If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I have been documenting my road to natural hair recovery after experiencing serious crown breakage in the last year. Hair breakage and thinning can be sensitive topics within the natural hair community, so I’ll be transparent about my experience and what I did to overcome my crown breakage. Also, these tips will work for other struggling areas.
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In 2018, I learned that I had iron deficiency anemia. It had exacerbated the damage to my crown. (#FixItJJesus). The pictures throughout this post are pretty telling of my hair dilemma. This blog post will focus solely on my crown. I will save what I have been doing to combat the anemia in another post.
The back story to this situation is that after graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree three years ago, I really felt the post-grad blues. I started a job that was mentally and emotionally exhausting. I was also dealing with other life transitions like ending an unhealthy relationship and learning to adjust to more adult responsibilities. Lastly, I was applying for graduate school and studying for my GRE all at the same time. Of course, what did this all amount to? Stress. How did I manage my stress? By not taking care of myself. I ate sporadically for months (which is a factor that induced my anemia), did not care about my appearance, and became neglectful of my hair. Let’s just say that 2016 and the first half of 2017 were pretty rough on your girl.
My crown, which is the kinkiest, driest section of my head, took a serious beating compared to the rest of my hair. In July 2017, I resolved to be more intentional about targeting the reasons for my crown breakage. I was also coming up with solutions to stop it. I found some not-so-common culprits to my crown breakage. With lots of love and care, I have been able to restore my crown health in less than a year.
1. Constant tension = hair breakage
For years, I sectioned my natural hair in the same six parts, three sections on each side of my head. For example, when we continue to split our hair down the middle, we create tension on our crown. Think about an elastic band that is being stretched on opposite sides. What tends to happen? The elastic band continues stretching and eventually loses its shape and elasticity until it decides to wear out, snap or break. That is what happens to the crowns of our heads. Crown breakage can occur when we pull the hair in all sorts of different directions. The same can be applied to our temple or nape areas, or if you are the type to do lots of side parts and notice thinning in one area.
Solution: Now on wash days or when I have to style my hair, I make one section or multiple sections for my crown. The benefit of doing this is that I have better access to my crown and can give it more attention as needed. Having its own section also relieves the overall tension and sensitivity that was previously happening on my scalp. If you find that your nape (“kitchen” as its often referred to) is struggling, section it off on wash days. That area gets neglected too.
2. My bobby pins were a problem
I’m no stranger to protective styles, but bobby pins can wreak havoc on the hair if we’re not careful. I did a lot of protective styling as I was adjusting to full-time work. I would constantly use long grip bobby pins when I needed to tuck loose pieces of hair. However, they would often tug at the base of my crown and they apply pressure to your hair. As a result, my hair would either break or it would snag when taking these pins out. And if you tend to use your pins in the same spot and repeatedly, you’ll notice breakage eventually.
Solution: As much as I love bobby pins, I had to do better. I no longer use those long, slightly bulky bobby pins. I go for the bobby pins that are much more slimmer and gentle on my hair and use them occasionally. You could also use hairpins, which are wider than bobby pins, as well for another option.
3. Not deep conditioning and moisturizing properly
Hair breakage can easily happen when we miss spots. This can typically happen with our crown. And for me, it is also the dryest, kinkiest section on my head. It is very is easy to miss the crown because we can’t see it, especially when it is sectioned off with the rest of our hair. Our crowns are also exposed to all sorts of things. Sun exposure, for example, can dry out your crown. The UV rays make the hair more brittle and prone to breakage. You may also notice that your crown seems to be the most stubborn, and yes, the sun can be a contributing factor–especially if you live in very sunny or dry areas. And when I was a teacher, I was always out in the sun with my younger kiddos.
Solution: I am still experimenting with oils. However, some oils with natural sun protection include unrefined avocado oil (my favorite!), unrefined coconut oil (also a favorite), and carrot seed oil. Sometimes, we don’t think to really split the crown into smaller pieces and apply conditioner or moisturize as needed. That is why it is so important to separate the section so that you can easily concentrate your efforts on that area. After I’ve moisturized or applied conditioner to my crown, I like to go back over it again to ensure that it is fully saturated or covered. My crown often has more product than other sections. Better safe than sorry!
Recently, I invested in a hair steamer to open up my hair follicles on wash days. The concentrated heat from the steam has been able to penetrate my crown to allow moisture in. I would highly recommend looking into hair science terms, like hair porosity if you need help learning how to get moisture in for your hair. I have low porosity, so buying a steamer has been helpful in infusing moisture into my strands and retaining my length.
Lastly, I’ve been utilizing Ayurvedic hair practices to help with my crown growth. I use powders like hibiscus, fenugreek, and bhrami powder when I deep condition. I also create my own herbal oils and shampoos. And for the last year, I have been using…onion juice! Sounds strange I know, the benefits are powerful. I’ll share my Ayurvedic experience in another post or video coming soon. Let’s just say though that it is all 100% worth it!
4. Not being gentle with (finger) detangling
Firstly, if you haven’t tried finger detangling, you’re missing out. When you finger detangle, you’re easily able to get a feel of any knots or tangles entrapped within your strands as opposed to using combs which can often snag them.
Solution: For my 4C natural hair, it is important that I finger detangle if I want to retain length and keep my strands healthy and strong. Honestly, I used to dread detangling my crown because it was the driest and the most tangled section of my hair. That was also the area most prone to single strand knots. The reluctance was even worse when I was going through my post-grad period and wasn’t in the mood to deal with that section of hair. Now, I am extremely thorough when it comes to detangling that section and I have seen real hair gains. In fact, I now find finger detangling my hair much more bearable and a smoother process. Here is a how-to video in finger detangling that I uploaded to YouTube a few years ago.
5. Being lazy with diet and water intake
We often don’t realize that how we eat (and drink!) can play a huge role in the overall health of our heads and also in its growth potential. During my post-grad season, my healthy eating habits took a serious hit and I needed to be more intentional with meal preparations and my water intake. Drinking plenty of water helps to absorb vitamins and minerals more effectively, which boosts hair growth. Are you getting all of your nutrients? What is the quality of your meals like? How balanced are your meals? How much water do you really drink? Our hair is like a plant…we must feed it to allow it to flourish.
These are my top five reasons for hair breakage on natural hair, and these are also based on my personal experiences. Definitely take the time to assess common practices that could be damaging to your hair so that you can fix the problem. Do you have hair breakage? How are you taking care of it?