Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Don't get it twisted! Damage to hair from twisting/braiding

Eccentric Yoruba (hilarious and throughly eccentric blog) asks, ' I do two strand twists often, could that cause breakage?'

The short answer is yes and no. Some dermatologists have written reports on damage to varying extents from breakage to alopecia (hair loss). Twisting in particular has been studied in more detail. For natural hair twisting means

1. Twists to style hair
2. Twisting during styling (For example using a round brush when blow drying)

What kind of damage is possible?

The kind of damage done includes cuticle chipping, tangling and breakage due to tangling.
At low to moderate levels of twisting, the hair is unlikely to break and recovers to its initial state. However at high levels of twisting, the hair cannot fully relax back to its original length and can break (I would quote the number but it is pretty meaningless since you can't measure what force your fingers are using) - (International Journal of Cosmetic Science, p138 , 2005).

Remember though that pretty much everything that we do to hair damages it
(shampooing/conditioning, towel drying or combing). The only way not to damage hair is to not touch it at all.

Could there be a benefit?

Nobody has done long term studies on type 4ish African hair, but glancing at fotkis and blogs of long haired naturals, it is clear to see that most if not all use twisting and braiding as their dominant hairstyle ( Sera, Roshini,Kemi, Nikki/Mwedzi, Maestradiva ). This leads me to say that twisting and braiding are perfectly fine provided they are not done tightly. Other sources used International Journal of Dermatology,v 38 , i S1, pg 34 - 44 J Am Acad Dermatol, 43(5 Pt 1), pg 814-20, 2000 Image Credit

19 comments:

  1. thanks! i prefer twisting because that way i don't touch or play with my hair as often.

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  2. great post! I plan to cornrow my hair for the winter to give it a break

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  3. Very interesting.

    Questions: Why does natural hair take forever to dry? and why does natural hair (type 4) shrink once hair touches it? lol :)

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  4. I've been lurking on your blog awhile and I really love how informative, yet easy to understand the posts are. Do you know if you can do these kinds of twists/braids on 3b hair.

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  5. Thanks Sarah - Yes braids and twists can be done on any hair type provided the braider is skilled enough. The difference is that the less the texture in the hair, the more tightly it has to be braided and therefore if you have a looser curl texture, it may not be wise to braid your hair as a regular style.

    Type 4 hair is much easier to braid simply because the kinks and curls help the process.

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  6. Any ideas as to why type 3c hair that can look so similar to type 4 when dry, straightens and elongates when wet? My hair gains length and looks wavy when soaked in water and shrinks up to tight curls when dry. This makes no sense to me at all.

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  7. I vary my routine depending on whether I'm swimming or not. If I'm swimming then I'll be in braids which get pulled back in a bun.

    If I'm not swimming then I will not braid but just pull it into a bun. I have never slept with my hair open, I always place it into 4-6 braids to sleep.

    I don't brush or comb my hair, I only finger comb. I don't find it hard to detangle my hair since I will use a little bit of water or conditioner and plus I really don't need every last tangle sorted out, I just do it sufficiently to get my hair braided or bunned.

    I don't have an edge issue, I don't really have 'baby hair'. At the back I do have some tiny curls/naps but I don't gel them back or brush them, I like them as they are.

    Wow, how many times did I say I?! lol. I think that if you think you are overmanipulating and you find your hair is breaking more than usual, then change your routine. However, you are the only person who knows your curls!

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  8. Thank you! I needed your answer. I've been doing the bun for almost a month now and i needed this confirmation. i think it is a good thing you did not answer right away. That way i got some experience that helped me understand better your comment. THANKS

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  9. Oh! and i wanted to add. Buns have never been mentionned as a protective style for kinky hair. I've never seen it before. So i was very surprised when Leila said it was working and i started it. If more 4 type hair new this their journey will be easier. It takes little time and helps when i do not have time to style for 1 hour or 2.

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  10. hello Natural Haven . I searched and was brought here. I have 4d 4e 4f hair.Laughs. I say that because my hair is super super tight curls and coils (Im Nigerian). I rarely see hairblogs for my hair type. Please could you reccommend me some? Thank You.

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    Replies
    1. take a seat and enjoy, this is one

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    2. Maybe you should start a blog for your hair type! :-)

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  11. I have 4c hair and do two-strand twists a lot. It's growing but it's not retaining its growth because the ends of my hair sheds/breaks a lot too. It is very weak. Problem started this spring and I can't pinpoint what I did for it to start shedding so much. I want it to go back to being stronger and have done one protein treatment so far. I hesitate to do more because I don't want to cause problems in the other direction. Could it be the two-strand twists that is weakening my hair? What can I do to remedy the ends of my hair falling out. It's so weak/soft that even finger combing it pulls my hair out (at the ends not the roots).

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    1. Did you recently heat treat your hair or have you been roller setting the ends or stretching them alot? You need to take some pressure off the ends, comb and detangle them less, do not twist them too tightly and try to tuck them in.

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  12. Hi JC, Hoping you can help. I hot oiled (pr-pooed) my hair last week as usual, but I think I may have made the oil too hot because now my hair is ridiculously dry, frizzy AND breaking. Haven't washed it yet. Can you guide me as to what might help? I have type 4b hair.

    Thanks in advance
    Michelle

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    1. Hi Michelle,

      Did you bleach/colour treat or straighten your hair after the last wash? If so, any of those could be responsible for the breakage. Generally oil should not be hotter than what you can apply to your skin otherwise you can cause some serious injury to yourself. Warm oil is usually better for a prepoo treatment (anything to make the oil more mobile). I think if you did not do anything else to your hair and you think it might be the oil that caused it then try to clarify your hair before conditioning it to help get rid of any remaining oil. To soften your hair, you can try applying the conditioner for longer than what is normal for you (say if you normally do 10 minutes, try 30 minutes). If this does not work, try resting your hair for a little bit in a protective style.

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    2. Hi JC, no I have had no bleach or colour on my hair, nor have I straightened at all, since going natural. The oil was definitely a little too hot at first (I feel so silly) but I was tired and was rushing thorugh my wash routine. Now most of it looks like cotton fluff and the curls won't clump and define when wet as much as they used to. I'll try your sugestions.
      Thank you very much!

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