A number of high profile fashion models have stepped forward to highlight the issues black girls in their industry face due to their skin colour and hair type.
Bring own afro hair products
In addition to having to bring their own makeup, given many professional makeup artists do not carry cosmetics for darker skin, these girls often need to bring their own hair products to photoshoots and shows. British model Leomie Anderson, prefers to do this to ensure the needs of her hair are met. “Sometimes hair stylists take offence if I bring my own hair products, but they have to be conscious that we do have different needs,” she told The Guardian.
“Black hair is the biggest headache for me. In London and Europe I find it harder, as not everyone knows how to work or manage black hair,” model Gabriella Riggon-Allen told Elle magazine. “At times I’ve had to bring my own hair products with me. When I first started I had relaxed hair and would go on shoots and there would never be any products for black hair… my hair ended up breaking due to heat damage and back combing.”
This tale of hair breakage – where the hair becomes so brittle that it snaps along the shaft, giving a thin and frizzy appearance – is one that supermodel Jourdan Dunn can relate to. She recently revealed how she wore a wig to hide hair loss from styling damage, which she also believed was caused by a lack of understanding of how to deal with her hair type. “I mean, I had no hair around my hairline – it was like baby hair, it was so damaged“, she told Hello! magazine. “My hair has been so damaged with heat and styling because most hairdressers still don’t know what to do with Afro hair.”
Risk of traction alopecia
Iconic black supermodel Naomi Campbell is also believed to wear lace front wigs to cover her reported Traction Alopecia, a hair loss condition caused by too-tight hairstyles and adornments, including weaves. Though it has historically been linked to black women due to its association with culturally significant braided hairstyles, celebrities from Khloe Kardashian to Jennifer Aniston have also been spotted with tell-tale signs, as one of its more common causes is now hair extensions.
Although Naomi has never spoken openly about it, the Empire actress is often pictured in candid paparazzi snaps with what looks like a receding hairline. This is a classic sign of Traction Alopecia as, when the hair follicles are subjected to constant, excessive tension from extensions, braids, high ponytails and other rigid styles, the hairline and temple areas often bear the brunt of it. This leads to the follicles becoming misshapen so hair loss occurs.
Whilst treatment for Traction Alopecia can help to regrow hair lost in this way, it depends how early specialist help is sought. If the cause of the hair loss – in this case usually an untenable hairstyle – is not dealt with, this condition can become severe, leading to baldness, where hair follicles scar over, meaning hair loss treatments can no longer penetrate the scalp.
Understanding different hair types
It is important for hairdressers to understand the textural differences between the racial hair types. These differences are due to each race having a specific shape of hair follicle which produces their hair’s characteristics, as can be seen illustrated here.
Afro hair tends to be naturally dry and can easily become brittle so requires frequent moisturising. Due to the volume of daily hairstyle changes a professional model of any race goes through, all models tend to be more prone to hair loss from heat-styling damage than the average person. However, given Afro hair’s natural texture, if it is not treated properly, there is a higher risk of breakage occurring than there is for most Caucasian or Asian models.
Whilst prevention is key, if signs of hair loss do start to appear, it is important to seek professional advice quickly.
Hair loss treatments for afro hair
Some black women, and men, tend to be unsure if hair loss treatments work on afro hair but – as you can see from the number of Success Stories featuring black and mixed race Belgravia clients – this is a needless concern, regardless of the hair loss condition.
Treatments such as minoxidil have been seen to produce significant regrowth results for both male and female clients of all races, and – although this hair growth booster has not been tested on people with darker skin tones – we have had great feedback from clients with afro hair who use the LaserComb to help boost their results.
Belgravia’s hair loss specialists are trained to deal with all hair types and offer soothing clinical therapy treatments tailored specifically to each individual’s hair type, hair loss and scalp concerns. Whilst – like the models – you’re welcome to bring your own products along to use after or during these treatments, both Central London clinics are stocked with products, shampoos and conditioners suitable for afro hair.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.