Reader Question: Hair Breaking With Cornrows

Reader Question:

Hi, Firstly, with it being so hard to find hair care regimens suitable for black hair i’d like to say thank you for the amazing coverage on how to keep hair moisturized without it being greasy! Kudos! Just wondering why my hair’s falling out so intensely after i’ve had it cornrowed with extensions for less than a week, here i thought i was being smart!

Our Answer:

Hi Neema,

Thanks for the compliments. You mention two problems you are having, breakage after protective styling plus issues keeping hair moisturized without it being greasy so I will try to tackle each separately.

On the issue of protective styling breakage you are having, remember that we lose a certain amount of hair daily with shedding so when your hair is braided it will continue to shed from the root but unable to drop off until you take the braids down. This is why you can lose handfuls of shedded hair after taking down braids or weaves, its perfectly natural and nothing to worry about. If on the other hand you are talking about short pieces of hair breaking then this could be either a moisture problem or styling technique that is lacking. Keeping moisture in your hair even when protective styling is a must to keep optimum moisture balance. Remember that black hair is very porous and even after sealing in moisture, it still loses it in about 24 hours so moisturizing should be a daily thing. This means that even with cornrows you should still wash your hair at the very least weekly or if you don’t want to mess up your style, just get it wet without rubbing the hair! Daily moisturizing can be achieved with a spray leave in conditioner.

Another thing is with protective styles no one size fits all. Braids or cornrows on my own hair have always meant too much manipulation to put them in and more manipulation to take them down so I keep styles like these to a minimum. Buns also seem to be a great protective style for many ladies with natural hair but with me, it does more harm than good because my ends shrink and form single strand knots which is not ideal. I would advise you to try different protective styling methods until you find one that is both low mainipulation and helps you retain length. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the protective styles there are but it will get you started:

With the question of keeping hair moisturized, remember that water is the only moisturizer and not oil. Any oil should only be used to ‘seal’ in moisture in your hair but is not necessary to keep your hair feeling soft. If your hair is dry before you put oil in it, it will still be dry, hair needs to be slightly damp before using oil to seal or use a water based moisturizer. If you use a leave in spray daily then the need for oil is greatly reduced. Even when you do use oil to seal in moisture, you only need about a dime sized amount for your whole head! That’s not likely to leave you hair greasy by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t be tempted to use more product than you need.

Good luck in your healthy hair journey!


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  • Most likely hair braided to tightly and possibly was not strong enough for braids in the first place.