Many African Americans have pulled, tugged, braided, weaved, relaxed, texturized and hot combed their hair since they were in kindergarten, maybe even before then. Our hair was tugged into tight braids until it reached that kinky turning point when our mom’s threw in the towel and broke out the Just For Me. And for all those years our hair was resilient and silently took the abuse. But now…why does it suddenly seem as if our hair has been reading self help books? May of us have woken up to find that our strong resilient hair has packed it’s bags and taken the kids with it.
There are many culprits to black women loosing their hair. Alopecia, for one, is a condition that causes thinning of the edges and crown due to tracktion (i.e. the constant tugging of the hair into tight braids and the sew in weaves) and overprocessing with harsh relaxers.
As a result, a lot of black women are starting to really care about the health of their hair and not just the style. Co-washing, staying away from harsh aggrivants such as sulfates(Sodium lauryl), using natural oils, and protective styling are the latest trend. Co-washing is using a conditioner to wash the hair instead of harsh shampoos. An interesting trend, the idea that you need a soapy lather to get clean hair is not only completly wrong but unhealthy, however, if the conditioner you’re using is just as harsh or filled with cheap additives, it might not do your hair any good. The issue here is that the vast majority of shampoos on the market contain sulfates and salt: two cheap additives that create that lather we’re used to seeing.
Sulfates (Specifically Sodium lauryl) and salt actually strip the hair of everything: treatments, color, and essential oils. African American hair especially needs these essential oils that coat our scalp and hair and protect it from harsh weather and treatments. While many different ethinicities suffer from an excess of oils, we African Americans can’t get enough of it. Our hair strands are actually quite porous compared to others and, like a sponge, sucks up a lot of moisture then demands more.
Natural Chic is also the hot trend these days as many black women are stepping from under the oppressive reign of relaxers and rocking their beautiful locks in afros and kinky curls. The natural look is also fascinating because, without relaxers, people are begining to appreciate how interesting and beautiful our hair is in terms of it’s diversity. You hardly ever find two black women with the same texture of hair.
No, relaxers aren’t a spa treatment for the hair. The opposite actually. There’s nothing relaxing about it. It’s a cocktail of harsh chemicals that many African Americans have bathed their hair and scalp with on a monthly basis because, up until recently, there was no alternative to make their hair manageable. Relaxers make your hair strands brittle and thin, which is what gives the illusion of “silky straight hair”.
As a black woman who is hair health conscious, I was drawn to the Zelo line. The name literally means “care with love” and the entire Zelo Line is dedicated to sexy hair–the healthy way! No salts, no sulfates, and no formaldehyde. Zelo isn’t about robbing your hair of it’s nutrients. In fact, Zelo is all about the natural oils and butters from the Amazonian Forest.
Yes, many African American women have lost a lot of their hair due to harsh treatment in the past. But the good news is, for many of us, the divorce paper’s have not been signed and sealed. There is a good chance, that with more education about our own hair, more nourishing treatment, and less harmful chemicals, that the relationship can be restored, strengthened– perhaps even stronger than before.