Regardless of hair type, texture, length, etc., we all experience various degrees of breakage and shedding throughout our hair. While shed hair is normal, excessive shedding and breakage is not. As far as breakage, a lot of it is preventable. However, because we are human, we are not 100% error-proof. Nonetheless, in this article we will go into more detail on the differences between breakage vs. shedding in natural hair, as well as some of the best hair care practices that can help to manage and / or lessen both.
Here is what to know about breakage vs. shedding in natural hair:
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NATURAL HAIR SHEDDING: WHAT TO KNOW
Our hair strands go through a growth cycle which consists of different phases that each of your strands may be in at any time. As each hair strand completes its cycle, it naturally sheds to make room for new growth. On average, we shed between 50 – 150 strands per day. Of course, for those with longer hair, it may seem like more due to the length of the strand. Upon looking at your shed strands up close, you will notice that shed hairs have a tiny white bulb at the root of the strand. In addition, shed hair tends to more easily slide out when combing or washing your hair as these strands have already loosened.
There are multiple factors that can affect the amount of hair you shed. Diet, your overall health, and your styling habits are just a few factors that can affect the amount of hair you shed on a daily basis. Now, what is excessive shedding and how can you tell the difference between natural hair shedding and hair loss? Regular shed hair replaces itself while hair loss tends to display thinner hair, bald spots, etc.
How to reduce shed hair:
- Do monthly protein treatments to keep your strands strong.
- Make sure you are consuming a healthful diet with enough protein and water.
- Try weekly deep conditioning treatments to replenish your strands with much needed hydration.
- Keep your strands moisturized with the L.C.O. or L.O.C. methods to keep your strands healthy and growing.
- Limit stress.
HAIR BREAKAGE: WHAT TO KNOW
While hair breakage is something that we have all experienced at some point, it is an issue that can often times be prevented. Common causes of breakage include harsh detangling, heat or chemical damage, and lack of proper nutrition to name a few. Hair strands that have broken off and are not shed hair will not have the white bulb at the root and can vary in length, but are typically shorter.
Breakage can be damaging to your strands as it often causes otherwise healthy strands to become weakened and break off. Excessive breakage can result in split-ends, stunted length retention, and the appearance of see-through ends, to name a few.
How to prevent breakage:
- Be gentle when detangling and work in sections with a detangling product.
- Avoid / limit the use of heating tools and chemicals (e.g. hair dye) on your hair.
- Make sure your strands are regularly moisturized.
- Protective style on occasion.
- Keep your ends strong by sealing them with an oil and getting trims as needed.
BREAKAGE VS. SHEDDING IN NATURAL HAIR: THE TAKEAWAY
While shedding is normal, breakage should not become normalcy in your hair care routine. In the effort to keep healthy hair, it is important that you are maintaining healthy habits that benefit you not just on the outside, but the inside as well.
You should be consuming a healthful diet with plenty of water. This will help to manage and / or lessen both shedding and breakage through the delivery of various essential nutrients. In addition, making the effort to be gentle on your strands as well as keeping them regularly moisturized, will help to make sure that your strands stay strong and in-tact.
With a few of the differences between breakage vs. shedding in natural hair in mind, click here to check out 5 habits that may be hurting your hair growth:
1 How Much Hair Loss Is Normal: Everyone Sheds. (2019). Retrieved 17 July 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-much-hair-loss-is-normal#hair-loss-per-day
2 Do you have hair loss or hair shedding? | American Academy of Dermatology. (2019). Retrieved 17 July 2019, from https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/hair-care/hair-loss-vs-hair-shedding