💡Natural Hair 101: Understanding Truths and Basics About Natural Hair

Jul. 21, 2020
For many women, keeping natural hair sounds cool, but it is harder than it appears. If you'd like to find out more about this, continue reading.
Many women have, in the past (and still today), been made to feel ashamed for having natural hair for reasons ranging from “too curly” and “too rough” to “untidy”. This is gradually changing thanks to the Natural Hair Movement. There is an increasing number of women who are now opting for a more natural and less harsh hair care and maintenance report. According to a report by Mintel – a premier market intelligence organization – an overwhelming majority of black women (73 percent) do not use chemicals, particularly harsh chemicals. If you have made the decision to don natural hair, there are a few things you should first understand. Let’s find out. 
The Meaning of Going Natural
"I've decided to go natural." This is a phrase that you've probably heard dozens of times, but what does it really mean? In simple terms, going natural means that you have decided not to use any form of chemicals that transform the natural pattern or texture of your hair. Therefore, you will not use relaxers or texturizers to slacken tight curls in your hair. A case can be made against using hair dyes as well because they contain chemicals. The presence of potentially severe chemicals in hair products has contributed to their declining use as we’re going to find out in the next section.
Declining Use of Relaxers
In the last two decades, the world of beauty has witnessed a general decline in the use of relaxers and hair straightening products despite the development of less harsh relaxers and other treatment products. This can be attributed, in large part, to health risks posed to users of such products. 
For instance, in a 2012 article published in the Journal of Epidemiology, the use of relaxers was linked to an increased risk of uterine leiomyomata – otherwise known as fibroids – in premenopausal black women. An increased risk of fibroids was noted in women who used relaxers over a long period of time (more than 10 years). 
In another 2018 study sanctioned by the Silent Spring Institute, researchers investigated the use of hair products chemicals that contain hormone-altering components. The lead author of the study, Dr. Jessica Helm, notes that there is a significant amount of untested and unregulated chemicals contained in hair products.
As you see, the decision for a lot of women to not use chemicals goes beyond the desire to not “relax” their hair. It’s also about their health and wellbeing. 
A Word On Hair Shedding
The hair growth cycle encompasses four phases: The anagen phase (growth phase), the Catagen phase (transitional phase), the Telogen phase (resting phase), and Exogen (Shedding phase). It is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of the hairs on a person’s head is in the "resting phase." These hairs shed after a couple of months. The other bulk majority are usually growing at any given time. 
Depending on the genetic composition of an individual, hair grows at different rates. However, the average hair growth rate has been found to be about half an inch per month. Hair experts agree that shedding is inevitable. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 40 percent of women above 40 years old have noticeable hair loss.
Shedding more than 100 hair strands per day is normal, but you should be concerned if you notice excessive shedding. It could be an indication of tight hairstyles, diet, nutrition, underlying illness, hormonal imbalance, or stress. You will need to consult a doctor to help you investigate the exact cause.  
Breakages and Split Ends: Natural Hair Worst Nightmare
You probably already know this, but hair is composed of dead cells. It explains why you can cut it, heat it, or apply strong chemicals and not feel a thing. Now, because the cells are dead, they are unable to generate new ones to replace old ones or to repair themselves the way live human cells in the body do. 
Hair breakage occurs when a hair strand breaks off at any point along the length. When break off happens at the root of the strand, there is a risk of severe damage to the follicle, and it is the main cause of hair loss. Breakage can be caused by tight hairstyles, excessive heat, and harsh chemicals and treatments. 
Split ends occur when hair strands fray along the shaft. It is common in long hair but can also be seen in short hair sometimes. There is no permanent fix for split ends; however, many experts recommend trimming as the most effective way to prevent the split from increasing and weakening your hair. Other experts recommend conditioners designed to patch split ends. It is a temporary fix because the split(s) will reappear once the conditioner starts to wear off. 
Donning natural hair will take a lot of time, patience, and intensive research on your part. You will soon notice that it is worth the investment, and the results will start to show. Look into chemical-free and natural hair products for hair care because it's going to be an important part of your journey. You must also investigate hairstyling that does not put too much pressure on hair follicles. Proper nutrition and diet will also help cultivate healthy hair. 
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