Classification and Treatment of African Hair
We no longer live in a world where hair can be classified as simply Asian, Caucasian, and African. While hair researchers have assigned these three conventional hair types for years, using them grossly oversimplifies the complexity and uniqueness of human hair.
When it comes to people with “African” hair in the United States, their complex human biology as a result of past and present mixed origins, diversely delivers different types of hair textures, scalp conditions, hair porosities, densities, and degree of curliness. They can have straight hair (like Asian origin), wavy, tightly coiled, etc. They have different washing routines that vary from washing hair three times a week, all the way up to once a week.
Products for “African hair” are not one-size-fits-all, and each person needs to choose the products based on her unique texture/scalp/porosity and lifestyle combination. But, how exactly do you find the best product for you hair, and is it possible to classify hair to make your selection process easier?
Almost 50% of the population has dark or very dark brown hair. Included in this statistic – African hair, which is classified by darker colors.
When discussing ethnic hair, it cannot be a catchall term for all African hair. Just because products marketed to African American women can be found in the “Ethnic” hair section of your local beauty store (something we strongly disagree with), all of these products might not be helpful. However, further understanding your hair’s consistency, texture, tendencies, etc. can help you specialize your hair care product purchases.
L’Oreal recently classified African hair in eight categories based on the degree of curliness. Their Research and Innovation teams developed a scientific approach based on “physical measurements of curl: the diameter of the curvature, the curl index, the number of waves and of tendrils.”
Their eight categories range from very straight to very curly and everything in between. These additional hair shape descriptors developed by L’Oreal aid in evaluating hair type.
However, even with this extension of hair classification, it can still be difficult to figure out where you fit into the spectrum, and which beauty products are best for treating African hair.
Treating African Hair
There’s proven science behind they ways in which African hair grows, which is important for the ways in which African hair is treated. According to the US National Library of Medicine, African hair is characterized by slow hair growth at about 280 micrometers per day – as compared to Caucasian hair that grows at 367 micrometers per day. African hair is also prone to low hair density.
While African hair can range in curliness in accordance to the one-to-eight L’Oreal scale, the fact of the matter is – curly hair is more likely to break. This is because the “curlier the hair, the smaller the curve diameter and, given that very curly hair stretches less under stress, it is more likely to break.”
Due to slow growth, breakage, and low density, there are special techniques needed to treat African hair.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s important to follow these “Best Practices” in treating African hair:
- Hair care products can build up in African hair – AAD recommends washing hair once a week or every other week to avoid dryness due to over washing
- Conditioners are important with every wash
- Always rinse hair with water to remove sweat after a good workout
- Search for natural ingredients in hair care products such as “olive oil, Shea butter, aloe vera juice or gel, or glycerin”
- Hot oil treatments can be beneficial to add moisture and elasticity to hair
- Always use heat protectants
As for hair styling, the American Academy of Dermatology does not insist that you sacrifice style. You can still use relaxers, as long as they’re applied by a professional hair stylist, ceramic combs and irons, braids, cornrows, and weaves.
It’s important to note that the “slightest bit of noticeable thinning can be the start of hair loss, so women should see a dermatologist immediately if they notice any changes in texture or appearance of their hair.” Basically, if you’re noticing pain in certain hairstyles or losing strands, it’s best to solve the problem before it has the chance to get worse.
All hair is diverse. That’s why it’s so important to specialize your hair care regimen. At Shtrands, we’re taking our passion for beauty, science and emotion in their crudest form we guide our guests in creating a foundation on which they are able to create their version of individuality into the physical realm.
Shtrands offers a subscription-based hair care regimens that are personalized for each guest’s hair type and personal needs. Every 2 or 3 months (your choice) you will receive 4 full-size, luxurious products that are tailored for you, partnered with hair care directions to ensure maximum benefits. All the products are curated by our hair care professionals and cosmetic chemists.
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