Women take pride in their hair as it serves as a personal expression of who they are. However, one-third of African women experience some sort of hair loss. Unfortunately, many women feel ashamed to share their hair loss stories but hide under wigs. One could associate this with the lack of proper advice on how to manage it. Also, most believe they are among a few women who have this problem.
On the contrary, the number of women who experience this condition is more than imaginable. Hair loss is a predominant condition among the black race. The woman’s hair symbolises differentiation between and changes in individual identities. Similarly, the significance of hair to a woman was also addressed in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 11: 14-15, it says:
“Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
While some African women flaunt their big ‘puffy’ mane, many still hide theirs under the covering of wigs or braids. This could either be because they feel more confident hiding their natural hair, or they already experienced hair loss. Unfortunately, not many doctors know how to deal with nappy hair. For this reason, a lot of try-and-fail methods have been applied to revive lost hair. Unfortunately, this causes even more hair loss.
Myths about African hair
One myth about reviving hair loss is to do protective styles. Others are:
- Weaves are more manageable than your natural hair.
- Braids and plaits promote hair growth.
- Only fine weaves and long hair make you look a bit more beautiful.
- You get accepted better in society when you hide your natural hair.
However, you’re only doing more harm than good to your hair. Therefore, through the advice of dermatologist Crystal Aguh, who also specialises in hair loss, we will address the causes and solutions to hair loss.
Why do African women experience hair loss?
Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Centre carried out a study three years ago on almost 6,000 women of African descent. The result revealed that almost 48% of respondents had suffered hair loss on the crown or at the top of the head. This is a condition mostly caused by traction alopecia or female pattern hair loss. These are peculiar causes of hair loss among the black culture.
While making your hair, you tend to expose the hair follicles to heat and chemicals. Right from a young age, some people began perming their hair in an attempt to get more ‘manageable’ hair. Unfortunately, such chemicals only weaken your hair and expose it to the traction alopecia condition. Also, when making your hair, it gets pulled at the root. This is irrespective of the style you do, whether braids, dreadlocks, extensions or weaves. The risk worsens when you leave your hair for a longer period, or you make your hair immediately after loosening a hairstyle.
Another cause of hair loss could be stress or poor diet. You need to do your best to stay healthy by eating right and keeping up with a better lifestyle.
Finally, other causes of hair loss could be anaemia, low levels of Vitamin D and abnormal. At the risk of any of these being the cause, you can visit your doctor to get a test done.
How can you treat hair loss?
There’s is no one treatment for hair loss that can work for everyone. However, one method you need to adopt is nothing. By doing nothing to your hair — not fixing or braiding or relaxing your hair — you can save it from a lot of risks.
Another solution is to have a steam treatment. While this does not magically bring your hair back, it helps open up the pores on the head to allow the hair to grow. According to the Institute of Trichologists in the UK, steaming can be good for African hair because it adds moisture. This moisture enables your hair to get more pliable and less prone to breakage.
Generally, you should adopt a more natural hair lifestyle by embracing your nappy hair. Also, do less fixing and braiding — if you do, ensure it’s loose. Finally, avoid heat styling, including hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons.
Your hair is your crown and, irrespective of its texture, it’s who you are. So embrace your hair, African woman!