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Hair Breakage 101-- just wanted to share!


New Member
As we all know, breakage, growth and hair health go hand in hand-- because with breakage, health and growth potential are greatly reduced.

I've shared this info on the Ezboard site I frequent (and some others), and I've decided to share a bit of what I've been writing with you all too. Some of you will recognize alot of this because I've been saving many of the posts I've done on various boards. Please excuse the millions of typos as well-- I haven't had the chance to go through and truncate the repetition or correct for spelling. Forgive me ahead of time, it is still a work in progress and this is only an excerpt.

I believe this information will help the newbies, and the vets sort out their breakage issues and give them some useful background information so that they can get a better sense of the direction they should aiming product and technique wise. Ladies, feel free to add to this thread. We want to share and provide each other with as much information as possible.


Breakage and Shedding​

Understanding the difference between breakage and shedding is an important part of any healthy hair regimen. Many people use these terms interchangeably to refer to any hair that falls from the head. In its truest sense, shed hair is hair that has reached the end of its growing cycle and naturally falls from the scalp along with its root attached. The root is a tiny white bulb on the scalp originating end. If a hair does not possess this white bulb, then it is not a naturally shed hair, rather, a broken one. Shed hair tends to be longer in length than broken hairs which are generally short pieces of varying lengths. If you have stretched your relaxer for a great number of weeks, your shed hair will have the curly new growth present on the area next to the bulb, and you will be able to see where the relaxed hair begins. Some find that garlic shampoos or products with garlic extracts help curb shedding. But remember, shedding is a natural, internal process and may not respond to topical, external treatments. So don't be alarmed if nothing works for you. Changes in diet, hormone imbalances, birth control pills, and pregnancy can also affect the rate at which hair is shed.

Breakage on the other hand is not natural, and is an indication of an imbalance of important forces within the hair strand. Broken hairs do not fall naturally from the head, but are typically a sign of mishandling or abuse. The proper treatments, will help stop breakage in its tracks.


Protein and Moisture

Scenario 1: Kim's hair is breaking like crazy and feels like a brillo pad. Every time she touches it, pieces seem to just pop right off. Snap, crackle, pop. Combing is impossible without tons of little hairs covering her sink and back. Her hair feels hard and rough even when wet. She's given it protein treatments because the product says its supposed to stop breakage in its tracks and rebuild the hair, but so far nothing is working and her problem is getting worse.

Scenario 2: Trina's hair is breaking like crazy as well. Her hair feels dry, looks dull, and is very weak. Her hair is too weak to withstand simple combing. It feels extra stretchy when wet and almost follows the comb as she pulls through to detangle. She has deep conditioned and done hot oil treatments on her hair once a week. Since her breakage began, she?s stepped up the conditioning but her problem has gotten worse.

Both of these women have issues with breakage, but the solutions to their individual problems require two very different approaches. Before you go shopping for your hair care product arsenal, you must understand the difference between protein and moisture and what they mean for your hair. Protein and moisture are the key cornerstones of great hair care. Maintaining a proper balance between these two entities is critical for the healthiest hair growth possible. The two scenarios above perfectly illustrate what happens when the balance between protein and moisture is tipped too far in either direction. This section will teach you to effectively recognize the difference between protein based and moisture based problems and help you can organize your hair regimen to effectively combat these issues as the arise.


Protein is what gives the hair its strength and structure. Hair is about 70% keratin protein by nature. Protein is found most prevalently in products like instant conditioners (bargain brands like Suave and V05), leave in conditioners, protein conditioner treatments, and even some moisturizers.


Moisturizers are products that are water-based and nourish your hair deep within the strand. Water is the ultimate moisturizer so waterbased products are best for really getting the best moisture benefit. Products with moisturizing properties tend to be your conditioners and other water-based products. Moisturizers may also be protein-based, but these protein based moisturizers do not have the moisturizing benefit that moisture-based moisturizers have. Good moisturizers will not contain ingredients like petrolatum, mineral oil, or lanolin. These are cheap product fillers. Be wary of products that claim moisturizing benefits and contain these ingredients. There is nothing moisturizing about them! Petrolatum and mineral oil are sealants and have the potential to suffocate the hair and scalp and seal out the moisture it needs.

Sealing in your Moisturizers:
Our hair naturally contains moisture, but because our hair is also naturally porous, keeping the moisture inside is a difficult task. Sources of outside moisture, or external moisture supplementation, are a must for black hair. Water molecules and moisture from these supplemental moisturizing products easily pass into the hair shaft, but they pass out just as easily. The moisture you apply needs to held in by something. Oil.
A light coating of oil on top will help seal the moisture inside. Oils are made of large molecules. These molecules are too large to absorbed by the hair strand. Applying oils to the hair and scalp will coat them and trap moisture that is inside on the inside and moisture that is outside on the outside. The key is to lock in the moisture within the strands with your oil. If you use oils without a moisturizer or before one, the oil will seal the moisture out of the hair strand and lead to eventual dryness. This technique of moisturizing and sealing has really been helpful to me and is a resonating hallmark of my regimen. Moisturizing success is all in the order in which you apply your products.

REMEMBER! Oils DO NOT Moisturize.
Perhaps a words like "nourish" would be better than moisturize. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me to recommend a good oil that moisturizes, I would be rich! Oil alone will not and cannot moisturize within the hair shaft. An oil can only coat the outside of the strand, and give it shine- the illusion of moisture. Again, the molecules that make oil are much too large to penetrate through all of the cuticle layers. The cuticle layers can be as few as 6 layers or many as 15 or more layers thick. Oil molecules are hydro-phobic which means they repel and do not readily mix with water. Remember, if you apply an oil product to your hair before you have added a moisturizing product, you have created a seal on your hair strand that water and moisture cannot penetrate.


When the Balance Tips, You Must Wet Assess​

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Hair is not exempt from this old adage. Growing out your hair is a constant battle between maintaining an even protein and moisture balance. Breakage is the result of the hair chemistry being thrown off balance. Remember Kim and Trina from the beginning of the section? Hair that is shifted too far on either side of the balance (too much protein or too much moisture) will break.

The Importance of Wet Assessment​

Though health assessments can be performed on dry hair, determining your cause of breakage is often easiest on wet hair. Hair in its wet state exudes the basic properties of hair---elasticity and strength, excellently. In fact, these qualities are often exaggerated on wet hair. Thorough and frequent wet assessments will help you maintain your hair's health and condition.

Hair in its optimal condition will not break when wet unless undue stress is placed upon it through aggressive combing or detangling. A balanced and healthy hair strand will stretch and break only under undue, or unusual types of pulling stress. Balanced hair will feel soft and supple, yet strong while wet. When you comb through it when wet, it should resist excess stretching and will hardly break if you are careful. Over time, and with trial and error, you will be able to tell what is normal stress for your hair.
If your hair does indeed break when wet, the way the hair breaks under these conditions will give you a sure indication of whether more moisture or protein is required to regain the proper balance. --continues--
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New Member
How Do I Perform a Proper Wet Assessment?​

It will be difficult for you to wet assess your hair by holding a single strand and pulling on both ends. That type of stress would be considered "undue" stress, because no single hair is ever really subjected to that sort of tension at one time. Any strand of hair (healthy or not) that you pull on by both ends has the potential to snap depending on the pressure you apply to it. Hair should be wet assessed by the normal act of combing though it or touching-testing it.

Wet Assessment Break Down​

If your hair:

(Wet or Dry) Stretches slighty/returns to original length /no breaking= you are balanced just stick with maintaining!

(Wet ot Dry) Stretching a little more than normal then breaks= more protein

(Wet or Dry)Stretching, stretching, stretching/no breakage yet= more protein

(Wet)- Weak, gummy, mushy, limp hair= more protein

(Wet or Dry) Very little/no stretching then breakage= more moisture

(Dry) Rough/tough/hard/tangly/brittle hair= more moisture

Unsure= err on the side of moisture

For those of you just starting out on your journey to healthier head of hair, I recommend you begin with a more moisture friendly regimen before you incorporate the protein aspect. The reason being, many of us (before our hair care awakening) have naturally moisture deficient hair care routines and regimens- especially those with no regimen at all. Rarely have I seen a woman have hair problems that are a result of over-conditioning her hair and too much moisture. I can guarantee you that almost 99% of the time, poor moisturizing and conditioning are the issues that spawn our hair care interventions.


When the Balance is thrown off by too much protein:​

Hair that is shifted too far on the protein side will break easier, both wet and dry, because it lacks elasticity. Hair that breaks with very little tension or stretching is moisture deficient. Any type of stretching or tension will break it because the protein goes in and adds structure to the hair. Too much structure will make the hair rigid, decrease its elasticity, leave it brittle and prone to breakage. This was the issue with Kim's hair. She was feeding her hair more protein than she needed to maintain a healthy balance. If this describes your hair at any time listen up! To correct this imbalance, you will need to go into a simple deep conditioning and moisturizing regimen. You may not be doing "protein treatments" per se, but you may be using other products that are protein heavy ingredient wise. I would watch out for protein in common products like leave in conditioners, moisturizers,gels, and instant conditioners like Suave and V05. Protein hides in alot of everyday products- so avoid those for a few weeks until your moisture balance is corrected. This will give your hair a chance to even out the protein/moisture balance.

Should I schedule my protein treatments in advance?
I do not advise "protein-ing" on a specific schedule, simply because our hair is seasonal. Setting aside a week or two in your regimen for protein conditioning is just not effective at addressing your hair needs as they arise. It doesn't know or understand our "schedules." Its needs and wants change from day to day, week to week. The only product you must adhere to a schedule is the Aphogee Treatment for Damaged Hair because it can only be used every 6 weeks or so because of its strength. The other treatments in between that one should only be done as you need them. Sometimes that might be weekly, other times it may be every 2 or 3 weeks! Only your hair can dictate that to you. I'm sure you've seen the threads where I discuss how to tell when your hair needs more protein- or when it needs more moisture. There are very specific ways to tell =) Once you get to know your hair more and more, it will be like second nature! Scheduling is good for when you are just starting out and getting into the groove, but you'll soon start to see that your hair often has its own plan for when you need different things for it! Then, scheduling kind of becomes useless in the grand scheme of hair care things. It also prevents you from truly developing an understanding of your own hair because instead of looking for certain cues and signs, you are looking at the calendar. Protein-ing on a schedule can eventually lead to protein overload if you aren't careful! It is so much harder to bounce back from an overload of protein than it is an overload of moisture/conditioning.

How much is too much?
I totally agree that relaxed ladies need more protein. If you are relaxed or color treated, those processes have compromised the protein structure of your hair--so you kinda need the supplemental protein. Not everyone needs protein though, some naturals can live without it...

For the relaxed ladies though, It's like we've all sustained different degrees of "damage" from the relaxing processes. Some people's hair is more protein deficient by nature (from the coloring/relaxing) so they require more to keep the balance in tact. Relaxing and coloring breaks protein bonds so depending on the type and degree of relaxer and level on bond breakage you will need more or less protein than someone else. So you can't say weekly, daily, or monthly protein is too much or too little because we do not know the true condition and specific needs of your hair to start with. At the end of the day, you must experiment and get to know your own head of hair.

Some proteins are stronger than others, but daily or even weekly use of even the milder protein treatments may result in an imbalance between the protein and moisture levels within the hair strands in some people. Honestly, it's almost too hard to even go by the "types of proteins." You never know the percent composition of these products so though it may have a specific protein down the ingredient list, it might not be as strong as if it were higher on the ingredient list(greater percent composition). The protein in question could be 30% of the product or 0.3%! Who knows! You have to play around with different products to know how strong it is on your hair. You can't really say "Oh this is wheat protein so its gonna very light!" Or "this is animal protein, so its gonna be very heavy." It would be nice if that were true all the time, but because the product percent composition really plays such an important role, label reading can only do so much. For example, every product with keratin isn't going to feel the same way across the board. Just like every product that contains glycerine or water isn't going to feel the same! You must experiment and find your hair tolerance and it will vary from product to product, not necessarily protein to protein.

Another example, some people think Aphogee 2 minute is a mild to tough protein, but my hair tends to laugh at it and feel the exact same after using it. For me, I just experimented using different combinations of products to find out what my hair tolerance is.


When the Balance is thrown off by too much moisture:​

Yes! There is such a thing as "over-conditioning" the hair and Trina found that out the hard way. Hair that is shifted too far on the moisture side will be "super-elastic" and stretch more because it lacks a sound protein structure. Many ladies describe the feel of over-conditioned/over-moisturized hair as ?"mush-like" or "overly soft" when wet. It almost has a weak, limp spongy feel to it. Protein deficient hair will tend to pull and stretch along with the comb and then break. It will always stretch first then break which is the result of very low supplemental protein in the regimen. When this is the case, you will need some kind of protein to give the hair structure which will make it feel rigid (stronger) again. If your hair is stretching without returning, even if its not breaking you should use a light protein to correct this. When your hair stretches, the strand "thins" and becomes weaker across the cross section. It may not break right then at that very point in time, but stretched out of and beyond its shape, it is compromised and will eventually break at some other point. Your hair should be springing back to position. If it's stretching and stretching without breaking it may be your hair's way of telling you, "Hey, I need a little structure (protein) here! I'm getting waaaay too elastic, but not yet enough to break-- so do something now!" This is where a preventive maintenance protein application would come in. You don't have to wait for breakage to act. Your hair is telling you now! Start light, and work from there. You may not need a heavy treatment just yet.

And, you don't have to get all of your protein from a "treatment" per se or conditioner either. You can always throw in protein based leave in conditioners like (Infusium23) or waterbased moisturizers like (Cantu's Breakcure/or Elasta QP mango butter) to help you maintain the balance within your regimen. This way you can get a little or a lot without relying on one product.

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New Member
I'm Balanced- Now What?​

Now once your hair is balanced and the breakage has minimized you can try to maintain the balance for as long as you can by interchanging your products. It doesn't have to be on a particular schedule. It is a constant struggle to balance these two. Ladies, I remember when I first started trying to get a growth regimen going- I planned out all my treatments on the calendar. Now, I've found that this method just doesn't work. Sometimes you need more protein, sometimes none at all. Sometimes its more moisture! You have to listen to your hair to know what do when. So you could say, I'll use protein every other week...but what do you do when your hair decides hey! I want to act brittle and dry and break (a sign of too much protein) the week you are due for more protein? Balance is the word! You'll know how to handle it as you gain experience.

WHEW! That was long:lol: And that's only the tip of the iceberg of what I've been cooking up over here. I know its long, but I sincerely hope this helps! If even one person benefits, it will have served its purpose. :kiss:


Well-Known Member
Sistaslick you make me sick with all that pretty long hair. I am so jealous of you! :look: Okay I was just kidding about the you make me sick part but I am jealous of all that hair... in a good way;)

Thanks for the post! I printed this out when I seen it on the Ezboard site and passed it out to 10 of my close friends and family member. AND I have 2 copies for myself and emailed it to my 3 email addresses....... just in case something should happen:look:

By the way, your children......ADORABLE!

Okay off to go stalk your album...... just kidding again:look: :look: Okay I was serious about that!


New Member
aww Thanks guys! :kiss: I'm not much of a thread starter over here, but I just wanted to share some of what I've been working on with you guys too. I sincerely hope this helps someone :yep:


Active Member
Sista, your advice is always right on time. I've been following your advice, particularly the steps for self-relaxing and others, for a while and my hair is finally thriving.....keep the advice and suggestions coming....Thank you so very much.


Well-Known Member
That's what I'm talking about...this is what makes this board so great! Thanks for sharing!


Active Member
Originally Posted by michelle3147
This thread should be a sticky!

i agree too, so much great info! i've benefited so much from using oil to seal in moisture! thanks sista!!!!


Thanks for the info! After giving birth to my daughter, it seems like my hair will never get enough moisture.


New Member
This is definetly sticky material, Sista your always on point. I have been living by this information since i read it on BBBH.(Laminating printed pages):woot: :user:


New Member
I really appreciate your comments guys. Thank you all so much! This information is a very, very rough draft/excerpt from a manuscript I've been doing. I am looking to combine my two main passions--- writing and hair. I'm planning to cover a myriad of hair topics, but I felt this particular one was one of the more important ones for us--- so I decided to share it with everyone "in the raw" format right now. I guess as a sneak peak sorta :lol: I am working on a much larger, polished (published;) ) version so you'll hear more about that as I get closer to finishing it up:)


New Member
alonshaw said:
This is definetly sticky material, Sista your always on point. I have been living by this information since i read it on BBBH.(Laminating printed pages):woot: :user:
This is exactly what I was just going to say.


Sweetest Taboo
Well done, hair twin! I'm just figuring this out (all over again). I think this is why my breakage stopped.


Well-Known Member
Sista, thank you for this. You are so generous to share your knowledge. :kiss:

Wishing all the success you deserve on your writing and publishing journey!


New Member
Sistaslick said:
I really appreciate your comments guys. Thank you all so much! This information is a very, very rough draft/excerpt from a manuscript I've been doing. I am looking to combine my two main passions--- writing and hair. I'm planning to cover a myriad of hair topics, but I felt this particular one was one of the more important ones for us--- so I decided to share it with everyone "in the raw" format right now. I guess as a sneak peak sorta :lol: I am working on a much larger, polished (published;) ) version so you'll hear more about that as I get closer to finishing it up:)

I'm saying congrats early, keep on doing what your doing you are trully a hair angel and an angel of course...I have this printed out already from BBBH. I have a hair notebook. :)