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Curly Hair Breakage

Q: I have naturally curly hair. I recently bought a ceramic flat iron and it seems to work pretty well. I also spray my hair with some stuff called “ion” to keep it from getting damaged by the heat. My questions are that my hair keeps breaking into small pieces and I am afraid to get my hair trimmed because it grows really slow. I have not had my hair trimmed in probably 4 or 5 months and it seems like it is getting shorter because of the breakage. I have heard that some shampoo called “horse and mane” or “tale and mane” will help your hair grow and give it a lot of moisture. I have also been thinking about doing an at home permanent hair straightening system, but I am afraid that it will damage my hair even more. Can you please help me with these few questions so I know how to get my hair to be not only straight, but healthy and long as well.
 
A: From what you describe, your hair is very brittle. It is quite likely that the iron is drying the hair out too much and is resulting in this brittle condition. (It is possible that your hair is naturally fragile and that the ironing has simply aggravated the condition.)
 
      I advise against using the “mane and tail” shampoo because it is designed to swell the hair and give it the appearance of increased thickness. Given the fragility you describe for your hair, I think this would likely cause more problems than it solves. What I would like to recommend is that you start working on restoring the condition of your hair as soon as possible. The thing you have to remember is that your hair probably didn’t reach this stage of fragility overnight, and there won’t be any overnight cure. You need to be sure to begin adjusting your hair care routine to take care of the hair’s needs.
 
      Many women, especially those with naturally curly hair, underestimate the amount of conditioning their hair needs. I recommend that you make sure to use a rinse-through conditioner after every shampoo, and that at least once each week, you give your hair a deep conditioning treatment using a protein rich conditioner. In addition, you need to be using some form of conditioner every day on your hair. If you tend to shampoo daily, try using a rinse-through conditioner instead of shampoo. Most conditioners have a sufficient alkaline level to cleanse the hair of daily soil.
 
      However, for most people who don’t shampoo daily, try using a leave-in conditioner spray. Furthermore, avoid heated styling appliances as much as possible. This includes flat-irons and blow-dryers. If you must blow-dry your hair, be sure to use a diffuser attachment, and an extra protective serum to prevent more damage.
 
      As for using a permanent straightening service to ease the styling of your hair, I really recommend you visit your local salon and talk with the stylists there about options. They can gauge the progress you make in restoring your hair’s moisture and strength and can tell you when you will be safest to try an at-home service, or better still be able to get a professionally performed straightening. A straight perm is what the at home kits offer, and can be done for a price comparable to a salon perm service (depending on the length of your hair). You get the benefit of a professional’s experience and a safer environment for getting the results you want.
 
      Besides, the biggest benefit is that you won’t run the risk of damaging your hair with a do it yourself kit.
 
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