Celebrating your curly hair means you can embrace all the bounce, body & texture that makes your hair so wonderfully gravity-defying. But if you notice your natural hair is showing some signs of breakage, don’t sweat it. It simply means your hair needs a little more of that special attention it always deserves.
Everyone experiences natural hair breakage now & again, whether your hair is curly, coily, or tight-textured. Hair breakage occurs when dryness or damage causes the structure of your strands to break down, ultimately causing them to break off.1 This breakage shortens the hair strand overall & broken ends can sometimes fray or split.
Luckily, once you know how to prevent breakage, you’ll be ready to maintain the health of your hair & keep it gorgeous even when breakage happens.
#1 Quench Your Curls’ Thirst
One of the first steps toward nourishing your hair & preventing breakage or even natural hair shedding is to keep it hydrated. But giving your hair the hydration it needs can be a bit more complex than sitting back with a 12-pack of La Croix.
According to some hair experts, the coiled shape of the natural hair strand can cause them to dry out & break more easily than other types.1 That’s because it can be harder for the natural oils of your scalp to travel down the strands, making them more susceptible to dryness.
This means you should make moisturizing, ultra-nourishing ingredients a priority when shopping for hair products to prevent curly hair breakage.
To quench your hair, look for products with naturally hydrating ingredients, such as:2
While the conditioners you use in the shower can help maintain moisture on a regular basis, dry hair may need an additional boost to soothe split ends & prevent further hair damage or hair loss.
Here are a few ways you can work hydrating products into your routine:
- For a daily dose of moisture, look for a hydrating mist or leave-in conditioner to use before you style your hair.
- For a more intense boost, you can use a hair mask or deep conditioning treatment to give your hair an extra helping of hydration once or twice a month.
#2 Detangle Without Damage
Like finally finishing a crossword puzzle or solving the plot of that mystery novel, detangling your hair can be an ultra-satisfying task. But when you’re trying to figure out how to prevent breakage, it’s a task best approached with some well-chosen methods, tools & products.
When you work your brush, comb, or even fingers through your hair, too much resistance could pull on the hair strand, creating tension & potentially causing it to break. Luckily, with some helpful tools & products, your detangling process can be as heavenly as your hair itself.
To detangle your hair without causing breakage, start with a few supplies:
Then use the following guidelines to detangle your curly or tight-textured hair:
- Start with wet hair – Compared to dry hair, your wet hair will be easier to comb through without breakage. For this reason, you may want to save your detangling for a wash day.
- Apply your product – This is where that conditioner we mentioned above comes in handy. Using your hands, gently work it into your hair from the roots to the ends.
- Comb from the bottom up – Begin to carefully detangle your hair with the wide-tooth comb, starting from the ends of your hair. This technique will make it easier to undo any of those creative ties, twists, or loops your natural hair may have conjured since your last detangling.
You can also try detangling your hair before you even exit the shower. Simply replace your wide-tooth comb with a detangling shower brush designed for curls, coils & tight textures. Then you can apply your regular in-shower conditioner & follow the same steps to detangle.
#3 Try Protective Styling
Remember having your mother remind you to wear elbow pads when roller-blading or a helmet when riding a bike? As it turns out, your hair could use some extra defenses, too.
If your natural hair seems more prone to breakage after repeated styling or processing, you can support healthy hair growth & recovery with an easy protective hairstyle. Because you don’t have to detangle, manipulate, or otherwise style your hair when it’s in a protective style, this technique allows your ends to recover & protects them from further breakage.4
Some of the most popular styles that help prevent hair breakage include:
- Box braids
- Two-strand twists
- Bantu knots
- Fulani braids
If you don’t want to wear a protective style full-time, you can still support your hair by using a simple protective style like a topknot or twists before going to sleep. Doing so can help you lock in all that moisture we discussed earlier & protect your hair from too much friction from any tossing & turning.3
#4 Build a Nourishing Wash Day Routine
There’s nothing better than a hot, steamy shower after a rigorous workout or a long day. When it comes to your hair, however, how & when you wash it can make or break your hair—literally.
Learning how to prevent hair from breaking can start with how you wash your tresses. With that said, how often should you wash natural hair? For those with curly, coily, or tight-textured hair, washing your hair less often can help to prevent dryness.5 Since dryness leads to breakage, finding the right balance in your wash day routines can help you keep your hair healthy.
How often you should wash your hair depends on your hair’s porosity, how many products you use & the one-of-a-kind needs of your unique curl pattern. You may need to experiment to find the perfect fit, but some hair experts recommend washing about once a week.
When you wash your hair, be sure to skip the harsh ingredients like:
Instead, look for shampoo and conditioner for curly hair that will add hydration with is formulated with naturally nourishing ingredients like oils & honey.
#5 Try Steam Treatments
Of course, you don’t have to wait for wash day to take advantage of the power of steam. Steam treatments can be an excellent way to give your hair a hydrating boost & can even amplify the effects of other conditioning products.6
When you steam your hair, the heat & moisture work together to open the hair follicle & allow conditioning ingredients to saturate your curls more effectively. As a bonus, this breakage-prevention technique will add a self-care spa moment to any hair care routine.
Here’s how you can double the power of your moisturizing treatments with steam:
- Apply your leave-in conditioner, mask, oil, or other hydrating treatment as usual. For this initial step in the process, try out PATTERN’s Leave-in Conditioner, Hydrating Hair Mask, or Jojoba Oil Blend.
- Sit in front of a facial steamer with the steam directed at your hair. Alternately, toss a wet microfiber towel into the dryer for a few minutes & wrap it around your hair.
- Allow your hair to soak up all that moist air for about 10–20 minutes, then continue your routine as usual.
#6 Say Goodbye to Heat Styling
If you love swimming on a hot summer day or lounging in front of a cozy fireplace in the winter, you might agree that heat isn’t always bad. As we discussed with steam treatments, heat & moisture can even help prevent breakage. However, intense heat applied directly to your hair can dry your strands, strip away oils, weaken the hydrogen bonds that hold them together & ultimately lead to breakage.7
If you truly want to leave hair breakage in the dust, it’s time to say goodbye to your heat styling tools.
Fortunately, you have plenty of options for styling your natural hair that don’t require the damaging heat of a curling iron, straightener, or blow dryer. These methods often involve styling your hair while it’s wet or using natural hair styling products to help the hair hold a certain shape.
A couple of tried-and-true techniques include:8
To add to their heatless advantage, these techniques also create their own cute styles while they set—and they’ll save you from any of those dreaded curling iron burns.
Give Your Curls the Special Treatment with PATTERN
Whatever shape your curls take, your hair deserves to be nourished, protected & cared for. Finding ways to prevent breakage can help you achieve better hair health in the long run, but you don’t have to wait to start celebrating your natural hair.
At PATTERN, we believe your hair’s natural beauty is something to lift up every day. That’s why we’re dedicated to empowering you with products that allow you to cherish your unique pattern. Our curly hair products are formulated to deliver the powerful moisture your hair needs to prevent & recover from breakage.
To give your crown the glorious treatment it deserves, shop with PATTERN.
- Forbes, Jihan. "Here's What's Probably Causing Your Hair Breakage." Allure. 25 october, 2021. https://www.allure.com/story/reasons-your-hair-is-breaking-off
- "How to moisturize curly hair." Pattern beauty. https://patternbeauty.com/blogs/news/how-to-moisturize-curly-hair
- "Sleeping with curly hair." Pattern beauty. https://patternbeauty.com/blogs/news/sleeping-with-curly-hair-7-tips-for-preserving-curls-overnight
- Sandeen, Del. "40 Protective Styles for Black Hair." Byrdie. 31 March, 2022. https://www.byrdie.com/protective-styles-to-try-for-black-hair-400300
- Jackson, Danielle. "Here's How Often You Should Be Washing Your Natural Hair, According to a Pro." Popsugar. 21 May, 2020. https://www.popsugar.com/beauty/how-often-wash-natural-hair-47497091
- Maril, Madge. "Everything You Need To Know About Hair Steaming." Harper's Bazaar. 6 August, 2020. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/hair/a33485104/hair-steamers-for-natural-hair/
- Woollaston, Vicky. "What causes heat damage to hair and why you should care." Tech radar. Updated 18 March, 2022. https://www.techradar.com/how-to/what-causes-heat-damage-to-hair-and-why-you-should-care
- Dall'asen. Nicola. "Here's How to do Heatless Curls or Waves, According to the Experts." Allure. 26 June, 2020. https://www.allure.com/story/how-to-do-heatless-curls-and-waves