Bangs, fringe, breakage — whatever you call it, it'll fit in some butterfly clips.
Maybe it’s the collagen I’ve been taking. Maybe it’s the beauty sleep, or vitamins, but it appears my hair is finally growing as I rap loudly on this wooden table like the superstitious little witch I am.
I only just passed the collarbone for the first time in eight years, only to find that massive amounts of hair fall away to the drain every time I wash. This has left me with rocket-powered length on the top of my head, with uneven cat-grass nonsense on the bottom. Believe me, I’m plotting my next few hair moves as the same old drama plays out.
In the meantime, it’s important to protect my already fragile hair from certain seemingly harmless parts of daily life.
Here are five fragile-hair problems and how to fix them.
It’s important to recognize that not only can an ill-positioned purse strap yank hairs out of the root, it can simply snap off bits and pieces of hair, rendering it damaged and shorter.
I have made a habit of clearing my hair out of the way before putting any type of strap on my shoulder, almost as habitually as checking for my keys and my phone when leaving the house. Sadly, when rushing about town, sometimes I fail, and it’s the worst because it’s a guarantee that I’m losing plenty of hair each time it happens.
Getting the Moisture/Protein Dance Down Pat
The moisture versus protein equation is always important, but fragile hair needs extra vigilance to preserve length and thickness by keeping optimal balance. It needs protein to bolster it, and moisture to keep it from becoming brittle, so as a rule I use both: moisture in shampoo and protein in conditioner.
My logic is that no matter what, a conditioner is moisturizing on its own, but adding protein gives fragile and/or chemically treated hair longevity that it desperately needs.
Right now, my favorite protein and moisture combo is an Alterna mashup, but you could supplement either or L’Oréal’s radical and inexpensive deep conditioners with your normal routine. Just switch off moisture and protein every other week.
Too-tight buns can cause traction alopecia, yanking out hair and making it hard to grow it back, like over-tweezing eyebrows.
Avoid hurting your hair with torturous elastics by using something like an Invisibobble or a soft scrunchie. They don’t rip out or put undue pressure on your hair, keeping your hairline intact. And they don't leave dents!
Towels are Undercover Shredders
Traditional towels yank hair out like whoa. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with broken hairs all throughout your length, especially if you are a towel-rubber.
First off, stop doing that. Second, get yourself a microfiber towel, or use a cotton T-shirt. Instead of the towel fibers rubbing off damaged sections of cuticle, the tiny threads on any microfiber towel help to absorb moisture without attaching to microscopic parts of your hair.
The nicer ones also repel static and help preserve curl. Mine is a cheapy from the local dollar store and works great.
Never Let Down Your Guard
I shit you not—I would rather have dirty hair for three more days than heat style without protection. There’s no way in hell I’m letting anything hotter than a shower's warm embrace touch my delicate hairs; not unless it’s wrapped in layers of heat-refracting products to maintain the hard-won growth I’ve managed to obtain.
Lately, I’ve been kicking it with Amika The Wizard as my base coat. It has a multi-action formula with a heavy omega 7 and 9 lean—lipids that are suitable for moisturizing hair as they have a bit more weight for banishing dryness. Vitamins B5 and E thicken hair and protect, and it's all delivered by a lightweight silicone that banishes static and evaporates in seconds, leaving behind the good stuff.
I say it pretty often, but if you’re not using a heat protectant, you’re doing your hair a disservice, especially if it breaks easily and/or you style it often.
I know there's many of us out there cursing their non-Rapunzel sproutings every time you run a brush through them and that we sometimes think of pulling a Kelly and shaving it all off because she makes it look so good. Just hang in there, though; with some extra-special care, you can keep what you have in the best shape possible.
- What are your tricks for avoiding excess breakage?
- Who else has really unevenly growing hair?
Photos: Maria Penaloza