Skip to Main Content



  • 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

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.