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View Full Version : Help? hair getting shorter from extensive breakage and split ends. Desperate...



pocahonta_s
March 26th, 2009, 11:03 PM
Hello long hair gurus... I have been lurking on this board for a long time now but only recently joined. Now I need to ask for advice.

A few months ago, my hair was very dry and breaking badly and I blamed it on my weekly use of a flat iron + a strong strength lye relaxer applied on the entire length of my hair (already relaxed with no-lye) and left on way too long. I am bi-racial and have 4a/b hair (i think), thin strands but fluffy looking as there is a fair bit of it.

I cut my hair from waist-length to mid-back and started to take better care of it, i.e. I either do roller sets or braidouts (no more flat-iron), sleep on a satin pillow or with a bonnet over my head, I try not to rest my head on anything, I keep my hair up in a bun as much as possible.

I henna and indigo once in 3-4 weeks. I DC with moisture and do protein treatments (my moisture to protein DC is probably 3:1). I put honey and aloe vera in my conditioner, and make my own leave-in with shea butter, conditioner and coconut oil.

Although the overall condition of my hair seems to have improved and my hair looks fine to other people (the henna and indigo have made is darker and shinier and my ends don’t feel so frizzy), it is breaking like crazy and getting worse.

I stopped using cones because I thought they might be the culprit, but although my hair feels more moisturized now, it seems to be breaking even more. I also have nasty splits appearing half-way across the hair shaft and strands that are so jacked up they are split in 4 or 5 thinner strands. I am trying to grow out my layers and these keep splitting, and breaking too. I do S&D every second day and end up finding heaps of white spots, splits and holes each time.

I was going to try catnip tea but I am starting to think this may be a lost cause. My hair is growing at my roots but I am not retaining any length, in fact, I feel like it keeps getting shorter. My flatmates and boyfriend think I am crazy as I am constantly “putting food and pot-smelling herbs” in my hair and paranoid about it rubbing against anything.

Do you think I am wasting my time trying to save my ends? Maybe the damage is too extensive and I will just have to wait for new healthy growth? (5 years to grow it all back!) Or is it something that I am not doing right and I causing the breakage now?

Sorry about the long post, just feeling a bit low and desperate about the whole thing… Any advice will be much appreciated.

Pictures of my hair before i started taking care of it: http://public.fotki.com/Pocahonta-s/...icture175.html

And last month: http://public.fotki.com/Pocahonta-s/...lerset009.html

DragonLady
March 26th, 2009, 11:19 PM
Your hair type is very different from mine, and I'm sure there will be lots of people who can give you more specific advise.

But I wouldn't give up! Maybe just find a routine to baby the ends you have, take the best care of the new growth that you can, and slowly trim away the worst of the breakage a little bit at a time?

RancheroTheBee
March 27th, 2009, 12:17 AM
Your hair type is very different from mine, and I'm sure there will be lots of people who can give you more specific advise.

But I wouldn't give up! Maybe just find a routine to baby the ends you have, take the best care of the new growth that you can, and slowly trim away the worst of the breakage a little bit at a time?

I agree. You might have to do some microtrimming for a while, but it'll make a big difference. I doubt you're going to have to do any more big chops for a while, since you already cut off so much and you're obviously treating it very well now.

PS: Cat nip couldn't hurt. You might want to do it as an extra defense.

Roseate
March 27th, 2009, 12:39 AM
I doubt it's anything you're doing now that's causing the breakage.. I think it's probably just cumulative damage after the relaxing and ironing. Your routine now sounds good. I'd keep up S&D, microtrims and babying your hair, and you may be able to keep growing without losing any more length.

Nightshade wrote an article about her experience growing out damage; you might want to check that out.

And even if you end up having to cut more, at least your new growth will be in good shape! Welcome to LHC!

DragonLady
March 27th, 2009, 12:45 AM
And even if you end up having to cut more, at least your new growth will be in good shape!

Yeah; if it comes to that, just take a deep breath, and remind yourself that no matter how much comes off, your hair will never be that short again. And keep telling yourself that 'till your back to where you are now, but with healthy, shiny ends that you can be proud of.

SimplyLonghair
March 27th, 2009, 01:33 AM
Could it be protein overload? Weekly protein seems alot to me even for biracial hair. I know that the girls at work we only wash once a week and we do condition then but not always with protein. I care for many children, some of whom are African-American or mixed.

It could also be that your hair is still responding to the relaxers and flat iron treatments. After all it is hair that has at least a year of those. :shrug:

pocahonta_s
March 27th, 2009, 02:33 AM
Thanks for the advice! I will try the catnip and i will look for Nightshade's articles.

SimplyLongHair - i was wondering about the protein overload, my ends being so weak i dont know if they are brittle for lack of protein or too much...

I also wonder whether the sudden increase in breakage is from the cones, and whether it is due to stopping them or because i had concealed damage while i was using them (if that makes sense?)

SimplyLonghair
March 27th, 2009, 02:41 AM
Well the cones prevent moisture and other things from reaching into the hair and will cause dryness which will give you breakage. I would just really baby it for awhile and maybe even stop the S&D as that could be part of the issue if you don't have sharp enough scissors.:rolleyes: I had that problem for a while but got better scissors.:D

RancheroTheBee
March 27th, 2009, 03:31 AM
Thanks for the advice! I will try the catnip and i will look for Nightshade's articles.

SimplyLongHair - i was wondering about the protein overload, my ends being so weak i dont know if they are brittle for lack of protein or too much...

I also wonder whether the sudden increase in breakage is from the cones, and whether it is due to stopping them or because i had concealed damage while i was using them (if that makes sense?)

That makes sense. They coat the shaft, concealing damage. What you're seeing now might be the extent of your damage.

Look in the articles section. Kirin wrote a great article on how to tell what your hair needs; protein or moisture.

PS: Eep. I can't get to your photos. Can you try posting again?

SpecialKitty
March 27th, 2009, 06:14 AM
Welcome to LHC :flower:

While my hair type is very different from yours, I can say from experience that it takes longer than a month or two to get rid of the damage caused by long-term use of irons and other forms of heat.

Because I'm a slow grower, it has taken me about 3 1/2 years to grow out my damage. The broken hair you are experiencing now, in my opinion, is due to the flat ironing. It is possible that the cones just covered up the damage.

Hopefully, your growth will be quicker than mine! :grin: In the meantime, treat your hair gently and do regular micro-trims to not lose length but to get rid of the damage.

Anje
March 27th, 2009, 07:22 AM
I agree with the others -- the damage you're suffering from now is almost certainly related to all the flat ironing and the relaxers applied to your hair. There may not be anything wrong with your routine as it currently is, but just that the cumulative effects of the damage have gotten to be too much, and you'll be fighting the damaged hair until it has grown out.

That doesn't mean that you have to cut it off (you'll get rid of the damaged areas faster, but sacrificing length can be hard), but maintaining the length with regular trims will help you get rid of it with time and let you keep a nice hemline.

The only thing I can think to tell you is to watch your protein/moisture balance, and keep putting the henna (and indigo, though I think its benefits are mostly from color rather than strength) on the full length of your hair. Make sure you wear it up most of the time, and that you're securing it with the most hair-friendly things possible (I avoid elastic bands entirely for wearing my hair up, since they cause breakage for me).

Unicorn
March 28th, 2009, 07:30 PM
I'd say it's definatley the damage from two lots of relaxer. Somthing I discovered in the days when I abused my hair to within an inch of it's life, was the magic of plain old olive oil. When my was relaxed and I blow dried, and I used hot straighteners!

When my hair felt like straw, I'd saturate it with olive oil, combing it through t0o ensure complete coverage. leave it in for at least 4 hours, when I could I'd use a light coating, leave it in overnight then saturate the next morning; then shampoo. (yes, an extra shampoo definately required) Following that deep conditioning, my hair felt like silk.

I think the damage can only be grown out, but an olive oil treatment maybe once a month, will allow you to keep as much of the length as possible.

Unicorn

Peggy E.
March 28th, 2009, 08:31 PM
Could it be protein overload? Weekly protein seems alot to me even for biracial hair. I know that the girls at work we only wash once a week and we do condition then but not always with protein. I care for many children, some of whom are African-American or mixed.

It could also be that your hair is still responding to the relaxers and flat iron treatments. After all it is hair that has at least a year of those. :shrug:

This was what I was wondering - if it isn't possible, in her panic, she's trying to do too much and rather than easing the problem, exacerbating it?

Maybe try a simplier routine that will be gentler on the hair - no more relaxers and flat irons, for instance; maybe even let the henna and indigo alone for a while, until your hair is healthier. Then slowly add the henna/indigo OR the relaxers?

Purely conjecture, as my hair and experience is very different; I know that my hair went on strike when I was trying to do too much of a good thing!

Welcome to LHC - your pics are beautiful, btw!

Darkhorse1
March 28th, 2009, 09:14 PM
I can't seem to view the photos. However, I'm sure you'll find the answer here. This message forum has helped me in spades. welcome to LHC :)

Saraesa
March 28th, 2009, 10:36 PM
I'm so sorry that you're experincing so much breakage. I too am mixed with relaxed hair. In my experince the best way to stop breakage is a mixture of protein and moisture. Personally Paul Mitchell Hair Repair Treatment stopped a lot of my breakage and shedding. I also use Paul Mitchell Super charged moisture conditioner to get moisture. Some advice never ever let anyone put relaxer on already relaxed hair. All it does is completly kill your hair. I know it may seem hard but for now stick to deep conditioners and wearing updos to protect your hair.

dor3girl
March 28th, 2009, 11:09 PM
I am not sure if I have any advice. Most people don't heed my advice anyhow. Today I told my niece about the evils of flat-ironing & blow-drying hair. Within 1 hour, she was flat-ironing her hair, anyhow! *sigh*

I hope you find a good remedy that works for you, though!

longhairedfairy
March 29th, 2009, 01:33 AM
Could it be protein overload? Weekly protein seems alot to me even for biracial hair. I know that the girls at work we only wash once a week and we do condition then but not always with protein. I care for many children, some of whom are African-American or mixed.

It could also be that your hair is still responding to the relaxers and flat iron treatments. After all it is hair that has at least a year of those. :shrug:

I wondered if it might be too much protein, too. I would say you probably should oil your hair a little and trim splits whenever you see them.

ETA: I have a totally different hair type, but I've found that plenty of olive oil (just on the length), then a shampoo and conditioner makes my hair super soft. Surprisingly, even though I do just one shampoo on the scalp the bit that runs down my hair when I rinse it out removes enough of the oil so that it doesn't seem to make my hair greasy.

pocahonta_s
March 30th, 2009, 12:18 AM
Thanks for all the advice!

Sorry some of you couldn't view the photos... For some reason i can't paste them directly into my post (but then again i may well be IT-challenged).

Maybe the protein IS too much - I will check out Kirin's article in a minute because to be honest, i dont really know how to assess whether i need protein or moisture.

I use oil quite often - coconut, olive or hazelnut oil over moist hair - works quite well. I dont use flat irons or blow dryers anymore, only a hood dryer on low heat (45-50 degrees) when roller setting, which my hair seems to agree with. In fact, my hair is usually just fine when it is freshly washed - soft, silky and all... And by the end of the day (next day if i am lucky) it starts feeling dry and the ends start breaking off, as if i am not retaining any moisture and the sun+air is drying it up. No amount of product will re-moisten until i wash again (product just makes it claggy and dries up my hair even more).

Perhaps Peggy E is right and i am doing too much... I may try using less product. And washing more often (not my preferred option but oh well).

Emichiee
March 30th, 2009, 01:10 AM
I am thinking that the hair that has been through relaxer and flatironing simply is too fragile. You can save damaged hair to some extend but it will always be more fragile.
Cones are not good but they do not cause hair to break off or stop growing. There must be stronger damage for this to happen.
I'm sure your virgin hair and even the 'younger hair' will be just fine, until then treating your hair good is all you can do.
If you feel like your ends are breaking you could consider a trimming method that will not make you loose (much) length. I am talking about maintaining at your current length.
Maybe if you have a little trim for a fresh start and then trim off all your growth monthly, your new and trimmed hemline will actually gain visible length again.
I hope it will get better for you very soon, you have beautiful hair before and now too, the length you have is great and I am sure you do not need to go shorter to save your hair from past damage :)

Nat242
March 30th, 2009, 01:59 AM
I'm in agreement with the previous posters - all I can add to their excellent advice is misting. Have you tried this? You can experiment a bit to find out what works for you, but I think regularly misting* your hair might help you retain moisture between washes.

Perhaps try mixing distilled water with a little oil, or a little glycerin, or a little conditioner, putting it into a spray bottle and spraying your hair (even when it's in an updo - just spray your bun or braid or whatever) once or twice a day, or whatever seems to work for you. There are some threads about misting that you could search for.

*That is, spraying with water or water mixed with other goodies

pocahonta_s
March 30th, 2009, 05:42 AM
I think I may have found what part of the problem is! The reason I wrote this post was because I was finding an abnormal increase in damage... And after careful consideration of what I had changed/done in the past couple of weeks, I realised that what had crept its way back into my routinewas... my hairbrush!

I lost my brush while moving houses 2 months ago and I found it recently, and sort of started using it on and off to smooth my hair after roller sets. Maybe not so smart.

Nanni
March 30th, 2009, 06:11 AM
That may be the reason. I would suggest investing in a wide tooth comb. NO BACKCOMBING!! and no combing wet hair.

But still, if the dammage is done you should do some s&d and regular trims.
Good luck growing!!

longhairedfairy
March 31st, 2009, 12:13 AM
I think I may have found what part of the problem is! The reason I wrote this post was because I was finding an abnormal increase in damage... And after careful consideration of what I had changed/done in the past couple of weeks, I realised that what had crept its way back into my routinewas... my hairbrush!

I lost my brush while moving houses 2 months ago and I found it recently, and sort of started using it on and off to smooth my hair after roller sets. Maybe not so smart.

Yes, if your hair has been processed a lot then a brush may be way too harsh.

pocahonta_s
April 1st, 2009, 09:18 AM
Hello again... I have stopped using my brush and after an intensive S&D session, and a henna application, it seems like a miracle... I looked very carefully today and i only found one measly split end.

It is weird how an apparently small thing (like a few brush strokes every morning) can make such a big difference in so little time.

Longhairedfairy: I think that is what it was. My hair is obviously so fragile that the brushing was just too much. I know that it will take a long time to grow out the damage properly, but if my hair doesnt constantly break or split while I am doing my best to treat it better, I am happy!

Roseate: I read Nightshade's articles. They are great! And very helpful.

DragonLady and Emichiee: I am going to do just that - micro trims every few weeks and hopefuly in time the damage will be gone.

Nat242: I am going to try misting! This will work great for braidouts, although i will still have to find another solutions for when i wear my hair straight (after a roller set), as misting = frizz for me.

Thanks again everyone for your very helpful answers!

kdaniels8811
April 1st, 2009, 10:55 AM
Henna is a great deal of help repairing damaged hair. Another thing you may consider is catnip tea. There is a great article on it by Ktani. My hair used to not grow due to breakage - just like yours! A combination of henna, catnip tea, SMT's, gentle handling, no shampoo, etc. all have made a huge difference. The catnip tea soak is one treatment I swear by.

spidermom
April 1st, 2009, 11:09 AM
I think it would be best for you to get on a regular trimming schedule and keep at it until the ends improve. If you don't have a stylist you can trust, ask around, do it yourself, or have a friend do it. Growth will be so much faster without those bad ends. (oops; I see the issue has been dealt with, should have read all the posts before I commented)

pocahonta_s
April 2nd, 2009, 01:02 AM
Ha ha no worries spidermom. All advice is good to hear anyway.

kdaniels8811: I wonder about the catnip rinse (I finally found some yesterday in a dodgy little store, yay!). I did read Ktani’s article and posts but I am still not sure about the minimum amount of time to leave it on. Will it have any effect if I use it like an ACV rinse? For the ACV I dilute it in a bucket and sort of swish my hair in it for a little while, then pour the whole thing over my head and rinse with cool water (don’t even know if I am doing that right, now that I think of it?).

It would just be highly inconvenient to have to walk around for an hour with a plastic cap over soaking wet hair and catnip tea collecting into the plastic cap – my housemates already reckon I am crazy, I sort of don’t want to make it worse! (But if I must, all in the cult of long healthy hair, I will…)