Have you noticed an increase in the amount of hair you are losing after washing, styling or combing? If you are, then this is just for you.
About two months ago, I realized that I have been losing more hair than I usually do. I concluded that this was breakage and immediately set out to find a remedy. I figured that since my hair is colored, then it must mean that my hair loss was due to dryness. I unleashed the DIY treatments from my arsenal and started on the tea rinse and protein treatments immediately. This reduced the amount of hair I was losing. However, I could still tell that I was losing more hair than I usually do. When I visited a hair expert for a trim, he mentioned that I was suffering from shedding. Immediately, a light bulb went off. I realized that I had been using the terms ‘shedding’ and ‘breakage’ interchangeably but had never quite sought to know the difference. So I decided to find out more about hair shedding and breakage so that I could find an effective solution.
What is Natural Hair Breakage or Shedding?
Natural hair breakage and shedding are two different terms.
Breakage occurs along your hair shaft. It can be mechanical or due to chemicals such as relaxers. Hair breakage can happen to all and sundry; natural or relaxed. However, we kinky, curly, coily natural sisters and brothers are more prone to breakage because of our hair structure. The natural bends in our hair shaft create weak points where breakage can happen more easily.
Shedding, on the other hand, occurs from the root. In layman terms, you can refer to it as natural hair breakage at the root. With shedding, you can see a white tip where the hair came off your head. Like breakage, anyone can experience hair shedding.
The difference between natural hair breakage and shedding is noticeable. With shedding, you have full strands of hair with a visible root. But what does natural hair breakage look like? With breakage, you will only have part of the hair strand on your comb, bathroom walls of drains. You cannot see the root because only a part of your hair strand broke off. For more on the differences between these two terms, you can read more here.
Causes of Natural Hair Shedding
Before addressing the causes of shedding, we must understand that it is actually normal. The problem comes in when your natural hair is shedding excessively. There is a normal natural hair shedding cycle that is to be expected. Experts say that losing about 50-100 strands a day is normal. So if you don’t comb your hair daily, you are going to feel like you’ve lost a lot of hair when you do comb or detangle it in a week or a month. When this happens, keep in mind that this is the cumulative amount and that it’s not necessarily cause for alarm.
After you have established that you are suffering from excessive hair shedding, the next logical question would be, “Why is my natural hair shedding so much?” Some of the reasons are:
- Giving birth which results in natural postpartum shedding
- Going through stressful seasons
- Recovery from illness
- Discontinued use of birth control pills
- Scalp problems such as excess dandruff
Causes of Natural Hair Breakage
The reasons for natural hair breakage are more and mostly attributed to hair practices. Some of the causes include:
- Lack of/ reduced moisture in hair
- Excessive use of heat
- Excessive or repeated manipulation and styling
- Ignoring periodic protein treatments
Remedies for Natural Hair Breakage and Excessive Shedding
Based on the causes, we can better understand the natural cures for hair breakage and shedding.
For shedding, it is best to let your hair go through the motions. If the hair loss is triggered by stress or hormonal changes, you have to deal with the root of the problem first. If the shedding is as a result of scalp problems, you need to cater to your scalp’s health first by (for example) drinking a lot of water. However, it is always advisable to see a doctor just to ensure that the shedding isn’t a result of illness. You’d rather be safe than sorry.
As for natural hair breakage remedies, some of the most effective are:
- Ensuring your diet has protein, biotin and iron among other nutrients
- Ensuring that your hair is properly moisturized and that the moisture is sealed in with an oil and/ or butter
- Doing periodic protein hair treatments to help strengthen your hair shaft
- Healthy hair practices such as pre-pooing
- Reduced heat styling
- Reduced manipulation, that is, giving your hair a break (pun intended) from time to time
With these tips, you will experience less hair breakage and shedding.
My Signs of Natural Hair Breakage
As earlier mentioned, I noticed a few months back that I was losing more hair than usual. I would have clumps of hair on my comb or floor after every wash day or detangling session. After reading more about both shedding and breakage, I realized that I was suffering from both. My excessive shedding was as a result of stress from life changes. Natural hair breakage after coloring is very common and so I attributed the breakage to my new permanent color. I also hadn’t been too keen on deep conditioning so my hair often dried out fast.
I have been doing a few things to reduce the shedding and breakage. Although it’s been happening at a slow pace, I have definitely seen an improvement. I will definitely share some of these tips in one of the next posts.
HAVE YOU EVER SUFFERED FROM BREAKAGE OR SHEDDING? WHAT WERE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WORKED OR DIDN’T WORK FOR YOU? I’D LIKE TO HEAR MORE OF YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. 🙂