Causes of Breakage In Natural Hair & How to Fix Them:

Have you ever been combing through your hair and hear a snapping sound? That’s breakage, a sound and word many of us cringe at. A lot of breakage in our natural hair can be avoided and is why it is particularly irritating. Breakage can lead to stunted length retention, split ends, and more. Listed below are a few common causes of breakage in natural hair as well as ways to fix / alleviate them.

causes of breakage in natural hair
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1) Combing and brushing

One of the more common causes of breakage in natural hair is combing or brushing through your strands without proper care. Experiencing some breakage is normal when combing/brushing. The many different bends and spirals throughout our natural hair make them susceptible to intertwining with each other. Unfortunately, our detangling utensils can sometimes tear through these tangles causing them to snap and break off. However, if you are experiencing excessive breakage it may be a misstep somewhere in habit.

How to fix it:

When detangling, try to make the effort to make it a gentle process. Do not comb through dry hair and always start at the ends of your hair and work your way up. Also, it helps to thoroughly saturate your strands with a leave-in conditioner with a good amount of slip so your comb can more easily glide through your strands.

Additionally, try to first finger detangle throughout your hair and remove the bigger knots and tangles so that when you follow up with a comb, it is also easier to glide through. Another tip to avoid breakage in natural hair is to prevent tangles from forming by keeping your strands separated/stretched sometimes – protective styles, washing your hair in sections or chunky twists.

2) Yanking through knots

Do you ever get those tangles or knots in your hair that you try to pull apart to separate? Sometimes when we pull these tangles apart, if it done too roughly it can break off the strand.

How to fix it:

If you ever get a big knot or tangle, first saturate it with water and  a conditioner product to help loosen the tangle. Then, gently separate the knot. By doing so will help to avoid ripping through the hair causing unnecessary breakage. If it is a knot that just cannot be separated (ex. single strand knots) simply use a pair of trimming shears to cut that piece off so other strands do not get caught in with it.

causes of breakage in natural hair
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3) Hair is breaking off at your shoulders

When we wear our hair down at our shoulders, it is constantly rubbing against the fabric of our clothing. Many of these fabrics are drying, like cotton. This can lead to breakage overtime and stunted length retention.

How to fix it:

While it is okay to wear your hair down, try to do it in moderation just like with wearing tight pulled back styles that can cause thinning around the hairline and edges. The ends of our hair are the oldest parts and are prone to breakage. Give them a break from time to time by wearing protective styles like twists, puffs, etc. You can also apply some extra TLC to your ends with a sealing oil so that they remain soft, smooth, and mended. Another way to avoid breakage is to avoid leaving your hair on your shoulders when just lounging around. This is a simple way to lessen the acceleration of split ends as well.

4) Weakened hair strands

If your natural hair is in a weakened state, it is more susceptible to breaking off. Our hair strands are comprised of protein and if we are not getting the proper nourishment from our diet and via our hair products, the structure of our hair strands can start to become weakened and eventually lead to breakage.

How to fix it:

Make sure you are consuming an adequate amount of protein and other essential nutrients in your diet. You can read here to see more foods for healthy hair growth. To add to this, an adequate water intake will help to keep your body and your hair strands hydrated. Dehydrated hair is more prone to breakage. You can also try doing a protein treatment once a month to replenish much-needed strengthening elements back into your natural hair.

5) Heat / chemical damage

Another possible cause of breakage in natural hair is heat and/or chemical damage. Repeatedly applying heat to your strands can cause irreversible damage to the structure of the hair shaft resulting in weaker hair that is more prone to breaking off. The same applies to those who are transitioning from relaxers or have color-treated hair.

causes of breakage in natural hair

How to fix it:

If you are currently transitioning from certain hair damage, you can continue your transition and gradually trim off the damaged pieces. Or, you can go ahead and get rid of the damage all together and do a big chop. This will result in healthier looking and feeling hair. In the meantime, regularly deep conditioning and doing monthly protein treatments help.


If you are currently experiencing breakage in your natural hair, what do you think is causing it and how do you plan to fix it? Let us know below!

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