Black Women's Hair Styles Can Cause Bad Hair Days
Black women take a great deal of pride in their choice of hair styles and the appearance of their hair. But sometimes the hair products and styling methods they use can cause bad hair days and the development of hair and scalp disease.
Chemical relaxers can cause significant damage
It’s not unusual for African American women to spend hours having their hair relaxed, dyed, and styled with braids, weaves, dreadlocks, or other styles, but these practices can lead to serious scalp and hair problems that can last a lifetime. One reason for the development of these problems is the hair itself.
At the recent American Academy of Dermatology’s 70th Annual Meeting, Raechele Cochran Gathers, MD, FAAD, senior physician at the Multicultural Dermatology Center of Henry Ford Hospital Department of Dermatology, explained that black hair has a unique structure that makes it fragile and susceptible to damage. The use of various styling techniques puts a great deal of stress on the hair.
Stress on the hair translates into concern by black women, as more than 50% of them say thinning hair or hair loss is their main hair care worry. One hair product that may contribute to hair loss and thinning is chemical hair relaxers.
Approximately 80% of African Americans use hair relaxers, noted Diane Jackson-Richards, MD, director of the Multicultural Dermatology Center and who also presented at the conference. Chemical relaxers change the hair’s texture through a process of controlled damage to the hair’s protein structure. Excessive or long-term use of hair relaxers may lead to brittle hair.
Fortunately, there has been a move away from chemical relaxers that contain lye (sodium hydroxide) to no-lye relaxers that use ammonium thioglycolate, potassium hydroxide, lithium hydroxide, or ammonium sulfite, substances that can minimize irritation and damage to the hair and scalp. Even so, Gathers made the following recommendations concerning hair relaxers: