View Full Version : Four steps forward; two steps back....(Issues with damage of an unknown source)

January 19th, 2013, 10:44 PM
I started wanting to grow my hair out around July of 2012. It was around collarbone length and in relatively good condition. Since then I've gained about 4" in length (Reaching APL :)), but since about August the ends have been very clingy and stick together when I run my fingers through my hair. I keep reading about people who go 6 months without a trim and though I could too. I ended up having to get about 2" cut off today because my ends were so split, dry, rough and crunchy. Now I'm about an inch shy of APL :(.

I try to shampoo either every other day or every 3 days. Sometimes, on non-shampoo days I'll do CO. I haven't really been in the habit of doing deep conditioning treatments but I didn't think I needed them. Though I have been doing very dilute henna/cassia glosses every month or 2 months.

My question is: why am I getting so many split ends when I rarely blowdry and have never chemically dyed or bleached my hair? My second question is: what can I do to fix this?

Do I need to trim more frequently? I'm on a budget, and every 2 months seems excessive. Can I get away with every 3 or 4? Waiting 6 clearly didn't work for me. I'd love to be able to keep more than 50% of my growth over a 6 month period. Is this even possible?

I'm also not sure if oil is something I should consider. I got some coconut oil in a gift basket recently, but I'd prefer to eat it. Is it really something that can prevent split ends? Are there any other oils that are better?

I'm happy I got the trim today. My ends aren't clingy anymore, but I'd like to see if I can reduce the amount of hair that I need to get trimmed off.

Thanks :)

January 19th, 2013, 10:53 PM
Did you switch products about the time your hair started acting strangely? Or, is there protein in your shampoo or conditioner? It sounds like protein overload. It could also be cone build up if you are using cones. My hair definitely feels more grabby when I have build up of some sort. I don't use cones, but even oils and non-coney conditioners can cause build up over time, I find. I suggest switching your products and doing a clarifying wash to see if that helps at all. I do micro-trims ever 6 - 8 weeks, but since I trim my own hair, I don't have to worry about expense. I find that helps me keep my ends nice without sacrificing too much growth. I really just trim when my hair feels like it needs it. Hang in there. It took me a few months after joining LHC to find a routine that worked well for me. Once I did, it was relatively smooth sailing. Just remember, not everything works for everyone. You have to find out what your hair needs, and that may take a bit.

January 19th, 2013, 11:39 PM
Oh thank you, you reminded me that I didn't mention that I clarify about once a month with cheap clarifying shampoo. I usually do it before a henna gloss or when my hair feels gunky.

I'm currently using up an old shampoo with cones in it, but I don't use it regularly. (I tend to swith shampoos a lot depending on what mood I'm in that day). I also occasionally use an "argan oil" serum that has cones but only on special occasions. I figured this was okay because I shampoo every 2 or three days and clarify about once a month. I can try using it even less if it helps though. I've never done any protein treatments, but for my first few henna glosses I used a conditioner that had "silk protein" in it. I've since stopped using that opting for a more natural shea based conditioner from the natural food store.

I also don't know when it started acting strangely because I never used to pay attention to my hair before discovering this forum. I know it's been in worse condition than it is now. I used to blow dry it a lot more, but that was years ago and all of that hair is gone.

January 20th, 2013, 12:20 AM
It could be that the clarifying shampoo you've been using is too harsh- have you considered using apple cider vinegar to clarify? It's very effective and much gentler on hair than shampoo would be. Also when you lather your hair do you actively apply shampoo to the length? As a general rule you should only apply shampoo to your scalp. As long as you haven't heavily oiled your hair just the water rinsing away the suds is enough to clean the length of your hair.

Then again some people are just very prone to splits and search and destroy missions plus a monthly micro-trim will help keep things in check.

And I'd give oil a chance. I know I personally would be lost without it and a rather large percentage of members on the board use oil in one way or another as part of their hair care routines.

January 20th, 2013, 11:05 AM
I understand your issue. I'm dealing with damage issues myself. I don't know my source either. I'm going to s&d mine and a few micro trims. I did go back to a favorite of mine and ditch the products that caused mine. I think mine is damage from this summer.

January 20th, 2013, 12:00 PM
Some of us are just more split-prone than others. I never use heat or color, but my hair splits anyway. I don't S&D (hair is nice, but my sanity is precious to me!) but I do self-trim (http://feyeselftrim.livejournal.com/) about every six months or when I think I need it. It's definitely possible to self-trim a small enough amount that you could do it every 3-4 months and still make progress.

A little bit of oil on my ends does seem to slow down the split-factory for me. I liked jojoba but found it rather price-y, so I tried almond and now I'm on olive oil (not the extra-virgin type, which I love for cooking but don't want to smell in my hair). I store most of the bottle in the fridge so it won't go rancid and keep a small amount in the bathroom for immediate use. Coconut oil is also popular, but I haven't gotten around to trying it yet. Since you have some on hand, you could scoop out a spoonful into a separate container, and try that on your hair. Then you'd still get to eat most of it!

Another things that slows splits for me is keeping my hair up most of the time, so it's not getting rubbed against chair backs, caught in zippers and under straps, etc.

My last tip is, even when you feel like you need to cut inches off your ends, it's worth starting with a much smaller trim. It can make a surprising difference in reducing the "velcro" feeling and instant tangles. If a tiny trim doesn't achieve what you want, you can always trim a tad more.

January 20th, 2013, 12:04 PM
I may be totally wrong here but as I remember, my hair was the most damaged when it was between chin length and shoulder length. I had tons of split ends and my ends got tangly and dry very soon after a trim. That is why it took me a loooooooooooooooooong time to grow my hair to SL (I too had to go for a trim every 2 to 3 months). When my hair finally hit SL those problems were gone. My hair was not so prone to damage as before. After hitting SL I only needed a trim every six months or even longer. So maybe this particular length could be more prone to damage? It's also true that before hitting SL I was not wearing my hair up or braided as I do now so maybe this has something to do with it, too.

January 20th, 2013, 12:11 PM
Are you using hair elastics? I had tons of breakage and splits from always wearing a ponytail in the same place with an elastic.

January 20th, 2013, 12:24 PM
I use coconut oil, and it's really helped reduce the number of splits I get. Since you have some, I'd definitely give it a go. Just remember that a little goes a very, very long way. I take a fingernail scraping and rub it between my palms to melt it. Then I smooth my palms over my hair from my chin down (anything above my chin already gets plenty of oil from my scalp. If I add extra it just looks greasy). I pay special attention to my ends, because they are driest.

Coconut oil is one of the few oils that actually soaks into your hair shafts. Even so, it's better to use a very little to begin with and add more later on if you feel you need to. It's much easier to add extra than it is to remove oil. A few hours or the night before I wash my hair I add a generous amount of oil, since it doesn't matter if my hair looks stringy at that point.

I find that oil works as a wonderful leave-in conditioner and detangler. This helps me avoid a lot of damage when I brush.

January 20th, 2013, 01:24 PM
Also, try a silk or satin pillowcase. One of my friends had shoulder length, very fine hair that she was having trouble growing out because of breakage. I suggested swapping out pillowcases and that made a HUGE difference for her in the amount of breakage she was having.

January 20th, 2013, 09:36 PM
Thanks for all the advice everyone! :)

I've been thinking more about my routine, and one of my shampoos may be the culprit. It's a color enhancing shampoo with henna extract that I bought at the natural food store a while back. It gives my hair that super squeaky clean feeling and makes me think it may be stripping too many natural oils. I've been using it a couple times a week. I love it because it really does bring out the warmer tones in my hair, but I may try cutting back to once a month or none at all.

I'll also consider investing in some higher thread count sheets/pillowcases the next time I go shopping for bedding. (I currently have the cheapest I could buy...)

I almost never use hair ties of any kind, as I almost never put my hair up. (I know, I know) I just can't stand wearing it up in any kind of up-do. The only time it goes up is for safety reasons or if it's required for a class. I know a lot of people say wearing it down will cause damage, but I've worn it down every day of my life and even had healthy BSL hair at one point. I know this amount of damage at this length has to be from something else.

I'm going to try a bit of the coconut oil the night before I need to wash next. I'll report back on how it works.