For the life of me, I just don’t understand why a majority of Nigerian women neglect the health of their hair. As long as the finished hair style looks good, we tend to think that’s the end all be all to hair care. It isn’t until our hair looks like the remnants of a scorched scrub brush or we are, what I call, scoop bald around the edges, do we now begin to consider the steps necessary to look after the health of our hair. Why do we as Nigerian women wait until our backs are against the wall before we decide to take action, where our hair is concerned? We’re so in love with the immediate gratification or solution, which I regret to inform you, like all other things, there are none!
We have a tendency to believe that we know it all, even though we have never stepped foot in a single hair care course. We attempt to do a bit of research and think; after all, if it works on “Sade’s” hair, surely it will work for mine. We lug the treasure of hair products we’ve collected over the months or even years, believing it will do miracles for our hair, to our beloved salons.
However, considering that the stylists that service us aren’t even educated enough in their craft to know right from wrong, we certainly can’t depend on them to tell us the correct way of taking care of our hair. So we enlighten them of our misguided information, all to no avail. Talk about the blind leading the blind!
I think its time for us as black Nigerian women, being the fantabulous put-together status of modern day beauty that we are, need to be accurately informed about the health of our hair. We need to be willing to let go of our “know it all” attitudes enough to change our routines and be able to trust a qualified (and I stress the term qualified) stylist/hair expert to accurately educate us.
Over the next few weeks, I intend to do just that and I hope you’ll let me. So, lets get started, shall we?
Step 1: A common misconception about Black hair: African hair is different from all other hair.
This is partly true but mostly untrue. African hair is made of the same “stuff” as non-African hair. Meaning, the exact same proteins and bonds that form the hair of Latina, Caucasian and Asian women are the exact same in Black hair. The difference lies in the way those components are put together or the structure of our hair. The structure of our hair can cause it to be more susceptible to breakage and dryness. Because of this, black hair care needs are different from those for other types of hair. Our hair can have up to twice the amount of “cuticle” or outer layer. Our hair is kinkier or more tightly curled/coiled which makes it more difficult for the oil secreted from our scalps to reach the ends of the hair. But, keep in mind there is a gamut of hair types. Black people’s hair can vary widely. Think of it as the different facial skin types we have, whether our face is oily, combination or dry will determine what type of cleanser and moisturizer we need. Even within a single head of hair, there are different hair types. So, there is no one solution for the care of all Black hair.
The trick is to know, generally, what type of hair you have, (We shall visit this topic on another day). Naturally, you might think African hair is “tougher” than Caucasian hair and can handle more stress or abuse. After all, it is coarser and thicker. In actuality, African hair (especially if treated like European hair) is more delicate than Caucasian hair. For this reason, I recommend using products made especially for our hair, whenever possible. Nowadays, there is a broad variety of excellent products made specifically for the needs of African or Textured hair.
In the weeks to come, I will cover, in detail, the different hair types, products and ingredients to use and to avoid, and so forth. Trust me, you won’t want to miss it!
Until next time, this is Debola, signing out!