There are so many forces that can cause damaged African American hair - from the hairstyles we use to the chemicals that get on our scalp from shampoo, styling agents, and other hair care products. It could even be a matter of washing your hair too frequently.
Whatever the case, you’re here to learn how to repair damaged hair for black women. And we’re eager to provide you with a few key tips to restore healthy hair on your scalp once and for all. Before we do that, though, let’s address an important question we see asked in the African American community: can black damaged hair be repaired?
Can Black Damaged Hair be Repaired?
Whether you’re suffering from hair loss vs hair breakage, the damage occurring on your scalp is causing you undue stress and despair. Maybe your hair looks dryer than ever - or maybe you’re noticing excessive hair shedding. Either way, you’re desperately trying to find a solution. But can black damaged hair be repaired in the first place?
Yes - the good news is that restoring damaged hair is as simple as taking a few steps towards healthier hair habits. And by the time you finish reading this article, you’ll have gained confidence and clarity on what exactly you need to do to stop the damage and reverse it altogether. In order to do that, though, we need to talk about the most common causes of damaged African American hair.
What Causes Damaged African American Hair?
Damaged hair can be caused by a variety of factors such as heat styling, chemical treatments, and environmental stressors. We’ll highlight the three most common culprits below - beginning with the hairstyles many of us African American women have come to know and love.
Black hair is beautiful. The tightly coiled nature of our hair lends itself well to unique hairstyles like cornrows, dreadlocks, braids, and more. However, these hairstyles that you love so much could actually be contributing to damage to the hair follicle. In fact, one of the most common causes of black women’s hair loss is these hairstyles themselves.
Think about it - these hairstyles involve the constant pulling of hair, which can agitate the scalp and contribute to inflammation. Over time, the hair follicles become brittle and weak - and eventually give way, falling out altogether.
This isn’t something that will happen the first time you lock up - it’s something that happens over the course of a lifetime. That means you should use these hairstyles sparingly. And, there’s another way these hairstyles can lead to damage beyond the tugging on your scalp itself: dryness. Key oils are unable to make their way from the scalp to the hair itself. Let’s talk more about dryness below.
When comparing black hair vs white hair, it’s clear to see that our hair is tightly coiled and frizzier. And, our hair is inherently dryer than white hair. This characteristic can contribute to damage to your hair over time if steps aren’t taken.
One of the main ways in which dryness can cause damage is by making the hair more prone to breaking. When the hair is dry, the cuticle (the outermost layer of the hair strand) can become rough and brittle. This makes the hair more susceptible to breaking and split ends.
Another way in which dryness can cause damage to the hair is by making it more prone to tangling. Dry hair is more likely to become knotted and matted, which can make it difficult to comb or brush. This can lead to further damage as you may have to put more force to detangle the hair, leading to more breakage.
Dryness can also cause damage to the hair by making it more prone to static. When the hair is dry, the cuticle can become more porous, which can cause the hair to absorb more moisture from the air. This can lead to static electricity, which can make the hair more prone to flyaways and frizz.
Dryness can also cause scalp dryness and itching, which can lead to scalp irritation and dandruff. In some cases, this can even lead to scalp eczema for black hair.
Finally, harsh chemicals - which can be attributed to your hairstyle, your shampoo, or other toxic hair products you use - can damage your hair and leave it in desperate need of help.
This sort of goes back to hairstyles, as many of us use chemical relaxers, straighteners, and dyes for our hairstyles. These products use harsh chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and thioglycolic acid to break down the natural curls and kinks in the hair, making it straighter. However, these chemicals can also cause damage to the hair by breaking down the protein bonds in the hair, making it weaker and more prone to breaking.
Another common way in which chemicals can damage hair is through hair coloring. Dyeing the hair can cause damage by penetrating the cuticle layer of the hair and altering the natural pigments. This can cause the hair to become dry, brittle, and more prone to breakage. In addition, some hair dyes contain harsh chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and ammonia, which can cause further damage to the hair.
But beyond all this, there are chemicals in the simple hair care products you use that could be doing more harm than good. These include shampoos, conditioners, serums, and more. We have a complete guide on what chemical in shampoo causes hair loss if you’d like to learn more. However, it’s time to progress this conversation to the real reason you came here - to learn how to repair damaged hair for black women.
How to Repair Damaged Hair for Black Women
Now that you know what leads to damaged hair in the first place, how can you take steps to repair it?
Well, you’ll first need to determine what is causing the damage to your hair. Is it heat-styling tools? Or, is it tension from your hairstyle? Is it chemicals? By nailing down the root cause of your damage, you can take more specific steps to remedy the issue.
To point you in the right direction here is some advice on how to repair damaged hair for black women - starting with defeating dryness.
Defeat Dryness by Limiting Washings & Moisturizing the Scalp
We have a full guide on how to treat dry scalp in African American hair. But really, there are two points to consider here: get rid of the things that are causing dryness while also providing moisturizing treatments.
The common culprits of dryness in black hair are overwashing and not using the right shampoo. Many individuals make the mistake of thinking washing their hair more often leads to a cleaner, healthier scalp. But it actually ends up stripping natural oils from the scalp causing dryness and flakiness on the scalp and the hair strands themselves. So, how often should you wash your hair as an African American? Depending on activity level, usually just 2-3 times a week.
And, undertake regular moisture treatments to repair the brittle, dry hair on your head. You can perform these treatments a few times a week by massaging the oil in question right to the scalp. Consider wearing a wave cap to bed to lock that moisture in and reap the full benefits of your treatment.
Give Your Hair a Break From the Tight, Restrictive Hairstyles
If you feel that it’s your hairstyle that’s damaging your scalp, consider overhauling your look for something more relaxed. This may not be an option for those who feel as if their hair is their identity - trust us, we get it. You’ll just have to focus on other efforts to repair your damaged hair and work with what you’ve got.
With that said, leaving your hair out in its natural state as often as possible will do wonders for your hair health. Even if it’s just on those lazy weekends around the house or after work throughout the week - it makes a world of difference! You may even want to look into protective hairstyles like wigs, or hair extensions. These won’t just protect your hair and repair some of the damage - they’re a fun way to spice up your look.
Avoid Chemicals in Hair Products That Do More Harm Than Good
There is irony in using hair products to improve your hair health - only to discover they’re actually doing more harm than good.
It’s important that you vet your shampoo, conditioner, and other hair products to identify ingredients that contribute to dryness. These range from alcohol, sulfates, silicones, certain essential oils, sodium chloride, and more. Look for a natural product with nourishing properties.
Cut Split Ends Frequently
Everyone has split ends - even those women you see with seemingly perfect heads of hair. The difference between them and someone with damaged black hair is the frequency at which they deal with split ends.
If you don’t address these split ends often, they compound upon themselves. The hair continues splitting further up the hair shaft until it’s entirely broken beyond repair - at which point the hair strand will fall out. And let’s face it - split ends just look ugly, frizzy, and damaged.
So - when to cut hair to encourage growth is an important consideration in repairing damaged hair. Regular trims every 6-8 weeks can help keep split ends at bay. And, this will also help to maintain healthy hair growth.
Other Tips for Improving Your Hair Health
Beyond the advice above, what else can you do for promoting black hair growth? For starters, read our guide on how to take care of natural black hair. There, you’ll learn the importance of adding a quality hair serum treatment to your hair care regimen.
Wait - what is a hair serum used for, though? This is a product that delivers key ingredients to your scalp to encourage stronger, healthier hair. And it can transform your hair in ways you never thought possible - unlocking your dream hair once and for all!
But, to truly reap the benefits hair serum has to offer, you need the best of the best - specially formulated for African American hair. And for that, you can count on Allurium Beauty. This is among the best hair growing products for African Americans everywhere. It’s all-natural and proven to work - with a seemingly endless list of testimonials over on the product page. Take a look for yourself and see what’s possible when you have the right products in your regimen!
Beyond adding a serum to your arsenal, you should assess your diet. There are certain foods that inflame the scalp and cause damage from the inside out - like those containing sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol, and other harmful compounds. Eliminate these from your diet.
Then, look to add foods that combat inflammation - like certain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You should also round out your diet with protein to strengthen the hair you have and make it more resistant to damage. Our article on foods that promote hair growth is a great resource on this topic. We also have other resources to guide you along your journey to healthier hair, like our articles on what increases hair growth and thickness African American women, how to treat hair loss in black women, or how to prevent hair loss for women.
Final Thoughts on How to Repair Damaged Black Hair for African American Women
That wraps up our guide on how to repair damaged black hair for African American women. You’ve learned what causes damaged black hair in the first place, and we’ve provided key insights on how to repair the damage once and for all. Here is a quick summary of what you should do starting today:
- Use a mild, natural shampoo and limit washings
- Undertake regular moisture treatments
- Trim your split ends
- If you’re going to use heat on your hair, use a protectant
- Avoid tight hairstyles that pull/tug on your hair
- Avoid chemical treatments (or chemicals in traditional hair care products, for that matter)
- Be mindful of your diet
All this, combined with a quality hair growth serum, is the key to unlocking the hair of your dreams. If you want to learn more about encouraging healthy, happy hair, we’ve got other great resources in our blog. Learn about how black hair is different from white hair, hairstyles for pregnant black ladies, hair growth in summer vs winter, how fast does black hair grow, and much, much more.
Now that you know how to repair damaged hair for black women, you’re well on your way to changing your hair health for the better!