Causes of Hair Damage

African or black hair damages easily due to its structure. Hair problems can be induced by a variety of factors including vocation, styling (yes!), negligence, bad product choices. A variety of events and non-events can leave you with dry, poor growing unhealthy hair. Hair damage is generally caused by one or a combo of the following:

  • Heat
  • Styling Choices
  • Product Issues
  • Physical Damage
  • Lifestyle Issues
  • No Air
  • Diet

HEAT
Styling tools on high heat like dryers, flat irons(straighteners), curling irons (tongs) and the likes overheat the hair shaft actually boiling the water molecule in the hair shaft causing what is known as bubble hair weakening your hair. It also denatures the protein content of the hair resulting in poor growth and breakages.

Also hot sunshine, really high temperatures from humid environments and head coverings (worn over a long period of time) overheat the scalp providing enabling an environment for dandruff.

PRODUCT USE
Hair products are a major challenge and can lead to hair problems. Products for hair is not a one size fits all kind of stuff and so knowing which products will work for your type poses a challenge! Improper usage, overuse, expired products and unwholesome product combinations all add up to the hair damage dilemma. Hair products for your hair type (kinky, straight or permed) are readily available in stores and salons.

Check with your hair stylist on the best product for your hair. Do read labels before you dish out your hard earned cash for the latest product or you can end up with thirsty thinning hair and discoloration’s to boot.

Hair colouring though pretty is not for everyone. Your hair or scalp may react to the chemicals in the colouring product further enhancing damages and dandruff.

Products like the weave on gum also do great damage to hair as they stick to your hair hardening it, depriving it of air and causing poor growth and breakages. Hair products with sulphates, sodium hydroxide, ammonium thioglycolate and formaldehyde are no friends to afro hair.

POOR DIET
We are what we eat! (I mean really). A healthy hair is the product of healthy food and drinks choices. Eating fruits, vegetables, wholesome dairies, legumes, chicken, turkey, seafood, oatmeal, lean meats will give your hair the essential vitamins, minerals and proteins it needs to stay strong and healthy not forgetting copious amounts of good water for hydration.

Avoid junk food.
Remember that your hair is primarily KERATIN-a protein. Give your protein consumption a boost. Healthy fats are an important part of the healthy hair diet. Foods rich in healthy fats like nuts, oily fish, sardines, eggs, seeds are recommended. Oils from extra virgin olive, avocado, coconut are edible top quality fats and should form a part of your meals. Even if you can’t cook with them you can always take them in the spoonful and so enjoy the health benefits they promise.

WHATS YOUR HAIR CARE ROUTINE? (LIFESTYLE)

Sounds like mother huh? I certainly hope not but life is a series of routines- at work, at home in fact everywhere and every time! So your hair care has to have its own beauty routine- shampooing conditioning, deep conditioning, choosing your style and the frequency of treatments as overdoing any single aspect is asking for problems. Healthy hair routine includes considerations to hair exposure, heat styling, scalp care, tips care, weather considerations, combing, brushing, bathing and showering.

Hair that is healthy or even damaged needs to have a well thought out plan for styling it. Avoid overdoing weaves, braids or wigs so that in between heavy styles you create opportunities for your hair to kiss the sun and play with the breeze!

PHYSICAL DAMAGE
Wrong tools? Bad results! Your styling tools aka combs, brushes, ruffles, clips, hairbands shower caps, sleep caps have to be tip top to avoid mechanical damages to your hair. Replace worn out brushes, combs with jagged teeth, hair bands that pull on your hair, broken or bent clips.

Your pillow has much to do with the looks of your hair. Cotton fabric pillow cases though breathable are not good for hair as they dry out hair, provide friction and leaves hair rough. Satin or silk pillow cases are better. They help your hair retain moisture while providing a smooth surface for the hair to glide on while you sleep.

Rough handling of hair whilst loosening weaves, braids or just combing is not right! If hair tangles on its own or with hair extensions soften the knot with a mix of water and healthy oils and slightly heat the troubled spot and then get to work with a styling comb to gently detangle hair.

NO AIR
Our hair is a part of the body and so needs TLC to make it look good. Constantly smothering it under a head cover, weave-on, wigs and the likes leaves your precious tresses steaming (sans conditioner) resulting in microbial overgrowth, dandruff, friction, odours. You end up with hair that looks dull, mousy and miserable.

STYLING CHOICES
Your hair is your crown of glory and a headful of hair is a sign of youth. Choosing a style for your hair shouldn’t be too difficult what with social media and the many hair salons available.

Between your stylist and the Internet, there are a plethora of styles for the afro hair! But a word of caution though. Your features, hairline, hair colour and state of health of your hair has a lot to do with your choice of style. I don’t know about you but following the latest style trend without considering my hair just don’t cut it for me.

A professional stylist will not hesitate to inform you of the potential problems your style choice may portend for your hair. Do listen to him or her. If working with a particular stylist hasn’t been of much benefit to your hair, girlfriend make a change asap!

Create opportunities for your hair to breathe! Do remember to wash and condition your hair. Protect the ends of your hair (they are the oldest part of hair) using Shea Butter to seal in moisture. Wash your hair with warm water to remove dirt, oils and product accumulated over time.

DO NOT RUB hair dry, rather pat dry or leave it to air dry. Rubbing pulls hair! You can use an old t-shirt for drying your hair if you notice hair strands on the towel. Moisturize hair with your choice of healthy oil pre-shampooing. Hot oil treatment with nourishing oils like avocado, coconut, olive and argan work to enliven dry and brittle hair. Do remember to have someone help you detangle your hair. Yanking and pulling the hair will make damages worse.

Have a professional relax and trim your hair. Do not do this by your self. Deep condition and steam the hair with good quality protein conditioner at least once a month. Steaming enhances the penetration of the conditioner into the hair shaft.

Plan your retouching sessions such that you can have a minimal number of retouches in a year. 4 relaxing sessions looks okay .2-3 months for coarse hair, 3-5 months for fine hair and for super fine hair twice in a year.

(Originally appeared on wikihow)

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