how to stop breakage on 4c natural hair
Before I decided to cut off all my hair and start my natural hair journey all over 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 4c hair does grow, just like any other hair type out there. However, because of the tight curls, 4c hair tends to tangle faster and therefore break off quicker. That’s why the first step to growing your 4c hair is to stop the natural hair breakage at the root.
So, in this post, I am sharing with you how to stop breakage on 4c natural hair.
What causes black 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.
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 hairs life cycle, breakage is not. Meaning that one can be avoided through outside treatment and the other not so much.
4c hair shedding vs breakage
4c hair shedding
As mentioned before, hair shedding is natural. 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 start to grow and the cycle start all over again. In general, there is no need to be alarmed when your hair sheds because it’s normal.
If it breaks off in the middle, however, it means your hair 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 are that you are over-styling your hair, using excessive products or broken ends. You hair can be weakened and damaged by anything from dehydration, to stress, to the use of 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 head are dead protein cells.
However, you can minimize natural hair breakage by avoiding certain practices and optimizing your natural hair regimen.
How to stop breakage on 4c natural hair?
1. Avoid using heat on your 4c hair
One common theme with avoiding black 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 cuticle form extreme temperatures. That weakens your hair and leads to hair breakage.
In order to protect your hair from heat damage, try to give your hair a break from all styling tools, only use ceramic tools if needed, and apply heat protectors to your hair prior to straightening or curling it.
2. Don’t towel dry
I just recently incorporated this tip into my own hair routine to stop my natural hair 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 the moisture is very important. 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 product to your hair daily.
This step is crucial because without hydration your hair is much more prone to breakage and shedding. Your 4c hair routine should include the use of conditioners that include ample moisture and oils that will seal the ends of your hair. To achieve maximum moisture retention you can use systems such as the LOC method, where you apply a liquid, oil, and cream.
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 protective styles whenever possible.
From Bantu knots to twists, 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 hair retention.
5. Avoid chemical products
Probably the most challenging task on this list of how to stop natural hair from 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 out what products may be causing you trouble.
By observing what ingredients strengthen or even repair your hair, you can remove them from your hair routine and improve your growth. Either way, you want to avoid using harsh chemicals such as sulfate, silicon, parabens, and many more. 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 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 even 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. We 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 it first.
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 things 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 consume 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/ scarf on your hair at night. The satin prevents moisture loss and reduces snagging and pulling.
10. Deep Condition regularly
Deep conditioning your hair needs to become part of your 4c hair care routine. It’s not just a hair breakage treatment for black hair, but also a great moisture boost. It will moisturize, nourish, and strengthen your hair while simultaneously softening it. That will help you detangle the hair, thus making it more manageable throughout the week.
Also, the ingredients used in deep conditioners 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 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 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 and 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 off the product to 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 see results and improve the health of your hair long-term.