African hair is five times more difficult to comb, is more fragile, and has a lower stress requirement for breaking than Caucasian or Asian hair.
It is estimated that 80% of African American women use chemical relaxers and/or thermal instruments to straighten their hair. The type and extent of use will vary based on intraracial curl pattern differences.
Specialized grooming products and procedures are needed to ensure that African hair maintains its cosmetic value.
There are no biochemical differences among African, Caucasian, and Asian hair types.
In men and women with African hair, many scalp dermatoses and alopecias are associated with hair care practices.
Dermatologists should be knowledgeable about the various styling methods and cultural attitudes of patients with textured hair to avoid recommending treatments that may cause further damage.
Hair care in patients with skin of color can prove to be perplexing to even the most seasoned dermatologist. The variations in hair textures, grooming practices, cultural identity, and even terminology can be overwhelming during a limited office visit.
Human hair is categorized into three groups: African, Asian, and Caucasian. There are no biochemical differences among African, Asian, and Caucasian hair types.1,2 Many women and men with African hair spend a great deal of time and money grooming their hair; some visit hair salons as often as once or twice weekly. Hair care is a multi-billion dollar industry.3,4
This chapter will outline and discuss hair care practices, with a focus on the patient of African ancestry. A summation of practical hair care guidelines for clinical reference is provided in Table 37-1.
TABLE 37-1Hair care recommendations for individuals with African hair |Favorite Table|Download (.pdf) TABLE 37-1 Hair care recommendations for individuals with African hair
Practical hair care recommendations for patients with African hair
• Cleanse hair every 1–2 weeks. Chemicals (eg, chlorine) should be washed out daily.
• Use cleansers and conditioners formulated for the hair texture (coarse, dry, or damaged hair); carefully evaluate products marketed solely for African hair.
• Avoid the application of direct heat to the hair more than two times a week.
• Do not apply heat to dirty hair or hair layered with styling products.
• For styling purposes, air dry or wet set hair rather than blow drying it.
• Hair should be trimmed every 8–12 weeks.
• Establish open communication with stylists in the local area.
• Use emollients on the hair shafts only.
• Excessive scalp irritation, burns, or hair breakage should be evaluated promptly by a dermatologist knowledgeable in African hair types.
Additional recommendations based on styling choices
Chemically altered hair
• Schedule a professional touch-up no more than every 6–8 weeks.
• Use non–lye-based chemical relaxers.
• Avoid scalp manipulation prior to chemical treatments.
• Highlights, cellophanes, and colors should be done by ...