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Unavoidable Damage and Length Retention- Natural Hair Care

By January 27th, 202110 Comments

Unavoidable Damage and Length Retention- Natural Hair Care

glam idol, Mia!

Mo’ Hair, Mo’ Problems
Nicole Hollis of Hair Liberty

When you’re enthusiastic about hair care and dedicated to a healthy hair journey it can be difficult to be objective about your hair. It’s easy to talk about things that keep the hair healthy like gentle handling, good conditioners, and low manipulation, but if those were the only things that mattered, everyone’s hair would be doing great. In reality, despite meticulous efforts to grow a long, thick head of hair, many women still struggle to maintain length and reach their other hair goals. To get past a length hurdle or stop persistent breakage you have to realize one important thing: Damage is unavoidable. If your hair isn’t making progress that means it’s being damaged faster than it can recover. Many natural women already steer clear of heat and chemical treatments, but mechanical damage is still an issue and it can be difficult to recognize.

Read On!>>>
Minimize damage by combing and brushing less

Every time you move or touch your hair, the cuticle layers of each strand rub up against each other and cause tiny abrasions, similar to light scratches. Those little abrasions may not affect how your hair looks or feels but they’re always there. If you rub and pull your hair and then follow up with a comb or a brush, you’ve inflicted a lot of stress on your hair at one time. Yes, there are some women who can comb and brush their hair all day without a problem, but those women usually have thick strands and very few (if any) kinks or coils. Finer strands break more easily than thicker strands, and it seems that many African American women have fine hair. In addition to that, kinky hair is inherently porous which means that kinky hair is automatically more fragile than other types. “Damage prone” is really an understatement when describing African American hair.
Weaknesses in your hair care routine will catch up with you as your hair gets longer
No matter what your hair type, the longer your hair gets, the more demanding it will be. Shoulder length hair is already about 2 years old so any weaknesses in your hair care routine will begin to show, just like bad eating habits start to catch up with you as you get older. If you hit a plateau in your healthy hair journey, get at least ½ inch cut off by a professional, stop brushing your hair (if you’ve been doing that), and apply a reconstructing treatment every week or two. Whatever you do, just don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ve avoided damaging your hair. The only way to avoid damage is not to touch your hair as it grows out of your scalp, and we all know that’s impossible. If you love your hair, you want to style it and show off its beauty. There’s nothing wrong with that. You wouldn’t buy a beautiful new sweater and leave it on the shelf all the time. What fun would that be? Instead, you have to wear it lightly, wash it gently, and get small holes mended as soon as they appear.

How do you maintain length? 


  • LittleBabyBug says:

    hey chelsea! It's true that combing and brushing damage hair. its' best to immediately put your hair into braids, plaits twists or blow dry it as soon as you get through detangling it with a comb (avoid brushes altogether if you can, and combs too- finger detangling works best!). that way, it'll help you maintain your hair in a detangled state without having to run it through with a comb everyday. if you maintain the detangled state via twistsouts or braidsouts or rollersets, etc., then you can put off having to comb it- thereby lessening your breakage.

  • Chels says:

    People usually associate healthy hair with detangled, manageable hair. I know I do! You, and many other professionals, say it is not good to comb or brush hair often. It's best to simply leave it alone. My question is: Won't the lack of combing and brushing lead to tangled, messy hair? How do I solve that problem?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anon 4:21 PM and Mangomadness, thanks so much for the suggestions, I'll give those techniques a try : ).

  • mangomadness says:

    I agree that gentle handing is super important. This is why I finger-detangle exclusivley.

    With that said, it seems like taking care of my hair gets simpler as my hair gets longer (I'm currently almost APL). Why? I can throw my hair in a bun super quickly. Wearing my hair down is another story though. I need to look into some new techniques (useing a gel over my leave-in conditioner, air-drying my braid for a braid out under a cute scarf for a day, tension blow drying, etc).

    @Anonymous October 17, 2011 4:11 PM: Try detangling (finger-detangling &/or comb-detangling) stretched, sectioned, dampened, oiled &/or conditioner-soaked hair before shampooing. I do this method with my fingers and oil and it works very well for me. I have much less breakage than when I did the "freshly shampooed, soaking wet and conditioner-soaked with a comb & Deman brush" detangling method. You should probably chuck the Denman as well…It tore my super coily hair up.

    Also try washing in twisted/braided/banded/clipped sections. I wash in 10 twisted sections–it cuts down on tangling and breakage

  • Anonymous says:

    anon 4:11
    Have you tried pre-pooing with a light oil? Place hair in sections, apply oil to each section and detangle with your fingers.Keep the hair in sections and once done detangling each section proceed with washing.
    Vatika oil is great for prepooing, but plain old coconut oil or olive oil would work well too. Good luck!

  • Anonymous says:

    I just started noticing excessive shedding in my hair when I do my weekly wash routine. I always detangle my hair with my Denman brush and have been doing that for the entire 11 months I've been natural. I think that as my hair is growing longer I may need to switch up my detangling method. I tried detangling my hair with a Goody ouchless detangling comb this weekend, which has wider teeth than the Denman, and I think I lost about the same amount of hair as I do with the Denman. My hair is about 7 inches long now and I always detangle on wet hair with plenty of conditioner. I detangle my hair in several sections from ends to root. I don't wash my hair in sections, but in one big mass over my kitchen sink. I'm thinking I may need to start detangling before I shampoo and condition and wash my hair in sections. Any suggestions anyone?

  • Unknown says:

    I'm with Yirssi. The longer my hair the more maintenance it requires. Every year I cut off a few inches just to give myself a break. I am going to try and go an entire year with out cutting it this time just to see what happens. It's already working my patience, lol.

  • Yirssi says:

    The second point is one That I'm realizing: the longer the hair is, the more I have to be watchful that it's healthy. It's becoming super high maintenance! Just because it USED to be healthy when it was shorter doesn't mean the same effort will keep it healthy now. I'm trying to adapt accordingly!

  • Anonymous says:

    Hum, although I've been natural for three years I've cut my hair about four times and I have just really mastered my goal of total moisturize for my kinks and coils…. so it will be another two years before I reach shoulder length. I hear its hard work, but I so badly want it!

  • fabwtalk says:

    This article is so on point and I've definitely noticed that now that my hair is shouldler length (2 year mark)it is definitely harder to handle. Even on those days I want to yank my hair when it is tangled after keeping it in a protective style for a week I remember to have the patience and slowly detangle and handle gently. Brushes and combs really aren't my friend. Dusting my hair every couple of weeks helps also.

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