If Your Hair Keeps Breaking Off, You're Probably Doing This.

If you want some inches, make sure you're not doing these 10 things.


When it comes to us and our hair, if there are two things that I wish could be retired and thrown in the back of the dumpster, never to return, is the term "good hair" (what in the world?!) and the misconception that we can't grow our hair, just as long as other ethnicities do. It's not that our natural crowns aren't glorious or that we can't gain inches, right along with the best of 'em; it's that, because our hair is a different texture, when it comes to hair care and maintenance, we simply have to take a different approach. Otherwise, we could end up with breakage and never reach our ultimate hair goals.

On the hair tip, that's what we're gonna tackle today. 10 reasons why a lot of us experience more breakage than we ever should, along with some food for thought on how to avoid it in the future, so that we can come to love every inch of the GOOD HAIR that God has richly blessed us with.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #1: You’re Not Aware of Your Hair Type


When it came to me figuring out this hair of mine, probably what kept me from gaining inches the most was not knowing exactly what my hair type is. It's kind of a long story but basically, our hair ranges from straight (type 1) to super curly (type 4). Aside from whatever number your hair is, it also consists of the letters A, B or C (because there are different levels of curly within each curl pattern). Knowing what your hair type is helps you to determine what kind of products and overall hair care approach that you need to take; in part, because the straighter your hair is, the easier it is for the natural oils from your scalp to go down your hair shaft and moisturize your tresses. The curlier it is, the more difficult it is for the oils to move about; not compensating for that can lead to dryness and brittleness, if you're not careful.

When it comes to figuring out what your hair type is, a lot of people figured theirs out via what is known as "the water test" (check it out here). You can also take a hair type quiz (do that here). I've also got an overall video breakdown for you to learn more about your hair here.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #2: You’re Not Deep Conditioning Your Hair

Personally, unless I'm trying to get rid of a ton of product in my hair (which isn't often because I typically don't use much), I don't use a shampoo that has sulfates in it. Sulfates are a lot like a detergent and, if you apply them too much to your locks, they can end up drying your hair out. A sulfate-free shampoo is much gentler. But whether you go with a sulfate or non-sulfate shampoo or not, it's always important to follow washing your hair up with a conditioner.

Honestly, something that I used to really underestimate is how important it is to do more than just leave a regular ole' conditioner on my head for a couple of minutes. What I mean by that is, my hair actually started getting a lot softer and more manageable once I made a point to deep condition it. Doing that gives your hair more elasticity, more moisture and even more sheen.

What I personally do is mix some Chebe powder into a rich conditioner (one that I've recently been really enjoying is Tropic Isle Living's Strong Roots Red Pimento Conditioner; its growth oil is actually pretty bomb too). I apply it to my hair and let it sit for a couple of hours (sometimes overnight if I've really got time). Once I rinse it out (with lukewarm water; hot can also dry out your hair), my locks are super soft and actually remained that way until my next wash day (which, on average, is 10 days later). Yeah, never skip the deep conditioning step. Your hair won't be nearly as healthy as it could/should be, if you do.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #3: You’re Not Dusting Your Ends


While it is sho 'nuf a myth that trimming your hair makes your hair grow faster, if you do make a point to get rid of your raggedy ends, that can help to keep split ends away. Know what else? It can also reduce the amount of snagging that happens when you comb or brush your hair due to the tangles and fairy knots that can happen when your ends aren't trimmed enough. While I personally think that the "every 4-6 weeks rule" for trimming your hair depends on how well you care for it, dusting your ends that often can be a really good idea. Dusting is when you simply trim a very little bit of your hair; so little, in fact that, so long as you've got a good pair of shears (dull ones can also snag your ends), you can dust your ends yourself. For tips on how to do that, check out this video.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #4: You’re Not Using a Thermal Heat Protectant

In the article, "Top To Bottom: 10 Tips To Strengthen Your Hair Follicles & Protect Your Ends", I talked about how you should towel and blow dry your hair. I also lightly touched on the importance of applying a thermal heat protectant, but I want to go into a little bit more detail about why it's also such a smart thing to do. Back before I was using it, sometimes I would notice that my hair was frizzy or that I'd have an increased amount of split ends. Basically, what thermal heat protectant does is seal in the moisture that your hair needs while smoothing your cuticles so that the heat from your styling tools doesn't zap out your moisture which can lead to dryness, frizzing and breakage. A heads up—if you've got thick hair like I do, it's best to go with a cream-base thermal heat protectant than a spray. Otherwise, your tresses may laugh at the product and still you could still end up with all of the frizz that you're trying your best to avoid.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #5: You’re Dyeing Your Hair Too Much (or the Wrong Way)


Back in the day, I used to change my hair color, just about as much as I changed my clothes. But now that I care more about the health of my hair (and my health overall) than the hue, I don't do it as much. I also avoid permanent hair dyes and stick to rinses (because they are far less damaging) or hair wax for fun. Still, if you're someone who likes to go the more permanent route, while some people seem to have no problem with using box brands of dye, in order to get the results that you want with less breakage, I recommend going to a beauty supply store and selecting a color and developer and mixing the two. Anyway, the bottom line here is that dye swells up your cuticles (especially when you choose to go lighter due to the peroxide that's in it) which can definitely lead to dryness, damage and hair breakage over time. That's why it's important that you always deep condition color-treated hair, that you don't touch up your roots less than every 4-6 weeks (longer, if you can stand it) and that you follow all directions when applying to dye.

Side note, real talk, I really think it's smarter to go to a professional stylist if you've got length that you want to keep. But if not, make sure to baby your hair as much as possible. Dyed hair is mad fragile and needs all of the TLC that it can get.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #6: You’re Overstretching Your Locks

This might be the "something new for the day" revelation for some of y'all. Oftentimes, when you hear people offer up no-nos when it comes to blow-outs and flat ironing, heat is the reason. But did you know that there is actually such a thing as overstretching your own hair?

Word on the street is, if we constantly stretch our natural curl pattern beyond 30-35 percent, it can start to damage our hair's cuticles over time and ultimately lead to breakage. This is something to keep in mind if you're someone with natural hair who is constantly doing whatever you can to stretch your locks out and reduce shrinkage.

Oh, and when you do decide to stretch your hair (whether it's blow drying, braiding or even threading), make sure not to do it when your locks are wet; it's super fragile in that state and you could definitely cause breakage. It's best to stretch your hair after it has air-dried about 70 percent. That way, it will be strong—and still flexible—enough to handle your stretching techniques (so long as you use them sparingly).

BREAKAGE CAUSE #7: You’re Always Styling Your Hair the Same Way


Tension is something that our hair, especially the roots of it, do not need. But whenever we settle on a fly hairstyle that we just can't seem to get enough of, that is oftentimes just what our hair follicles have to put up with. Something that I personally like to do is wrap my hair up in a bandana and put a knot in the front. It's cute and y'all can't tell me nothing, but I had to start switching things up a bit when I realized that I was experiencing a bit of breakage, right where the knot would go. Black hair is dope because it's versatile as all get out. Reduce breakage possibilities by changing up your look, at least a couple of times each week.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #8: You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Not too long ago, I wrote an article for the site about the oftentimes overlooked signs of being dehydrated. While I did happen to mention dry skin, what I didn't talk about is dry hair. The reality is, no matter how many moisturizing products that you may put on top of your tresses, it's not gonna matter much if your system isn't getting enough water too. Matter of fact, what a lot of people don't realize is when you're not drinking enough water, your hair can end up becoming dry and frizzy because your scalp is parched and your hair follicles aren't getting enough fluids to properly disperse the vitamins and nutrients that they need in order for your locks to thrive. So, if you're not a huge water lover but you definitely want longer hair by the new year, perhaps this point is what will inspire you to take a few more glasses in, on a daily basis.

BREAKAGE CAUSE #9: You’re Not Tying Your Hair Up at Night


Friction is nobody's hair's friend. Yet when you're tossing and turning around in bed, for 5-9 hours every night, that can literally wear your hair out and ultimately result in breakage. That's why it's so important to make sure that you tie your hair up at night with either a silk or satin scarf or bonnet (you can check out a DIY bonnet video here). While we're here, it's also a good idea to give your hair a break from bobby pins, barrettes, clips, etc. First, dab some oil onto the ends of your hair and then either braid or twist your hair or put it up into a pineapple. The oil will prevent your hair from losing extra moisture while you sleep and the braids, twists or pineapple will help to keep your ends from taking a real beating (from all of your moving around) at night.

10. Your Diet Sucks

Your hair follicles need nutrients, just as much as the rest of your body does. When you want to keep your hair moisturized, so that it breaks less, it's important to consume the kinds of foods that will give your hair the moisture that it needs. In walks the article, "These Foods Will Give Your Skin & Hair The Moisture They Crave". When you get a chance, check those out. Also, try and avoid eating a lot of the foods that are literally bad for your hair. For starters, sugar is bad for your locks because your hair is made up of mostly protein (keratin); when you've got a lot of sugar in your system, that can prevent your body from absorbing all of the protein that it needs. This means that white starches pretty much suck too because they turn into sugar whenever we eat them. Oh, and try and limit your consumption of alcohol while you're at it. A nutrient that your hair needs in order to thrive is zinc and, while alcoholic drinks like red wine have lots of health benefits, a not-so-good thing that they can do is slow down how zinc is processed in your system; plus alcohol can also dehydrate you which, we already discussed can wreak all kinds of havoc on your hair.

Yeah, this was kind of a lot. No one said that growing long beautiful hair was exactly easy, but best believe it is very possible. Start with setting hair goals and avoiding breakage-causing patterns. Then watch how your hair shows out on you, in the best ways possible, once you do!

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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