Ahhh! Why so much hair fall after braids?
A question I have been asked in person a few times is a variation on the above. Looking at recent google searches bringing people to this site, I found:
"Why does hair fall out a lot after undoing braids?"
"Why am I shedding a lot after taking down my sew-in?"
I remember being distressed when I used to have my hair done in braids by haircare professionals. In fact, it was one of the reasons I learnt to install braids on my own hair. Yes, I learnt how to apply extensions to my hair. It was that serious!
Like many women, I would leave braids in for a couple of months (three at the most) and then find that my hair was coming out in clumps as I removed the hair extensions. When I started installing the braids myself, this improved somewhat because I was making bigger parts and not putting on very heavy extension pieces in comparison to my own hair. However, what really allowed me to not lose so much hair - and allow others to do my hair without fear - was learning what was at the root of the hair fall.
There are three things to consider.
1) Was it shedding?
Shedding is the natural process of the hair completing its growth cycle and the root being extruded (pushed out) from the scalp. The hair grows over 3 to 6 years, going through Anagen (growth), Catagen (resting) and Telogen (shedding) phases. On any given day, 80% of hair are in the growing phase, 5% are resting and 5-10% are shedding. With around 100,000 hairs on each head, this can be between 50-150 hairs a day!
Now, in a braided up style lasting a few months, that shed hair cannot be combed down and removed daily. Hence, shed hair is the majority of what you will see when you take down the style. Phew! Wait though, what if the hairs are breaking off?
2) Was it breaking?
Breakage is when the hair strand splits and cracks at points of weakness. This can be because of harsh grooming practices (like using a fine-tooth comb on tangled hair) or weak hair strands (protein loss from daily wear and tear, heat styling or chemical processing). Another point of weakness is between chemically-processed ends and naturally curly/kinky roots. Whatever the cause of the weakened hair strand, it breaks off and thereby shortens that hair strand. The higher up it breaks, the shorter the strand becomes! Now, if you installed your braids without having treated your hair to a good protein treatment beforehand, your hair may be limp within the style and come take-down day, it will split and break off.
Now, how do you distinguish broken hairs from shed hairs?
That's actually quite simple. A shed hair will have a white bulb (from the root of the hair that was pushed out) on one end of it whilst a broken hair won't. A further clue will be looking at the ends of that hair strand: broken hairs tend to be thinner at one end as these have often split in two before breaking!
3) Was I looking after my hair in the braids/ sew-in?
This is the main step I was missing after learning to install my own braided hair extensions. Without a daily moisturising regime, my hair was dry and felt like straw when I took down the style. I often found that I had matted roots because I let dirt build up during the style.
A simple routine for caring for braided hair is simply spraying the roots and length of the hair daily with water or diluted conditioner. If you have hair that is chemically processed (coloured or relaxed) or regularly heat-styled, you may want to add an element of protein to your spray mix. I used Infusion 23 to keep my hair strong but moisturised each day.
The second part of your routine is your wash day. You need to clean your scalp (and hair) from the debris that builds up from the week (working out, product build up and lint...let's be honest here!). I recommend using a diluted sulphate-free shampoo to clean your scalp and hair. You can then use a conditioner for a few minutes to soften your roots. Some people use diluted Apple Cider Vinegar to clean their scalp and hair: this also seals the cuticle of the hair by bringing it to the optimum pH of 4.0- 5.0.
The final piece of the puzzle is being patient on take-down day! Yes, give yourself plenty of time and use the right tools to take down that hair. The only part of a fine-tailed comb that should come near your hair is the point! Use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers to detangle your hair. Furthermore, diluted conditioner or aloe vera juice (image below) sprayed onto loosened sections for 5 minutes before detangling, works to smooth the hair strands and helps the tangles (shed hairs) slide out.
So there you have it. Your hair is not ALL falling out! It is mostly the shed hairs that have been trapped in your braided style that are making their way down.
I hope you found this helpful. If so, say hello below and share this post.
Later, ladies and gents!
So I thought I'd share a recent experiment of mine! Unfortunately my phone is deciding to keep the photos to itself (it doesn't want to share).
I'll start from the beginning. Exactly, what made me consider blow-drying my hair?
Well, I saw a hair regime video by a fellow YouTuber, JoStylin who regularly blow-dries her hair to stretch it before braiding up and doing a braid-out. Similarly, I wanted a low manipulation lifestyle that also showed my length more.
So on Monday, I shampooed and conditioned my hair in chunky two-strand twists and unearthed my blow-dryer (Babyliss). I carefully finger detangled the sections then used the blow-dryer on the cool shot setting at the minimum speed setting. This was I never had any warm or hot air touching my hair. I held my hair at the ends with one hand whilst I moved the blow-dryer repeatedly down the hair. I made sure the roots were feeling smooth before focusing lower down the lengths.
I managed 4 sections before I gave up! I was just not feeling it.
Below is an anonymized (by myself) email I recently received and I thought I would share it with you. I have the permission of the person in question to use her question for a post:
Q: "Recently I have noticed that my hair breaking quite badly. I do not use heat on my hair, other than a hooded dryer when I do a deep condition or oil treatment. I do use combs to detangle as I cannot master finger detangling. Is there any advice you could give to stop/prevent this? I also noticed that although I wear a satin scarf at night and also trim my hair regularly it is splitting and has a lot of single stand knots. Would you suggest that I big chop and start again?"
A: Thank you for emailing me. I would advise first and foremost to put the scissors down. Lol!
Next, if hair is breaking, the first thing is that it is usually weak, aka protein-deficient. The best move for that is a protein treatment. An at-home treatment is simply adding an egg to a handful of your regular conditioner in a small mixing bowl. Apply to your hair and leave on for 20-30 minutes without heat (or eggs will cook, oops) before rinsing it out. Another alternative is an avocado and coconut milk deep condition treatment.
So you did it!
You are finally all-natural!
So why are you bored already? Why don't you feel more psyched!
I found that I was dreaming about my natural coils and kinks for almost 3 years (during my LONG transition) and yet just ran back to protective styling right after my transition chop!
See if any of the below feel like you:
The above three can make a lot of people fall at these stumbling blocks.
Here are some other home truths to help re-inspire your journey,
You may still be in big-chop or transition-chop shock!
I think I was still in shock that my transition was finally done. I also realised that a chop back from hip-length was actually quite a big length change to bra-strap length. I was anxious for my hair to grow back and that was feeding my fears of wearing my hair out.
Find new hair inspiration:
I have found at least 3 new YouTube channels to inspire me (a 4th one in German, lol - a girl can brush up her skills, right?) I found NaturallyHigh, Bootyfurl and Cassandre Beccai in the last few days (re-discovered the latter) and I've been given more ideas. It is great to know that I can stretch my hair without heat in Curlformers (it seems that I needed more than Naptural85 to give me courage).
Trim your ends for a fresh start:
I will be trimming my ends in February by God's grace. Nothing drastic, just an inch to clear my split ends and have that smoother ends feel. I still don't want a hair cut yet but I would like a new feel to my hair.
Take your time to understand your hair:
My hair as a natural is not in any way the same as my relaxed or texlaxed hair! They both grew out of my head but one is A LOT thicker and stubborn (guess, which one?) and needs a bit more TLC to keep looking good. My relaxed hair was just happy to have a co-wash! Now, I need to be careful to avoid sulphates and keep deep conditioning bi-weekly! I think a good deep condition with tried and tested loves like avocado and coconut milk treats is in order!
How do you feel about your natural hair?
I will put this out there on other platforms to see if I can garner more answers. I will also be doing more Featured Natural posts on here this year by God's grace! More reviews in line with my plans to stretch my hair and try out more homemade conditioners will also feature here.
See you on YouTube!
It's almost winter and I'm inspired!
I have been on YouTube ogling (no other word for it really) the pretty heads of hair on MsTanish1 and AliciaJames for their loose twists.
I'll be honest, until I saw that MsTanish1's hair thrived with the style (Alicia your hair was so long to begin with - that I felt daunted!), I didn't think I could do it.
I watched MsTanish1's video: see below, and I was going to do it!
First, had to get my housing situation sorted though....yes, I'm moving AGAIN! Maybe I'm a NOMAD? Or just going back to University for a Masters degree....lol!
SO I'm moving to Cardiff and am a bit scared to be honest. It will likely be cold and damp but so is London.
Time to keep packing, move and keep an eye out for upcoming hair and health events on the weekends.
Yes and my book is out! Check out my YouTube update video in the following post: lol! It's available on www.8weekstolongerhair.com and is called, you guessed it, "8 Weeks to Longer Hair!"
See you soon, ladies and gents! Pray for me and my move! (Eeek!)
Length check | 12 Months Natural!
Short and sweet! Time for another length check!
I did not protective style as much as I should have!
So, have you met a Natural Hair Nazi? (Or are you a budding one?)
Here are a couple of videos from the preceeding week. I learned that I can't quite manage my loose hair very well yet - lol! First the hair frizzed up and shrunk. Then the puff I made still produced A LOT of knots!
Not to worry, I will be experimenting with aloe vera based sprays well before Summer so I can rock my fro, braid-outs and twist outs!
Now for a review of the conditioner in the Curly Kinky range!
PJ stands for Product Junkie. It simply describes the slippery slope of becoming so obsessed with finding "the right product" that you accumulate too many that are barely used. A lot of these may even be poorly performing products that you heard some good reviews about and thought you would try out.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong about trying out new products. The issue arises when there is no real thought behind why a product may work well for you (or not). Products with similar ingredients tend to have the same kind of effect. However, you can't argue that you NEED 5 of the same type of product!
Beware of letting your wallet feel the effect of this easy obsession. Wean yourself by restricting purchases to once a month and only buying sample sizes of new products.
You will see many of these on YouTube and hair forums. These can be quite motivating when you are new to the journey. However, not every hair product or technique is good for transitioning heads of hair.
Some heavy products just make your relaxed ends limp and stick together and others just make your new growth beg for more moisture.
Bandwagons targeted at naturals should be viewed with caution too as only 'some' of your hair is in that state. The safest bet is to watch one cycle of whatever challenge it is from the sidelines, see the results then decide about joining the next.
#3. Hair Typing
Hair typing can be useful for a natural to see what type of extra care needs to be given to her head of hair. However, a transitioner is not in the position to properly judge their hair type. Why? Simply, because you have relaxed ends affecting the way your new growth looks. You cannot truly tell your hair type until all the relaxed ends are cut off.
There are other reasons why hair typing is not as helpful on one's journey: namely curl-obsession and divisive feelings between fellow naturals.
#4. Heat Styling
Some transitioners try to straighten their new growth to help blend the textures. They may have done this before when they were waiting between relaxer treatments. When you are embarking on a natural journey, this can easily lead to heat damage: natural texture alterations with the heat.
This can be as little as a bit of a stretch to the curl/coil pattern and as bad as sections of new growth that don't revert back to a coil pattern. What's the point of transitioning to end up with hair you can't wear as an afro or other textured style.
I couldn't leave you hanging for too long!
Here it is, ladies and gents!
She hides it so well!
I'm Lola - a hair obsessed doctor who stumbled into running long distances and baking all the cupcakes.
I blog about life, running and of course, hair! I'm an Altra "Team Red" Sponsored Athlete, so I will do the occasional running shoe or gadget review.
For business enquires, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I do not own the copyright to all the pictures so I will credit the source, where that is the case.