Today we will explore common mistakes we make daily, that causes us to lose our hair. This article is geared to both natural and relaxed haired women. There are things on this list that we may all be guilty of regardless of our chosen hair’s state. As I’ve stated before on this site, 50% of the reason African American women don’t have long hair is because of the hair care industry. The other 50% is because of what African American women do to their hair themselves.
I will now unveil what our common hair care mistakes are so you may correct what we do wrong and save the hair that we have on our head:
Using a blow dryer
Using a blow dryer is not a good idea because it concentrates an extreme amount of heat on each section of hair which causes damage. Instead allow your hair to air dry or sit under a hooded dryer set to medium. If you must use a blow dryer which I strongly advise against, first apply a moisturizer to your hair and allow your hair to air dry at least 80%. Then dry the hair, but do not dry it until it’s “bone” dry because the hair will be brittle and will break even more.
Using a Marcel oven
Using a Marcel oven is damaging to the hair because the tools heated in the oven have uncontrolled heat. You never really know what the temperature is on the tools and the extreme heat will cause damage. Instead use electric heated hair tools where the heat can be controlled.
Using stove heated appliances
Just like a using a Marcel oven, using tools such as a pressing comb that is heated on the stove top of your oven is damaging. The heat is uncontrolled and this calls for a high change of heat damage to your hair. Use electric hair appliances instead.
Failure to neutralize after relaxing
If you think washing your hair with a regular shampoo after relaxing is okay then you are heading to the road of hair loss. Neutralizing shampoo actually stops the relaxer process and brings the hair back to it’s acid pH balance. Regular shampoo can’t do this and after a relaxer the pH is on the alkaline end of the chart. Failure to neutralize after relaxing leads to extreme breakage and even balding! Some beauticians even decide to condition the hair before neutralizing because the cuticle layer is still open. While this is taken place the relaxer process is still going on. Instead of doing this neutralize your hair immediately after your relaxer then apply the conditioner and sit under a dryer for 20 minutes to allow the heat to reopen the cuticle and allow penetration of the conditioner.
Applying the relaxer to already relaxed hair can cause the hair to become over processed which causes breakage and hair loss. Many women have this problem when self relaxing because it is difficult to see the back of the head. It’s best to go get your hair relaxed by a professional. If you can’t go to a professional apply protective base to your relaxed hair and use a relaxer/dye brush used to apply the relaxer to avoid overlapping as much as possible.
Not exposing your hair to enough water
Washing the hair every two weeks or even once a month is not enough and dirty hair can become damaged hair. Your hair needs to be exposed to water more often and conditioned often. Waiting every 2 weeks causes the hair to become dirty, dry, and the scalp becomes itchy. It’s even worse if you only cleanse your hair once a month. You should wash your hair at least once a week as a minimum. If you are natural your hair needs to exposed to water daily. Misting the hair daily with water and sealing the moisture in with an oil, butter, or moisturizer is key. Water is moisture and our hair thrives on that.
Sleeping without a satin bonnet or scarf
Sleeping without the use of a satin scarf or bonnet is damaging to your hair because the hair becomes tangled and the cotton sheets and pillow case you sleep on absorbs the moisture from your hair causing it to be dry and making the hair prone to breakage. Always sleep with a satin bonnet or scarf or purchase a satin pillow case.
Wearing glued in hair extensions
Wearing glued in hair can cause severe hair breakage upon removal. The glue actually rips the hair out and even when you use bond removing lotion it doesn’t ever get all the glue out. Once you decide to comb your hair you still find chunks of glue in your hair which causes breakage. Glued in hair weaves can also cause fungus growth which can lead to other problems such as hair loss, balding, and stunted hair growth. Instead of wearing glued in weaves opt for a sewed in one instead to prevent damage.
Having your hair braided too tight
Braiding your hair too tight will cause extreme damage to the hair usually around the edges. Your hair will break at the nape and around the edges and as time progresses the tightness of the braids will actually pull your hair out from the scalp. Instead have your hair braided at a comfortable level. It shouldn’t hurt for you to shut your eyes.
Dying/bleaching relaxed hair (Double processing)
Double processing the hair is a complete no no! Have you ever seen a woman who had a relaxer in her hair and her hair was dyed? How did her hair look to you? Was it brittle at the ends? Did the hair look broken all over? 90% of the time dyed relaxed hair is completely damaged. You need to choose which chemical process you want relaxer or dye.
Brushing the hair
Brushing African American hair with any type of brush whether it’s a ball tip or bristol brush actually rips your hair out. Instead of brushing for stimulation try massaging your scalp with your finger tips for 10 minutes. To untangle the hair only use a wide tooth comb. If you are wearing a ponytail or bun style only use a soft boar brush on damp hair and gently smooth down the hair(do this sparingly). Never use a brush in dry hair!
Failure to condition hair properly
Black hair needs to be conditioned between once a week to every two weeks depending on the person. Listen to your hair and pay attention to how it looks and feels. If it feels dry and brittle you may need to co-wash every 3 days and deep condition weekly. If it seems to be in tip top shape you can skip a week of deep conditioning and do it bi-weekly.
I also discovered that even protein sensitive hair needs a protein treatment at least once per month. The Greek Yogurt Deep Conditioner practically eliminated my split ends when I incorporated this treatment into my hair care routine.