but its normal & natural.

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair is a different texture at the crown. It's crazy. My hair also grows in layers kind of. I have almost APL length hair in the back, but the crown shrinks to about 1.5 inches in the top. It's been like this since my elementary school natural hair days.

    Nicol C.

  • Anonymous says:

    Breakage has plagued certain sections of my hair and mine was due to not properly detangling my hair and not removing the shedded hair. Also certain sections of the hair are courser than others and they need extra moisture and TLC.

  • Mango and Fudge says:

    Breakage can also be caused by stress … just wanted to point that out (physical or mental).

  • Natural Beauty says:

    I never comb my hair while dry, only when wet. I hate when black hair salons comb it while dry.

  • DiscoveringNatural says:

    I just want to say Thank you for re-posting my blog post. I have been transitioning for 6 months now, and have been able to minimize the amount of breakage I have by reducing my usage of combs and mainly using my fingers to detangle and comb my hair. My crown area you see in the picture has grown over 3 inches now because of this. I also love protective styles so that keeps me from overmanipulating my hair.

  • hairscapades says:

    There is a lot of great advice here and it sounds like those of you who are still experiencing problems are doing all of the right things. The only things that I'm not sure you are doing and that MIGHT be helpful (unfortunately, this natural hair thing is not an exact since) are:

    protein treatments
    finger detangling

    The protein (followed by a moisturizing deep conditioner) can add strength to fragile hair. In regard to finger detangling, even if you don't want to incorporate comb free detangling into your regimen, finger detangling the breakage prone area may be helpful. It'll ensure that you can feel knots/tangles and gently ease them out rather than rip through them unknowingly and cause breakage.

    I did a post on challenging crowns, but I need to update it now that I think about it, with the finger detangling and protein parts;)!!:


  • Anonymous says:

    For me, I have come to realize that 0VER manipulation is the primary cause of breakage. The hair in my crown area is much more kinkier, with a tighter curl pattern(4c) than the hair that grows from the back and sides(4b), so it shrinks and tangles more. Therefore, it is important for me to handle that area of my head much more gently than I do the rest to avoid breakage. When I style my hair, the crown area would naturally shrink more than the rest, so I would manipulate it more trying to even it out with the rest of my hairstyle. I did not realize this difference in texture when I was newly natural and caused a lot of breakage by handling the crown area the same as the rest of my hair. My crown area does not tolerate daily twisting and untwisting or even a wide tooth comb.

    Now I have minimized breakage by:

    1. Wearing a protective style that has low or no manipulation (for me, mini twists) for two weeks at a time. Doing this helps to stretch the hair in the crown area and give the appearance of the same length as the rest of my hair. Also leaving the hair alone allows it to grow and recover from damage, as mine did in just over 3 months!

    2. When styling my hair, I Avoid combing, brushing or using ponytail holders in the crown area. Fingers only. And I add extra moisture when I know I will be out with the sun shining directly on top of my head to avoid dry hair.

    3. I Wash my hair in several loose twists or plaits to minimize shrinkage and tangling. I avoid standing directly under a powerful shower spraying straight down on top of my head.

    4. I try to be extra gentle when detangling, and styling.

    5. I pre poo, deep condition with protein treatments, moisturize and seal my hair as consistently as I can, paying extra attention in the crown area.

    I hope that helps.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have found that Dudley's DRC is still good for stopping breakage on natural hair. I used it as a permie and refused to throw it out. I'm glad I kept it because my natural hair still loves it. It's pretty expensive but it does last a long time because I only use it when I experience breakage.

  • Anonymous says:

    My hair balls are mostly shedding but I just noticed a little bit of breakage on one side where I part my hair sometimes. Luckily my hair is dense so it isn't noticeable.

    I started to see increased shedding earlier this year. I was already good about regular moisturizing, so I incorporated homemade protein treatments into my regimen. It "seems" like I have lighter shedding now but I'm not 100% certain.

  • Anonymous says:

    Ladies another thing to think about, are those MICRO-BRAIDS! Braids use to be a BIG PART OF MY LIFE! But let me tell you, they can Wreck Havoc on your hair!

    There isnt anything wrong with wearing them. But PLEASE DON'T keep them in for TOO LONG! Take care of your hair while there in as well (Moisturize your scalp, and wrap your braids at night!).

    For those of you who aren't luck enough to know how to braid your own hair. I know it can Cost A LOT to get your hair done and your tempted to keep them in. But please DO NOT keep those braids in for more than a month 1/2! When I was braiding I only wore them for a month, but I braiding my own hair. AT this point…I don't even wear them anymore! My hair is BETTER FOR IT!

  • Anonymous says:

    I use to experience the same thing that you and others are having trouble with. My breakage spot was at he top of my head more toward the back. About a quarter sized patch that kept breaking off! ugh! Here are a few things that I think contributed to this breakage.


    1. Relaxing
    2. Manipulating that spot, for some unknow reason my hand would go to that area. and I would pull on the hair there!*shrugs*
    3. Tight pony's on top of the head
    4. Didn't have any type of regimen
    5. Did not MOISTURIZE enough


    1. STOPPED relaxing
    2. Got a consistant regimen going (i.e. wkly wash,DC,leave in cond.,seal with oil or shea butter Evoo mix + Henna x2 a month)
    3. REDUCED manipulation of my hair
    4. When I was tired of doing my hair; I would braid, twist or conrow my hair. And LEAVE IT ALONE for 2 wks at a time (start over process above). If I felt like it sometimes I would sport a cute wig(not for everyone,but i'm cool with it).

    Hopes this helps someone, because it sure helped me! 🙂 BTW the spot has lieterally STOPPED breaking and has grown completely out!:)

  • Anonymous says:

    I just recently took my kinky twist I had in for 2 months out and my hair was soo tangled. I did the conditioner wash and finger detangle, wide tooth comb detangle and once i was done, i was left with a lot of breakage on my head. 🙁 I do not know exactly what i need to be doing to prevent this from happening. Any suggestions out there on what a good moisturizer is??

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks Stephanie, we all know what breakage is and some of the causes now what to do to get it to regrow, & please dont stay cut all the hair off, it 'aint gonna happen…lol Trim yes but full cut

  • Stephanie says:

    @Anon 12:03PM you took the words right out of my head!! I've been scouring the hair boards lately for some advice on how to care for, manage and re grown breakage at the crown. My hair looks so dull, dry, and broken off at the front. As a result I can't get it to lay flat or smooth down. I have been one to always snatch back my ponytails very tightly so that can be a cause. However since I've taken my hair care a little more seriously I'm really trying to see what I can do to make a difference.

    I know that I need to moisture a little more so i am doing that. Maybe my protein balance is off. (I honestly never really understood that fully but I'm giving it a second chance) I just really would like to see a change in the crown of my hair. I'm not sure what I need to do but I will do whatever it takes.

    Anyone in the same predicament? Have any suggestions? links? HELP?!

  • Anonymous says:

    I would love to see an article on how to grow back broken off hair. My hair in my crown has always been prone to breakage and I dont know why, I dont wear weaves, wig, ponytails, corn rows or buns…its just one of those things.

  • Unknown says:

    I am lucky not to have any major breakage issues. *Knocking on wood & crossing my fingers* Where my breakage occurs is usually near the nape of my neck, and is on the left side. I couldn't figure it out, until I realized that my staple style for work (I work at a zoo) is a low side bun to the left, or a low pony to the left. It keeps hair out of my face, and the face of the animals I am close to regularly. Since I figured that out, I add extra oil, make sure to only wrap the holder once around my hair, and be particularly careful with my nape. I occasionally get breakage at my crown, but most of my crown is the same length as the rest of my hair, and my hair is slightly layered, so it never is noticeable. By being careful, I have doubled the length of my nape hair in 3 months!

  • Anonymous says:

    Just the other day while I was detangling my hair, I had a HUGE hair ball. I was kind of scared because haven't touched my hair for a whole two weeks, so i thought that this was a result to not properly moisturizing it daily. However, when I looked at a couple strands, I noticed that it was more shedded hair; not breakage. Now I try to moisturize constantly, but also remind myself that my hair sheds a lot per day.

    Ashley L.

  • Anonymous says:

    I've just experienced a major set back with breakage. I use Giovanni's products and have used their smooth as silk conditioner for quite some time. I decided to try their direct leavein since it had nearly all the same ingredients as the wash out conditioner. SMDH!!! I'm protein sensitive and all the protein from the smooth as silk plus leaving the protein on my hair and not rinsing with the Direct Leave-In caused major breakage. It made my hair feel wonderful but caused protein overload and breakage. It was a sad day when I realized my error. RIP to Giovanni's Direct Leave-In. And now I'm headed to the shop for a major trim 🙁

  • Sequitta J. says:

    The majority of my breakage occurs in almost the same spot as this picture…right in the center of my head. I just don't understand it, even when I had a relaxer, I always had breakage there. Now as I learn more about how to take care of my hair, its even more frustrating because I'm doing all the right things now. Being extra gentle, "feed" that area more conditioner and do that section first so it can have more time to set in, finger detangling, provide more moisture in between washes, protective styling. But it's SOOOO fine that it still continues to break. I'm at my wits end. The rest of my hair is growing and flourishing, but I have this one short section, prompting me to keep cutting the rest of my hair! I want ALL of my hair to grow! 🙁

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