Why Natural Hair is Dehydrated

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Today’s post is going to be shorter than the post two weeks ago concerning why perms are afraid of water because a) I’m not a beautician and b) it’s really that simple.

Natural hair is actually not as dry as it sometimes looks, but the reason it is typically drier than other styles is all in the hair strand.

There are, for the most part, three kinds of hair strands. There may in fact be more, but let us stick to the basics:

 
Straight – Rounded Shaft
Wavy – Oval shaft, grows in a slanted direction
Curly, Nappy – Flat or oval shaft that grows more on one side than the other creating a curve. It slants backwards folding over in a tight or loose spiral (don’t be afraid to refer to your hair as Nappy, it just means curly and is not a bad word).

 

hair strandThe human body is quite a creation. Everything about it was created to heal and renew. From the digestive system, that is purposed to clean and purify the body of its toxins and waste etc., to sleep, that is purposed to rejuvenate the body, we’re indeed magnificently made. The body actually already has everything it needs within itself to sustain itself, including hair. hair-straight-silky-and-shiny

Sebum is the naturally oily substance found in hair. It is secreted by the sebaceous glands that lubricates the hair and skin and gives some protection against bacteria. The reason straight hair appears more shiny is because it’s easier for the sebum to travel down the hair shaft. On the other hand, hair in its natural state is curlier, with bends and curves and slants that make it more difficult for the sebum to make it all the way down the hair shaft. Especially in the case of  loc’s when the hair is in a knotted like state. As a result, I tend to apply oil to the ends of my locs more so than the root, which is naturally oilier because of the sebum. Use of shampoos and conditioners that dry out the hair can also contribute to dry hair:

Natural Hair is dehydrated because the Sebum has a hard time getting past all that curl, sometimes never actually making it all the way down the hair shaft. Making natural hair often appear drier than it really is.

e56b532828496455a3982a7628774c10For dry hair, apply a mixture of Shea butter, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, or any oil of your choice, to the hair and scalp. Africa’s Best Herbal Oil is actually very good and inexpensive. You can use it by itself or add it to Shea butter. If your hair accumulates a lot of dandruff or dry flakes, add Tea Tree Oil to your Herbal Oil for a natural medicated remedy.

Fun Tip: I have had the fortunate experiences of not getting lots of lint in my locs. This is because I keep my hair oiled. There are lots of remedies to defeat the lint, but the easiest thing to do if your just starting your locs, or natural style in general, is to keep it moisturized and oiled.

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Why Perms Are Afraid of Water

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If you don’t know about the health deficiencies of the relaxer by now, then you just don’t know. Perms and relaxers have been a long time favorite of many women, but this beauty regimen comes at a high price – hair breakage, scalp irritation, stunted hair growth, and even permanent hair loss.*

That’s because Sodium Hydroxide (the government name for the perm), is a dangerous chemical that eats away at any part of the body that it contacts, including hair. It is a very strong chemical that is also known as lye and caustic soda and is found in many industrial solvents and cleaners, including flooring stripping products, brick cleaners, cements, and many others. It can also be found in certain household products including:
• Drain cleaners
• Metal polishes
• Oven cleaners

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The interesting thing about the drain cleaner, is that the Sodium Hydroxide in it helps to clear away the hair often found corked at the bottom of bathtubs and sinks (eww right). That said, let’s get to the point here shall we? What does this have to do with the hair on our head? While it’ll take quite some time to explain all of the information concerning the side effects to the perm, let us just focus on the topic at hand, why are perms so afraid of water?

relaxed-hair

 

We’ve all been there. You just got your hair lyed, dyed, and laid to the side! What the beautician just did to your hair is nothing short of amazing. But you can’t get it wet. You can’t go swimming and heaven help you when it rains!

 

 

Your hair is made up of layers. The outer layer protects the hair shaft. When the layer of protection is damaged with the use of chemical relaxers, this causes the ends of your hair to split. This damage can travel up the hair shaft and cause hair breakage, resulting in damaged uneven hair. Some say just trim the ends, but the truth is that perms and relaxers are actually quite jealous of the hair’s natural state so it promotes split ends. They dry the ends of your hair and wear down the protective layer.

split_ends

As shown in the picture (below), relaxers in African American hair for example, works by allowing the chemicals to break the protein bonds in the hair in order to change its shape (we’ll speak more on the different shapes of the hair strands in tomorrow’s segment), and makes course hair straight. But by breaking the bonds that give hair its strength, the hair is left weak and vulnerable (poor hair). So when water hits the already weakened hair bonds, they become like useless limp strings (not a good look). It also weakens the hair follicle, making relaxed hair more susceptible to breakage.

307988-61011-30The hair has a particular wave pattern that is held by two sets of physical side bonds and a set of chemical side bonds. The physical side bonds are not as strong, but are more numerous, while the chemical side bonds are much stronger, but there are fewer of them. Because of this, it is recommended that someone with a fresh perm wait a few days before shampooing or wetting the hair as to allow the hair time to “normalize” and fully adjust to the new wave patterns.

Perms basically change the shape and texture of the hair by use of strong chemicals. Your Perm is afraid of water because it just had surgery and needs time to heal and adjust to the new pattern.

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*Fun Fact: Today’s modern relaxer was actually invented by an African American man named Garrett Morgan (same inventor of the gas mask and traffic signal), while trying to create a product for a sewing machine shop back in 1910. He wiped his hand on a wool cloth and found that the chemical gave the cloth a smooth appearance. This must have been some kind of strong chemical to turn a cloth into a different texture.

Must Reads: Lonnice Brittenum Bonner

Today’s “Must Read” comes from Lonnice Brittenum Bonner.

IMG_20150917_113615“Good hair: For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Weaves When The Chemicals Became Too Ruff” is a book about the dynamic and care of natural hair for black women. Lonnice shares her experience transitioning from a lifetime of chronically short and damaged hair to an education about how to better maintain and style her own hair. This book is a guide for black women seeking the natural hair care journey. It is also funny and filled with many of Lonnice’s own personal experiences with pictures to go along, which is refreshing.

The only con is that I would not consider this book for any extended research into Natural Hair. I read it back in 2011, two years into my Natural Hair journey, and it’s really just a sneak peek for beginners, but still very insightful.  My favorite thing about this book is that it is Self-Published, which I didn’t know until after I read and then researched the book.

“Outside of being filled with really useful information, Bonner’s book cracked me up. It’s as laugh-out-loud funny as anything in Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale. A combination of ‘how-to’ beauty book and hilarious autobiography…this book is a quick read, a great reference book, and even (and I know this is a cliché) makes a great gift.” – San Francisco Bay Guardian

Also look for:

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