4C Natural Hair: How to Stop Breakage

breakage on 4c natural hair

Are you struggling with breakage on your 4C natural hair? If so, you’re not alone! Breakage is a common issue for women with this type of hair. And it can be so frustrating when your hair is breaking off at the slightest touch! This article will discuss some of the causes of breakage and how to prevent it. We will also talk about ways to strengthen your hair and make it less prone to breaking. So if you want to learn how to stop breakage on 4C natural hair, keep reading!

What is Hair Breakage on 4C Natural Hair?

Before we get into stopping breakage, let’s first discuss hair breakage. Hair breakage is when your hair snaps or breaks off along the shaft. It can happen for various reasons, but the most common cause is damage to the hair cuticle. The cuticle is the outer layer of your hair that protects the inner layers. When this layer is damaged, it can cause your hair to break more easily.

hair structure

There are a few things that can damage the cuticle, including:

  • Heat styling
  • Chemical treatments
  • Rough handling
  • Lack of moisture

If you’re struggling with breakage, one or more of these factors is to blame. Now let’s talk about how you can prevent the breakage of your 4C natural hair.

Hair Breakage vs. Hair Shedding

It’s important to note that breakage and shedding are two different things.

  • Hair breakage is when your hair snaps or breaks off along the shaft. It can happen for various reasons, but mainly due to damage to the hair cuticle.
  • Hair shedding, on the other hand, is when your hair falls out straight from the root (hair follicle). We shed around 50 – 100 hairs per day! It is a natural process that happens to everyone.

So, if you’re noticing more hair in your brush than usual, it’s likely shedding and not breakage. However, if you see short pieces of hair or your hair breaking off when you touch it, breakage is probably the issue.

Pro tip: You should see a dermatologist if you notice more than 100 hairs in your brush per day. It could be a sign of a medical condition.

Hair Breakage vs. Hair Loss

It’s also essential to distinguish between hair loss and hair breakage.

  • Hair loss is when your hair falls out from the root (hair follicle) and does not grow back. Various factors can cause hair loss, including genetics, illness, or stress.
  • Hair breakage, as previously discussed, is when your hair snaps or breaks off along the shaft. While breakage can be frustrating, it’s not permanent, and your hair will grow back.

Tell-tale Signs that Your 4C Natural Hair is Breaking

There are a few tell-tale signs if you’re not sure you’re experiencing breakage or shedding.

  • Do you see short pieces of hair in your brush, sink or floor?
  • Does your hair break off when you touch it?
  • Do you see split ends?
  • Is your hair dull and lifeless?
  • Do you have less hair than usual?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, breakage is likely the issue.

Now let’s talk about what could be causing breakage on your 4C natural hair and how to stop it.

Reasons You Experience Breakage on 4C Natural Hair

There are a few reasons you may be experiencing breakage on your natural hair.

As we discussed earlier, damage to the hair cuticle is the most common cause of breakage.

There are three leading causes of cuticle damage: manual, physical, and chemical.

1. Manual Hair Damage

It is damage that occurs when you manipulate your hair too much. Manual damage can include things like:

  • brushing your hair too hard
  • using a comb with sharp teeth
  • wearing your hair in tight styles
  • rubbing your hair with a towel
  • sleeping on rough fabrics

These things can cause breakage, so it’s essential to be gentle with your hair.

Tension on your hair shaft can cause inflammation and breakage, so be careful not to pull or tug on your hair too much.

Pro tip: Hair around the edge of your hairline is especially susceptible to breakage, so be extra careful when handling this area.

2. Physical Hair Damage

This damage occurs when exposed to extreme temperatures or harsh environments. It can include:

  • exposure to the sun
  • curling or flat ironing hair
  • blow-drying hair
  • exposure to cold weather
  • swimming in chlorinated water

Using heat styling tools regularly can cause severe damage to your 4C natural hair.

Environmental factors can also cause breakage. Things like wind, pollution, and chlorine can dry your hair and make it more susceptible to breakage.

Pro tip: Protect your hair with a scarf or hat when exposed to harsh environments.

3. Chemical Hair Damage

This type of damage occurs when you expose your hair to harsh chemicals. It can include:

  • bleaching your hair
  • colouring your hair
  • relaxing your hair
  • using keratin hair treatments

Chemical hair damage is often irreversible, so it’s essential to be careful when using chemicals on your hair.

If you use chemicals, follow the instructions carefully and only use them as directed.

Now that we’ve discussed the causes of breakage let’s talk about how to stop it.

19 Ways to Stop breakage on 4C Natural Hair

Type 4C hair, like everyone else’s hair, grows at a rate of about half an inch per month.

But you may not retain length with this hair type due to breakage.

Type 4C hair ends break off faster than new growth, which gives the appearance of stunted hair growth.

Breakage is of particular concern to curlier and coarser hair types due to the fragility of the hair shaft. The natural oils that protect and lubricate the hair cannot travel down the hair shaft as effectively, making the hair more prone to breakage.

The good news is that you can do plenty of things to prevent breakage and promote healthy hair growth.

Here are 19 tips to help you stop breakage on your 4C natural hair:

1. Avoid rough handling of your hair

Rough handling of your hair causes tears in the cuticle, leading to split ends and breakage.

Be gentle when brushing, combing, and styling your hair.

Use a wide-tooth comb or paddle brush to detangle your hair. Mist your hair before you start detangling to soften the strands and avoid breakage.

Start at the bottom of your hair and work your way up—Detangle small sections of hair at a time. Get comfortable with finger detangling to avoid breakage.

Don’t pull or tug on your hair.

2. Use heat styling sparingly

Heat styling can cause severe damage to your hair.

Excessive heat can break down the keratin proteins that make up your hair and give it strength. Heat also dries up your hair strands, making them more susceptible to dryness, frizz, and breakage.

Heat damage can arise from styling tools such as curling irons, flat irons, and hair dryers.

It can also come from exposure to the sun and other sources of high heat.

If you must heat style your hair, use the lowest setting possible and use a heat protectant. It will help create a barrier between your hair and the heat source.

Choose low-heat settings on your styling tools and avoid using them frequently.

Avoid heat styling tools on damp hair and let your hair air dry whenever possible.

3. Deep condition your hair regularly

Deep conditioning is a must for all hair types, but it’s vital for breakage-prone hair.

Regular deep conditioning helps replenish the moisture lost due to washing and styling.

It also helps to repair damage and breakage.

You should aim to deep condition at least once a week, but you can do it more often if your hair is dry or damaged.

Look for deep conditioners that contain natural ingredients such as shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil. These ingredients will help to nourish and repair your hair.

4. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize

One of the best things you can do for your hair is to keep it moisturized.

Moisturized hair is less likely to break, and it’s also softer, shinier, and more manageable.

Use a good quality conditioner and moisturizer designed for your hair type.

Apply the conditioner to your hair while still wet, and focus on the ends.

Use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the conditioner evenly through your hair.

Rinse it out thoroughly and follow up with a moisturizing deep conditioner.

You can also try pre-pooing, applying a conditioning treatment to your hair before shampooing.

Pre-pooing will help protect your hair from the drying effects of shampoo.

Lastly, try the LOC/LCO methods to moisturize your hair between washes.

The LOC method involves using a leave-in conditioner, an oil, and a cream. The LCO method is similar but uses cream before sealing moisture with oil.

Both methods help keep your hair moisturized and prevent breakage.

5. Shampoo your hair correctly

Shampoos can be a double-edged sword when it comes to 4C natural hair. On the one hand, they can help cleanse and nourish your hair.

On the other hand, they can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and susceptible to breakage.

Avoid shampoos that contain sulphates and other harsh chemicals. These ingredients can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and prone to breakage.

In addition to the type of shampoo you use, how you shampoo your hair is also crucial.

Be sure to massage the scalp gently with your fingertips and avoid scrubbing or rubbing the hair strands too harshly.

Rinse your hair thoroughly to remove all traces of shampoo. Follow up with a conditioner to help replenish lost moisture.

Pro tip: Detangle and twist your hair into a few manageable sections before washing hair. Shampoo and condition each section separately to avoid tangles.

6. Use the right products for your hair type

Not all hair care products are created equal.

What works for one person may not work for another.

It’s vital to choose hair care products specifically formulated for your hair type.

If you have dry, breakage-prone hair, look for products containing natural oils and ingredients that will help moisturize and repair your hair.

Products that contain shea butter, jojoba oil, and coconut oil are a good choice.

If you have oily hair, look for products that help control the oil without stripping your hair of its natural moisture.

Products that contain aloe vera and other light oils are a good choice.

Avoid using products that contain harsh chemicals, sulphates, and other harsh ingredients. These can strip your hair of its natural moisture and make it more prone to breakage.

7. Wash your hair with lukewarm water

Hot water strips your hair’s natural oils, leaving it dry and vulnerable to breakage.

Instead, wash your hair with cool or lukewarm water and finish with a cold water rinse to seal the cuticle.

Also, avoid over-washing your hair. Washing your hair too frequently can strip it of its natural oils, leading to dryness and breakage.

Wash your hair no more than once or twice a week, and use a gentle, sulphate-free shampoo.

8. Don’t dry hair with towels

Towels can be harsh on natural hair, causing breakage.

Instead, gently squeeze excess water from your hair with your hands.

Then, use a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel to pat your hair dry.

Be sure to handle your hair gently to avoid breakage.

Let your hair air dry. Air drying is the best way to prevent breakage.

9. Take care of your scalp

A healthy scalp is a foundation for healthy hair.

Be sure to keep your scalp clean and free of buildup.

You can do this by shampooing regularly and using a clarifying shampoo once a month to remove buildup.

In addition, massage your scalp with a stimulating oil or serum to promote blood circulation.

Scalp massages will help keep your scalp healthy and your hair strong.

10. Don’t brush your hair when it’s wet

Wet hair is more fragile and prone to breakage than dry hair. Avoid combing or brushing your hair when it’s wet.

Instead, wait until your hair is dry or damp before brushing.

If you must detangle your hair, use a wide-tooth comb or detangling brush and start from the bottom of your hair, working your way up.

Be sure to handle your hair gently and take your time.

11. Avoid tight hairstyles

When you wear your hair in tight styles, it puts unnecessary tension on your strands, leading to breakage.

Ponytails, cornrows, and braids are just a few of the many styles that can cause breakage.

Any style that pulls on your hair or puts undue stress on your strands can lead to breakage.

If you’re experiencing breakage, try giving your scalp a break from tight hairstyles and opt for looser styles instead.

Pro tip: Elastic hair ties can cause breakage, so opt for hair ties that are gentle on your hair, e.g., silk scrunchies.

12. Stretch type 4c hair (avoid shrunken state)

One of the best ways to avoid breakage on 4c natural hair is to keep it in a stretched state.

You can do heatless stretching on 4c natural hair by using:

  • African threading method
  • Banding method
  • Jumbo Braiding
  • Two-strand twisting
  • Bantu knots

You can pick any other heat-free stretching method that works for you.

The goal is to avoid shrunken styles as much as possible because they lead to matting and single strand knots.

And when you have matting and single strand knots, you’re more likely to experience breakage.

13. Sleep on a satin pillowcase or wrap your hair in a satin scarf

Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase can help reduce friction and breakage.

Friction from cotton pillowcases can cause the hair cuticle to tear, which leads to breakage. Cotton also absorbs moisture from your hair, leaving it dry and brittle.

Satin or silk pillowcases help to keep your hair moisturized and prevent breakage.

You can also wrap your hair in a satin scarf before you sleep.

Wrapping your hair in a scarf protects your hair from breakage caused by tossing and turning during the night.

14. Wear protective hairstyles more often

Protective hairstyles are hairstyles that help to protect your hair from damage.

They can also help to reduce breakage and promote healthy hair growth.

Some examples of protective hairstyles include braids, twists, updos, and wigs.

When done correctly, protective hairstyles can help you achieve your hair goals.

However, they can also cause breakage if not done correctly.

Research how to properly install and care for protective hairstyles to avoid breakage.

Pro tip: When choosing a protective style, opt for techniques that put less tension on your hairline. It will help to preserve your edges and avoid breakage.

15. Maintain proper protein-moisture balance

Your hair is made up of protein and needs to maintain its moisture levels to stay healthy.

If your hair lacks protein, it will become weak and susceptible to breakage.

On the other hand, if you over-moisturize your hair, it can become limp and greasy.

It’s essential to find a balance between protein and moisture to avoid breakage.

You can achieve this by using protein and moisture products, such as deep conditioners.

Also, eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein-rich foods.

16. Trim your ends as necessary

Regular trims help eliminate damaged and split ends, which can travel up the hair shaft and cause breakage.

How often you should trim your hair depends on how you style and treat your ends.

If you have damage from heat styling or colouring, you may need to trim your hair more often. You may also need more frequent trims if you wear your hair in styles that put a lot of tension on your ends.

But if you take good care of your hair and tuck away the ends often, you may only need to trim your hair every few months.

A good rule of thumb is to trim your hair every six to eight weeks.

17. Avoid chemical treatments/products

Chemical treatments, such as straightening and relaxing, can break down the protein bonds in your hair and cause breakage.

They can also make your hair more susceptible to heat styling and colouring damage.

If you’re experiencing breakage, try to avoid chemical treatments and opt for natural styles instead.

You should also avoid using harsh chemicals for your hair, such as sulphates and silicones.

These ingredients can strip away your hair’s natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle.

Instead, look for products made with natural ingredients that are gentle on your hair.

18. Protect hair from environmental factors

If frequently exposed to harsh environmental factors, such as wind, sun, or pollution, it can damage your hair and make it more susceptible to breakage.

Wear a hat or scarf outdoors to protect your hair from the elements whenever possible.

Swimming in chlorinated water or salty water can also damage your hair. Wet your hair before swimming to avoid absorbing too much water, and always wear a swimming cap.

After swimming, rinse your hair with fresh water to remove any chlorine or salt.

19. Watch your diet

What you eat can have a significant impact on the health of your hair.

Eating a diet rich in nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, can help promote healthy hair growth.

Conversely, eating foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats can cause breakage and dryness.

To avoid breakage, eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of nutrient-rich foods.

Final Thoughts

Breakage is a common issue for those with natural 4C hair, but there are things you can do to avoid it.

Start by using the right hair care products for your hair type, and be sure to deep condition your hair regularly.

In addition, avoid using heat styling tools whenever possible, and be sure to moisturize your hair frequently.

By following these tips, you can help to stop breakage on 4c natural hair and promote healthy growth. Remember to be patient and consistent with your routine to see the best results.

Thanks for reading! Until next time, take care of those tresses! 🙂 xoxo