Thursday, 24 February 2011

Hair Damage is Necessary and Expected

Do you worry about damaging your hair a lot? Well, relax a little, some hair damage is necessary. Necessary? Yes, I said necessary.

I get a lot of emails from my readers worried about damage from
1. Washing hair too much / Not washing hair enough
2. Worrying about washing hair post exercise / Not washing hair post exercise
3. Combing too much / Not combing hair enough
4. Damage from bunning hair / Damage from not bunning hair

In my opinion, hair damage is getting a little too much of the spotlight. The fact is, that in the process of preserving your hair, you will damage it. The idea is not prevent all damage but rather to minimise it. It is simply not possible to be completely damage free.

Why is it not possible to be damage free?

A process as simple as shaking hair in water leads to small amounts of protein being lost from the hair.  (J Soc Cosmet Chem, pp163-175,1993). Can you now think just how much more is done when you add friction from rubbing in shampoo or rubbing down conditioner or brushing?

How worried should you be about hair damage?

You can guarantee that your hair is damage free if you are not touching or washing your hair at all and living permanently in a very dark room (sunlight too damages hair!). Can you envision this life and would you like it?

It is my opinion that we need to have a healthy relationship with damage. In other words, accept that processes to care for our hair will damage our hair to some extent but this is necessary in order for us to maintain our hair in good condition.I have also discussed previously in depth how we can help minimise the damage during these processes and being as nice as I am today, I will list the links today

1. Washing -coconut oil pre wash, sectioning very curly or thick hair, 
2. Drying - finger combing, air drying and tshirt drying,
3. Combing and Styling - tackling split endsless tension when styling 

Do bear in mind, we are minimising not eliminating damage !

How much washing is too much? Only you know the answer - You can see evidence of damage (physical such as more hair loss than normal, psychological such as frustration with styling time etc).

Ultimately, you are the captain of the ship. Find a way to make yourself happy with your hair routine.


  1. Brilliant post once again JC!
    I've noticed that people tend freak out over damage like they can prevent it from happening, and do all sorts of things to protect their hair which is cool if they're happy with it.
    But MAN, I'd get so bored!

  2. Awesome post!

    I do think lots of folk freak out over breakage/damage like its 100% avoidable or something. I think they key is to find a low manipulation routine (detangling, styling, etc) that fits your needs. I also think people forget the damage done during detangling.

  3. In a nutshell, existing will cause hair damage. The best way to avoid damage, avoid existing. :)

  4. i swear i'm more paranoid about my hair now than when i was frying and dying, relaxing every 4 weeks and curling every other day. now i'm super paranoid and every hair in every comb/brush in my house raises alarms. some days i think all the tactics and techiniques are a bit much... but i am happy i'm more hair health conscious...i just don't want it to drive me crazy!

  5. thank you so much for this post!! i was worried about too much washing. since i've reduced the washing, my hair feels drier and more coarse! i'll go back to my old routine :)

    thanks again. i really appreciate the time you put in to your site!

  6. What a reassuring article! I was getting somewhat concerned with split ends and in addition to some serious trimming and using an intense protein treatment I was running out of ideas. I take good care of my hair (by my standards) weekly washing, DC, Leave-ins, no heat since last October and daily protective styles. You get the gist. Thanks for letting me know that sometimes it's just hair being hair.

  7. Great post, Jc! And, as I was nodding my head in agreement, I realized one of the articles on my site was poorly titled..."Stop hair damage before it starts". I try to be so precise in my writing too! Epic fail.

    I also think that people may not understand that damaged hair doesn't automatically break. Breakage is from accumulated damage or serious trauma/force (a la chemical treatments or brushes on fine hair), correct?

  8. Thanks for all the lovely comments, I appreciate it :)

    Little One, this is true, it is usually serious trauma that leads to immediate breakage.

    Alice - love your comment, made me laugh!

  9. LOl @ alice. Mere manipulation may cause damage since hair is not super strong like metal. Hair can be easily torn when a certain amount of force is applied. Just don't manipulate your hair too much and you will have less damage. Some people break a sweat if they lose a strand or Great article once again!

  10. Great post! Have you or can you do something on the effects of hair growth and scalp damage (i.e. scratching your scalp, etc)?

  11. Nice post. I've Been using kinky curly curling custard for a month, and I have noticed it has ruined( bleached) some of my colored t- shirts because I wipe my hands on them during application. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed this? I don't worry too much about other damages but if a product can bleach clothing, I wonder what type of damage it's doing to hair. Sorry, I think I may be a little off topic.

  12. Thanks again for the comments!

    Carmen - I have not researched that yet but I will put it on my list :)

    Anon - Yes you are a little off topic lol. However in my opinion, a t shirt made from cotton is not a good comparison to hair. The cotton used is very highly processed, bleached and then dyed. It is likely to contain water soluble dyes hence the reason why many tshirts fade over time. Humectants in gel products contain and hold alot of water for a prolonged time, therefore the dye is likely to be leaching of the shirt much more effectively as the water does not fully dry out.

    Anyway, I personally have never used or tested this product so I can only guess.

  13. Great post Jc! @Sweetbonita lol. It's true. You start to become paranoid about breakage more than when you relaxed it lol

  14. Thanks for the explanation.

    Anon 16:49.

  15. THANK YOU JC/NATURAL HAVEN---I'm so happy to find a level headed curly among the many because I'm finding that too many young ladies stress over their natural hair and I thought that's the great thing about being natural is--no drama, no stress at least not the way it was when we were relaxed! And while I love the blogs to get tips, they also contribute to the madness because when others voice their displeasures, fears or paranoia then everyone else seem to fall in line with them and here we go again!

  16. I agree that sometimes there's a note of hysteria regarding this subject. How much of this do you think is tied to the culture's unhealthy obsession with hair length and (to a lesser extent) texture?

    I also appreciate your mentioning protein loss via simply applying water. I've been putting some form of water on my hair almost every single day for the past year, but all I need to recover elasticity is a hard protein treatment every 3 weeks or so. I refuse to obsess...and I intend to enjoy my hair for as long as I have it!

  17. this is why I come to your site! i'm tired of all these natural hair sites giving tips on how to STOP breakage, shedding, damage and all the dos and dont to prevent hair damage. and I agree with kinkyyounglady, we worry more about hair damage after not using a relaxer


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