A common complaint in the natural hair community is the fact that hair sheds. You may not have noticed it so much if you previously hard relaxed hair. My guess is not that you are natural you are paying much closer attention to what your hair is doing.
Is hair shedding normal? You bet it is. We all experience hair shedding even if you don’t notice it every day.
The average head sheds up to 150 hairs a day. Sounds like a lot right? Well, that pretty average.
The thing that most people haven’t quite understood yet is what the difference is between hair shedding vs breakage and that is something that I would like to throw a little light on for you today.
So if you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between hair shedding and breakage is or how to stop hair breakage and shedding now is your chance to get in the know.
***Please note that this site uses affiliate links if you would like to read the legal stuff you can find it here
Hair shedding vs breakage
What is hair shedding?
When your natural hair sheds it a pretty normal occurrence and not something that you should be worried about unless of course, your hair is falling out in clumps when combing.
If that is the case for you then there is probably a more serious underlying problem going on and I would advise that you consult either your doctor or a hair specialist.
When your hair sheds it is part of a cyle system that your hair goes through. You may even notice it if you look closely enough. You will go through a period of growth and then a period of shedding. This cycle repeats itself over and over forever.
The interesting thing is that when a woman becomes pregnant this cycle stops and the pregnant woman only experiences growth until she gives birth and then the woman experiences what seem like extreme postpartum shedding as the shedding cycle catches up.
This is the reason that pregnant women appear to have such luscious hair when pregnant then after birth they experience a lot of shedding.
What is hair breakage?
Hair breakage is very different from shedding and is usually caused though some type of damage.
Breakage will usually happen if you have been neglecting your hair or through mistreatment.
Shedding and breakage may seem similar in some ways but I can assure you that it is not. The 2 are very different indeed.
Breakage has absolutely nothing to do with your hairs natural cycle.
How can I tell the difference between shedding and breakage?
It’s quite easy to spot the difference between shedding and breakage by looking at the hairs both on your head and those that have fallen.
Hair that has shed will be a full-length long strand of hair and will usually have a bobble on the end of it as it has come away from your scalp.
Hair that is broken looks very different and will probably be much shorter in length than your hair which proves that it is a broken hair strand.
You may also notice that the hair on your head has areas that are much shorter than the rest. This is likely to be areas of breakage.
The most common places to see breakage are around your edges and the nape of your hair. The is because these are the places where your hair is most delicate and the areas that get tugged on the most.
What does it mean when your hair is shedding a lot?
If you are experiencing what you know to be excessive hair shedding then you must seek out a hair specialist or a doctor. Even more so if you are seeing bald patches within your hair.
If you have been going through a particularly stressful situation that could also be the cause of the additional hair shedding.
Just keep an eye on it and see if it starts to get better with time as your situation eases up. If not then you should seek out more professional help.
How to stop hair breakage and shedding
10 things that can cause black hair shedding
1. Harsh treatment
Learn to be gentle with your hair. Black hair might come across tough but it needs to be handled with love and care.
Too much pulling and wearing hairstyles that are way too tight will do you no good at all.
Wearing a tight hairstyle today might look good for today but it could cause you a whole host of future problems.
If you know tight hairstyles and over manipulation have been your thing you need to give it up as soon as possible and find alternative hairstyles.
2. Too much heat
We have all fallen prey to using heat at some point or another but you must take proper precautions if you want to use heat by using a heat protectant.
Heat protectants will keep your hair covered while you are applying heat to it.
Applying heat can be done be through, blow-drying, using straighteners or anything similar to that.
Heat every now and again is fine done in the right way but used wrongly could cause you to have lots of breakage problems.
3. Lack of moisture
We all know or at least you should know that moisture is the lifeline of natural hair.
If you don’t water your hair how can it possibly grow? Blowdrying your hair is a major culprit in hair dryness which is why it is advised that you only blowdry your hair on a very low heat setting.
As part of your natural hair regimen, you should be moisturising your hair every few days as natural hair is prone to dryness which in turn cause breakage and a significant lack of growth.
Diet can also be a contributing factor to hair breakage. What you do on the inside will usually show up on the outside.
You need to make sure you are eating the right nutrients in order to keep your hair healthy. If you struggle with consuming the right nutrients then you might want to think about taking hair supplements to help you.
5. Not drinking enough water
Not only does your hair need to be spritzed with water every few days but you need to make sure that you are also drinking water as well. Your body is made up mostly of water so it stands to reason that in order for things to grow you need to give it water. That includes your nails as well as your hair.
If you have not been drinking water then you will likely suffer from hair breakage from dryness.
Drinking water means drinking water, not fizzy pop or anything else. There is no substitute for drinking fresh water.
6. Towel drying
If you are still of the school that thinks that towel drying your hair is ok then I want to enlighten you.
Towel drying is not only quite harsh on your hair strands but it also sucks a lot of the moisture out of your hair.
After washing you want to try to keep as much of that moisture in your hair as possible. Deep conditioning can also help you to do this.
The best thing to do is to use a clean t-shirt to wrap your hair after washing it.
Helpful post: Everything you ever needed to know about natural hair shrinkage
7. Too many hair tools
It still surprises me the number of hair tools that people like to use in order to achieve a particular hairstyle.
Don’t get me wrong hair tools have their place but I wouldn’t advise that you use them every day.
Misuse of styling tools leads to breakage.
IF you are going to use a comb make sure it is a wide-tooth comb. If you want to use a brush make sure it is a soft brush like this one.
8. Not trimming
Trimming your hair is so important because it gives you the opportunity to get rid of your split ends in order to keep your hair healthy.
I know a lot of naturals like to give trimming a miss in order to keep the length of their hair but doing that really is counterproductive.
You need to make sure your ends are healthy by trimming them regularly using professional scissors.
9. Lack of attention to your ends
The ends of your hair the oldest part of your hair so you need to look after them. They are also the most fragile.
You need to be very gentle when it comes to the ends of your hair especially when finger combing. Make sure the ends are always moisturised and sealed using the LOC method.
If you haven’t already tried sweet almond oil you may want to give it a try. its a really nice light oil but it will seal your hair nicely. It’s a good option if your hair doesn’t like coconut oil.
A lot of breakage happens at the ends of your hair so treat them carefully and trim them when you need to.
Final thoughts on how to stop hair breakage and shedding
Hopefully, by now you should have learned lots about your hair and how best to manage it so that it can grow to its full potential.
You can’t prevent shedding of hair because that is a natural occurrence for all hair types but you can stop breakage by implementing the tips above.
Give it try. I would love to hear back from you as to how you get on.
How to transition from relaxed hair to natural
How to grow and care for 4c natural hair
6 Reasons your natural hair is not growing
Understanding your natural hair growth cycle
Saturday 10th of December 2022
Lovely post. I'm still not sure if the hair from my daughter's head is shedding or breakage. The description you gave about the length of hair that falls doesn't quite fit what I see. The hair that falls from her hair are short and coiled. It happens when I detangle or conditions or braid it. I make sure I handle the hair gentle, detangle damp moisturised hair and co. One question I will like to ask is how do you know coconut is not working for you? I use coconut as a preepoo for my daughter's hair it makes it soft and shiny but could it be causing excess hair shed or break? I would like to hear from you please.
Monday 28th of March 2022
I have noticed both sides of my hair is getting shorter in length i was using rice water to help grow my hair then was using watermans grow me products every body asks me if i have cut my hair the answer is no im worried so past few days ive been using herbal essance shampoo and conditioner free from sulphated surficiants but my hair still seems dry at sides of my hair im not going to use a hair dryer to dry my hair