How to combat breakage in relaxed hair

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With the help of award-winning stylist 5ive from Hype Coiffure, here are 6 steps to keep those relaxed tresses in pristine condition… By Lesley Buckle

 


Stylist 5ive

 1. STAY HYDRATED
One of the common causes of breakage is dry hair. Strands need moisture in order to retain their elasticity and resist damage. Bearing in mind textured hair tends to be dry naturally, relaxing can dry it out further, therefore extra steps are needed to keep hair hydrated. First, ensure you’re using a moisturiser daily, and as water is the best moisturiser, look for products where water/aqua is at the top of the ingredients list. Use products with hair-loving ingredients like aloe vera and glycerine which help improve hydration. After moisturising, remember to use butters or natural oils like jojoba and coconut oil to effectively seal the moisture into the strand. It’s also important to ensure you’re regularly cleansing your hair of build-up for more effective hydration. Try to avoid using harsh shampoos that can strip the hair of natural moisture and follow cleansing with a deep conditioning treatment at least once a fortnight. Deep conditioning will give the hair elasticity and slip to resist tangling and breakage.

2. GET STRONG
The relaxing process breaks down the protein bonds in the hair to achieve straightness. This leaves the hair with less strength than unprocessed hair. Protein makes up a huge 70 per cent of the hair fibre, and because some is lost during the relaxer process, this has to be reinforced with regular protein treatments. 5ive, director of Hype Coiffure – Battersea, suggests you should, ‘Properly reconstruct hair with a protein treatment five to seven days prior to receiving a relaxer.’ Get your protein fix by using intensive treatments which contain ingredients such as keratin, collagen or wheat protein every month. Protein can work wonders on fragile hair but be careful not to overdo it. If the hair is exposed to too much protein, this can cause breakage as there needs to be a balance between protein and moisture within the hair strand. To avoid problems, follow every protein treatment with a good moisturising conditioner. Hair should feel strong but soft after treatments. If your tresses feel dry or hard more moisture is needed.

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3. AVOID OVER-PROCESSING
Regular relaxing can take its toll on your hair, but it’s often when they’re used incorrectly which causes the most damage. Never apply a relaxer to hair that is already breaking and split as this will only further worsen the condition. Wait until your hair is in good shape to apply a relaxer and it’s best to limit how much you rely on them. To keep the amount of times your hair comes into contact with chemicals to a minimum, try spacing your relaxers at least eight weeks apart. The longer you can last between touch ups the better, as this makes it easier to identify the new growth, preventing the relaxer being accidentally applied to previously relaxed hair. Be mindful to only ever relax virgin hair to prevent over-processing, which if occurs, leaves the hair in a fragile state and likely to break. The best way to prevent over-processing is to protect previously relaxed hair when root touch ups are done. Ensure your stylist coats your ends with an oil or heavy conditioner prior to the relaxer service as this creates a barrier against the relaxer which runs down the length of the hair when it’s rinsed off. ‘Also ensure that the proper strength relaxer for your texture is selected in order to retain the health of your hair,’ adds 5ive. ‘Discuss this with your stylist.’

4. DO YOU NEED TO COLOUR TOO?
Relaxing and colouring is a recipe for disaster if you don’t stay on top of caring for your hair. Relaxed hair is made more fragile by the chemical processes involved, so adding more chemicals on top by colouring further weakens the hair. If you’ve got the colour bug, try experimenting with hair chalks or colour hair spray first, which are both non-permanent and damage-free. If you must colour your hair with dye, stick to rinses as these cause less damage than permanent colour or bleaching. Also remember to space your relaxer and colouring sessions a few weeks apart so your hair has time to recover.

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5. GENTLE STYLING
A lot of breakage occurs during the styling process as often we try to do too much to our hair and don’t handle it with care. Relaxed hair may be straighter, but it still requires gentle detangling with a wide tooth comb. It’s less damaging to detangle hair when it’s mostly dry as the hair is most fragile when wet. Sectioning your hair will make detangling easier and ensure you comb carefully from ends to roots to avoid causing breakage. Also try to use styling accessories that are gentle on the hair. Swap cotton headbands, which suck out moisture, with satin wraps, and metal clips hairbands, which can snag or break strands, for hair accessories made of smooth and softer materials.

6. TURN DOWN THE HEAT
Relaxed hair can’t take as much heat as natural hair and using it regularly dries it out – the number one cause to breakage. If the hair is damaged, heat should be avoided completely. Healthier tresses can take the heat, but use should be limited to prevent damage; no matter how hard it can be! Where possible air dry or only use the ‘cool’ setting on your blowdryer. When you do use heat, keep the temperature low and never reach for your heat styling tools without using a heat protectant first. 5ive suggests using serum or gloss to smooth the cuticle before using heat tools for a super sleek result.

 

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19 Comments

  1. by Stacy on 01/05/2019  4:05 PM Reply

    I notice that my hair breaks like crazy as soon as it goes to a certain length and my right side breaks more than my left.

    • by Delores on 01/20/2019  11:33 PM Reply

      Have you tried using Aloe Vera straight from the plant?

  2. by Jennifer on 12/30/2018  6:53 PM Reply

    My edges and bangs are the only areas that I have breakage problems. I take hair vitamins every day, tie my hair down each night, and deep condition every time I wash my hair. What else can I do, and what products do you recommend?

  3. by Kayte on 10/03/2018  7:50 AM Reply

    Help! I have my hair relaxed & colored in a salon for over 20 years! Same hairdresser same relaxer same treatments. I have done nothing different and neither has she but my hair is snapping mid length to ends. I’ve lost at least 50% at my last relaxer, this has never happened before! What can I do

    • by Agnes Claire Maarufu on 10/16/2018  12:04 PM Reply

      Hi Kayte

      We sought out an expert to help with your problem.
      Agnes Claire Maarufu from the Leeds Trichology Clinic replies:
      This condition sounds like trichorrhexis nodosa or bubble hair syndrome, which are simply acquired hair shaft defects that come as a result of over-processing hair with chemicals, heat damage and blowdrying. This causes the hair to become more fragile and may break off with mechanical action like brushing (or additional heat and processing.)

      In trichorrhexis nodosa the hair literally forms brush like splits in the body (not the ends) that face each other and become points of fragility.

      In bubble hair syndrome the second germ layer (the cortex) accumulates swollen bubbles of air and also make the hair strands fragile. This would explain why the hair breaks within the body.

      Unfortunately the best thing to do is to cut the hair up to the point where it is healthy. If the hair breaks because of fragility as opposed to being cut cleanly there’s a high probability of split ends, which only perpetuates the fragility problem. So this requires a proper trim.

      To avoid the issue next time, it’s good to do a strand test before adding another chemical, if chemicals are used on the hair frequently. This tests properties like elasticity and porosity, which will allow the hairdresser to determine how fit the hair is for the service.

      Black Beauty & Hair asked Agnes if the problem might be health related:

      'Because the hair is not falling from the scalp, but is snapping from the body, its most likely a hair shaft problem as opposed to a health issue; the hair is profoundly damaged.
      Even though she's been subjecting her hair to chemical use for a long time, there is also heat damage to factor in as well as how frequently she's been colouring and relaxing lately and how long she's been leaving the chemicals in. She probably doesn't need to see a doctor, but a trichologist can use a dermascope/trichoscope to see her hair up close to confirm the type and likely cause of the damage. The trichologist can also examine the scalp to see if it's healthy, for example signs of inflammation would be a cause for concern.'

    • by Kaysh on 02/18/2019  6:04 AM Reply

      Hi Kayte,

      I am sorry to hear that this is happening, I know it can be quite distressing to see your hair rapidly breaking.

      My suggestion is to try working from the inside out...meaning, drinking more water, taking iron or biotin supplements as this will promote hair growth and improve strength.

      Also, maybe it’s time to change the relaxer. As time goes on, our hair needs change with age, due to different factors.

      Hope this helps.

  4. by Lasonga Blackwell on 11/20/2017  5:21 AM Reply

    I'm in the same situation, I'm going to try the Aphogge Intense Protein Treatment, supposed to stop breakage and shedding.

    • by Marche' B on 03/02/2018  6:32 PM Reply

      How did the ApHogge Intense Protein Treatment work out?

  5. by Apryl on 08/09/2017  3:23 AM Reply

    I recently relaxed my hair after 5 years of being natural, now my hair is breaking off what can I do to help it?

    • by Aliyyah Conway on 01/15/2018  10:25 PM Reply

      Try a protein pack

  6. by Vanessa on 05/12/2017  1:59 AM Reply

    I textured my natural hair and it came out bone srt8 I didn't keep product in for no longer than 5 mins.... Even though the directions stated 15 mins. I used Lusters ShortLooks. Is there a way to thicken my hair and bring my curl pattern back. I've been natural for over 8 years and never wanted my hair st8. I want my kinky/curly hair back. Please help

    • by IShelley on 05/15/2017  5:40 PM Reply

      Hi Vanessa

      By using a texturiser, it seems you've altered the chemical bonds of your hair and permanently changed your curl pattern. There is no going back from this I'm afraid. You can nuture your new texture and make sure it doesn't break by having regular treatments. But you'll have to wait for your hair to grow out to get your curls back. It sounds like you may have high porosity hair.
      The best way to describe high porosity hair is to compare it to a sponge. A sponge quickly absorbs water and can release it by end of day; that’s the problem with high porosity hair. It can take in too much moisture but loses it just as quickly and ends up dry, brittle, and prone to breakage.

      Damaged cuticles quite often happen because of the poor or excessive styling practices, as they can be too harsh on the cuticle. Just like moisture can enter easily, so can chemicals like permanent colour and straightening treatments.

      Do's
      Protein treatments
      Deep conditioning
      Seal your hair (LOC method)

      Don'ts
      Avoid direct heat
      Don't manipulate hair when wet
      Don't use harsh cleansers. Sulphate-free products are your best friend here

      Good luck,
      The BBH team

  7. by Deanna Anderson on 04/17/2017  3:00 AM Reply

    Hi, I have been natural for a year but I haven't permed my hair in 3 years. The two years I wasn't natural, I straightened my hair, from my perm I have received breakage I'll get fixing it ASAP thanks for the tips!!! :)

    • by IShelley on 04/18/2017  5:04 PM Reply

      Good luck with your hair journey

      Kind regards

      The BBH Team

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  9. by Kamri on 07/29/2016  12:24 AM Reply

    This is great. I was natural for 3 years and I've recently relaxed my hair BUT it's been breaking off like crazy. I don't know whether it's because I haven't relaxed my hair in 3 years or because I'm doing something wrong! Thanks for this article, I will definitely be using these tips

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