So I would just like to put in my two cents based on my experience, research, and knowledge on black hair, as to why our hair is really breaking and what you can do to stop it.
1. Over processed hair strands
you are either keeping your relaxers in too long, or using too strong of a relaxer, or are not properly neutralizing your relaxed hair when you shampoo out.
skip the "Super" perm (under processed is better than over processed)
You shouldn't be relaxing in increments less than 8 weeks. (10 wks in my opinion)
If possible i highly recommend learning to self-relax (it's way cheaper and you can control the timing), or speak up at the salon.
When you're washing out your relaxer, the proper protocol is to lather and rinse 3 times; make sure the last time you leave the lather in for 5 minutes to neutralize the relaxer in the inner cortex of the hair strands. Then DEEP condition to restore what the relaxer took away.
Stretch your relaxers to avoid overlapping and scalp irritation. another trick i learned is to coat your tresses and with grease or a heavy pomade before heading to the salon. it may annoy you stylist but your hair will thank you
2. Your hair is dry
most common: in most cases you can tell your hair is dry just by looking at it, but for more concrete evidence do a wet strand test (Take a wet strand of your hair that came out in the shower and pull it gently, if it breaks without stretching, your hair is dry. Properly moisturized hair will stretch slightly before recoiling) . So many black women avoid moisture like the plague to avoid messing up their "do's" but they pay the price in dry brittle hair
Moisturize your hair DAILY with a small amount of water based moisturizer (water in one of the first 3 ingredients listed) and seal with a small amount of oil, paying close attention to your ends. Naturals can just use water as a moisturizer.
Deep condition once a week. when you're moisture levels go up you can get lazy and do it every other week.
Put down the flat iron- heat stlying is the fastest way to lose moisture in your hair
Avoid shampoos with sulfates, silicones, alcohols, and detergents. i recommend cowashing at least once a week in the beginning.
Water is your friend. drink 6-8 glasses a day (or at least try)
3. Over manipulation
You're combing your hair too frequently
You're using damaging styling tools (fine tooth combs, hard brushes, elastic hair bands)
You're constantly using direct heat (blow dryers, flat irons, hot combs, curling irons)
You're putting too much product
Only use a wide tooth seamless comb to detangle
never brush wet hair
Always wear a silk scarf or bonnet to bed to avoid unnecessary detangling
naturals make sure you seperate your hair into at least 4 sections when you detangle
go easy on the product. less is more. you shouldn't see it sitting all greasy on the strands
Baby your ends.
Avoid fine tooth combs
Lack of protein
Whether its lack of protein in your diet or hair regimen you can tell your hair is lacking protein by doing a wet stand test (take a wet strand of hair and pull gently if it stretches and stretches without bouncing back you need protein.
try and eat 50g of protein a day
start with a light protein treatment (Nexxus keraphix, an egg, aphogee 2 min) since everyone's hair doesn't respond well to harsh amounts of protein. If that isn't enough you can try something harder (Nexxus emergencee, Aphogee 2 step)
The term "dead hair" is misleading. Technically all hair is dead, but when we hear the words "Dead ends" it makes us want to grab for the scissors. Not so fast, most damage done to hair can be repaired with some deep conditioning and TLC. And unlearn the myth that trimming hair makes it grow faster. if that were true many of us would have hair down to the floor by now. Trimming is to make sure that split hair don't unravel up the shaft and cause more damage. Learn how to properly dust your hair and you can avoid trimming completely. and split ends can be temporarily remedied by a hot oil treatment long enough for some new growth to roll in.
Don't follow every hair trend. I've been a "Long hair connoisseur" for some time, and i've seen every hair fad come and go from fabric softener to horse lotion. Before you jump on a hair bandwagon, get your regimen straight FIRST. because nothing else matters if you can't retain your length.
Keep it simple sistah: your regimen doesn't have to be super complex. stick to the 3c's (http://www.longhairdontcare.net/long_hair_dont_care-deleted-2009062...) you will be fine. Simpler is better, trust me! especially in the beginning. you don't want to overwhelm yourself and then give up before you even try.
Get educated- As much as i love this site, it's pretty much the blind leading the blind around here. i mean, it's hard to separate real information from people who just heard "they auntie and em" say something about making your hair care. visit www.longhaircareforum.com if you really want to learn about hair care. The have a $7 membership fee to post in the forum (which explains why everyone on these is really passionate about hair care, and not just passing through.) but it costs NOTHING to just lurk around the message boards and soak up the info.
Don't be a product junkie. over time you will learn what your hair likes, but in the meantime be informed when buying your hair products. know what you need before you walk into the store so the shiny labels don't beguile you. and KNOW what ingredients you should be avoiding (mineral oil, petroleum, silicone, sulfate, etc)
Spread the knowledge! In most cases it takes just weeks to get healthy hair, and months (maybe a year or two) to get the length you desire. Every girl deserves to have long beautiful hair. so tell your friends what you know, and let's shatter the myth that black girls can't have long hair.