The Unique Structure of African-American Hair


black hair unique structure

The Unique Structure of African-American Hair

Black or "ethnic" hair care product lines recognize that our hair looks and feels differently than other types of hair because structurally it is very different. Our individual hair strands are much thicker than other types of hair, and the strands are very flat in appearance. The flatness of the strands is what makes African-American hair prone to curling and kinking. Curls happen when chemical bonds form in the hair attracting one part of the strand to the next. The flatter the hair strands, the more surface area there is for these bonds to form, explaining why African-Americans often have much tighter curls than other individuals.

Taming Curls

Finding ways to deal with waves and curls as is an important part of your hair care regimen. If you wish to wear a natural hairstyle, using styling products for curls will help you to shape and sculpt your curls and reduce the likelihood of frizz. Be sure to use these products when your hair is wet because once your hair dries, the chemical bonds have mostly formed in your hair, making it much more difficult to change the shape of your curls.

Straightening the Tresses

These specially formulated products work by breaking the chemical bonds that pull your hair into a curly shape so that they cannot immediately reform. This is done through the use of chemicals. While relaxers can help you get the straight hairstyle you desire, the chemicals can be harsh on your hair strands, making it important that you use an ethnic hair care moisturizing conditioner on a regular basis to keep your strands from becoming brittle.

Dealing with Dryness

The flatness of African-American hair strands doesn't just provide more surface area for bonds to form curls, but the shape also provides more of an area for moisture to become evaporated. African-Americans are more susceptible to dry hair, which produces symptoms like brittleness, a straw-like texture and frizz. Walgreens offers moisturizing and hydrating treatment products specially formulated to be used after you shampoo your hair to help replenish hydration and combat dryness. If your hair is extra dry or you live in an arid climate, you should finish by sealing the ends with a hair oil to lock the moisture inside. This will result in healthier looking hair.

Addressing Hair Loss and Breakage

Hair loss and breakage are very common problems among African-Americans, particularly for women. Breakage is typically caused by excessive dryness. Using a strengthening hair care product can help address this problem. If you're experiencing symptoms of hair loss, be sure to talk to your doctor. Wearing your hair in tight braids and overusing relaxers can contribute to hair loss, or you could have an underlying medical problem that requires treatment. Your doctor can advise you as to the best way to deal with hair loss whether it's with ethnic hair care products or other options. To view more options in ethnic hair care products, use the left navigation menu to view products from your favorite brands including SheaMoisture, Creme of Nature, and Dark and Lovely.

Managing Hair Textures

Curl pattern, hair porosity and density are important factors in determining hair care needs. The curlier the hair, the more areas of discontinuity in the cuticle layer, creating higher levels of porosity which are present in curly and coily hair. Density determines hair volume by assessing how closely individual strands of hair are packed together on the scalp. Curly hair with medium density is in need of enhancing the hair’s texture and playing up volume, while coily hair with high density calls for curl holding and volume reduction.

Additionally, consumers that are transitioning from relaxed to natural hair, face the challenge of managing and styling these two different textures. Glenn will assist you in formulating products that effectively address these ethnic hair care concerns. The performance ingredients showcased in this section will provide for an effective starting point. Contact your account manager to discuss your particular formulation needs!

The Natural Hair Movement

The power of individualism in the growing space of multicultural beauty has led to a shift in beauty ideals where men and women are embracing their cultural identities and expressing themselves through fashion statements where curls and afros become the center of attention. 

Black spending power: projected to increase to $1.4 trillion by 2020 

Source: Mintel

This movement drives the need for products that address curl control – a predominant concern for the ethnic consumer -, prevent hair breakage and frizz. Product development in growing applications areas such as innovative hair styling and intensive conditioner products must meet today’s consumers hair care regimens to maintain and beautify their natural tresses. Some popular product concepts include: Sulfate-free shampoos, co-wash products also known as cleansing conditioners, replenishing masks, oils and creams, scalp care balms, sprays for curl definition and shine, moisturizing gels, hair polish and freeze control serums, heat protectants and curl friendly foams.

33% of consumers think that cleansing conditioners are less damaging than traditional shampoo, and 32% that they make hair styles last longer

Even though the ethnic hair care market is no longer dominated by hair relaxers, straight hair styles are still on the agenda. The opportunity is to formulate products that help to restore, nourish and style treated hair.  Growing needs for dry scalp prevention and increased moisturization and elasticity drive the demand for rinse-off and leave-on treatments as well as conditioning shampoos, cleansing conditioners and friendlier relaxing systems.

Women with relaxed hair incorporate lightweight repair tonics, moisturizers and oils in their daily hair care routine, which is further enhanced by weekly pre-shampoo and conditioning treatments. Additionally, serums to protect the hair from heat, sheen-moisture styling sprays and scalp massage treatments are used for styling and nutritional support. Nourishing needs are top priority!.

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