How to Comb Natural [African-American] Hair without Breakage

Linda White

African-American women face challenges when caring for their hair and scalp. This includes how to comb natural hair without breakage.

If you ask someone about their biggest concerns, they will likely tell you that it’s hair damage and finding ways to ‘correct’ the problem. What we found, however, is African-American women may not be using the best way to comb their hair...

Yes, it seems as though there is a right way and a wrong way to comb Afro-textured hair without breaking it. Who knew, right? What some women of color don’t realize is that improper combing is the number one reason for a lack of hair growth.

Here is some advice on combing African-American hair without damage...

Avoiding Natural Hair Breakage and Shedding

The more you comb your strands, the more is strain put on the hair, and with this is a high probability of the hair breaking. Experts study the effects of combing the hair. The results are interesting...

Combing the hair can lead to the loss of important proteins. Many believe this is the hair cuticle breaking away. The hair starts to get shorter when it HASN’T been cut or trimmed due to improper combing.

  • Important: Lawrence Ray Concepts says the common reason among African-American women is dehydration. The hair needs moisture to grow and to stay healthy. Also, some of us are guilty of not giving the hair a deep conditioner often enough.  Dry hair is much more susceptible to breakage.

Common Questions about African-American Hair

Since more African-American women are attempting to make the necessary adjustments to wearing natural hair, it’s likely that questions will arise. Here are a few of those topics:

  • Natural hair breaks when wet.
  • How much shedding is normal for natural hair?
  • How many hairs do you lose?

Shedding hair is a normal part of life. What’s not normal is breakage. People cause breakage. It’s what they do to the hair that breaks the hair off. If three strands break off, that’s OK... if six strands come out in the comb, that’s okay, too, per Lawrence Ray.

If more than ten come out, especially on wash day, there may be a real problem. Breakage is when you see a little white bulb at the end of the strands. That’s how a person knows the hair came from the root and that’s the difference between breakage and shedding.

If the bulb is not visible, feel for it. If there’s a bump on the end, there’s breakage, not shedding. And no, it doesn’t depend on the length, of if it’s natural or processed hair. Breakage is breakage and shedding is shedding.

Professionals warn against combing hair when it’s wet. It’s at a vulnerable stage. Try using a detangling system to reduce breakage or a wide tooth comb. Also, sectioning the hair before combing helps. Don’t forget to start at the ends and not at the roots to comb hair out.

How to Comb Natural Hair Safely

African-American women are proud of their heritage and sport larger-than-life Afros! On the same positive note, women are wearing their natural hair longer than before.

However, to have long hair, the wearer must stop breakage. To stop breakage, one must learn how to comb natural hair without breaking it off. Caring for a curly Afro is not much different to natural curly Black hair.

To get the look without the fuss of having to comb out the hair, try this:

  • Part the hair into sections [Use 4-8 parts if you have shrinkage, extra thick or long hair]
  • Use rubber bands or hair clips to hold the sections together
  • Braid or twist up the hair and secure with clip
  • Allow the hair time to air dry or dry using low settings
  • When dry, take down the sections and style by running your fingers through the strands and use wide tooth comb if necessary
  • We recommend washing the hair while it’s braided or twisted

Avoid combing the hair just because or without a purpose. Some women want to “play” in the hair and while it may have calming effects or you can learn a new style, it’s not very good for the hair. What are solutions to combing the hair without breaking the hair? Let’s find out!

Alternatives to Combing the Hair

  • Instead of combing the hair with a comb, use your fingers! This works well on long hair or preventative styles like buns or Afro puffs. The concept works wonders on little African-American girls with natural hair. It lessens the tears they shed from detangling kinky, knotty hair.
  • Wearing protective styles help to eliminate the need to comb the hair so often. A woman can keep braids for up to two or three weeks, depending on the quality of the maintenance it receives. Something like using a dry shampoo for black hair in between washings can be beneficial.
  • When you use a comb, use a wide tooth comb, the widest one available. After detangling as much of the strands as you can use the widest comb, use the next level of combs, an Afro comb. Lastly, use a brush or a small, fine comb to remove all of the kinks in the hair.
  • Remember to use an essential hair oil to help smooth out the locks and ease the combing process. Use fewer tools and don’t over comb. Keep the tangles out by twisting strands of hair into sections.

Avoid damaging African-American through combing

How to Comb Natural Short Hair

No matter how short, African-American hair is naturally curly, especially when wet. Combing it daily can be detrimental to the life of the hair. Yes, it’s true. Contrary to popular belief and practices, daily combing and styling can hurt the beautiful tresses on your head.

How do you comb natural short hair? There are a couple of ways to finger comb locks: roots-to-ends and ends-to-roots.

In either case, you should:

  • Use a detangler to help loosen the intertwined hair.
  • If you don’t have a detangling solution, water or a leave-in conditioner will help.
  • Plait, Bantu Knot or braid the hair as it is separated.
  • Don’t use a comb, though, use your fingers.

By the way, your fingernails should be filed smooth, so they don’t snag the hair. Have you tried a seamless comb? This comb is larger [and more expensive] than others, but it’s gentle on the hair and it has perfect teeth, free of burrs. Well worth the price.

How to comb natural hair without causing damage

Hair Breakage after Washing

Although it’s common to have breakage after shampooing, it doesn’t have to be that way. With that said, breakage can occur to dry hair as well, so what’s the solution? The hair is flexible when wet, but when it’s dry and at its strongest point, it easier to snap and break.

Keep reading to find tips which protect the hairdo, or the hair from breakage. What is important to realize is hair is best combed when damp, not saturated and not dry.

Okay, with that said, here are your tips:

  • Apply a conditioner to the tresses to help it grow stronger. After shampooing, rinse well. Use cool or cold water as it will close the skin’s pores. Keep in mind, stylist’s decisions to use cold or cool water will vary. If cool water works for you, do it.  Otherwise, use cold water.
  • Most women and I suppose men, too, squeeze their hair to remove excess water. The question is, are you using a microfiber towel? Invest in one to help prevent breakage. Additionally, squeeze from the bottom up and use the fingers to comb through the tangles.
  • When you dry the hair with a towel, make sure to blot, not rub. Don’t use rough towels on your hair or the cute towel with the ruffles.
  • If using a wrap, don’t stretch the hair. Lightly wrap a towel around the head to prevent strain.
  • Decide on an organic or natural leave-in conditioner to use after shampoos. If not that, try a detangling spray or cream. Apply the conditioner or detangling spray to the ends as well as the roots.
  • Comb your locks carefully after shampooing. Use fingers as much as possible. Remember, the fewer tools used, the better. When using the fingers to help remove tangles, spray your hands or fingertips with the detangling spray. Did you use a detangling shampoo? If not, think about purchasing one.
  • Using a roller set? Use smooth rollers or cloth rollers. They won’t pull or tear the strands like most plastic rods. Spray on conditioner or detangler before rolling and on each section. Don’t pull or tug on the hair when rolling it.  The hair is most delicate now, remember?
  • If the choice is rods or smooth plastic rollers, use pins with smooth ends. Otherwise, use professional brand clips to avoid snagging or pulling.
  • Another key point is to air dry instead of blow drying. Not only will heat dry the hair, but it can cause damage the strands. However, there are times when blow drying or sitting under the dryer is necessary, use the lowest speed and heat setting available.

Often, we don’t think that by combing the hair we are doing damage to the hair, but it happens. Using the fingers to comb and style the hair allows the wearer to become more familiar with each strand.

Being aware of the importance of combing the hair properly is the first step to preventing damage. Realizing wet hair is vulnerable, for this reason, more care is given to protect it.  It’s better to finger comb hair when damp.

Use a soft towel to squeeze the hair, starting from the ends of the hair, working up to the roots. Don’t rub the hair, rather towel blot. Wrap the hair at night and choose the right pillow cases to help prevent breakage and over-combing.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.