Hair breakage is one of the most common hair challenges especially in kinky/type 4 hair. In this article we will explore different tips on how to prevent breakage in 4C hair.
The structure of 4C hair predisposes it to a higher risk of breakage because of the tight coils that have several points of weakness, the 4C hair strands are also very fine compared to other hair types making 4C hair more prone to breakage. This is not to say other hair types do not experience breakage, every hair type if not well taken care of, can break.
This section will explore 13 tips to prevent 4C hair from breakage
1. Moisturize properly and regularly
One of the main causes of breakage in 4C hair is lack of adequate moisture which leads to dry and brittle strands that are prone to breakage.
4C hair should be moisturized regularly as this type of hair tends to lose moisture very fast due to the hair structure. You need to pay attention to how you moisturize and seal to achieve maximum moisture retention.
There are various techniques you can use to ensure maximum moisture retention. One of the most popular techniques is the LOC method (Liquid, Oil, Cream). This is a method where you apply products in a systematic order to ensure maximum moisture retention. Read this article to learn more about the LOC method.
There other moisturizing techniques such as the (i) LCO method (Liquid, Cream, Oil) , (ii) the Maximum Hydration Method, (iii) Hair steaming and (IV) using an hydration mask. This article goes into the details of these hydration/moisturizing techniques.
2. Condition/deep condition appropriately
Conditioning hair plays a very key role in preventing breakage in 4C hair.
Hair Conditioning is the process of applying either a regular or a deep conditioner in order to strengthen the hair, improve the feel and manageability of hair.
Conditioners make the hair soft and flexible thus minimizing the risk of breakage when handling hair. It also prevents knotting which is a very common cause of hair breakage.
Regular conditioning is done more frequently as it has a temporary effect of softening the hair and minimizing static thus improving manageability.
A deep conditioner on the other hand has a longer lasting effect on hair as it has deep penetrating ingredients which penetrate the hair strands. A deep conditioner is applied less frequently as compare to a regular conditioner.
3. Observe the products you use on your 4C hair
Chemical damage is one of most notorious causes of hair breakage.
Your hair may react negatively to certain chemicals in hair products. The chemicals in products such as relaxers, texturizers and permanent hair colors will alter your natural hair structure and weaken it, leading to breakage. Other products such as shampoos and conditioners may contain ingredients that your hair reacts negatively to.
Get to know what’s working or not and slowly stop using products that may be causing damage to your hair. To restore your hair from breakage, you may want to consider using all-natural products or products without ‘harsh’ chemicals. A good example is using sulfate-free and silicon free products.
4. Minimize the use of heat on your 4C hair
While we know regulated heat is good for opening up the cuticles for maximum product absorption, we also know that over-exposure to heat on your 4C hair curls will weaken the hair, changes the natural structure and eventually leads to breakage. You should therefore minimize the use of heat on your hair.
Excessive and wrong use of blow driers, flat irons, curling irons and other hair heating tools are the common culprits in 4C hair breakage.
There are ways to safely use these heating tools. These includes: (i) regulating the temperature, consider using the cool setting, (ii) minimize the frequency of using heating tools and (iii) use heat protectants when using such tools. Consider using ceramic heat styling tools because they heat more evenly and limit the number of passes you’ll need to make with the flat iron.
If your hair is badly damaged, you may want to consider putting off the heat completely as you try to restore your hair back to its glory. Learn more about the causes of and how to prevent heat damage.
5. Protect your ends
The ends of your hair are the oldest, and have experienced the most trauma from physical elements thus are most prone to breakage.
Pay more attention to your ends when handling hair. Ensure you properly moisturize and protect them when styling. If you notice you have split ends, you had better deal with the problem before the splitting spreads further down along the length of the hair eventually causing breakage.
Another good practice to protect your ends is to always seal your ends using a good sealant such as castor oil when you twist, curl, or set your hair. Also tack the ends away when you prepare to go to sleep.
6. Avoid over-washing 4C hair
Over-exposure to shampoo and general over-manipulation during washes is a another common cause of hair breakage. Therefore, avoid over-washing your hair if you want to minimise damage resulting from over-manipulation.
When you wash your hair, make sure you do it gently and follow-up with a moisturizing conditioner. Choose a natural shampoo formulated suited for your hair. This means using the right shampoo with the Surfactants (active ingredients in most shampoos) that are best suited for your hair type.
There are basically three types of surfactants in shampoos to look for when selecting a shampoo: nonionic, anionic and amphoteric.
Anionic surfactants are to be used by those with oily hair since they are effective at cleansing the hair, but if you have damaged or color-treated hair avoid using this since they can leave strands feeling dry and prone to breakage.
Nonionic or amphoteric surfactants is recommended for those with very fine hair or dry and damaged, or color-treated hair, since these shampoos are gentle and less likely to strip the hair of moisture.
How and when you cleanse your hair is very important for a healthy hair regimen. and not washing it enough can lead to a buildup of residue from your products, which can cause prThis article will guide you on how often to wash 4C hair.
7. Proper nutrition
A balanced diet is essential to healthier hair. Nutrients such as Folic acid, Biotin, Vitamins A, Niacin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium strengthen hair and prevent hair breakage. This is why your diet should include a variety of foods rich in such nutrients. If need be supplement your diet with hair vitamins.
8. Avoid over-manipulating the hair
Minimize daily manipulation of the hair as it can lead to hair breakage. Too much brushing, combing and frequent change of hair styles is unnecessary.
When handling hair, be gentle especially when the hair is dry and lacks moisture. Wet hair is also fragile and vulnerable to breakage and therefore should be handled with care. Use a conditioner when dangling hair and ensure your hair properly moisturized when styling.
You should avoid rubbing your hair vigorously with a towel as it will create more tangles and the friction will lead to breakage. The best practice when drying your is to dab the dripping hair with a t-shirt to get rid of excess water. Wrap the hair in the t-shirt and leave it for 10 minutes to allow natural drying.
Over styling can damage your hair because of over-manipulation which weakens the hair and exposes it to damage. Excessive use of styling products such as gels and tools such as combs should be minimized as well in order to prevent hair breakage.
9. Detangle gently
Detangling is one of the most important hair care routines yet very challenging to many of us. Detangling should be done gently, preferably using your fingers and following the finger detangling process with a gentle wide-tooth detangling brush, if necessary.
Wet hair is very fragile and therefore it is best to detangle your hair when damp and not wet. Avoid at all costs, detangling your hair when it is dry as it is very brittle and can break easily.
Remember to work in sections when detangling as it is easier to manage a small section at a time. When you are done with a section, put it away safely by twisting or bantu knotting.
10. Protect your hair when sleeping
It is absolutely important that you protect your hair when sleeping because your hair is prone to moisture loss and damage resulting from friction between your strands and the pillow case/sheets, leading to breakage.
The best fabric that will protect your hair is satin as it prevents moisture loss and reduces surface friction. To prevent breakage therefore, you should invest in a satin bonnet, scarf or a satin pillow if you can’t keep a bonnet on the whole night.
Other fabrics such as cotton soak up all the moisture from your hair or snag and pull the hair, creating friction which leads to hair breakage.
11. Trim your ends as necessary
Split ends are common, as the everyday handling of the hair causes some level of damage to the hair. Leaving the split ends unattended will result in hair breakage and therefore it is best to trim the split ends as soon as you notice them. To a achieve a clean cut and avoid further damage, use sharp scissors to trim the hair.
12. Clarify your 4C hair
Healthy, well moisturized hair will withstand various causes of breakage, clarifying hair plays a key role in ensuring your hair is healthy.
Clarifying hair is the process of getting rid of product build-up using either a store bought clarifying shampoo or home-made DIYs using ingredients such as Apple Cider Vinegar, Bentonite Clay and Baking Soda. A clarifying cleanse rids your scalp of the bacteria and fungus that get in the way of maintaining moisture and healthy hair.
In addition, clarifying your hair will balance your pH level which will promote healthy hair and thus prevent breakage.
13. Ensure you have a good moisture and protein balance
Hair requires a good balance of moisture and protein to remain healthy and therefore preventing breakage. Avoid over moisturizing your hair as this can lead to moisture overload. You need to incorporate a protein treatment in your regimen but this should not be done too often as this may lead to protein overload which makes the hair stiff and brittle.
There are several causes of hair breakage ranging from lack of moisture, over-manipulation, use of chemicals, using the wrong products for your hair, over-styling and using excessive heat. Identifying the causes of your hair breakage will help you deal with the problem effectively. Whether you are experiencing breakage already or not, prevention is always the best cure and therefore use the tips shared above to prevent breakage.