Hair is an integral component of Black culture. In ancient African communities, it served more than just aesthetic purposes – it communicated marital status, age, religion, and social standing.
Today, many Black women opt to wear their natural hair to promote self-love and healthy, chemical-free locks. Unfortunately, some individuals still hold negative perceptions of black hair, especially when it is curly or kinky.
Density refers to the thickness of hair follicles per square inch on your scalp and plays an essential role when selecting products for specific ethnic hair types. Asian and Caucasian varieties typically feature thinner diameters; Asian tends to have more delicate locks. My data, collected using a different approach, indicates that African American patients’ hair density tends to be lower than white control group members. Failing to consider this may lead to misdiagnosis of alopecia in these individuals and should, therefore, be evaluated and compared against previous studies on predominantly white populations. Doing this would allow doctors to avoid making potentially inaccurate diagnoses. I analyzed data from 12 whites and 22 African Americans with clinically healthy scalp skin.
Black people were widely known to experiment with various ways of styling their hair during the slave trade period. Some styles included braids, pigtails, and the Afro puff. Others employed multiple means to straighten kinky locks, believing straight locks were more beautiful.
African American hair stands out due to its unruly, coiling style. From loose curls to tightly coiling coils, African American locks have an unpredictable nature and high porosity, which allows them to absorb moisture quickly but then release it easily again. Curly hair of this texture can also become dry and brittle without proper lubrication, so products explicitly designed for kinky hair must be used. This is particularly important for people with exceptionally tightly coiling textures, such as those suffering from woolly hair syndrome. While caring for kinky locks is challenging, celebrating it as part of African American culture should not be taken for granted.
Comparative to Caucasian hair, African hair grows slower due to its unique structure and how it hangs from the scalp. However, individual health plays a critical role in its rate of growth. Phototrichograms were employed in this study to measure three hair growth parameters among African volunteers, specifically hair density and telogen count at various parts of their heads, such as the vertex, temporal, and occipital regions. Researchers discovered that black volunteers have significantly lower hair density than their Caucasian counterparts, while vertex counts tend to be much higher due to an abundance of telogen. Trichologists explain that the main factor for hair breakage lies in how hair follicles are situated within the scalp, leaving them susceptible to breakage, which impedes hair growth. To minimize breakage, it’s essential to protect the hair by sleeping with a satin pillowcase or scarf while sleeping and using a gentle shampoo.
Black hair comes in all shades from lightest to darkest, determined primarily by melanin content in each individual – darker locks contain more melanin and therefore create darker hues.
As soon as slavery ended, Africans started experimenting with their natural hair to find ways to style it more socially acceptable than its kinky, curly, or coily state reminiscent of their ancestors. This process, known as going natural, can involve many techniques: big chop (where women cut off relaxed or dyed locks), braid-outs or twists (Havana Senegalese crochet), bantu knots, faux locs, among many others.
Understanding your hair type and its reactions to various styles, products, and routines is crucial in keeping it healthy.