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Shedding vs. Breakage: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to establishing and maintaining a healthy hair care regimen, hair loss is a MAJOR hurdle. The idea of seeing enough hair in your detangling brush/comb to (in the words of one of our Collective members) “make a small rodent” is enough to send any naturalista into a tailspin. Hair loss can be tied to shedding or breakage, and determining what you’re dealing with is vital to doing your part to handle it.

Read below to learn the difference between shedding and breakage, and what you can do about it: Examining Hair

What’s Shedding?

You probably don’t want to hear this, but everybody’s hair sheds. There are 3 phases of hair growth: growing (anagen), resting(catagen) and shedding (telogen). There is also a dormant phase where hair follicles take a little vacay before the growing phase begins again (Source). You know you’re experiencing shedding when you see the white hair bulb at the tip of the strands.

What Can I Do About it?

Unfortunately, not a whole lot. There’s nothing we can do to prevent our hair from entering the shedding phase (pregnancy extends the growing phase, but once the kid is born it’s Shed City…). Avoiding excessive styling, styles that are extremely tight and excessive heat can help by NOT increasing the amount of shedding you will experience, and incorporating herbal rinses into your regimen can reduce shedding as well.

What’s Breakage?

Breakage is just that – the breaking of the hair strands. Breakage can happen anywhere along the hair strand, and can be caused by excessive pulling/tugging, wearing styles that are too tight, excessive heat and lack of moisture. Ends that are split can also lead to breakage When it comes to naturally textured hair, every bend and twist along the hair strand is a potential point of breakage. For transitioners, the line of demarcation(where the natural hair and chemically treated hair meet), is a breakage point as well.

What Can I Do About it?

Let’s see, drink more water, condition regularly, trim raggedy ends, extend time between styling, avoid too-tight styles and excessive heat, use products that give you a substantial amount of slip and handle your hair with care.   The journey of learning your hair begins with recognizing when something is “off”. You can do a lot to help minimize the amount of hair you lose with a few simple tweaks to your regimen; just be patient and remember why you started  this journey in the first place.

Also keep in mind that certain illnesses/medication can cause hair loss, be sure to consult with your doctor to discuss your medical situation. Every relationship is going to go through bumps along the way, and when it comes to you hair, it’s an adventure that’s definitely worth it.

Have you experienced shedding/breakage recently? What changes did you make to improve the health of your hair?