Ethnic behaviour of black hair and traction alopecia

Although all human hair (and indeed all hair) is com­posed of hair fol­li­cles and shafts, there are dis­tinct vari­a­tions in the shape and behav­iour of hair across dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups. Some eth­nic groups, for exam­ple Native Amer­i­cans, hardly suf­fer from male pat­tern bald­ness at all, while Cau­casians suf­fer from it the most, fol­lowed by Blacks.

Inter­est­ingly enough, Black peo­ple are the eth­nic group most heav­ily affected by the con­di­tion known as trac­tion alope­cia, a type of hair loss that is caused by pulling and weight put on the hair over time. This is partly the result of the types of hair­styles favoured by the Black com­mu­nity such as corn­rows, tight braids, weaves and clip on exten­sions, as well as repeated straightening.

How­ever, the struc­ture of black hair itself is, in part, to blame for the sus­cep­ti­bil­ity of black hair to the con­di­tion. The struc­ture of black hair dif­fers in shape from Cau­casian or Ori­en­tal hair. Black hair shafts tend to be flat and rel­a­tively small in diam­e­ter. They have a twisted con­fig­u­ra­tion and each hair has vari­a­tions in diam­e­ter along the shaft as it twists. Because the hair is nat­u­rally curly, the hairs wrap around each other as they grow becom­ing tan­gled. The diam­e­ter vari­a­tions and twists cause weak­ness along the shaft, mak­ing the hair more liable to break. On the other hand, try­ing to detan­gle the hair or straighten it will often lead to fur­ther dam­age, often result­ing in severe break­age and trac­tion alopecia.

Trac­tion alope­cia is one of the most com­mon types of hair loss affect­ing black women, but it is often mis­di­ag­nosed and mis­taken for another type of hair loss. It often starts at the hair line with a thin­ning at the front of the head, but the hair loss can spread and affect the entire head if not stopped in time. It’s impor­tant to note, though, that the trac­tion alope­cia hair loss pat­tern will often depend on the type of hair­styles worn by the suf­ferer. Wear­ing the hair in rollers overnight in order to straighten it, for exam­ple, can result in trac­tion alope­cia caus­ing the hair to fall out in clumps. Banded trac­tion alope­cia, on the other hand, affects the scalp edges around the entire head.

Although not all black women suf­fer from trac­tion alope­cia, the con­di­tion is com­mon enough to war­rant cau­tion when styling the hair. The fact that it’s the struc­ture of the hair itself that can make Black hair prone to break­age and hair loss, sug­gests one should either avoid tight or poten­tially dam­ag­ing hair­styles alto­gether, or watch care­fully for early signs of trac­tion alope­cia and begin treat­ment imme­di­ately if hair loss or thin­ning is suspected.

Note that fre­quent straight­en­ing by means other than hair rollers can also be harmfu, and some experts actu­ally rec­om­mend con­sid­er­ing chem­i­cal straight­en­ing for those who are set on hav­ing their hair straight­ened. Although not ideal, this can be more suited for Black hair in the long run, as it reduces the amount of daily or weekly straight­en­ing activ­i­ties that can do more dam­age to the hair overall.

Hair loss in black women

Hair loss is one of the most dis­heart­en­ing con­di­tions that can affect any woman regard­less of colour or eth­nic­ity. In order to treat it effec­tively, we must first under­stand its causes. Early, accu­rate diag­no­sis is essen­tial when attempt­ing to treat the con­di­tion, as dif­fer­ent types of hair loss require dif­fer­ent treat­ment. In all cases, the ear­lier it’s caught, the eas­ier it is to treat the con­di­tion. Many hair loss con­di­tions that affect black women are fully reversible if treated early and in the right man­ner. Here are the most com­mon types of hair loss that affect black women:

Trac­tion alopecia

Caused by exces­sive pres­sure, weight or strain put on the hair over a period of Traction alopecia caused by hair extensions time, this con­di­tion affects women who wear their hair in tight braids, corn­rows or have long heavy dread­locks, as well as those who use tight weaves, clip on hair exten­sions or draw­string pony­tails. If you wear your hair in a tight pony­tail, you could also be affected. Trac­tion alope­cia is often mis­taken for other types of hair loss in black women but is actu­ally extremely com­mon. It often affects the hair in the hair­line area, where the hair is most tightly pulled when styled. Trac­tion alope­cia is treat­able and, if caught early enough, usu­ally reversible. Apart from remov­ing the cause (i.e. wear­ing the hair in softer, less tight styles), treat­ment involves increas­ing cir­cu­la­tion to the scalp and stim­u­lat­ing and nour­ish­ing the hair fol­li­cles to pro­duce more hair. This can be done by using any stan­dard hair loss treat­ments, from sham­poos to prod­ucts like Rogaine that con­tain minoxidil.

Cen­tral Cen­trifu­gal Cica­tri­cial Alopecia

A hair loss con­di­tion nor­mally affect­ing the crown of the head (although if untreated it will spread fur­ther). This con­di­tion is also the result of harm­ful hair styling, although this time exces­sive heat treat­ment is the cul­prit, rather than ten­sion and weight. This is actu­ally an inflam­ma­tory con­di­tion, so a visit to a doc­tor is nec­es­sary for treat­ing it. The doc­tor will pre­scribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids that will most likely be given topically.

Andro­ge­netic Alope­cia (or Andro­genic Alopecia)

Also known as “female pat­tern bald­ness” this con­di­tion also affects the crown of the head, with the rest of the hair usu­ally remain­ing unaf­fected. This con­di­tion affects the major­ity of post-menopausal women, although it affects around 13% of pre-menopausal women as well. This is a more seri­ous con­di­tion that is caused pre­dom­i­nantly by genet­ics and hor­mones. Your doc­tor can give you some pre­scrip­tion drugs for treat­ing it and there are food sup­ple­ments said to also help. Top­i­cal treat­ments are com­monly used to treat the con­di­tion along­side the inter­nal treat­ment. There are both nat­ural treat­ments and prod­ucts con­tain­ing minoxidil.

Other hor­monal hair loss conditions

Women expe­ri­ence many hor­monal changes through­out their lives as the result  Plantur 39 Caffeine Tonicof stress or ill­ness, but also as part of the nat­ural processes they go through in life – preg­nancy and child­birth, the menopause and even the monthly cycle. Some of these hor­monal changes can result in hair loss and most can be treated by a com­bi­na­tion of over the counter food sup­ple­ments, pre­scrip­tion med­i­cine and top­i­cal treat­ments. Dis­cuss your options with your doc­tor if you thing you may be suf­fer­ing from hor­monal hair loss.

Jack Black True Volume Thickening Shampoo Review

Jack Black pro­duces groom­ing prod­ucts for men and this vol­ume thick­en­ing sham­poo is offi­cially designed for men in mind. How­ever, it is per­fectly suit­able for use on women’s hair as well. This prod­uct uses nat­ural ingre­di­ents to thicken the appear­ance of the hair while stim­u­lat­ing the hair follicles.

It also has an anti dan­druff effect, keep­ing the scalp free of flakes and dry, itchy skin. Jack Black sham­poo aims to thicken the actual hair shafts, as well as stim­u­late the fol­li­cles to pro­duce new hairs, thus thick­en­ing the appear­ance of the hair as a whole. It is a dual effect sham­poo designed to treat both hair loss and dan­druff in one.

The active ingre­di­ents and their effects

This sham­poo con­tains a num­ber of key active ingre­di­ents, all derived from plants.

White lupine extract is the main ingre­di­ent used to treat hair loss in this prod­uct. This is a plant extract that has been clin­i­cally proven to stim­u­late the hair fol­li­cles and to bal­ance the hor­mones that can lead to hair loss in men (and women). It can be found in a few other hair loss prod­ucts and some stud­ies have shown it to be effec­tive in slow­ing down and revers­ing the effects of hair loss.

Basil, tea tree oil — these ingre­di­ents are used to treat dry, flaky skin and while not directly rel­e­vant to the pre­ven­tion of hair loss, are help­ful in that they pro­tect the hair fol­li­cles from exces­sive sebum, main­tained by some experts to be partly respon­si­ble for fol­lic­u­lar trauma and the slow­ing down of the hair growth process.

Nour­ish­ing agents such as soy pro­tein, kelp, sun­flower seed extract and cre­a­tine main­tain the healthy look and feel of the hair and pro­tect it from envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tants, also believed by some to be some­what respon­si­ble for hair loss and scalp imbalances.

Detox­i­fy­ing agents such as net­tle also add a healthy shine to the hair, main­tain­ing its healthy appearance.

The active ingre­di­ents are inte­grated through the use of what the man­u­fac­turer refers to as “nano tech­nol­ogy” which is said to help them get bet­ter absorbed into the skin of the scalp. When mas­saged into the hair and scalp, the active ingre­di­ents set to work within min­utes and the effects last for 24 hours.

How to use Jack Black True Vol­ume shampoo

This is a daily use sham­poo. Mas­sage a small amount into damp hair and scalp and rinse well. Repeat if nec­es­sary (if hair needs extra clean­ing). This prod­uct is rec­om­mended for use as part of a two part sys­tem, for best results. Con­tin­u­ous daily use is needed for vis­i­ble results, as the effects of the active ingre­di­ents dimin­ish with time.

Will Jack Black True Vol­ume sham­poo work for me?

This sham­poo uses a plant extract that has been shown in some tri­als to be effec­tive in treat­ing hair loss in men. Say­ing that, no prod­uct is ever guar­an­teed to work for every­one. For some hair loss con­di­tions such as hered­i­tary hair loss, treat­ing the cause is more dif­fi­cult, but with other hair loss causes such as hor­monal imbal­ances or con­di­tions such as trac­tion alope­cia where the hair loss is not the result of inter­nal but exter­nal con­di­tions, the cause can and should be treated along­side the symp­toms for best effects.

What other prod­ucts are avail­able in the range?

A True Vol­ume con­di­tioner is avail­able, which is also suit­able for daily use and rec­om­mended for use every time you wash your hair.

Buy Jack Black True Vol­ume Thick­en­ing Sham­poo here

Read more herbal hair loss sham­poo reviews.

The top 10 causes of Traction Alopecia

Trac­tion alope­cia is a form of grad­ual, non-genetic hair loss that is the result of con­tin­u­ously wear­ing the hair in styles that are too tight. Below you’ll find the top ten causes of trac­tion alopecia.

1. Draw­string ponytails

These hair pieces have a comb and draw­string to secure them on top of the head. Draw­string pony­tails are attached to the hair after the hair has been pulled back into a tight bun. Hair gel is some­times applied to achieve a sleek and smooth fin­ish to the nat­ural hair that is held in a bun. The draw­string pony­tail is then attached by pin­ning it in place with the comb and using the draw­string to secure it. Although they are a con­ve­nient way to style your hair, fre­quent and con­stant use can cause trac­tion alope­cia, par­tic­u­larly in the area where the pony­tail is attached.

2. Tight buns

The hair is twisted, rolled tightly and then fas­tened with pins or ties. The con­tin­u­ous effect of twist­ing and rolling the hair can weaken the strands and dam­age the fol­li­cles, result­ing in trac­tion alopecia.

3. Weaves

This is a style very pop­u­lar among black women, but is not restricted to them. It involves human or syn­thetic hair wefts being attached to nat­ural hair, often sewing it on to corn-rowed tracks. Wefts are some­times also attached by using an anti fun­gus adhe­sive called bond­ing glue. Weav­ing is often used to stop the appear­ance of thin­ning hair, but unfor­tu­nately it can also cause thin­ning and hair loss itself, as the corn­rows the exten­sions are attached to are very tight to make the weave last longer. Bond­ing glue can also cause hair loss when a proper remover isn’t used to break the glue’s bond com­pletely before removal.

4. Braids

Hair is braided into thin, tight braids, some­times with the addi­tion of dec­o­ra­tive items or with hair exten­sions braided into the hair (remem­ber Brandy’s sig­na­ture braids?). Apart from the pulling action caused by the tight braid, the hair line suf­fers because the hairs the exten­sions are attached to are usu­ally weak and not able to cope with the weight of the addi­tional hair.

5. Corn­rows

These are a type of braid where the hair is braided close to the scalp. This style Cornrows cause thinning hair or traction alopeciais favoured for being a low-maintenance, aes­thetic hair­style, but can lead to trac­tion alope­cia if the corn­rows are too tight because they place undue pull on the hair, espe­cially around the hairline.

6. Clip-on hair extensions

These hair exten­sions are made by cut­ting machine-made hair wefts into dif­fer­ent lengths and attach­ing clips to each piece. They can be clipped onto the nat­ural hair in var­i­ous places, includ­ing the back and the sides of the face, etc.. They are com­monly used to add colour to the hair or to give the appear­ance of fuller hair. Improper appli­ca­tion, by clip­ping the exten­sions too tightly or allow­ing the clips to dig into your scalp con­stantly, can lead to trac­tion alopecia.

7. Weight of hair extensions

Hair exten­sions can be glued or woven onto the hair, but either method will increase ten­sion of the nat­ural hair because of the weight of the hair exten­sion. Clip on hair extensions can lead to thinning hairIt’s impor­tant to avoid using too much hair because it will lead to thin­ning hair and hair loss.

8. Tight sleep­ing caps and scarves

Often worn to main­tain hair­styles while sleep­ing, tight sleep­ing caps and scarves can restrict blood flow to the area they are tied around, thereby depriv­ing the hair of essen­tial nutri­ents and slowly suf­fo­cat­ing the follicles.

9. Sleep­ing in rollers

Rollers are used for curl­ing the hair, and many women wear them in bed, as the curl­ing process can take a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time to work. Tight rollers can cause the hair to fall out in clumps.

10. Tur­bans

This is a cause that mostly affects Sikh men. When the tur­ban is worn too tightly, it can cut off the blood sup­ply to the fol­li­cles, result­ing in hair thin­ning and hair loss.

The first step in treat­ing trac­tion alope­cia is to stop the cause of ten­sion or pulling on the hair and heal­ing the scalp in order to grow new, strong hair.

What is Traction Alopecia?

Trac­tion alope­cia is a form of grad­ual hair loss or thin­ning of the hair that hap­pens because of con­tin­u­ous pulling on hair over time, usu­ally as the result traction alopecia caused by hair extensionsof par­tic­u­lar types of hair­styling. Com­monly, this con­di­tion is caused by hair­styles such as dread­locks, braids, corn­rows, weaves, clip-on pieces, tight tur­bans and high, tight pony­tails or pigtails.

There are dif­fer­ent forms of hair loss that affect both men and women. The most com­mon is andro­ge­netic alope­cia, which is respon­si­ble for over 95% of hair loss cases.

What is alopecia?

Los­ing a cer­tain amount of hair a day is nor­mal. Most peo­ple shed between 20 to 50 hairs a day. Some sources cite 100 hairs as the norm, but that has been found to be an over­es­ti­ma­tion. These hairs are “ter­mi­nal hairs” – those that have reached the end of their growth cycle and rest (tel­o­gen) cycle, usu­ally at the end of 5–6 years on your head. All hairs go through three phases of growth – ana­gen, cata­gen and tel­o­gen. Even hairs of those suf­fer­ing from alope­cia (hair loss) go through these phases. The dif­fer­ence is that in those suf­fer­ing from alope­cia, a new hair does not replace the old one, result­ing in vis­i­ble hair loss.

With trac­tion alope­cia, there is a sim­ple cause for the hair loss. What we know as a human hair can be divided into two parts: The fol­li­cle and the hair shaft. The fol­li­cle is the skin organ that pro­duces the hair and resides in the der­mis layer of the skin. The hair shaft is the vis­i­ble hair that extrudes from the skin and can be pulled out. When too much pres­sure is put on the hair over time, it can speed up the hair shed­ding process, result­ing in the loss of hairs already in the tel­o­gen phase. It can also have a neg­a­tive effect on the fol­li­cles them­selves, result­ing in trau­ma­tised fol­li­cles that do not pro­duce hairs to replace those that were shed.

Is trac­tion alope­cia reversible?

Unlike some other forms of alope­cia, trac­tion alope­cia is usu­ally reversible, as long as the pulling and tug­ging that has caused it is stopped and the scalp is allowed to heal. Repeat­edly sub­ject­ing the same hair fol­li­cles to pulling may result in per­ma­nent hair loss in the affected area. It can take time for the hair to recover from the dam­age of over-pulling. Often, it can take up to six months before an improve­ment can be seen and felt by the suf­ferer. Top­i­cal hair loss prod­ucts can often speed up the process as well as revive hairs in the tel­o­gen phase.

Trac­tion alope­cia in black women

Trac­tion alope­cia is com­mon among black women, because of their choice of hair­styles, like weaves which involve tight pulling of the hair. It can often be mis­taken for other types of hair loss, so pro­fes­sional assess­ment is often Naomi Campbell's traction alopecia hair loss is a result of wearing weaves continuouslynec­es­sary to see what the prob­lem is.

Trac­tion alope­cia often starts with a reced­ing of the front hair­line, and it often con­tin­ues with a gen­eral thin­ning of the hair all over the head. Another form is when the loss occurs around the scalp edges. This type of hair loss is called banded trac­tion alope­cia. With another type of trac­tion alope­cia the hair comes out in clumps as the result of sleep­ing in rollers or hav­ing braids or tight weaves. Chil­dren can also be affected.

The good news is that the con­di­tion is not genetic and can be reversed if diag­nosed and treated in time.