Anyone who has been around the curly hair block for a while now probably knows how fragile naturally curly hair can be. Although natural hair is versatile and can be twisted, curled, coiled and braided into many different styles, any excessive manipulation can result in a major damage to the hair. Aside from the typical hair damage that’s caused by over manipulation, damages to the hair often falls under four major categories. Knowing the type of hair damage that you have will help you to better manage your hair and prevent future hair woes.
1. Physical Damage
This is the most common type of hair damage and it has the most drastic effect on the hair. Physical hair damages are man-made hairstyles and manipulations that compromises on the health and strength of the hair. Although ponytails, afro puffs and buns are quick and easy to do, when done too often and too tight, they can cause a strain on the edges of the hair which can result in a receding hair line.
Another example of physical damage are braids that are too tight and heavy. Particularly braided hairstyles that are left in for too long and that were not well taken care of during the time they were in the hair. So even though you left your hair alone for a period of 12 weeks, the consequences on the health of your hair might be greater than when it was left loose and conditioned on a regular basis.
Another way that the hair gets physically damaged is during detangling and styling. Excessive detangling can result in split ends and eventually, breakage. Whether you detangle with a comb or with your fingers, it’s important to keep in mind that curly hair likes to wrap around each other, and so it’s not necessary to have 100% detangled hair. Therefore, the less you detangle your hair, the more likely it will remain healthy and the less split ends and hair damage you’ll have.
2. Chemical Damage
One of the reasons why many women transition to natural hair is due to the chemical damages that they experienced from relaxers or the constant heat damage that they experienced from straightening their hair. However, just because relaxers are a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean that you can never experience a chemical damage.
Women with natural hair still undergo chemical treatments every once in a while to help improve the appearance of their curls or to change up their hairstyle. Chemical treatments such as bleaching, highlights and coloring can have serious consequences on the health of the hair if they're not done properly. This is because chemical treatments changes the chemical and physical structure of the hair.
Also, products with ingredients that dries out the hair can cause excessive tangles and frizziness. This can leave the hair looking dull, dry and feeling brittle. Another culprit of chemical hair damage is heat damage. Heat appliances such as flat irons and blow-dryers removes moisture from the surface of the hair cuticles, resulting in brittle dry hair which now becomes vulnerable to breakage.
3. Environmental Damage
The condition of the environment that you live in can also help to contribute to the overall health of your hair. Regions with hard water can affect the look, feel and shine of the hair. This is because hard water leaves mineral deposits on the hair which builds up overtime and eventually affects moisture intake into the hair. Therefore, the hair will end up feeling dry, with lots of frizz and tangles. Environmental factors, such as strong sun, wind, cold air, temperature variations and changes in air humidity can also damage the hair. The static and dry winter air can contribute to moisture loss, leaving the hair dry. Also, the constant change from the cold outdoor air to the warm indoor air can cause the cuticle layers of the hair to loose moisture quickly to the atmosphere.
Strong winds can also cause your curly hair to form more tangles, which can be difficult to detangle later on. The hot sun in the summertime can also affect the health of the cuticle layers of the hair. Environmental effects on the hair cannot be avoided, but they can be better managed by the way you adjust your hair regimen to fit the circumstances in your environment.
4. Nutritional Damage
Although hair is a dead matter, the follicles which the hair grows out of is a living organism which must be well-nourished. Therefore, proper nutrition is needed for the blood veins that carries nutrients to the individual hair follicles.
When the body isn’t receiving adequate nutrients, it re-prioritizes the distribution of the nutrients that it receives. This means that vital organs that controls life and death will be attended to first, while the least important organs such as the hair follicles will be tended to last. As a result, the condition of the hair health will be compromised. This is why any nutritional deficiency typically shows first in the hair.
Also, the growth and appearance of the hair is also affected when a person is under stress, on medication or in a serious health condition. Hair damages that occurs as a result of health problems can only be resolved after the body has returned to its healthy state through the use of medication.
Although hair damages occurs in a variety of ways, the most effective way to keep the hair healthy is by minimizing damages that are in your control, i.e physical and chemical damages.