Breakage Vs Shedding Part 1.

When I first started my hair journey back when I was still relaxed, I didn't realize there was a difference between shedding and breakage - I classified it all as breakage and my! did I regularly have bits of long and short hairs everywhere: on the bathroom floor, on the bedroom floor, bits in the sink and in my deep conditioner/moisturizer. It was a little annoying but thankfully I soon figured it all out.

The first thing I came to realize was that not every single strand of hair that had come out of my head was due to breakage - some of it was actually shed hair. The basic rule of thumb is that if the hair that has come out is long and has a white 'bulb' on the end then it is shed hair, if it's shorter then it's hair that has broken off mid shaft or at the end of the shaft.

Our hair goes through 3 basic growth phases: Anagen (growth), Catagen (rest) and Telogen (shedding) and all 3 occur concurrently (or simultaneously), so one strand maybe in the Anagen phase while the next strand might be in a Catagen phase.

In the Anagen phase the cells of the roots of the hair divide rapidly, adding to the shaft and causing the hair to grow. This phase can last from anything to 2 - 6 years and then the Catagen phase kicks in, signaling the active growth of that hair strand. (The period which the Anagen phase will last is typically genetically determined) 

After a period of 2 - 3 weeks, the Telogen phase finally kicks in and the hairs that have been in the resting phase are then shed. This phase typically lasts between 2 - 4 months and at the end of the phase, the Anagen phase kicks in again and the strands are replaced.

Keep in mind that these 3 phases occur simultaneously in different parts of our hair - if this didn't happen then we'd all be bald every 2 - 6 years! (Ain't God just awesome! lol He truly thought of everything)

Another thing to note is when a woman falls pregnant, due to the hormonal changes she's going through, an increased number of hair follicles remain in the growth (Anagen) phase for longer periods - leading to longer, fuller hair during pregnancy. After pregnancy though, the growth phase ends and something called Telogen Effluvium kicks in - where literally all the hair that wasn't shed during pregnancy begins to come out (sometimes in seeming clumps). This is also known as post partum shedding.

So really, shedding is part of our normal growth phase but sometimes there are certain things that could lead to increased shedding - including hormonal changes, medication, crash dieting, illness and using a growth stimulant on your scalp. 

Ways to combat excessive shedding include using aloe vera juice in your regimen (like in your spritz bottle) incorporating healthier eating habits and foods, black tea rinses,  incorporating Ayurvedic pastes/oils into your regimen and using sulphur rich ingredients like garlic in your hair products. Great products in the latter category are the Alter Ego Hot Oil Treatment with Garlic and the Hair Trigger oils. 

Breakage on the other hand is due to excessive manipulation of hair, improper care and a lack of moisture/structure to the hair shaft. Identifying the cause(s) of breakage is the first step in determining what exactly is to be done/used to address it. 

There is no one size fits all remedy or product for breakage! If the issue is improper handling then buying a product is not going to help.

To be continued.......


  1. Eagerly awaiting part two jare!
    I seem to have a lot of breakage with my hair!small small one inch or less hair all over the comb or my hand when I rub cream. Dunno of its lack of moisture or lack of protein. And can I spritz relaxed hair with water and oils?wont it get due quicker?

    1. Part two coming up shortly! You definitely can spritz relaxed hair with water and oils - it wont in any way make it get due quicker. Rather it will increase the moisture in your strands and help keep breakage at bay (if your breakage is due to lack of moisture) Alternatively, you can use a creamier daily moisturizer if you don't want to use something too liquidy.