Textured hair is so beautiful, and we love it, but I know it can also be confusing and sometimes a mystery of what to do to keep it healthy. Of the questions I get asked the most, breakage is among the top three.

Breakage can be difficult because it can be hard to pin-point the reason why it’s happening. If you are experiencing breakage, meaning your ends are splitting, your ends are thinner than the rest of your hair or you don’t see gains in length retention, here are the most common reasons, based on the science of hair, why that’s happening:

1. You are over-processing your hair by leaving treatments in longer than the instructions direct or your conditioning process is making your ends weak.

Your ends are the oldest hair on your head. Depending on how long your hair is, those ends could be 3 or more years old. That means they are more fragile, more porous and easier to damage.

Deep treatments, also called hair masks or deep conditioners are made to penetrate the cuticle of the strand and based on formulation, fill in holes in the strand to increase moisture retention or strengthen the strand by creating a protective barrier to make the strand more sturdy. 

Treatments typically maintain the hair fully for 3-5 days on average before the hair starts to decline in moisture level. The description of the product tells you what it’s designed to treat.

Use MoKnowsHair Elasticity Restoring Treatment to repair your strands' cuticle layer and prevent moisture loss.

Rinse-out conditioners are made to wrap around the strand and provide protection for a couple days. Their molecular structure doesn’t allow them to fully penetrate, especially if you have a tight, highly curved cuticle layer.

If you are using a rinse out conditioner to detangle, and then apply a treatment after it, your treatment is not working. The rinse out conditioner is already deposited around the strands and your pH has been lowered, so the cuticle is closed and that treatment has nowhere to go except down the drain.

So, if you are using both conditioner types on your wash day, and you are experiencing some loss of elasticity, thinning ends, lots of frizzing, excessive shedding…it’s because your hair isn’t getting what it needs.

On the other hand, if you are going straight from cleanser to deep treatment, that’s right and good! But, if you are leaving it in your hair longer than the instructions say, you are over-processing your hair. If a treatment says leave on for 10 minutes, and you leave it for hours, or even worse, overnight, you are over-processing and making you ends weaker. Further, leaving hair wet and covered overnight can cause growth of scalp fungus or overactive yeast.

When it comes to hair care, more is not more, more is damaging.

Also, if you are blending food items and using that to condition, the molecules in food are too large to absorb into hair. Your hair is not your stomach. Your stomach has an acid lining to break down the food and distribute nutrients and waste accordingly. Your hair takes substances as they are. Formulated products have a molecular structure that can penetrate or attach to the strand and the ingredients in the product have been hydrolyed and mixed in amounts that properly nourish and balance hair pH. 

2. Your brushes are old and split bristles are snagging your hair or your tools are not being properly cleansed and disinfected. 

Cleanliness is a major part of having healthy hair because many undesirable scalp and hair conditions can be attributed to bacteria, mold, fungus, dirt and debris held by styling tools and accessories. 

Tools need to be washed and sanitized regularly. The best way to keep up with it is to do it on your washday so you are using clean tools.

This is what a clean, in good condition bristled brush should look like. The bristles are not mangled or leaning, they are standing neatly straight and you can see the base padding of the brush. If you have had the same brushes for years, it’s time to replace them. They are not designed to last forever because the bristles split over time and will stress and break your hair.

Tutorial: Learn how to properly clean and disinfect your tools.

3. You are not cleansing your hair properly or often enough so your ends are dry and brittle.

Stepping in the shower, rinsing off and then stepping back out and applying lotion to your body, is akin to using conditioner and no cleanser in your hair. 

Your hair is going to be dirty and it is going to have lots of buildup from products and dust particles in the air which leads to dry, brittle hair that breaks.

How often you shampoo and what type depends on your routine. If you fancy lots of creams and butters and thick styling gels, and you like layering multiple stylers together, you definitely need to be using a repairing or moisturizing shampoo weekly and toggle that with a clarifying shampoo every 4 to 5 washes.

If you are very physically active or spend a lot of time outdoors, you may need to cleanse more often, so you can use a co-wash in between regular washes. If you do not use much product at all, or maybe just one styler and you aren’t layering them, you can probably alternate co-wash and shampoo, if you want. But, co-wash is not a substitute for shampoo. Regardless of your hair type or routine, you need to shampoo your hair. 

Your hair receives moisture when your shampoo raises your hair’s pH and your cuticle opens up. That allows water to pass through and your deep conditioner to penetrate. 

Use MoKnowsHair The Ultimate Hydrator shampoo to infuse your strands with hydrating, protecting, repairing vitamins and botanicals.

If your hair is brittle and seems to be very frizzy all the time, think about modifying your wash routine. Cleansing and conditioning are the foundation to having healthy hair and skipping it is like trying to build a house on sinking sand.

4. Daily manipulation and re-styling is wearing your hair out. 

All textured hair is susceptible to breakage because the strand is curved and every point of bend is a thinner spot on the strand that can snap. The more you tug and pull and wet and brush and swoop and doop at it, it’s going to have a hard time holding together.

So, if you are resetting your hair multiple times a week and going to bed with wet hair or constantly restyling, you may want to explore ways to change your routine. Consider accessories like satin scarves for headbands or pin-up styles, things that you can migrate through the week that don’t require starting over everyday.   

5. You don’t get trims on a solid schedule or you’re cutting your hair with paper scissors and splitting your ends more. 

Trimming ends on a regular schedule prevents split ends from traveling up the hair shaft. How often you get your hair cut depends on how fast it breaks. For some that could be every 6 to 8 weeks and for others it could be 3 or 4 months. The best way to find out is when you go to a stylist for a trim, book a follow-up 4-6 weeks out and have them look at your ends and see how they are holding up. From there, they can assess your breakage threshold.

If you are cutting your ends at home, and you are using paper or craft scissors, you are shredding your ends and they will fray and split more rapidly immediately after. Angled blades on non-haircutting scissors grind against the cuticle and cause it to be cut at an angle making the end thinner and frayed.

So if you are going to brave cutting your own hair, use steel haircutting sheers with a straight edge blade. But, you’re better off finding a stylist to do it for the long run if you don’t have one.


I hope these explanations help you get to the bottom of why you are experiencing breakage so you can make some adjustments to your routine. 

Keep in mind if you are taking any medications for circulatory or thyroid conditions, they will impact how your hair grows and functions. If you have not had a physical with blood work in the last year, you should try and get that done. Deficiencies in iron, hypertension and other conditions can contribute to hair loss and can be found in your blood work. Also, if you have given birth less than a year ago, you may be experiencing changes in your hair. If they are getting progressively worse, ask your doctor about a check-up.

Change is incremental and it feels slow when we are adamantly watching for progress. It takes time to see positive affects from a change in routine, so be patient with yourself and your hair.


Five Most Common Causes of Breakage

Learn about the most common causes of breakage and what you can do to stop it.