I like to ask my clients when they ask me why their hair isn't growing and keeps breaking off? I immediately ask them are they combing or brushing their hair while dry and they usually say yes! Combing curls whether from the kinkiest of hair to the loosest is a no no. Curly or kinky hair should always be combed when the hair is properly washed and saturated in conditioner whether leave in or wash-out. Preferably with lots of slip so that your hair doesn't break off while brushing through your ringlets. Proper brushes and wide tooth combs are great to use. For smoothing the hair use gel and a soft brissle brush to not break off your fragile edges. You would be surprised how much that will help you keep your hair from thinning and growing thicker.
Sectioning the hair while wet is also a great way to help control the hair and keep those curls from snapping off. Try to let the hair air dry before applying direct heat.