The common belief, whilst growing up in the African American community, was to avoid washing your hair at all costs. Firstly, if natural, our hair was considered completely unmanageable and adding water to the mix only made it worse. Also Afro hair is prone to shrinkage when water is applied, which we didn't think was the best look, I wanted long flowing 'in the wind' hair like everyone else. My friends and I would put towels on our heads pretending it was long hair, such was our desire. Also we are constantly told that water strips our hair of all of its moisture. Lastly, with all the conditioners and treatments that I have to apply to my hair after shampooing makes the entire process a time absorbing ordeal which can take at least half a day, or an entire day if I went to the hairdressers! No wonder I avoided washing my hair lol.
I began to question the rationale, white women wash their hair, it would seem daily and their hair was long? What was up with that? I know we have different textured hair, but surely 'hair' is 'hair', like 'skin' is 'skin'? So I went on a quest to find out, 'how frequently should black folk wash their hair?'. Then, as if an answer to prayer I opened Oprah's 'O' magazine and saw a small article encouraging black women to wash their hair once or twice a week. It transpired that infrequent hair washing is actually hindering the growth of Afro hair and is the biggest reason for short hair and hair breakage.
Your hair is like a plant; both consist of dead matter and require water to grow. One way to get water to your hair and scalp is through frequent washes. Imagine a plant that has not been watered for 6 weeks – it will look ill, wilting, limp and weak and leafs will start to drop off. The same principle can be applied to hair, by not exposing your hair to water it becomes dry and thirsty, limp, weak, dull and starts to break. Washing your hair at least once a week will be a game changer for the quality, strength and length of your hair.
Hair Health – Why You Should Wash Your Afro Hair Regularly
The Sebaceous Gland
The sebaceous gland produces sebum which lubricates the hair follicle, providing the hair with vital oils, making hair healthy and shiny. Sebum is a mixture of fats, wax, cholesterol, keratin and cellular debris.
Sebum is released through the same pore through which hair grows, which means that hair must be washed frequently to prevent product build up and excess moisture that can block the entrance through which sebum is released. When the sebaceous gland becomes blocked from excreting sebum on the scalp and hair, it prevents the natural lubrication of hair, hindering hair health and vitality. Sebum creates a thin and slightly greasy film over hair cells which helps to prevent the excessive loss of water from hair which assists in keeping the hair hydrated.
Afro Hair and Sebaceous Glands
Afro hair is fine and people with fine hair have more sebaceous glands on the scalp than those with thick hair. Because black people are more likely to have more sebaceous glands than average, it is important that the glands do not become clogged through product build up or the build up of too much natural oils. Blockage of the sebaceous glands through infrequent washes will cause hair to become dry, brittle and to eventually break. Weekly shampooing will prevent the build-up of oils, dirt and sweat, preventing the follicles becoming clogged, helping your hair to grow at its optimum rate.
How to Care for Your Hair Whilst Wet/After Washing
Your hair is at its weakest and most vulnerable whilst wet because it loses its elasticity. Elasticity is the capacity your hair has to resume its normal shape after being stretched or compressed. Because wet hair loses its elasticity, it is not stretchy, so brushing, combing or tugging it whilst wet will increase the likelihood of hair breakage or hair loss.
After washing your hair, it is best to brush or comb it when it is damp or semi dry because that is when the elasticity of your hair is somewhat restored. When brushing or combing semi dry or damp hair, start gently at the tip, gradually working your way to the root. Starting at the tip allows you to gently detangle hair, avoiding breakage and unnecessary hair loss.
If you recognise symptoms of hair loss (click here) and have dry or brittle hair, then the hair products you are using and the hair care regime you are following is not working for you, so try ProTress Essential Scalp Therapy Shampoo and Lotion.
NB ProTress Energising Shampoo is a gentle shampoo, enhanced with natural extracts of Rosemary, Nettle and Passionflower and is devoid of the parabens that are found in up to 78% of other black hair products. Using the ProTress Energising Shampoo and Lotion is the best way to get the results of restored hair growth and strong, healthy, longer hair from weekly hair washing.