So, you noticed a bit of breakage?
It happens to the best of us. You get ready to style your hair when all of a sudden, you notice thinning….balding…or even straight up hair breakage!
It comes in many forms and it manages to sneak up on you when you least expect it. It can be silent. It can be devastating. It can also be prevented.
Typically, when I have noticed breakage in the past, I go through the seven stages of grief.
1. Shock & Denial- “What??!! Nooooo!!! Did my hair break? No. I’m trippin’. Its always been that thin and or short there.” *walks away from the mirror…comes back fifteen minutes later….looks at the same spot…..measures it against the other side of my head to compare* “NO!!! I can’t believe this!!!”
2. Pain & Grief- “I feel horrible. Poor hair and scalp. I knew my hair was too tight. What if it breaks off to the scalp and I have a bald spot. What if it’s a disease! *goes to webMD* OMG!! This is the worst ever! What if it takes a year to grow back?! What if it gets worse!!!???”
3. Anger & Bargaining- “I’m such an idiot. How could I be so stupid? I mean…..who is negligent enough to cause their own hair to break? Oh, wait…I know….I am!!! I know what I can do. I’ll wash my hair every day, deep condition, pre poo, moisturize, trim my ends and protective style it for the next year. Yep. That’s what I’ll do. Then my hair will grow back even longer than before!”
4. Depression, Reflection & Loneliness- This seems to be that stage when everyone around you goes through this super hyper mega growth spurt with their hair, and yours gets worse. You start to notice all of the other healthier heads of hair on people who weren’t as negligent as you…making you feel worse. This is typically where I linger. Back and forth between stage 3 and 4. I stalk Google image and Youtube videos of other naturals who have dealt with breakage….somehow managing to compare their journey to restoration to mine! #fail
5. The Upward Turn- Now I finally start to deal. I’m still upset but I’m not beating myself up every 5 seconds. I also start to spend less time in the mirror looking at the same spot that I’ve looked at 23 times already within the last 5 hours. Not as obsessive but never the less….still obsessive!
6. Reconstruction & Working Through- Ok, so now I’m not applying some topical oil every hour on the hour and I’m not in the mirror every chance I get. And…I’ve stopped toying around with the idea of shoving biotin vitamins down with every meal. I’ve developed a healthy and manageable regimen and I’m walking this thing out.
7. Acceptance & Hope- I can finally look myself in the mirror and own up to what I may have done to contribute. I am no longer hiding behind oddly shaped hair styles that are meant to cover up the awkwardness that probably only I can notice. I’m okay.
I’m dramatic with breakage. I just wanted to be a little transparent because we all have been there at one point and it’s okay.
The important thing is to backtrack and try to understand how it happened in the first place so that you won’t have to face it again.
I don’t want to be too technical as to all of the causes of breakage. With every woman’s hair being so different, I cannot say for sure. However, if you have followed me on my journey and you have identified that we may be hair twinsies, here are some things that I have noticed contribute to my hair breaking off.
1. Too tight hairstyles/stress on the scalp- This culprit will do it every time! I think that in the growing up black handbook, part of our carny code is to wear our hair pulled back as tightly as humanly possible, while still being able to close your eyes all of the way. NO! This will KILL your edges. I mean…talk about pulling the hair directly from the scalp! I’m not saying nix tight hair styles all together but, you do need to rotate them out. Don’t wear the same style for too long and be on the look out for those white scalp bumps that you get when your hair is being pulled too tight.
2. Dry Sahara hair- When you get thirsty…..and you don’t drink water…you become dehydrated. You get weak. Lightheaded…and a slew of other symptoms. Your hair is no different. When you don’t give it moisture, it gets weak. It becomes dry. And then breakage ensues.
3. Friction- This can occur in a few ways. It can occur from having longer hair and allowing your ends to brush up against your clothing. Also, If you are not sleeping on a satin pillowcase or a satin bonnet, your hair friction from sleeping on your cotton pillowcase at night can be a factor.
4. Manhandling your hair- Here’s another item from the growing up black handbook. I think every woman can remember back to when they were a young child, and your mother pulling, I mean, combing your hair….yanking your head…all the while fussing at you to keep your head still. Ah….those were the days! Treat your hair like a delicate fine silk. Be patient and gentle. Work through knots and tangles while your hair is wet, preferably saturated with conditioner.
And that’s it! I could be here all day with anti breakage tips. Just remember to listen to your hair. It will tell you if its thirsty, stressed or not happy.