As quiet as it's kept, the hair of women across the diaspora is more closely woven into our identities than other ethnic groups; because our hair has literally saved our lives. Our hairstyles, particularly braids and locs, were used as a method of classification on The Continent; and as a way to communicate in parts of the Americas where enslaved Black People were forbidden to read or write. This isn't a history lesson, but we must acknowledge the expansive history of our hair - and its power. Our hair is a cornerstone of Black culture that is carved into our DNA. It deserves protection and reverence just like all of the other elements that make us who we are.
The past 25 months have been fraught with various international disasters, causing an unprecedented rise in the stress levels of Black Women. Many of us have families, jobs, pets, and children who view us as their primary caretakers. These incessant expectations can be enough to cause deep-seated emotional damage under even the most well balanced circumstances. Coupled with the sh*tshows of covid-19 & climate change, it's a blessing that WE weren't the ones down at the capital 'insurrecting' last year. I've witnessed a disturbing trend that I think is a reflection of these increased work and life complications.
Black Women Are Losing Their Hair.
As if the shenanigans of life in the 2020's isn't enough, the psychological distress of unexpected & unexplained hair loss further contributes to balding. It's a vicious cycle. But before you gather your copay coins for that dermatology visit, let's learn a bit more about the science behind the most common forms of hair loss and how stress affects our hair.
The Science of Hair Loss
I am not a physician and this is not medical advice. Though there are various studies around hair loss and its causes in both men and women, we are relatively far from the frontier of scientific hair loss data. Obvious physical experiences like burns that are responsible for hair loss; or conditions that cause noticeable scalp inflammation, scarring, or bleeding will not be covered in this post. The presence of the aforementioned symptoms (except for burns) are sometimes indicative of underlying medical issues for which you should contact your doctor.
I've only recently discovered that the trauma of childbirth can trigger extreme hair loss. Researching that phenomenon further for this article is proof that women are actual superheroes and that's the reason God put them in charge of our lives. Keep reading to learn the other culprits of premature hair loss or jump ahead by clicking the links below.
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
PCOS encourages an overproduction of testosterone which causes facial hair growth while hair on the scalp sheds and becomes more brittle. Ain’t that about a b****! This is mostly evident at the hairline and crown of the scalp. PCOS induced hair loss may also be accompanied by bald or fuzzy patches with surrounding thin hairs.
In telogen effluvium (TEL-o-jun uh-FLOO-vee-um), significant stresses, like childbirth or other physiological trauma, force large numbers of hair follicles into a resting phase. This is very common following pregnancy. Higher levels of estrogen throughout pregnancy welcome lots of shiny new hair. The sudden drop in estrogen following childbirth causes hair loss. A mess y’all, just a mess!
Too much (hypothyroidism) or too little (hyperthyroidism) thyroid hormones deregulate the hair growth cycle and cause thinning and shedding; along with other inconvenient symptoms like weight gain/loss, and acne. This is noticeable throughout the scalp.
Trichotillomania (trik-o-til-o-MAY-nee-uh) is a mental disorder causing an overpowering urge to pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body and is usually limited to 1–2 sites. It is triggered by anxiety, frustration, or nervousness, among other causes. Trichotillomania is closely related to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and Body Dysmorphia and most commonly treated by cognitive behavioral therapy. If you, or someone you know suffers from this condition, find a therapist at www.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. And be sure to check the children!
Alopecia Areata (al-o-PEE-she-uh ar-e-A-tuh), is an autoimmune skin syndrome where the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles causing hair loss. While the medical community has yet to form a consensus on specific causes of the various forms of alopecia, there is significant data showing that the most common forms of non-scarring alopecia can be linked to genetics, emotional and physical stress/trauma, thyroid disease and hormonal fluctuations.
Stress = Death 💀
What's not so surprising about the conditions like those listed above is that they can all be attributed to, at least in part, emotional or physical stress. Along with cellular inflammation and malnutrition, stress hormones very quickly break down glucose and deplete protein. This causes hair follicles to remain in resting phase for long periods, inhibiting new growth. There are multiple factors at play in the role of stress and hair loss. As a result, treatment can be complex and likely a lengthy process. Here are some simple things that you can do today to start the reversal of premature hair loss.
Increase blood flow to hair follicles and dermal papillae (see above)
Massage your scalp daily
Use our Braid Booster System #3, Peppermint Potion 3-4x per week
Cut back on inflammatory foods
Exercise 4-5 times per week
Modulate hormonal balance
Increase protein and decrease sugar intake
Decrease cortisol and increase serotonin levels by engaging in regular yoga and/or massages
Get enough rest
Limit alcohol consumption (don't @ me, it's science)
Cut screen time a full two hours before bed
Again, I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Please consult your physician prior to making any changes in your diet or adding supplements. Do you have more questions or are you interested in a customized Hair Plan from Super Dope Hair ? Click below to get started!