how to stop 4c hair breakage
Before I cut off all my type 4c hair and started my natural hair journey again, I always assumed that my hair just didn’t grow. For years I would be stuck in that awkward length stage, where you can’t really create beautiful 4c hairstyles.
The good news is, it’s working. But not because my hair is growing at a rapid speed, but because it isn’t breaking off like it used to.
Turns out natural 4c hair does grow just like any other hair type out there. However, because of the tight curls, kinky hair tends to tangle faster and therefore break off quicker. That’s why the best way to grow long hair is to stop the natural hair breakage at the root.
So, in this post, I am sharing with you how to stop 4c hair breakage on natural hair.
What causes 4c hair breakage and shedding?
But before we get into the exact steps of how to stop 4c hair breakage and shedding, it’s important to understand why your natural hair is breaking and shedding in the first place.
4c hair shedding vs breakage
Well, first and foremost there is a difference between 4c hair shedding vs breakage did you know that. Welp, I didn’t until I started doing the research. While shedding is a natural process of your hair’s life cycle, breakage is not. Meaning that one can be avoided through outside treatment and the other not so much.
4c hair shedding
As mentioned before, it’s normal to shed hair. So, yes your 4c hair is supposed to shed. It simply means that your hair has reached the end of its life cycle and falls out of the scalp. After that, a new hair strand starts to grow and the cycle starts all over again. In general, there is no need to be alarmed when your hair sheds because it’s normal.
If the hair breaks off in the middle, however, it means it is broken. Which is not so good and can be avoided.
4c hair breakage
There are multiple reasons why your hair may be breaking, but the most common is that you are over-styling your hair. That means you might be using too many products or manipulating it with heat too often, which leads to the ends of your hair breaking off. Your hair can be weakened and damaged by anything from dehydration, stress, and chemicals.
That’s why it’s important to understand how to stop 4c hair from breaking.
How much breakage is normal for 4C hair?
If you are like me then you might wonder what would be considered normal breakage for 4c hair. The answer is no matter how well you treat your hair and whether you manipulate it consistently or not, there will always be some breakage.
After all, the hairs we can see on our heads are dead protein cells. That’s why the goal is to have less breakage by avoiding certain products and optimizing your natural hair regimen.
How do you know if your 4c hair is breaking?
In order to grow healthy natural hair, you have to be able to tell what 4c hair breakage looks like. And because it can be hard to spot it when your hair is in its natural state, I figured I’d share a few telltale signs:
- Split ends: When you have split ends, you will notice that instead of your hair strands staying intact all the way to the end, mid-way through they split into two separate strands.
- Hair tangles easily: Whenever your coily hair has more knots and tangles than usual it’s a sign of breakage. That is often due to dry and brittle hair with a lack of moisture.
- Excessive frizz: 4c hair is curly hair, meaning every time it is manipulated to or straightened, your tight coils are damaged. Which then leads to frizz and unruly hair.
How to stop 4c hair from breaking?
Now to the most important part. How do I stop 4c hair from breaking? Whether you suffer from dry hair or have been rocking too many tight hairstyles. The following tips will help you get on the right track to healthy hair growth by nipping that 4c hair breakage in the butt.
1. Avoid using heat on your 4c hair
One common theme with avoiding 4c hair breakage and shedding is that you need to avoid drying it out at all costs.
By using a lot of heat on your 4c hair, such as hairdryers and flat irons you risk damaging the hair shaft due to extreme temperatures. That weakens your hair and leads to hair breakage. Therefore, the first step to protecting your hair from heat damage is to give your hair a break. And if you really have to straighten your 4c hair, then make sure you only use ceramic tools and specific heat protectant sprays for 4c hair prior to straightening or curling it.
2. Don’t towel dry
I just recently incorporated this tip into my own natural hair routine to stop it from breaking. Unbeknownst to myself and many other people, towel-drying can seriously damage your hair.
Your hair is the most vulnerable when wet and more prone to break from the tagging and pulling of a cotton towel.
Therefore, instead of using a towel after washing your hair, switch to using a t-shirt or a microfiber towel. They are much softer on your hair, while still absorbing the excess water.
3. Moisturize your hair regularly
Moisturizing your hair regularly or simply retaining moisture is one of the most important steps to natural hair growth. In fact, it’s so important that I wrote an entire post on how to moisture your hair daily.
However, to give you a short summary, you want to apply water or a water-based moisturizer to your hair daily. This step is crucial because without hydration your hair is much more prone to breakage and shedding.
Therefore every 4c hair routine should include the loc/ lco method. It includes a moisturizing product, such as a leave-in conditioner. An oil, like coconut oil or castor oil for example. And a sealant, which in my case is shea butter. This method helps you achieve maximum moisture retention.
4. Use protective styles
Of course, protective styles are my favorite way to stop natural hair breakage on 4c hair. Over-manipulating your hair with elaborate styles that put a lot of tension on your hair will lead to breakage.
While professional hairstyles look cute and all, they tend to weigh down your hair and pull at your roots. Therefore, you want to incorporate low manipulation styles whenever possible.
From Bantu knots to two-strand twists or box braids, there are several 4c hairstyles you can use to protect your natural hair from breaking off. These reduce tangling and knots in your hair, protect your hair ends from drying out and splitting, and encourage length retention.
5. Avoid chemical products
Probably the most challenging task on this list of how to stop 4c hair breakage and shedding is to go natural with your hair products. You have to find out what works for your hair and what doesn’t. Study your 4c hair in detail and find the best products to use.
By observing what ingredients strengthen or even repair your hair, you can incorporate them into your hair routine and improve your growth. Either way, you want to avoid using harsh chemicals such as sulfate, silicon, parabens, and many more. I recently bought my first sulfate-free shampoo and can already tell the difference. Alternatively, you can switch to only using natural products, such as aloe vera, avocado, and rice water.
6. Avoid shampooing your hair
This might not come as a surprise to you, but it certainly did to me. Until a few months ago, I would shampoo my hair every week. Oh, boy was I wrong. Turns out that over-washing your 4c hair dries it out and makes it more brittle. Therefore, you actually want to reduce shampooing your hair to a maximum of 2 times per month.
This allows your natural oils (sebum) to keep your scalp and hair in good shape. Instead of washing your hair with shampoo every week, you can co-wash it with a conditioner every other week. That way you keep your hair clean while retaining its nutrients and oils.
7. Trim your hair
I know. I know. Us 4c girls hate the word “trimming”. Because cutting off inches of the length you worked so hard to achieve is heartbreaking. But it is necessary. The truth is that your hair will start to split and break if you don’t trim the oldest part of your hair regularly.
Trimming your hair every 4 to 6 months will ironically help you retain length. It keeps your hair healthy and free of split ends. So, get rid of those bad ends and watch your healthy 4c hair grow.
8. Watch what you eat
Don’t underestimate how what you eat can have a huge effect on the health of your hair. Just like proper nutrition improves your skin it also improves your hair. A balanced diet, including the right nutrients and proteins, promotes hair growth and can help you fight hair loss.
A few of the ingredients that will maximize your hair’s potential for growth are drinking a lot of water, to avoid dehydration, an adequate amount of protein to give your hair a natural boost, and consuming iron regularly to improve hair growth.
9. Protect your hair at night
By now we all know that cotton is a moisture-sucker. It creates friction between the hair and the fabric while you sleep which causes your hair to break off. Instead of using a cotton pillowcase substitute it with a satin or silk pillowcase or use a satin bonnet or scarf on your hair at night. The satin prevents moisture loss and reduces snagging and pulling.
10. Deep condition regularly
If not yet, deep conditioning your hair needs to become part of your 4c hair care routine ASAP. It’s not just the best hair breakage treatment for black hair, but a deep conditioner is also a great moisture boost. It will moisturize, nourish, and strengthen your hair while simultaneously softening it. That will help you detangle your 4c hair, thus making it more manageable throughout the week.
Also, the ingredients used in a deep conditioning treatment better penetrate the hair, thus restoring natural shine, promoting elasticity, and preventing hair damage. Ideally, you want to deep condition your 4c hair at least once a week, leaving the product in for at least 20 to 30 minutes. That will give you optimal results and stop hour natural hair from breakage and shedding.
How do you treat broken 4C hair?
Is your hair already brittle or damaged and now you are looking to prevent more breakage on your natural hair? Then it may be time to implement new practices/ treatments that focus on black hair breakage repair.
Here are two tips that I implemented in my routine to strengthen my natural hair:
Protein Treatments for natural hair are a great way to make your hair strong, supple, and, less brittle. The protein fills in the cracks and holes on your hair cuticles and replenishes any nutrients that might be lacking.
My favorite protein treatment is the Aphogee Two-step Treatment Protein, which helped me keep my hair rich and strong.
Steaming your hair while deep conditioning
Okay, ladies this one is my personal game-changer. I did not know that steaming my hair would make SUCH A DIFFERENCE! I mean whenever I see a hub like that I think of heat that dries out natural hair and not steam that hydrates 4c hair.
But that’s exactly what it does!
Steaming your hair while deep conditioning helps to promote deeper penetration of the product into your hair. It opens up the pores and allows the right hair oils and conditioners to get in.
Using a steamer will boost your wash day results by replenishing your hair moisture which then makes for healthier hair.
If you want to prevent your 4c hair from breaking, then it is important to incorporate the above steps into your natural hair journey. Like with most treatments, consistency is key to seeing results and improving the health of your hair long-term.