Happy new year! I thank the Lord for allowing us to see yet another year. May it be an altogether lovely one for you 😉
I have heard people say to me “…ah! my hair just doesn’t grow” and “…my hair just falls off” and “…my hair breaks a lot.” Now, I don’t know what is going on with your hair in particular, but understanding the hair cycle can help you figure out the best practices for it.
I’ve learnt that when I see my hair strands on the basin or a place other than my head and, upon closer inspection those strands don’t have a white bulb on one of their ends, then it is hair that has broken off. However, if the hair does have a white bulb at the end then it is shed hair which often comes about as a result of a healthy and normal hair cycle. Simply, hair growth has a cycle; old hair makes way for new hair to grow by shedding off.
It then becomes important to know the hair growth cycle in order to better understand your hair. This will help you to know when it’s breaking in order to take the necessary steps to prevent further breakage; and when it’s shedding, which is (usually) normal. The hair growth cycle has the following phases:
- Anagen/growth phase – cells divide and make new hair for the hair shaft. Hair can keep growing from 2 to 6 years, depending on genetics. Hair grows about 6 inches (that’s 15.24 centimetres) a year!
- Catagen phase – transitional phase lasting from 2 to 3 weeks, hair no longer grows. A club hair is formed in preparation for the next phase.
- Telogen/resting phase – for about 100 days hair sheds (about 100 strands a day) and the anagen phase starts again and so the cycle continues… Stress, trauma, etc. can cause more than normal shedding.
All the phases take place simultaneously – different strands are in one of the 3 phases at any given time.
If hair is breaking (i.e. has no white bulb at the end) then lack of moisture may be the cause. Type 4 hair is prone to dryness and when dry it is brittle and prone to breaking. The key is to keep hair moisturised especially if it is about to be handled. Manipulating dry hair may lead to unnecessary breakage.
To avoid breakage and retain length:
- Manipulate hair when it is slightly damp.
- Avoid excessive use of fine-toothed combs.
- I exclusively finger detangle. Although it takes time, it allows me to carefully unravel (where possible!) double and multi stand knots where a comb would have snagged or broken the hair.
- Handle your hair when you are in a good mood – negative emotions while handling hair can lead to frustrations and rough handling.
- Handle your hair when not in a hurry.
- You can’t go wrong with protective styles.
- Pay attention to hair accessories used, as some may be doing damage to your hair.
- What do you put on your head to sleep at night? Satin/silk scarfs/pillow cases are best. Unlike cotton and other material which absorbs moisture, they help retain hair moisture.
- Pay attention to your clothing that your hair does not ruffle against it. Collars are major culprits (if hair is not in an up-do).
Embrace shedding, and avoid breakage this year 🙂