3A Breakage, Length Loss, Solution??

charlotta8179charlotta8179 Curl NeophytePosts: 2Registered Users, Curl Ambassador Curl Neophyte
Hello Curlies!
I have a bit of a crisis situation at hand. My fine 3A (with 2C and 3B strands) hair is now about 4-5 inches shorter than it was 4 years ago with no trims! My ends are always dry and I can always find a number of oddities on my ends (every single type of split end on any chart, single strand knots, and trichorrhexis nodosa). I know I haven't been the most loving to my curls, but I'm trying to figure out the real source of all this damage and a proper solution to getting my healthy, long hair back! So I'm going to list out a few possible causes and hopefully you all can give me the best advice from there. 

1. Sun/Dry Climate Damage: For the past two summers, I have spent a couple months in Tibet. It is extremely dry and the sun is extremely intense because of the very high altitude and thin atmosphere. I never really thought about putting sun protection on my hair, so I would just leave my curls out exposed to the elements (I'd wear sunscreen and a hat to cover my face, but the bottom 1/2 of my hair would be out). I only conditioned after washes, and would go a while between washes/detangling because I didn't always have access to running water. I know I probably have some sun damage because the bottom third of my hair is much blonder than the rest (I've sort of always had that my whole life though). I also talked to a Tibetan friend who now lives in America and she said she also used to get worse split ends when she lived in Tibet compared to now. 
2. Different Styling: Before I even went to Tibet for the first time (early 2016), I began to wear my hair differently. I used to always have a very straight part, then after a breakup I got so rebellious (lol) that I just started combing my hair backwards with no part to get great volume in the top. The sections of my hair that ended up being on top, and in particularly on my left side, began to look frizzy and shorter than the rest (Picture attached). Was this damage from sleeping on that side? Combing it? Exposing it to the world for the first time instead of having it laying straight down from my part? 
3. Rough Treatment: I often used to use a plastic paddle brush and wasn't too hesitant about busting through knots. I'm so ashamed and shudder at the thought of how roughly I used to handle my hair. I used to use mousse that would make it super dry and would let it get way too tangled between washes. I also haven't had a real trim since probably 2010 because I was terrified at how slow my hair was growing back and have been too scared to get a trim since. But from about 2010-2015 I was noticing more length even with the poor treatment. 

What I'm doing now: 
Dusting: I often go through and trim out split and damaged ends with new hair shears, but when I wear my curls out of protective braids I seem to get a dozen new split ends on every curl. 
Conditioniiiing: I'm frequently conditioning/detangling/oiling between washes. I also am giving my hair a rest and wearing it in braids for 2-4 days after every wash just to stretch the curls and prevent tangling. I always re-braid and re-condition ends with every change. I use curl friendly styling jelly now as well and plenty of leave-in. I'm definitely protein sensitive and feel way too straw-like after using a product with protein in it. I know protein is usually a crucial part of repairing damaged hair -- what do I do since I can't use it without getting worse dryness and breakage?
Satin Everything: Satin pillowcases, scarves, bonnets, scrunchies, etc. I'm not allowing anything rough on my hair anymore. 

What now? I've been following these rules for about 3 months now, but still see split ends constantly! And really deep ones that go about two inches up the shaft. Should I keep dusting and continuing my current protein, sulfate-free conditioning and braiding? Do I just need to bite the bullet and get an inch or so of hair trimmed? I'm honestly terrified of getting a trim because I know of so many white girls with 3A hair that cut it and it's never grown back. I know leaving it will let it get more damaged, but will dusting be enough? I'm so scared, my stupid hair is way too much a part of who I am so I'm terrified of cutting it, but more terrified of letting it continue to break. I'd love to hear any and all advice on best methods to repair damage and promote length retention on 3A, fine, protein-sensitive hair. 

Thanks so much in advance!!!

The pictures are of my hair at its longest, the shorter section in Spring 2016, and my current length. 


  • SavagegirlSavagegirl Curl Connoisseur Posts: 380Registered Users Curl Connoisseur
    When was your last real cut, aside from self dusting?
    2C-3A Fine, medium density, long
    Modified CG Method / Natural Only since 2015
    Canadian Mama!
  • StephC79StephC79 Curl Connoisseur Posts: 99Registered Users Curl Connoisseur
    I think you probably need to cut it past the split ends. If you are only dusting and your split ends are higher up then they aren't going to go away unfortunately. I would get all the damaged ends cut off and then treat it really well. It will grow back  :)
    3A with tight ringlet underlayer.
    Mixed porosity, medium texture and density.

    Cleaner - Shea Moisture fruit fusion shampoo, Maui Moisture curl quench shampoo, cleansing conditioner.
    Conditioner - L'Oreal Botanicals safflower conditioner.
    P/T - Curl Junkie repair me
    D/T - Shea Moisture manuka honey or fruit fusion mask
    Styling - Paul Mitchell round trip, Paul Mitchell super sculpt glaze, Paul Mitchell sculpting foam.
  • Aitana24Aitana24 Curl Novice Posts: 18Registered Users, Curl Ambassador Curl Novice
    I agree with the previous post. I would cut out the damage, it will grow back! If you can't handle cutting all the damage at once, try cutting a couple of inches every two months or so until all the damage is gone. 

    Also, do regular deep conditioning treatments until you feel your hair is not as dry and it's maintaining moisture. When I first started the CG method, sometimes I would have to DC 3 or more times a week because my hair felt so dry. I thought maybe I was overconditioning, but I kept at it and now I only DC once a week and my hair is still soft on that last day. Also, you say you cannot handle protein, but maybe it's just because of the lack of moisture in your hair. This also happened to me at first. Now that it has the right amount of moisture, I have been able to use protein with incredible results.
  • justkaty5justkaty5 Curl Connoisseur Posts: 103Registered Users, Curl Ambassador Curl Connoisseur
    Since you're concerned about losing too much length, I would set up a consultation with a stylist you trust. If you're not comfortable after the consultation, don't schedule the hair cut. This would at least give you an idea of what you're getting into without the commitment. Shoot, go to consultations with several different stylists if you aren't sure.
    2c, coarse, normal porosity, medium density, currently shoulder length
  • charlotta8179charlotta8179 Curl Neophyte Posts: 2Registered Users, Curl Ambassador Curl Neophyte
    Hello All, 
    Thanks so much for your advice. Since I haven't cut my hair for more than 7 years, I agree that I think that would help. I'm just so nervous about getting it cut too much! I haven't had my hair shorter than bust length since I was 9! 

    Justkaty5 thanks for the idea, I agree a consultation would make me feel much more comfortable. 

  • GretchenGretchen Administrator Posts: 10,840Moderators Curl Virtuoso
    Hello All, 
    Thanks so much for your advice. Since I haven't cut my hair for more than 7 years, I agree that I think that would help. I'm just so nervous about getting it cut too much! I haven't had my hair shorter than bust length since I was 9! 

    Justkaty5 thanks for the idea, I agree a consultation would make me feel much more comfortable. 

    Have you had the consultation yet? Love to know what the stylist said! 

    NaturallyCurly.com co-founder

    You are beautiful!

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