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Is your hair Shedding or Breaking?

WHAT IS Breakage?

Breakage is basically when a section of hair prematurely becomes detached from the the hair strand. Breakage can occur at the root of the hair; at the middle of the hair strand; and more commonly at the ends of the hair. The hair toward the beginning of the hair strand is newer, stronger hair. This hair will benefit from most of the natural oil (sebum) that naturally flows from our scalp. Therefore, it is more likely to become protected through lubrication. The natural oils of our hair can easily reach the hair closer our scalp. Such protected hair usually only breaks from abusive methods performed by YOU. Misuse of hair accessories and other improper grooming habits that involve pulling contribute to premature breakage of newer healthier hair.

Remember the hair at the root is strongest; and the hair closer to the ends is the weakest.

How to tell the difference between shedded hair and broken hair:

The most obvious way to differentiate between the two is by identifying the white bulb attached to a strand of hair. The white bulb will appear at the beginning of a strand of hair displaying that it has been pushed from the scalp and removed naturally. It is so important to understand how YOUR hair sheds. Although losing hair through shedding is completely normal; WE ALL have a different spectrum of how much hair we lose.

For instance:
Early within my journey to healthy natural hair, I was relieved to learn that it is normal to lose up to 100 shedded hairs per day. So, I would style my hair and base my hair loss on the 60-100 strands-per-day-model. I neglected to analyze the hair falling from my head because I assumed it was normal shedding. It did not appear to be more than 100 hair strands per day; so, there was no use in fretting over the inevitable. I chuckle at the latter statement because even as I was becoming more educated on hair care, I struggled with releasing the “blind-follower” mentality. I will tell you THIS: shedding 60-100 hair strands a day is not normal for everyone. And I am willing to bet that if you are black and you are losing that much hair per day a percentage of it is breakage‚ÄĒbreakage that is probably preventable--Breakage that is probably resulting from PRODUCT-BUILD-UP.

CASE and POINT:
Curiosity lead me to take the time to examine the hair that I was losing. To my surprise, I was not seeing many white bulbs! And some of the hairs were shorter--not representing the entire hair strand. At that point, my hair was breaking more than it was shedding. This caused me to immediately modify my hair-care routine. I noticed that the more I washed my hair the less breakage I saw.

On a Good week:
My hair actually sheds about 60-100 hairs PER WEEK, not per day. I get breakage (not shedding) when I allow products to build up on my hair. Hair products have a wonderful way of masking the fact that your hair could be suffocating and becoming extremely weighed down by the ingredients that you are using daily. Even if you are washing your hair every seven days, it is possible for your hair to experience breakage from product-build-up.

Since I moisturize my hair a lot:
There is a great chance of the ingredients within my hair products sitting too heavily upon my hair. I counter this by diluting my hair products with water. I have seen a dramatic change in the amount of hair that I lose per day. I inspect the hair strands that I lose so that I can get a better idea of how my hair sheds.

When possible:
I shampoo every five days instead of seven. When I know that I will not clean my hair for up to seven days, I co-wash three days after shampooing. Although co-washing is not an appropriate means to thoroughly clean the scalp and hair, it helps to loosen up the products on my hair. My hair becomes more flexible and receptive to my hair products and I notice that it breaks less.

Avoid going long periods without washing your hair.

Going seven days or longer is pushing it. Pay attention to YOUR hair. The damage that product build-up can cause should not be under-estimated. It will benefit you to have a realistic idea of how your hair sheds. Identify behaviors that cause your hair to break; and eliminate them from your hair care routine. Everyone's shedding cycle is not the same. PAY ATTENTION to what your hair is revealing to you. Take note; and develop a plan to eliminate the unnecessary damage. If you seem to be losing 60-100 hair strands per day; then try washing your hair more frequently. See if it reduces your hair loss.

Learn how how to AVOID matted Afro-textured hair.

Learn how to use hair products correctly.

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