Dark, kinky, tight and curly Afro hair could possibly be one of the most sexy hair types in the world, but it doesn’t come without its drawbacks. It’s still prone to hair loss and breakage is more common than in any other hair type.
The textured Afro-Caribbean hair type tends to be dryer and more prone to breakage than other hair types because the structure makes it more difficult for the oils to work their way from the scalp to the ends of the hair. It is extremely rare to find someone with hair that is both curly and oily.
People used to think that the individual hair shaft determined whether the hair would be curly or straight but in fact, it's largely to do with to the shape of the hair follicle. While naturally super sleek and straight hair grows from an almost perfectly round hair follicle, Afro hair sprouts from an oval follicle and the the hair shaft comes out in a spiral fashion.
The biggest challenges people with afro hair face are dryness and unmanageability. Sometimes unruly hair needs a lot of discipline but if you’re too hard on your hair it won’t be very forgiving and the damage can in some cases be irreversible.
Men and women of colour can be fairly creative when it comes to their hair, thanks to experimenting with traditional heritage hairstyles that have been passed down. However, these misleadingly-titled 'protective hairstyles' can often involve a lot of poor styling habits that can lead to hair loss. Hair extensions, braiding, weaving and cornrows place excessive stress and tension on the hair follicles and literally pull the hair from the root resulting in Traction alopecia. This gives the appearance of bald patches often combined with a receding hairline as the front of the head often bears the brunt of the tension.
This is a common form of hair loss often seen in black women in particular - even Naomi Campbell is no stranger to its self-inflicted damage - but it is circumstantial and Traction Alopecia can be avoided or even reversed with hair loss treatments.
Many traditionally black hairstyles require the person to abuse their hair with chemical and thermal products but this only increases dryness. Chemical treatments such as relaxing, colouring and excessive heat during blow drying or styling can cause breakage, and result in dry, dull and brittle hair. The points where the hair curls and twists are also points where the hair tends to break and because the hair is kinky, it tends to tangle more - plus, pulling these tangles out can also cause breakage.
Furthermore, hair trauma as a result of excessive brushing, back combing, weaving, and severe UV exposure can lead to hair breakage.
Split ends aren’t uncommon either as excessive sunlight, chlorine, chemical treatment, insufficient conditioning and even brushing can alter the hair and result in breakage and cuticle abrasion.
Because Afro hair grows in a tight spiral fashion, it can be more vulnerable to certain scalp problems. Product build-up, lack of moisture and an increased sensitivity to certain products frequently lead to dry and itchy scalps.
Thinning hair from the most common hairloss conditions - Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss - is slightly less common among people of colour, though it is still quite prevalent. This is an hereditary concern which affects the top of the scalp and hairline, but which can generally be addressed with appropriate hair loss treatments.
Chemical and thermal treatments can lead to strand thinning and the accumulation of hair breakage and possible traction alopecia can result in significant thinning, receding and the appearance of hair loss.
Curly hair requires different care than straight hair in order for it to maintain its natural health. Black men and women have specific hair needs and they require products which add moisture, help to strengthen, protect, repair and condition the hair, as well as to add lubrication and shine.
We all want what we don’t, or can’t, have. People with wild curly hair want manageable straight hair but those with dead straight hair want lively, curly hair. All hair types can look amazing but the key is to avoid the damage of dangerous habits you may be prone to and follow the rules for your hair type to work with what you've got and find out just how fabulous it can be.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.