How many of you have heard people say, “Sometimes you endure the pain to be beautiful”? Is the consequence behind the pain truly worth it? There are many health issues one may encounter that can cause hair loss and damage that are totally out of our control. However, there are many actions within our control that can cause hair loss and damage.
Practicing bad care techniques over time resulting in hair loss or damage, a suitable reflection might be that of the nerdy sitcom character Steve Urkle’s favorite saying, “Did I do that?” Here are my top five observations of how we can contribute to hair loss and or damage.
1. Dryness and lack of moisture
I am sure I sound like a broken record with this one, but Black hair is typically much dryer than most hair types due to the tighter curl patterns of how our hair grows out of the scalp. Our natural oil that travels down our hair shaft will not reach the entire hair strand due to the coils, causing lack of hydration and moisture to properly penetrate and coat the strand.
The outcome is consistent dry hair. Without moisture the hair can become brittle, which can lead to excessive breakage.
Suggestion: Bring back moisture to the hair strand. Our hair loves water, contrary to old hair-care tapes. Add moisture daily/weekly by purchasing a spray bottle; add some of your favorite natural oils and/or aloe vera juice.
Use a leave-in conditioner weekly/daily where your first ingredient is water. Add a deep conditioning process to your current hair regimen wearing a plastic cap for 15 plus minutes, then rinse.
2. Uncomfortable hair styling
Applyingglue and tape when securing lace-front wigs can pull out hair, skin and more when removing wig or excessive application. Some experience allergic reactions to hair glue and tape that produce puss, swelling, and stinging sensations.
Metal combs in wigs can pull on the hair; tight wigs that rub against the hairline, tight braiding/twisting, weight of heavy extensions, and tight ponytails can pull the hair from the scalp; thread pulled tight on sewn-in weaves can break the hair.
Suggestion: Pay attention and listen to your scalp when it tells you “I AM IN PAIN.” Styling technique is important. Possibly use bobby pins to secure wigs or use less glue or tape. Avoid tight braiding or twisting. Use wide-tooth combs as you detangle.
3. Using excessive heat
The sleek, straight look takes a high level of heat to acquire. Each time we apply heat to our heads, we risk permanent damage and the health of our strands. This process pulls the moisture from our hair. Dehydrated hair lacks moisture and is prone to breakage and/or damage.
Suggestion: When applying heat, hair should be freshly washed and deep conditioned. Use heat protectant; use a ceramic or ionic hair tool when blow drying, curling, or using flat irons because the heat is more evenly distributed.
Try blow drying on a warm or cool temperature and not leaving the heat concentrated too long on one spot on the head. Learn your hair to know the best temperature that works for you.
The brands Beautiful Textures and Aveda have new products now on the market that are not perms but allow your hair to go from curly to straight and back to curly without any harsh chemical risk. The kit explains how the product works. Research shows this product works and could be revolutionary to avoid using heat and relaxers together.
4. Damaging ingredients in our hair products
Harsh chemicals in relaxers such as sodium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate, formaldehyde and so many more can irritate the scalp by burning, causing actual hair loss or damage. The damage from relaxers can have permanent consequences in some situations. Many shampoos and conditioners have sulfate, parabens, paraffin, silicone and other ingredients that can absorb the moisture, causing the hair to become dry and break, difficulty in detangling, increased knots, lack of shine and luster.
Suggestion: As a consumer, do your own research on hair-care products and learn how your hair reacts to them. Understand your hair’s density, porosity and texture, which can possibly help you find the best products for your hair.
Explore using natural ingredients for hair. Sulfate-free shampoos, silicon-free conditioners, creams and moisturizers have worked well for some people.
5. Loving your hair from the inside out with exercise and food nutrients
Processed foods that can be genetically modified, fried, loaded with bad fat, excessive consumption of sugar, white flour, etcetera can fill our bodies with toxins that can reduce proper digestion or blood flow of our wholesome nutrients. Energy can be low if the body is not fueled.
Suggestion: The foods we need for good hair growth are fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and whole meal foods. To remove toxins and minimize stress, we must become intentional about what we are eating and how often we are moving our bodies.
The more we provide proper nutrients, the outcome can be healthy hair that continues to grow and retain length. Drink lots of water for detoxification — about two liters daily.
Healthy hair practice takes time and work. The reward can be reduced breakage and hair loss. Curlfriends, we are not alone in our quest for healthy hair, mind, body and soul. Let us continue to support and encourage each other on our journey.
Keep in mind that being pro-natural does not mean you are anti-relaxer. I like mine Fro Real No Lye!
Natural hair coach and enthusiast Kelley Eubanks welcomes reader responses to [email protected].