Dry and damaged hair is a common problem experienced by black and Caribbean women. Usually it first comes as hair thinning then progresses into bald patches. This is due to a number of factors such as genetics, hormonal changes, aging, the use of certain chemicals and certain hairstyles used.
You can only imagine the lengths that women go through in order to make herself look pretty, and one of the area of focus is the hair.
There are a thousand ways to style or beautify the hair. And even with the latest hairstyles and colours available today, these women are also subjecting their locks to a number of factors that could possibly damage it.
Heated styling devices, harsh chemicals for straigtening, perming or color, sued on weaves, glued extensions and tight braids are the common ways that a black woman can pose damage to the hair.
When done too often and incorrectly, what is supposed to make the hair pretty can end up damaging both the hair and the scalp. This result to hair thinning, bald patches, and sometimes – eventual hair loss.
What leads to hair damage?
Nature intended black women to be born with black or curly hair. But when it comes to styling, some women want to go for straighter locks instead. That is why they go for hot combs, straightening irons, and hair straightening chemicals.
A lot of women are fond of using hair irons, but what it actually does is it boils the water content that is in the hair. You can observe this when the ironing gives off a burnt smell and a frying sound.
Another method that burns the hair are the use of hair straightening chemicals. Since curly hair is controlled by strong hydrogen and sulphide bonds. To make it straight, it would require a harsh chemical that comes in a high pH of 11. This alters the chemical structure of the hair which can already make it impossible for the hairs to go back to its natural curl.
Although it may straighten the hair, it can however damage the scalp and weaken the hair. The overall result can depend on the coarseness of the hair. Women prefer this to hot combs because this even after the hair gets wet, the straightness is still maintained. Only new hair growth would need treatment, which is approximately 6 weeks after.
What most of us are unaware of is that when it comes to the structure of the hair, only the root portion is the one that is alive. The shaft that we see and style is actually made up of dead matter. So once it is damaged it can no longer heal itself. It would have to be cut off in order to heal, grow healthy, and appear beautiful.
How to give your hair the TLC it needs?
Since the health and beauty of your hair is largely dependent on how you care for it, here are some tips to remember.
If you want to make sure that your hair grow healthy and pretty, you need to give it some time off from styling. Opt for simpler ways to beautify your crowning glory rather than simply relying on mechanical or chemical styling.
If you have to go for chemical straighteners or irons, make sure to space them apart, and avoid doing so very often to avoid stressing the hair. Also remember not to color and straighten your hair on the same day because this can be highly stressful to the entire structure causing it to break easily.
Another way to restore and promote healthy hair is to eat healthy. Eat more protein, vegetables, fish, and don’t forget to drink lots of water.
You should also avoid smoking because this can impair oxygenation to your hair. Doing so can lead to dryer and coarse hair, which is more prone to damage.
Regular conditioning can also give the hair the moisture and protection it needs, so also make sure that you use a good one.
Try to keep hair weaves, braids, and extensions to a minimum because this can lead to hair loss overtime. This is what you refer to as traction alopecia.