What is The Big Chop

Truth is, long hair don’t care, but short haired naturals matter too! Recently, with everyone from celebrities to best friends opting to chop relaxed or natural hair off to start a new regimen, there are a lot of common misconceptions about the big chop. We’ve heard everything from warnings of “head shapes” to beliefs that the big chop makes natural hair grow faster. Total honesty: being natural is not a one size fits all occupation. There are many ways to be natural and fierce, but if you’re looking for a fresh start, or if you’re interested in beginning your natural hair journey, the big chop might just be for you.

This post explores the origins of the big chop natural hair method, if it’s meant for you, and a few methods to help you take the big plunge!

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Can I Go Natural Without Doing the Big Chop?

The big chop natural hair method refers to the process of cutting one’s hair to either begin or restart the process of chemical-free natural hair. If you’re like most, you probably received your first perm at a fairly early age. Reverting or transitioning natural hair can take a lot of time and TLC. Although both methods have a common goal of getting hair to its natural state, transitioning, or growing the permanent chemicals out of one’s hair, and the big chop are two completely different things. In short, yes. You can definitely go natural without doing the big chop. Here are some reasons people opt to chop it all off, though.

  • Big chop hairstyles can be empowering and a sign of new beginnings
  • Big chop natural hair can be healthier and easier to manage
  • Big chop hair has the opportunity to evenly grow out, and alter damaged curl patterns

Attention toward this method has amped up in the most recent years, thanks in part to celebs like Solange and Sanaa Lathan who big chopped for personal and professional reasons. If these women in the public spotlight can go bare, there’s nothing stopping you, girlfriend!

Sanaa Lathan shaved head


Does hair grow faster after the big chop?

Even before big chop hairstyles became mainstream, a lot of natural gurus looked to the big chop as a way to promote healthy, and faster growing natural hair. Although it is not proven to be a “quicker” alternative to transitioning, performing the big chop can definitely help you monitor growth easier. When transitioning, it can be hard to manage two different textures, and with difficult manageability, comes the desire to shortcut and rush through healthy hair growth. Remember, there is nothing more important than healthy and happy natural hair.

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Am I Ready for the Big Chop?

It can be a frightening baring it all, but honestly, if you’re known for trailblazing with bold and confident styles, you were probably born ready for a big chop. It will take getting used to, but after some time and some adjusting, pulling off cool and chic big chop hairstyles can be just as easy and painfree as pulling off protective transitioning styles. Here’s how to know if you’re ready for the big chop:

  • If you’ve noticed and want to be proactive about managing damaged natural hair
  • If you’re looking to try something new, or you want a fresh start to your natural hair routine
  • If you want to try short hairstyles or adding color to your curls.
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Are you a big chop naturalista? What factors led you to bare it all?

Black Hair Spot is the number one place to ask all your burning questions about black hair. We are a community of women dedicated to educating, entertaining, engaging, equipping, and empowering women to love their hair as much as we love ours!

How to Use Black Seed Oil for Hair Growth (And Prevent Hair Fall)

Black seed oil is one of the most potent plant extracts for growing thicker hair, stopping hair loss, and keeping good health in general. It has even been proven to kill cancer cells1, with no side effects besides better health. If it’s that powerful, just imagine what it can do for your scalp and hair.

Our advice? Before you scroll down and start reading the details, go pick up a bottle of cold-pressed black seed oil and start massaging it into your scalp. It’s time to grow more hair!

What is Black Seed?

Black seed is the common use name for nigella sativa. Nigella sativa has been used for thousands of years for probably a thousand different ailments. The oil has many names, including black caraway oil, black cumin seed oil and black onion seed oil. Black seed oil is more accurate, however.

In other languages, it’s called kalonji, or Indian cumin and hibbat al baraka, the blessed seed of Arabia. The Persians call it shuneiz and the Chinese, hei zhong cao.

The list goes on.

Medicinal Properties of Black Seed Oil For Body and Hair

It’s not a coincidence that the use of nigella sativa is so historically widespread. The benefits of black seed oil are:

  • pharmacologic [2]
  • antimicrobial, even when there is a resistance [3] built up to prescribed antibiotics.
  • analgesic – soothing to pain and itching, and also
  • antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-fungal, antihistamine and anti-inflammatory.

The last two on this list are what distinguish black seed over other seed oils for hair growth abilities. But before we get to that, here’s a little reminder: hair and scalp specialists say hair loss is usually a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

Some of the most prevalent diseases these days are cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, diabetes [4], thyroid disease [5] and cancer – among others. Each of the above-mentioned diseases can cause hair loss at some point – including some of the treatments for them, such as chemotherapy. Black seed oil is used in naturopathic medicines around the world to treat all of these ailments. The dosage is usually just a teaspoonful a day. And when the underlying cause of hair loss is treated, what happens? The hair grows back – and quicker, if you use black seed oil externally on your scalp.

#Blackseedoil combats what slows hair growth... diabetes... hypertension... cancer... thyroid disease... Really. Click To Tweet

How Is Black Seed Oil Good For Hair?

Many of the same characteristics black seed oil brings to pharmacology make it of great use for hair [6] health.

For instance:

  • Nigella sativa’s powerful antimicrobial properties help prevent scalp infections.
  • Antifungal qualities make it an ideal scalp serum for seborrheic dermatitis/eczema, the condition that usually causes dandruff. Nigella sativa heals better than anti-eczema creams [7].
  • This oil’s antioxidant properties can help protect the scalp from the normal aging process that thins the hair.
  • Black seed oil contains thymoquinone, an anti-inflammatory. Therefore it can be used to combat different alopecias. The alopecias that start with inflammation leading to hair loss are central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), frontal fibrosing alopecia and traction alopecia. Black seed oil can help halt the permanent hair loss of scarring alopecias.

The same components of black seed oil that make it useful for fighting hair loss also make it great for hair growth.

Thinning hair? Bald spot? Find out why #blackseedoil is the best hair growth oil. Click To Tweet

How Black Seed Oil Grows Hair

Whether you have issues with hair loss or not, black seed oil grows new hair in either scenario.

  1. Because of nigellone and other antihistamine components found in black seed oil, it has similar properties as the antihistamine cetirizine [8], which has been found to regrow hair. Black seed helps increase the circumference of the hair strands and the density [9] of hair. Therefore, it can literally make your hair thicker and also give you more of it.The photograph below are before/after pictures of those who used the antihistamine cetirizine while suffering from androgenetic alopecia – genetic male or female pattern hair loss.
hair loss talk


Before and after. Black seed has similar properties as cetirizine, an antihistamine which grew the hair back of the individuals above during a 6 month period in an Italian study published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatments [10].

2.  Because of its anti-inflammatory components, black seed oil decreases internal scalp swelling that can interfere with hair growth.

3. The antihistamines in black seed oil can give you more hair by moving dormant hair follicles (we all have them) into the active growth phase.

4. Nigella sativa is particularly useful for those suffering from Telogen Effluvium6 (TE) alopecia, in which the hair follicle moves into the dormant, hair shedding phase (telogen) too early – and all over the head. Black seed preserves the hair follicles in the active phase in this case.

#Blackseedoil grows hair AND counters underlying medical conditions behind alopecia. Click To Tweet

What Type Of Black Seed Oil Should You Use For Hair Growth?

Cold pressed is the best form to use, whether you’re using it straight, or in a formula. Cold-pressed black seed oil is said to have a 100% skin absorption rate, whereas many other oils do not.

Toasting oil seeds usually increases their benefits, but not for black seed. Roasting [11] reduces the volatile oil content of black seeds, which include the active antihistamines nigellone and thymoquinone and other components that encourage hair growth.

How To Apply Black Seed Oil

Apply black seed oil to your scalp with clean fingers or a cotton ball once or twice a day, and massage it into the scalp for about 10 minutes. This method is followed, whether you’re using straight black seed oil or formulas that contain it.

Is It Better to Use It Straight?

It isn’t necessary to use black seed oil straight out of the bottle. For one, it’s expensive!

Based on that factor, alone, it isn’t better to use black seed oil straight (wink).  And based on a Routi Pharmaceuticals study conducted in Bangladesh, a test oil that contained only 5% black seed oil was still very effective at growing hair [12]. It can be blended with various other hair growth substances, or just in a plain carrier oil or natural lotion.

Apparently, the hair follicles don’t have to be smothered in black seed oil. But as long as the oil is present and able to spread easily across the scalp, the active ingredients do their job.

The key is to apply it directly to the scalp, and take the time to massage it in.

Beating Hair Loss With Black Seed and Herbal Oil

We know black seed grows hair, but if you’re suffering from excessive hair loss, what about keeping the ones that are already on your head. Sometimes those are more important!

The Routi study had excellent results with their test oil for hair loss. As mentioned above, it contained 5% black seed oil, but it also carried 5% Indian gooseberry (amla fruit) and 1.25% each of bermuda grass, fenugreek and henna.

The process to make the hair loss oil was very involved, so only the results are included below. In 90 days, the test oil reduced shed hairs from almost 400 a day, down into the acceptable range of less than 100 a day.

When left alone, the volunteers experienced a slow and steady increase of shed hairs.

Screen Shot 2017 12 28 at 11.37.48 PM

What Are Some Black Seed Oil Treatments For Hair Growth?

There are some black seed oil treatments that give excellent results at home, as well. The table below shows, in numbers, hair growth caused by nigella sativa when used alone. This is demonstrated by increased density of hair over a 3 month period. Hair growth continued for three more months after the treatment had stopped. The percentage of black seed oil used here, also, was a mere 0.5%. The study, from Italy, was published in the Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications in 20139.

Screen Shot 2017 12 29 at 2.23.15 AM

So if you combine black seed with other hair growth ingredients, it might work even better. In eastern traditions, black seed oil for hair growth is combined in the following ways:

  1. Black seed oil can be mixed into a carrier oil like coconut oil or castor oil as a hair growth oil. Castor oil will certainly help speed the results along, as it is a hair growth oil in itself. Not much black seed oil is needed to be effective, and a carrier oil helps the active ingredients spread over the scalp easily. You can mix in equal proportions, or put a teaspoon of each into a cup of water and shake well before using. It’s up to you!
  2. You can also cleanse and stimulate your hair follicles first by applying lemon or vinegar to your scalp. This is a traditional eastern practice. Or you can be lazy and mix one of these Vitamin C infused liquids in with the black seed oil. It’s fine either way. The main thing is to clear scalp buildup and clogged follicles, as these can work against your hair growth routine.
  3. Infuse an Indian hair growth herb, like fenugreek, into the black seed oil. For added power, grind dry fenugreek seeds and toss them into a bottle or jar you can seal. Cover the ground seeds with black seed oil and seal with the lid of the jar or bottle. As long as the oil is kept in a semi-warm, dark place, the active essences from the fenugreek will seep into the oil. Strain with a cheesecloth after two weeks. Then add a carrier oil to the strained off oil, if you wish.
  4. You can even do a modified version of all of those steps in one formula. Blend and strain fresh arugula leaves for their juice. It’s a hair growth herb, not just for salads! Add black seed, olive oil and vinegar to the juice for an Arabian hair loss formula [6].

Other Natural Oils For Hair Growth And Thickness

If you’re heavy into DIY, you won’t be shy to try out other oils that encourage hair growth. Try adding Jamaican black castor oil,  pumpkin seed oil or flaxseed oil to your black seed oil formula.

The Top 4 Black Seed Oil Brands

Each of these brands sells unrefined cold pressed black seed oil. They have been on the market for a while and are well-trusted by consumers for their unadulterated oil.

Sweet Sunnah (US): myblackseed.com

Cost: $45 for 16 oz.

100% Pure Cold-Pressed Black Seed Oil 16 oz.


Amazing Herbs (US): amazingherbs.com

Cost: $49.99 for 16 oz.

Amazing Herbs™ Premium Black Seed Oil - 16oz


Panaseeda Black Cumin Oil (Canadian): panaseeda.com

Cost: $49 for 8.5 oz (250 ml)

Black Cumin Oil can revolutionize your immunity and health!


Nabi Blackseed (UK): nabiblackseedoil.com

Cost: About $9.50 for roughly 3.5 oz (700 ml)

Black Seed Oil Virgin 100 ml Cold Pressed


How To Remove Black Seed Oil From Hair Easily?

Of course you can use black seed oil as-is. Because the skin absorbs cold pressed black seed oil completely, it does not cause build-up when used alone on the scalp. However if you use it twice daily in a formula with other oils, cleanse with a non-sulfate shampoo at least twice a week.

An Olfactory Word Of Caution

Black seed oil has a strong, resinous sort of smell. If you want to mask the smell, use less, or choose essential essences that are more or less in the same olfactory category, such as camphor, cedar or eucalyptus.

Want to know more about hair growth and hair growth formulas that work? Keep dropping by  BHS. Don’t forget to share!


1. Anticancer Activities of Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin)

Md Asaduzzaman Khan, Han-chun Chen, Mousumi Tania, Dian-zheng Zhang

Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011; 8(5 Suppl): 226–232. Published online 2011 Jul 3. doi: 10.4314/ajtcam.v8i5S.10

2. Thymoquinone: an emerging natural drug with a wide range of medical applications

Mohannad Khader, Peter M Eckl

Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2014 Dec; 17(12): 950–957.

3. Antimicrobial activity of Nigella sativa L. seed oil against multi-drug resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolated from diabetic wounds.

Lorina Badger Emeka, Promise Madu Emeka, Tahir Mehmood Khan

Pak J Pharm Sci. 2015 Nov; 28(6): 1985–1990.

4. A review on therapeutic potential of Nigella sativa: A miracle herb

Aftab Ahmad, Asif Husain, Mohd Mujeeb, Shah Alam Khan, Abul Kalam Najmi, Nasir Ali Siddique, Zoheir A. Damanhouri, Firoz Anwar

Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 May; 3(5): 337–352. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60075-1

5. The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function, serum Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) – 1, Nesfatin-1 and anthropometric features in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a randomized controlled trial.

Farhangi MA, Dehghan P, Tajmiri S, Abbasi MM.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016;16:471. doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1432-2.

6. Nigella Sativa Seed, a Novel Beauty Care Ingredient: A Review

Sudhir SP, Deshmukh VO and Verma HN

Int J Pharm Sci Res 2016; 7(8): 3185-96.doi: 10.13040/IJPSR.0975-8232.7(8).3185-96.

7. Comparison of therapeutic effect of topical Nigella with Betamethasone and Eucerin in hand eczema.

M. Yousefi, B. Barikbin, M. Kamalinejad, E. Abolhasani, A. Ebadi, S. Younespour, M. Manouchehrian, S. Hejazi

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Dec; 27(12): 1498–1504. Published online 2012 Dec 1. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12033

8. Evaluation of Therapeutic Efficacy of Nigella sativa (Black Seed) for Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis
Abdulghani Mohamed Alsamarai, Mohamed Abdul Satar and Amina Hamed Ahmed Alobaidi

InTech 2012, Prof. Marek Kowalski (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0288-5

9. Evaluation of a Therapeutic Alternative for Telogen Effluvium: A Pilot Study

Alfredo Rossi, Lara Priolo, Alessandra Iorio, Enrica Vescarelli, Martina Gerardi, Daniele Campo,

Donato Di Nunno, Simona Ceccarelli, Stefano Calvieri, Antonio Angeloni, Cinzia Marchese

Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications, 2013, 3, 9-16

10. A preliminary study on topical cetirizine in the therapeutic management of androgenetic alopecia

A. Rossi, D. Campo, M. C. Fortuna, V. Garelli, G. Pranteda, G. De Vita, L. Sorriso-Valvo, D. Di Nunno & M. Carlesimo

Journal of Dermatological Treatment 2017 Jun 29:1-3

11. Volatile Compounds of Black Cumin Seeds (Nigella sativa L.) from Microwave-Heating and Conventional Roasting

Mustafa Kirala

J Food Sci. 2012 Apr;77(4):C481-4


Md. Shahinoor Rahaman Dulal*, Hasib Sheikh , Mohammad Abu Taher , Mohammad Sayeed Ur Rahaman , Zakia Rahman and M.A. Malek

International Journal Of Pharmaceutical Sciences And Research 24 March, 2014

Your hair cuticle challenge: Look fly, not fly-away



The hair cuticle is your first line of defense, your last resort for moisture retention and your source of shine in your finished hairstyle.

Not only does the cuticle protect the cortex from undue harm, it also works overtime regulating the passage of moisture into and out of it. The cortex is at the mercy of the cuticle, with resilience or elasticity directly affected by any chinks in the armor. With such great responsibility, the cuticle has the power to make or break your hair flair.

Some say the best offence is a good defence, so let’s find out what we can do to keep our cuticle cute, cared for and under control.

But what is the hair cuticle?

The hair cuticle is the outermost protective layer of your hair strand. It is made up of a series of layered keratinized cells that work together to shield the cortex from damage. Since the cuticle has no melanin cells, or melanocytes, it does not contribute to the color of your hair.

Keratin protein cells, or keratinocytes, go through a life cycle of their own. They are produced in the hair follicle through a process of cell division and replication by the hair matrix. As the cells separate from the hair matrix, they die and are pushed up to fill the hair shaft. The dead cells harden and form various components of the hair shaft, some of which are designated to the cuticle. When referring to the cuticle, we specifically mean the shingle-like formation that builds the outer sheath.

Based on your hair type, you can expect to find a variation in the number of layers of cuticle. Not just from one head of hair to another, but also between strands on the same head of hair.  In fact, on some individual hair strands, that variation can occur from one side to the next.

An average straight hair strand has 6 to 10 cuticle layers, which are applied in a relatively uniform fashion. If you’re dealing with curls, however, you may have as few as 2 cuticle layers on the inner side of the curl and up to 10 on the outer side of the curl.

Depending on which way your curl rolls, straightening of that curl may cause the less protected side of the hair strand to be exposed to the elements. This could be one of the reasons why changing someone’s natural hair pattern opens it up to exposure to more damage.

The cuticle layers point in the direction of the tip of the hair strand, which makes total sense when you think about brushing your hair. And the reason why teasing your hair creates volume. You are essentially grooming against the grain, roughing up the cuticle and simulating the expansion of your hair strand’s natural thickness.

Opening and closing the cuticle

A nice tight, smooth cuticle provides the best reflective surface for the appearance of shine and healthy hair. We often sacrifice this layer in our attempts to change our hair into styles that are not innately natural for us.

Open to possibilities

When the call for change sets in, we have to lift the cuticle to gain access to the cortex where the genetic template to our hair type lives. Opening or lifting the cuticle requires alkaline substances to be directly applied to the hair.

The easiest and most common way to lift the cuticle is to wet your hair. Water naturally has the ability to penetrate the cuticle layer and enter the cortex to cause some swelling of the hair shaft. That swelling keeps the cuticle slightly open, or ajar and allows cleansing agents and shampoos to penetrate.

On dry hair, alkaline substances open the cuticle. Relaxers, perms and hair color have an alkaline base, which is why they are applied to dry hair. When the cuticle opens, it allows for a concentrated chemical solution to enter the cortex and make changes to the curl pattern or color.

Closed for successful styling  

Healthy Hair Cuticle


Healthy hair cuticle

The issue of closing the cuticle arises after every wash day. As stated earlier, water has opened the cuticle and, depending on your wash day routine, is now waiting to be closed up to resume its role of protection.

Conditioner is said to have the necessary pH to close an open cuticle and the best ones are designed to do just that. Your hair will actually feel softer when the cuticle is laying flat, or tightly closed.

Another way to close your cuticle is cold water. A cold water rinse after conditioning is reported by some to clamp shut those cuticle layers, while others say it has no effect but to make your shower unpleasant. Let me offer some anecdotal evidence that may persuade you to try your own experiment.

Living in a particularly cold climate, I often leave the house with wet hair. I’ve always let my hair air dry as an attempt to minimize frizz. On one notable occasion it was cold enough outside to cause my hair to freeze slightly, much like when you have a sculptural gel applied. Later in the day, while inside the warm comforts of my destination, I noticed a remarkable difference in the amount of shine and curl definition. Decidedly, a great hair day. Still looking for a way to replicate this without braving an icy cold shower, but I believe the cold works.

One other alternative way to close the cuticle that may rescue you from the cold rinse option is an apple cider vinegar rinse. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and helps to balance the pH of the hair. The perfect pH for hair is  5.5 – 6.5. Urbanbushbabies.com recommends a hair rinse recipe, consisting of 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to 2 cups of water, to achieve a closed cuticle and increase overall shine.



Do you have hair-raising cuticle damage?

Since the cuticle makes up the external layer of your hair strand, when it’s damaged you know it. Hair that feels rough to the touch, dry or brittle is more than likely suffering from a damaged cuticle. Existence of split ends provides definitive evidence of a damaged cuticle.

Damage to the cuticle happens, in part, through exposure to environmental factors, but is most likely due to personal styling practices, including chemical treatments. Damage tends to build up over time and can start out with minor chipping in the cuticle that later expands into greater weakness of the hair strand because of the gap created in the armor.

When you first see signs of split ends, the best thing to do is have your hair trimmed above the point where the split end starts. This will prevent the separation from traveling up the shaft and along the length of your hair.

Other signs of cuticle damage can be identified through hair breakage. When the cortex gets dried out, the dryness also permeates the cuticle. To look at it up close, you would see definite signs of cracking. Any point of cracking is like a fault line. This means where a crack appears, a break can, and probably will, follow. Excessive blow dryer use and hot styling tools tend to be the cause of these extreme drying conditions.

Minimize the hurt on your hair

There are a few things you can do to try to keep your cuticle in good shape. First and foremost, go easy on the applied friction. This is anything from the extreme of dry brushing to the simple act of going to bed without first covering and tying your hair down.

You may want to include some of the following practices in your hair care routine:

  • Aside from covering and tying your hair before bed, use of a silk or satin pillowcase will reduce night-time friction.
  • Change the way you brush or comb your hair. Try dividing your hair into smaller sections before attempting to brush out those tangles. Be gentle as you comb or brush out the knots, trying not to tear haphazardly at your mane.
  • When dying or relaxing your hair, be careful to only apply the product to virgin hair or new growth. This means when you’re touching up, your product should only cover the base of your hair, close to the scalp. Any overlapping of product can create excessive damage to previously treated sections.
  • Minimize excessive heat from styling appliances. Many of us use extra hot curling irons to improve the curl setting action. Experiment with your heat settings until you find the lowest one capable of giving you the outcome you’re looking for.

Porous cuticle problems

Black hair has a tendency to be porous. In curly hair, the convex side of the hair shaft has a thinner  cuticle than the concave side of the same shaft. That means you can have as few as two layers of cuticle protection on the outside of your curl and the inner side will have between six and 10 layers. Fewer layers means less protection from harm and abuse.

Some porosity issues have to do with the natural curl shape and how the cuticle characteristically lays as it follows the curve. If you think about what it’s like to try to pry open a box lid that has been nailed shut, a gap beneath the nail head makes it easier to pry open. As the cuticle “shingles” follow the bend of the curled shaft, they would naturally lift a little to navigate the turn. That structural gap can allow for penetration of wayward elements and either the escape of moisture or the penetration of chemicals or environmental toxins.

The best way to combat a lifted cuticle is to use some of the hair rinsing methods outlined above to close the cuticle as tightly as possible. If excessive damage is the culprit of your porosity issues, protein treatments are essential in repairing large holes and gaps in the hair strand.

Keep in mind that applying protein is not a long term fix because the actual hair strand is dead. It may fill the gaps temporarily but will wash out easily since there are no living protein cells to fuse with and rebuild the wall.

Although you can’t change the number of cuticle layers assigned to your hair type, a more permanent improvement of cuticle strength can arise out of proper diet and nutrition. Providing your body with the right nutrients gives the hair follicle more stable building blocks to work with as it processes and produces the hair fibre.

Make it a habit to inspect your cuticle regularly. Early intervention of self-inflicted damage can spare your hair from more trauma than is necessary. Remember to get your hair trimmed regularly and often.

Have you developed any tips and tricks when working with your cuticle? Share with us your successes and failures. We’re eager to hear from you!

The sebaceous gland: Oil shortage or overdrive?

frizzy greasy limp hair


If you’ve ever experienced excessively dry, or possibly oily hair and scalp,  it’s more than likely the sebaceous gland played a part in it. Tasked with providing moisture and lubrication to our skin and hair, it holds the key to that healthy glow everyone raves about.

While trying to achieve your own definition of balanced hair greatness, discover the challenges you may face, ways to combat them and means to support healthy production from the sebaceous glands.

Skin deep source of moisture

Sebaceous gland anatomy


The sebaceous glands are microscopic multi-lobed glands, which attach to the hair follicle’s duct beneath the surface of the skin. One or more glands may surround each hair follicle. Their purpose is to produce a waxy, oily substance called sebum, which is regularly deposited into the follicle where hair is being produced.

The glands deposit sebum into the hair follicle duct on the hairs, and bring it to the skin’s surface along the hair shaft. Located all over the human body, with the exception of the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, this process is dominating your square footage.

The rate at which the sebaceous gland produces sebum varies from one person to the next and is subject to certain hormonal influences. For example, in children, the sebaceous gland is not active until the onset of puberty. Presence of androgens, male sex hormones like testosterone, increase sebaceous gland production, whereas the presence of estrogen is reported to inhibit sebaceous gland production. Since both men and women have their fair share of both these sets of hormones, over production is not gender specific.

Also known as a lipid, sebum is composed of triglycerides, wax esters, squalene, and metabolites of fat-producing cells. There are a number of responsibilities the sebum performs:

  • moisture for the hair fibre – as the sebum is deposited into the hair follicle duct, it naturally coats the hair, as it travels with the growth of the hair out to the skin’s surface.
  • lubrication of the skin – sebum keeps your skin waterproof since lipids don’t dissolve in water. Not only does it protect you from taking on too much water, it also protects you from excessive water loss. The film sebum makes on your skin regulates the passing of water so that dehydration is kept at bay. This property comes from the wax esters in the composition of sebum.
  • protection from wayward bacteria – a very fine, slightly acidic film forms on the surface of the skin as a result of the sebum, and acts as a barrier to bacteria, viruses, and other potential contaminants that might penetrate the skin
  • distribution of vitamin E – as a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E is brought to the skin to protect tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals, which can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions related to aging. Vitamin E: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Sebum overload

If you have an overly active set of sebaceous glands, you may experience either greasy looking hair, clogged follicles or at times both.

Greasy hair tends to be associated to fine hair types and the fair-haired. When this plagues you your hair will appear limp and oversaturated or heavy. It will not respond well to styling efforts.

Although this is not a typically natural occurrence for black hair, you could experience these symptoms from overuse of products and build up of applied oils and creams.

If you hair is particularly greasy, find a cleansing product that will support the rebalancing and distribution of oils on your scalp and hair shaft. Be cautious here. You don’t want to completely strip your head of oil. When you dry out your scalp, the sebaceous glands read that signal as requiring more oil to be produced and do the opposite of what you want.

Your scalp will display excessive oil in another way. It can cause scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff. This is often referred to as seborrheic dermatitis. Excessive build up on the skin’s surface can also lead to plugged or clogged follicles. If not treated, the plugged follicle may stop producing hair and you may experience temporary hair loss.

In a dry spell

If you hair is looking dry and flyaway, you may or may not have under-producing, or blocked sebaceous glands. With curly hair, the sebum will not necessarily travel along the hair shaft because of the twists and turns. It’s possible you have normal sebum secretion, which is unable to travel without assistance. When that happens it sits on your scalp, potentially waiting to be reabsorbed.

Dry scalp is also directly related to a reduction in the production of sebum. As a result, the skin can become tight and itchy. The reduction in production of sebum may be due to blockage of the sebaceous glands, but that is not always the case.

Sometimes the scalp becomes itchy due to contact with allergens. Contact dermatitis is caused by irritants in soaps and shampoos. The difference here, contact dermatitis will flare up immediately after contact with the offending substance.

Dry hair will look dull and be more susceptible to breakage. If you are unable to stretch your hair without it snapping in two, you have overly dry hair. Intervention is required. You can try oils that are compatible with the chemistry of your hair and easily absorbed by your scalp without causing build up.

One of these oils is coconut oil. It has been discovered that the chemical makeup of this oil,  encourages penetration into the hair strand and passes with ease through the cuticle’s defense system. The lauric acid naturally occurring in coconut oil has a low molecular weight, and is able to penetrate the hair shaft, nourishing the hair with vitamins, minerals and the medium-chain fatty acids.

Aside from that, coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, and has antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. When used on hair, it improves scalp health, fights infections and fungus, supports hair growth, all while adding volume and shine without the common harmful chemicals.

Another good oil is olive oil. Olive oil is a source of squalene, one of the lipids found in human sebum. Squalene is said to assist in anti-oxidation, generates oxygen, stimulates immunity and regulates fat. Olive oil is an emollient, which means it’s able to penetrate the shaft to create a shinier appearance and improve elasticity. This is a great option that you may already have on hand in your kitchen.

Somewhere in between

The quest for normal hair is one pursued by many. Much attention is usually given to the problem areas relating to healthy hair growth, but we can’t forget the “normals” out there.

If you have regular or average sebum production along with strong, resilient and shiny hair, make note of your maintenance routine, give thanks and move on. You have been given a gift. Just stay on top of any changes as your hormonal balance begins to shift and adjust accordingly. You are the envy of many.

But what if you’re in between, but in a bad way. Schwarzkopf calls this a mixed condition. You may be experiencing overactive sebaceous glands, poor scalp condition and an overabundance of sebum. Best case scenario, this can be absorbed back into the scalp without clogging any follicles or preventing hair growth. However, you still have an issue with excessively dry, frizzy ends, subject to breakage. A dry hair/oily root situation is not ideal and requires a divided approach.

First, you need to apply some oil to your dry ends, ideally prior to washing. If you can allow your hair’s cuticle to absorb some moisture 2 to 12 hours prior to washing, it will protect it from further depletion. Then when washing your hair, focus your attention on the scalp area. Cleanse to remove excess oil but not to strip to the point of dryness.

Application of coconut oil post-wash may be the best course of action. In the case where the oily build up on your scalp is due to bacteria, the coconut oil has a built-in ability to fight infections and fungal deposits.

How to support healthy sebaceous glands and sebum production

It was stated earlier that male sex hormones, or androgens, stimulate sebaceous gland production. If you want to keep your sebaceous glands operating at their best, you can try including some of the following vitamins and supplements or eating a balanced diet of healthy foods.

Healthfully.com reports Vitamins A, B1, C and E, chromium, folic acid, and Ginkgo biloba are believed to increase androgen. There are also supplements like L-arginine, L-tyrosine, magnesium, nitric acid, selenium, and zinc, which have positive effects, as well. Androgen production is also believed to be stimulated with the inclusion of bananas, figs, and raw oysters.

Sebum production is believed to be supported with the inclusion of apricots, foods rich in antioxidants, beta-carotene, brewer’s yeast, legumes, liver, natural fruit and vegetable juices, nuts, papaya, persimmons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, wheat and whole grain products.

Common allergens and some poor food choices can lead to the wrong type of oil production and skin inflammation. These include certain dairy products, foods containing iodine, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, salt, seaweed, shellfish and trans-fats. Ingesting these can cause clogged pores or allergic reactions, if you are susceptible to them.

One of the best things you can do for yourself is drink plenty of water. Clean, filtered water will keep skin pores hydrated and flush away toxins that can lead to skin issues.

A healthy relationship

Buried in the skin, the close relationship between the sebaceous gland and hair health is undeniable. Good things grow from good ground. Keep your skin and pores healthy  and the subsequent hair will thrive and also be healthy.

Have you ever faced any challenges with out of balance or oily hair? Do you have irregular sebum production? In the comments below, let us know your hair type and what you did to combat these issues.

The Cortex: Providing Substance for the Human Hair Shaft


If you’ve ever wondered why your hair is fine or coarse, brown or black, you’ve actually been questioning the contents of your hair cortex. Although the human hair shaft is comprised of the cuticle, cortex and, depending on the size of the strand, the medulla, it’s the cortex that makes up the bulk of the hair strand. It is also responsible for the display of your hair’s genetic code, which includes color, hair type and texture.

It’s this part of the human hair shaft that is the target for chemical alteration in regards to natural color and curl pattern and the most in need of protection by the cuticle.

What’s in your hair’s genes?

The cortex is a complex system of cells. There is a mass of cells called the dermal papilla which acts as the boss to the entire hair growth system. It is instrumental in the development of the original hair follicle and dictates the size of the hair fibre that will eventually be produced. (For more information about the hair follicle and how it reproduces hair, see Human hair follicle: Your hair growth factory.)


The larger or more broad the dermal papilla surface, the thicker the hair strand that will form within its respective hair follicle. Not every follicle on your head is exactly the same, however. This is why it’s possible to have varying textures or hair types on different parts of your head.

The hair matrix takes its direction from the dermal papilla. The cell division and replication that occurs within the hair matrix create the hair shaft and produce the necessary cellular material required to form the hair fibre.

Keratin and melanin cells both originate from this cellular process. These cells undergo a process of keratinization, which is fancy for die off and harden. The keratinized cells get pushed up into the follicle duct and advance the hair strand upward. In other words, they add to the base of your hair strand creating the growth you see above your scalp line.

Protein packs a punch.

Human hair is made up of a type of fibrous protein called keratin, which consists of a combination of 18 amino acids essential to hair health. It is an insoluble protein, which contains large amounts of cysteine. This particular amino acid is responsible for the rich sulfur content and plays an important role in the structure and cohesion of hair.

Within the cortex, the keratin is organised into protofibrils, composed of 4 chains of keratin. The protofibrils can be compared to a rope-like structure, where its strength is dependent on the bonds or bridges between the atoms of individual chains. These bonds are of variable strength.

Disulphide bonds are the strongest bonds, formed out of the attraction between amino acid cysteine and other sulfur containing molecules. The placement of these bonds form the shape and structure of your hair strand. Cysteine amino acids are capable of bonding with other cysteines further down the hair shaft and is the contributing factor to any curling of hair.

Curly hair has more of these bonds than straight hair. The follicle’s shape and resulting angle that it travels towards the surface of the skin allows for different parts of the hair shaft to come close enough together to allow a bond to form.

Acting on the sulphurated parts of the keratin amino acid chain, disulfide bridges can only be broken with the use of chemicals. Weaker bonds, such as hydrogen bonds, are ones that can be altered with the addition of water alone.

Found amongst these keratinized cells are pigment cells, or carriers of melanin.

Are you high on melanin?

The color of your hair depends on the shade and amount of pigment located in the cortex, with some influence coming from tiny air spaces found within the hair itself. Melanin represents only 1% of the total composition of your hair, so its influence is impressive despite its volume. There are two melanin types found to represent the spectrum of available hair colors; eumelanin and pheomelanin.

Eumelanin provides black and brown pigment and is particularly abundant among black populations. The absence of eumelanin dictates whether hair is blonde or not.

Pheomelanin provides pink and red colors and is the main pigment found among red-haired individuals. Aside from providing color, melanin’s functional purpose is for protection against UV-radiation. Pheomelanin is nowhere near as protective as eumelanin.

Are you starting to find white hairs? That means pigment is absent from the cortex. The contained air becomes reflective of light and is responsible for the whiteness. The difference between white and gray hair is generally associated with the overall mixture of white and colored hairs you have.

What shape do you subscribe to?

Mechanically speaking, the cortex is largely responsible for the elasticity and tensile strength of the hair fibre. It is made up of cortical cells, which when counted as one unit, comprise 75 to 80% of the strand’s overall volume.




Until closer examination, the general thought was that every hair strand had a round shaped circumference. These cross-sections, representing various hair types, highlight the fact that hair strands are as unique as the head they come from. The composition of the cortex and the shape of the cortical cells included in it, define the outer shape of each hair strand.

It’s possible for an individual cortical cell to be one of two different classifications, where the combination of these differing cells dictate your hair type and resulting curl pattern.

Cortical cells define ethnic differences.

Not all cortical cells are shaped the same. Dr. Ali N. Syed does a great job explaining the complexities of the cortex. There are two main types of cells, ortho-cortical and paracortical. Para-cortical cells are shaped like spindles and are fairly consistent in shape, although overall size can vary from one to another.

If you have straight hair of Asian or European descent, your cortex will be primarily made up of these. Bone straight hair only has para-cortical cells, as they organize themselves in a uniformly stacked fashion. When hair starts to become wavy, or expresses some curl, you can expect to see the introduction of ortho-cortical cells in its structure.

Ortho-cortical cells do not have a uniform shape to them and one might even call them random in their makeup. Much like its para-cortical counterpart, they are also generated in various sizes.

Curlier hair types have a cortex filled with a majority share of these ortho-cortical cells, with a small amount of para-cortical cells, typically lining one side of the hair shaft. Considered an example of mixed race hair, you can expect larger, fuller curl patterns as a result of this composition.

The curliest hair types have equal shares of both otho- and para-cortical cells. It may be the struggle for cortex domination occurring between the two types that causes the exaggerated curl definition found in African descent hair.

An interesting hair type cross-section comparison between straight and curly hair shows the uniformity of straight hair clearly. The curly haired strand presents itself in a whorl pattern, much like you would see in a fingerprint. If you think about the vast number of fingerprints in the world, this could be some indication of the vast number of hair combinations that are actually possible.

https://www.slideshare.net/dralisyed/1-structureof-hair-euro-july-08 Left, curly hair – Right, represents straight hair.

Dry, broken and lacking elasticity.

The extent of the dryness of your hair can be attributed to something called cell membrane complex. There are two forms in the human hair strand. One type is found at the cuticle layer and another within the cortex used to bind the keratinized cells together.



Cell membrane complex is a lipid material formed out of essential fatty acids, ceramides and cholesterol. It performs an important role in structure, tensile strength and elasticity. Let’s try to apply an analogy here to improve your understanding.

Think of the internal cell membrane like window putty. In older windows, when seating a pane of glass, they often used a putty because it was flexible and would allow for expansion and contraction of the glass during changes of temperature, without compromising its function. If that putty were to dry out, the glass would become loose and rattle if windy or possibly even fall out if moved.

Cell membrane complex operates in much the same way. It binds the cortex together, allows for flexibility in the hair shaft and provides a built-in pocket of moisture to keep the hair strand pliable and responsive to manipulation.

The cuticle has its own version of cell membrane complex with a slightly different composition. Responsible for protection and moisture retention, the cuticle is the first line of defense when washing your hair. A study was conducted measuring the effects shampoo had on the lipid layers of hair.

One shampoo application can be responsible for extracting approximately 50% of cuticle layer fats, with repeated shampooing increasing the reduction to between 70 and 90%. When the cuticle is doing its job, it is believed that the internal fats found in the cortex are not affected to the same extent.

When an extreme depletion occurs, the internal fats migrate from inside the cortex of the hair shaft to the outside cuticle layer in an attempt to remedy the depletion. You can imagine that if this cycle happens enough, the cortex will become dry and brittle and you will experience breakage.

Because the hair shaft is dead, the lipids don’t have the ability to restore themselves. Much like the window analogy, when the cell membrane complex is dried out it loses its functionality.

The sebum produced from the sebaceous gland would be ineffective in trying to coat the curly hair shaft since it would not have the benefit of gravity to help it slide along the shaft.

In most cases of extreme dryness, new growth is the best replacement.

There are reports that coconut oil has a natural penetrating ability when applied to human hair because of the chemistry of its fatty chains. Applying coconut oil may provide some temporary relief from dried out hair but the jury is still out on whether or not it would revitalize a cortex depleted of all its built-in moisture.

Water: Friend or foe?

We tend to have a love/hate relationship with moisture. On the one hand, we crave it to keep our hair looking healthy and free of frizz. On the other hand, when moisture asserts itself into your hair situation when you least expect it—think high humidity—you are less than impressed with what it does to your style.

So what’s a girl to do? Knowledge is the first line of defence. The proteins that make up the human hair have a natural affinity for water. When water is introduced, either directly or indirectly, as in the atmosphere, your hair strand seeks to soak it up.

Dr. Andrew Avarbock, who writes for the New York Times, claims that the better hydrated your hair is the less it will react to environmental moisture conditions. He explains that the swelling of the hair strand, evidenced by the appearance of frizz, is a direct result of dry, or porous hair soaking up water from the atmosphere. The introduction of water alters any existing bonds between your keratin proteins.

Many a battle has been lost with humidity, but if optimal cortical health plays a part in conquering this one, improved care is so worth it.

Give your cortex a head start

Knowing that your hair is made of protein, water and essential fatty acids, direct attention to your diet can provide positive results. Most people are not deficient in protein so we’ll focus on the increase of essential fatty acids and water.

One of the key essential fatty acids is Omega-3. You can find this abundantly in foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, sardines, egg yolks, walnuts and hemp seeds. If these food sources don’t appeal to you, you can always try taking an omega-3 or fish oil supplement.

Increase your water intake. The more water you drink, the better your skin looks. Since hair is a direct descendant of your skin, keratinized protein, it makes sense that it will improve how your hair looks and functions as well.

Not sure you can see a difference? Watch your fingernails for clues. Also made of keratinized protein, your fingernails will display hydration deficiencies that are easy to recognize. If your fingernails begin to break more, look dry or lose their natural luster, you can be certain your hair will do the same, if it isn’t already.

As with most things, what you put into it is what you get out of it. Our bodies are no different. Try increasing your essential fatty acids and water intake and watch the natural shine and elasticity of your hair come back to life.

Have you made any observations about your hair’s cortex and how it responds to treatment? If you’ve got some hidden gems, please share with us below. It’s our goal to make everyone’s hair life better than ever.

Human hair follicle: Your hair growth factory

ATTENTION CONTROL FREAKS. You’ve cut. You’ve colored. You’ve curled. You’ve straightened. You’ve coaxed. And sometimes…you’ve even cried. There’s only one thing that has more control over your hair than you and that’s the follicle. Every defining feature of your hair originates from these micro-sized factories embedded in your skin.

The human body is actually covered with 5,000,000 hair follicles, excluding the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. An average head will have 1,000,000 hair follicles on it with 100,000 of those covering the scalp area. That’s 100,000 reasons to try to understand why your hair is the way it is. From curl pattern to color, you’ll find out all you ever wanted to know about the production of your hair and more.

How hair is produced and grown

The hair follicle is first developed in the womb at about the 3 month mark. Epithelial cells grow downwards to form a plug in the skin and join up with the dermal papilla at the base of the follicle.

The dermal papilla is responsible for hair generation, size and color, since it directs the matrix cells used to build or form the hair strand. The larger the dermal papilla, the larger the hair fibre it will produce.

The matrix cells go through a process of cell division and differentiation and push upwards forming three enclosed cylinders; the outer root sheath, inner root sheath and what will later become that hair fibre you know and love.

The outer root sheath separates the hair fibre from the rest of the skin. It’s the inner root sheath that forms the mold that matrix cells feed into. This is actually where and how your curl is defined. This molded path determines the size of strand and amount of curve the completed hair will exhibit. Because every follicle is responsible for its own output, you can begin to see how variations in your curl pattern can occur on different areas of your scalp.

As the inner root sheath reaches the sebaceous gland, it begins to break down, leaving the hair strand free to exit the skin and ready to be styled. The resulting hair strand is a keratinized version of the hair follicle cells; a by-product of the hair follicle processes, which become factory output.

Due to the fact that the exposed hair strand is dead, as far as biology goes our efficiency ratings must be through the roof. Reduce, reuse, recycle has nothing on human cell use.

Stages of hair growth and development

For those of you stressing over the length of your hair, hair does not grow continually. Also of importance, growth stages can be vastly different from one person to the next. Understanding this may help to alleviate any anxiety you may have in this area.

The follicle is a tiny but powerful factory, which throughout the human lifespan hardly ever stops working. This hair shaft factory is unique in that it is the only organ in the mammalian body which, for its entire lifetime, undergoes cyclical transformations.There are 4 phases that a mature hair follicle passes through. These define the path of growth and development:

  • growth (anagen)
  • regression (catagen)
  • rest (telogen), and
  • shedding (exogen).

The hair growth phase (Anagen)

Hair growth is dependent on the individual’s age, hormones, and nutritional status, as well as physiologic and pathologic factors. The length of time spent in this phase determines the length your hair can achieve.

The human scalp hair follicles can stay in this phase from 2 to 8 years, thus producing long hairs. While in this growth phase, the matrix cells are continually dividing. As new cells are formed they push the older ones up the inner root sheath and eventually out beyond the scalp.

Normal hair growth during this phase is claimed to be 1cm every 28 days, which doesn’t sound like much. Again, your hormones will play a part in this production rate. As a result, you may experience slower or faster growth rates, depending on your specific biology. If you fall outside of the norm in failure to produce fast enough, it may be worth a trip to the doctor for a diagnosis of any underlying conditions or causes.

The good news is growth is not a synchronized event, so each hair passes through the three phases independently. At any given time, it has been estimated that approximately 86 percent of scalp hairs are in anagen, 13 percent in telogen, and 1 percent in catagen. Excessive hair loss may indicate external factors, such as stress, nutrient deficiency or chronological age.

The hair regression phase (Catagen)

This transitional phase is sort of like the clean up phase after a large remodel on a home. All the construction is done for now, but in order to say the house is complete and ready to stand on its own, a clean up process has to happen.

All of the cellular activity that was in overdrive is now slowing down and easing back from its place of prominence during the growth phase. The old hair shaft factory is dismantled so that a new shaft can be produced at the beginning of the next growth phase. This process is called apoptosis.

Apoptosis is a highly controlled form of cell death carried out by implosion, and is a critical factor of the hair cycling process. After cell fragmentation, the cells are essentially eaten, or reabsorbed.

As soon as follicle growth stops, degeneration starts. That is the typical or normal cycle of events. However, there are indications that the catagen phase can start prematurely and/or abort the growth phase. Some of these causes are chronic or severe stress, external trauma, hormone issues or chemical influences, such as prescription medications.

It is said that during the catagen phase, the dermal papilla finds its place of rest next to the epithelial bulge just south of the sebaceous gland. Scientists muse that if the dermal papilla does not manage to reposition itself in this way, out of the fats and into the dermis, that premature death of the follicle is possible.

Time for a rest phase. (Telogen)

The telogen, or resting stage, is when hair follicles stop making hair. At this point in the process, they dump their last cells on to the end of the existing hair fiber, forming a lump. This lump of cells acts as an anchor to hold the hair fiber in the tube of the hair follicle. This non-living hair is attached to the skin with a “club-like” root, but will eventually be pushed out or pulled out during combing or washing and replaced by a new growing hair.

The telogen stage typically lasts for two to three months before the scalp follicles enter the anagen phase and the cycle is repeated all over again.

Shedding the dead hair weight. (Exogen)

Five to 15 percent of scalp follicles are in the telogen stage at any given time. On average, people lose anywhere from 50 to 150 scalp hairs a day, so shedding this amount of hair may be considered normal. Shedding in excess of this may be due to an increase in the follicles of scalp hair in the telogen stage and should be addressed to contain hair loss.

It is not yet clear whether shedding is an active, regulated process or a passive event. If it’s passive, that would mean shedding occurs as a result of the new hair growth in the anagen phase dislodging the old hair from the follicle as it presses upward.

Hair growth and loss in humans is random and not seasonal or cyclical. At any given time, a random number of hairs will be in various stages of growth and shedding. In older people, the hair cycle shortens, the follicles gradually give up producing long, strong hair, and the hairs eventually become thinner and shorter. The overall result may be either a general thinning of the hair density, or even a degree of baldness.

Follicle health issues that prevent growth or create hair loss

When the growth phase stops prematurely, it results in unfavorable conditions like alopecia and telogen effluvium. Armed with this information, scientists are seeking cures by trying to control the onset of the next phase (regression) in their attempts to combat hair loss and disease. Preventing early onset of the regression phase, allows the growth phase to properly fulfill its commitment to new growth.

Here is a list of possible reasons, or ailments, that can bring about hair loss, thinning or poor onset development. If you are concerned that you exhibit signs for any of these, please consult your physician:

  • traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is similar to trichotillomania but occurs after using inappropriate hair styling techniques.
  • alopecia due to physical injury. Any physical damage to the skin such as burns or frostbite may cause localized alopecia.
  • loose anagen hair syndrome. As the name suggests, people who have loose hair syndrome have hair that is easily pulled out by brushing or even by rubbing on a pillow at night.
  • congenital triangular alopecia. This form of hair loss is the result of incomplete skin development and differentiation at the temples.
  • aplasia cutis congenita. This form of hair loss is the result of incomplete embryonic skin development.
  • alopecia due to neoplasms / cancer. Cancer in the skin can directly destroy hair follicles. Cancers elsewhere in the body may also indirectly affect hair fiber growth.
  • alopecia due to hemochromatosis. Most people know that iron deficiency causes hair loss, but not many people know that too much iron in the body is toxic and can also cause alopecia.
  • permanent surgery induced alopecia. Surgery can promote alopecia at the site of incision or, in some plastic surgery procedures, extensive alopecia can develop.
  • alopecia due to celiac disease. Failure to follow a gluten free diet can lead to diffuse hair loss in celiac disease affected individuals.
  • Infectious Hair Diseases. There are a wide range of potential pathogens that can infect the scalp skin, hair follicles, or the hair fiber itself:
    • scalp ringworm . Scalp ringworm, or tinea capitis, is a common infection of the scalp skin that cause cause hair loss.
    • kerion. A kerion is not an infectious agent in itself rather a kerion is the skin lesion that develops when an infectious agent that normally causes scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) becomes more aggressive.
    • lice. Hair lice are a common complication, particularly in children.
    • demodex folliculorum. A very common infectious parasite suggested by some to be involved in hair loss.
    • seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin of unknown cause or origin, characterized by moderate erythematic, dry, moist or greasy scaling and yellow-crusted patches on various areas of the body.
    • bacterial folliculitis. One of the most common causes of infectious folliculitis is bacteria. This page reviews the nature of bacterial folliculitis and treatments.
    • candida viral or parasitic folliculitis. Though folliculitis is most commonly caused by bacteria and fungi, candida yeasts, viruses, and parasites can sometimes cause folliculitis.
    • furuncles and carbuncles. Normally infectious folliculitis is a relatively mild and limited scalp inflammation. However, sometimes the infection can be more severe and widespread. When this occurs, furuncles or carbuncles may develop.
    • syphilis. Syphilis typically has three stages; primary, secondary, and late (tertiary), with different symptoms at each stage of the infection. In the secondary and tertiary stages of syphilis, hair loss is common and obvious.
    • black piedra and white piedra. Piedra, meaning stone in Spanish, is an asymptomatic fungal infection of the hair shaft, resulting in the formation of nodules of different hardness on the infected hair. There are two basic types; black piedra and white piedra.

If you’re interested in learning more about Trichology, the study of hair, check out What is Trichology (And When You Should See a Trichologist) 

Color me curious

Wondering how your hair color plays into all of this? Simply put, you could say it piggybacks on the keratinized cells but it actually has its own process before that can happen.

Melanin is contained in granules inside melanocytes, but in this state it is unable to provide any color; it must be transferred to the keratinocytes. The melanocytes are mostly located in the bulb and cortical layer of the hair, sandwiched between the numerous keratinocytes.

The hair bulb at the base of the hair follicle is populated with melanocytes alongside the keratinocytes. These melanocytes are responsible for planting pigment, or melanin granules, into the cells that form the cortex of the hair shaft.

Pigment comes from two types of melanin, eumelanin and pheomelanin. Whatever your specific hair color, its determined by the ratio of each granule dispersed into the cortical cells. Until the melanin is absorbed by the keratinocytes, it is effectively dormant and incapable of reflecting color.

As far as the growth cycle goes, pigment production also turns on and off outside of the anagen phase. Pigment cells are meant to turn back on when the next growth phase starts for new hair. If the pigment fails to restart production, that’s when hair starts to turn grey.

At the close of each growth cycle, some pigment-producing melanocytes become damaged and die off. There is a melanocyte stem cell reservoir at the top of the hair follicle, which can replenish the bulb and keep pigment production going. When that reservoir of stem cells is exhausted, however, pigment production stops and hair turns grey.

Are grey hairs on your horizon?

Genetics are important factors in determining when we might turn grey. Currently, there are no reports linking it to stress, diet or lifestyle. A tiny fraction of the population can attribute greying to autoimmune disease, such as vitiligo and alopecia areata. Both of these can damage pigment cells and bring about greying prematurely.

You have approximately 100,000 follicles to nurture, influence and protect so that your hair keeps coming back again and again. Whatever your hair challenges, if you think they stem from an issue with your hair follicle, leave us a note in the comments. Seeking information on a specific topic not covered here? Let us know and we’ll get to work gathering the details.

Hair Anatomy 101: The Foundations of Human Hair

Have you ever had one of those days? You find yourself standing in front of the mirror, staring at the marvel that is your hair, asking yourself, “Why?” Why does my hair grow like that? Why are my curls so random? How did I ever end up with this color? Do your questions have questions?

Hair Structure - medulla, cortex, cuticle, hair shaft, sheath, matrix, hair bulb, sebaceous gland


Knowing our hair, the specifics of what we are actually dealing with and how it functions in the grand scheme of things, can make all the difference in the world when trying to achieve the latest look.

We regularly wage war with the tip and shaft of the hair strand, while the root and bulb do their thing below the surface. Starting from top to bottom, we’ll take a closer look at the anatomy of human hair and how its parts function together to create a healthy head of hair.

The hair shaft defines you

First and foremost, all hair, from root to tip, is made up of a water insoluble protein known as Keratin, which consists of many amino acids as its primary units.

Home of the split end, the tip of the hair is the part that we regularly trim off in order to keep the rest of the shaft healthy. It is possible for the split end to travel along the shaft and effectively sub-divide the natural thickness of your hair. When that happens, your hair will become weaker and more susceptible to breakage. Regularly trimming is recommended by hair professionals everywhere.

Within the shaft of your hair strand are the three main components, or building blocks, of human hair; the cuticle, cortex and medulla. It’s the internal chemistry and makeup of these which define the characteristics and manageability of your hair, in general.

You could say, the hair shaft holds the key to combating whatever hair insanity you regularly deal with. Excited to slay that dragon, we’re going to examine these building blocks now.

The building blocks of human hair

Cross section of hair - medulla, cortex, cuticle


There are three main components to the human hair shaft. Each of these are further subdivided and have their own complexities and challenges. Starting from the outside in, the shaft is comprised of:

  • a cuticle
  • cortex, and
  • medulla.

What’s so cute about the cuticle?

The cuticle layer is clear and absent of any hair color or pigmentation. It is the reflective element light bounces off of to radiate shine. The tighter closed or more smooth the cuticle layer is the more shine your hair will display.

Every cuticle is formed out of a series of layers of dead cells. If you think about the shingles on the roof of a house, you can easily visualize how the cuticle layers might overlap on an individual hair strand.

It is important to note, not every hair cuticle is created equal. There can be variations in thickness from as little as 2 layers up to 10. Surprisingly, these variations can occur on a single strand of hair, as well as between different hair strands on the same head of hair.

The gatekeeper and first line of defense.

As a protective layer, the cuticle acts as a gatekeeper and strives to keep unwanted elements external to the hair shaft, while keeping beneficial elements, like moisture, inside.

Because of the multiple layers, there is a substance between each which binds them together so that they operate as one unit. The damage of that substance through chemical treatments, styling products and styling practices causes the layers to separate and reduce the overall protective quality.

As the first line of defense for your cortex and an important element in the finishing of your crowning glory, you can see why it’s important to keep the cuticle healthy and at its best.

Let’s see how the cortex works alongside the cuticle.

Sometimes the core. Always the cortex.

Because the medulla is not present in all hair types, the cortex can sometimes act as the core or centremost part of certain hair shafts. Whether the medulla exists or not, the basic structure of the cortex remains the same.

Much like the cuticle, there are multiple cells that work together to form the cortex. The cortex is the thickest part of the hair when considering the diameter of a single hair strand. It is made up of a series of protein-based rod-shaped cells that run parallel to the length of your hair. These cells are not always a uniform shape. TODO The cortex: Giving substance to the human hair shaft  – explores these differences and more in greater detail.

Defining your hair color.

Within the cortex, you’ll find the major source of your hair color. Your individual pigmentation or melanin content resides here and dictates the hue of your tresses.

It is the cortex, where keratin protein accumulates, that needs to be accessed in order to change hair color  with dyes and chemicals. The keratin cellular chemistry is what is changed to create new colors and styles.

When the medulla layer is actually present, there can be some melanin cells found there as well. Read on for more information on this “now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t” layer.

Maybe the medulla. Maybe not.

The medulla, found at the core of some hair strands, appears to be the greatest mystery to hair care specialists and scientists today. As you search the internet, you’ll discover the definitive conclusion that the medulla layer is not present in fine hair, whatever the color.

The underlying function of the medulla is still in question. Dr. Ali N. Syed, chemist and founder of Avlon Industries Inc. with over 30 years experience developing hair care products, states that the medulla is full of air pockets and suggests it may be responsible for any potential volume found in particular hair types.

It’s the criminal forensic scientists that get the credit for documenting different types of medulla. They have discovered a variety in the structure of the medulla across different hair types and have created four categories for medulla classification:

  • continuous
  • interrupted
  • fragmented, and
  • absent.

They also claim that Native American and Asian hair types have been found to have continuous medulla as well as coarse hair, since instances of double medulla has been found in men’s beard hair.

Medulla may not be so mysterious.

Black Hair Spot would like to be the first to draw some conclusions from the data they have gathered. First, take into account Asian hair and Native American hair tends to be bone straight and highly resistant to chemical restructuring, in the case of perms and waves. Then add to that the fact that beard hair, where double medulla had been identified, is typically classified as very coarse. We can deduce that the medulla layer plays a strong role in the pliability of the hair shaft and overall structure in hair typing.

A good metaphor for comparison might be a spinal column, since a medulla runs through the centre of your hair shaft, when present at all:

  • continuous or unsegmented would be likened to rebar, inflexible and straight.
  • interrupted and fragmented would show signs of variable flexibility dependent on the frequency and space between naturally occurring gaps.
  • complete absence of medulla would experience flat, lifeless hair that is difficult to hold shape or style; you might say, spineless.

With this assumption in place, it appears that the most extreme classifications of the medulla layer, continuous and absent, prove to be the most difficult to alter chemically.

We’re excited to see where the scientists, who are pursuing this subject, land. Whether or not the medulla is critical to the shape and style of your hair, one thing is for certain. Your hair would be nothing without the following supporting actors.

Introducing the supporting actors in your hair health story

It’s no secret that your hair health is contingent upon what nutrients you supply internally and what you expose it to externally. Those hair headliners of yours may claim the credit, but they don’t do it all by themselves. They have the benefit of some strong supporting actors, which help you to command the attention you deserve for those beautiful tresses. In truth, your hair wouldn’t even exist without these below the surface supporters.

In particular, your tresses are supported by:

  • the hair follicle,
  • hair bulb, and
  • sebaceous gland.

Time to take a closer look at how they help your hair to steal center stage.

The fortitude of the hair follicle.

The hair follicle is more in control than you might think. While we’re frantically trying to restyle the hair north of our scalp, the hair follicle is hard at work replicating that same genetic template we’re working overtime to defeat.

According to www.keratin.com, the entire inventory of our hair follicles, their distribution and spacing across our entire body is formed in the earliest days of our womb experience. That means whatever you’ve got is what you’ve got, for the duration. Keeping them all functioning is your best hope for maintaining hair density. See Human hair follicle: Your hair growth factory for more information about the follicle and reasons why it may fail to produce hair.

One might assume all follicles look the same and differentiation in hair type only shows itself once it emerges from the scalp or skin. Not so.

Think of follicles like tiny hair factories with preset molds inside. As the hair grows, it travels through this genetically designed mold  and comes out the other side with your established  curl pattern. So if your hair has tight tiny curls, the embedded path reflects that. Large curls? Same thing, different path.

The follicle’s main job is to produce and “house” the hair. It has its own system for growth, shedding and regeneration, so it’s always on the job replicating your trademark tresses. The hair fibre is rooted inside the follicle until it is shed for new growth.

Hair bulb: the anchor of your hair strand

The hair bulb is located at the very bottom of the hair follicle and is the anchor that roots the hair into the skin. It contains the living cells, which divide and replicate, and reproduce the hair strand.

According to webMD.com, blood vessels nourish the cells in the hair bulb and deliver the hormones responsible for common modifications of hair that occur at different stages of your natural life. Graying hair or change of texture and density are common as we age.

It is the hair bulb that has a mass of nerve endings. These are the source of the pain you feel when someone pulls your hair. They do not travel along the length of the hair shaft, which is why you don’t feel pain when your hair is cut. That part of your hair is actually dead.

Those nerve endings are also responsible for the goose bump feeling you get or even the ability to notice when someone has brushed up against your locks when you aren’t looking.

Sebaceous glands: our built-in oil refinery.

Responsible for keeping your skin and hair moist, the sebaceous gland is a sac that is located in the skin. It produces an oil called sebum, which empties into the duct of the follicle. This provides lubrication and moisture as the hair shaft grows up to maturity.

Not all sebaceous glands produce oil at the same rate. Another dictate of genetics, a person can expect anywhere from dry, moderate, oily and very oily effects from this gland’s output. See TODO The sebaceous gland: Oil shortage or overdrive for more information.

Also not uncommon are variations in the amount of secretion throughout the anatomy of any one person. If you’ve ever experienced dry scalp but have an oily T-zone on your face, you’ll understand completely.

Sometimes your hair follicle can be blocked with dead skin cells. When that occurs, the sebaceous gland doesn’t know to stop production so sebum fills up the duct and a plug forms. If you’ve ever had hair bumps, or acne, this is an example of your blocked follicles at work.

On the plus side, sebum is responsible for protecting the body from bacteria, while keeping moisture locked in.  When it finds its way to the scalp, or epidermis, it begins to perform this protective role. Vitamin A is reported to be beneficial with sebum production and may be important if you’re trying to have a more supportive relationship with your sebaceous glands.

There is much more to our hair than meets the eye. This broad overview is intended to start the journey, unwrapping the mysteries that both confuse and astound us, as we go.

This exploration is far from over. Check back with us as we continue to share more educational content in this series.

If you happened to learn something that you didn’t already know, please leave a comment sharing how we blew your mind today. Even if your mind wasn’t blown, if you were alerted to something new, we’d love to hear from you.

What is Trichology (And When You Should See a Trichologist)


Dr. Linda Amerson - Trichologist Dr. Linda Amerson, founder of hairandscalpessentials.com performs a microscopic assessment.

http://scene-chicago.com/scene/index.php/alopecia-totalis-awareness-by-dr-linda-amerson/ Trichologist Dr. Linda Amerson, founder of hairandscalpessentials.com performs a microscopic assessment.

Trichology is the science of the hair and scalp, their structures, diseases and functions. Every stylist should have a decent foundation in trichology, even if you’re the stylist working on your own hair.  And if you’re aspiring to be a hair genius, there’s no way around trichology!

For example, if you’re trying out a new style you’ve seen on YouTube, it’s important to know your hair type as compared to the hair type of the vlogger, right? If you have Type 3 hair, it isn’t going to do what Type 4 hair can do, and vice versa. Well, hair typing is only a very, very small part of trichology, as it deals with hair structure.

Hair structure also has to do with the components of the hair, such as the hair cuticle and hair cortex. With regard to the scalp, there is the hair root, the hair follicle and the surrounding supportive structures.

Why is this important? Knowledge of the structure of the hair and scalp lays the foundation for understanding their function. The healthy structures and proper functioning of the hair and scalp, in turn, help trichologists recognize the disease state, when it occurs.

Hair conditions usually start with the scalp. If the scalp isn’t doing its job correctly, there may be some obstructions to the hair growing out properly, and hair loss or hair breakage could be the end result. Alopecia fall into this category. 

However, there are scalp ailments that affect the hair only as secondary symptoms when left untreated, like dandruff.

So the scalp is very important. We’ll talk more about the scalp and its disease states a little later.

History of Trichology

If you thought a trichologist was a hair specialist, you’re right, literally. The “trich” part of trichology started off as “trikhos” in Greek, which means hair.

It looks like the British of the early 1900s thought “trich” sounded way better than “capillum,” which is Latin for hair. Capillum-ology is definitely a mouthful for “the science of hair.” And of course it had to sound scientific, not like hair-ology…

Speculation aside, para-medical (non-physician) hair science practitioners have been called trichologists since 1902. This is the year when the landmark College for Diseases of the Hair was founded in Britain. It would later be known as The Institute of Trichologists, as it is still called today.

And why did they go through all the trouble of founding such an institute? It’s simple: to beat hair loss.

Why Do People See a Trichologist?

Primarily, folks go to a trichologist because their hair is falling out. Ideally, a person with the symptoms of hair loss will go to a trichologist right away. Unfortunately, not many people know what the symptoms are. (The symptoms of hair loss are listed below, under Conditions That Affect the Hair.)

On the other hand, a person might go to a trichologist if they have itchy, burning scalp or  dandruff that’s way out of control.

In other words, if the problem isn’t super obvious, like hair that’s already falling out, or scalp that needs a brillo pad to scratch, we don’t usually look up a specialist.

It’s better to visit a trichologist when you first notice continued symptoms, than to wait until the issue develops into something that affects your social life and tampers with your self esteem – hair loss.

What Does a Trichologist Treat?

A trichologist treats the hair and scalp conditions mentioned above, and many others. Here are the main categories.

Conditions That Affect the Hair

With regards to the hair, a trichologist looks into the causes behind hair breakage, hair miniaturization (thinning in diameter) and hair thinning in density. All of these can be precursors to hair loss. A trichologist should be able to tell you which of these are:

  • Leading to hair loss
  • Standalone conditions not leading to hair loss
  • Due to genetics, and leading to hair loss
  • Symptoms of an internal medical issue, such as a hormonal imbalance, which may or may not lead to hair loss, depending on the condition.

So yes, it’s complicated. That’s why a trichologist is a specialist.

If the trichologist determines the hair symptoms you are experiencing i.e., breakage, miniaturization or thinning, are due to a form of alopecia/hair loss, or not, she will treat you accordingly.

Below are the different types of alopecias. Each alopecia originates in the hair follicles of the scalp.

Included are notes on the alopecias that greatly affect African American women.

  1. Cicatricial, or scarring, alopecias. Unfortunately, scarring alopecias are synonymous with  permanent hair loss.Note: Out of the different kinds of cicatricial alopecias, one form, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA), affects 30-40% of black women. It begins at the top or crown of the head. Like other forms of cicatricial alopecias, once the hair is shed, the loss is permanent.Note: Frontal fibrosing alopecia is another cicatricial alopecia that affects black women. With this, the hairline recedes and leaves scarring.Hair chemicals and tension are possible causes for both of these scarring alopecias.
  2. Noncicatricial – non-scarring alopecias. This can be genetic, female pattern hair loss, which is characterized by hair loss in the crown for women. If the cause isn’t genetic, non-scarring alopecias usually have an underlying medical reason.
  3. Diffuse alopecias. These instances of heavy breakage or shedding can be caused by underlying health issues or chemotherapy.
  4. Trauma alopecias. This signifies some type of physical harm done to the hair or scalp.Note: Traction alopecia, breakage and hair loss around the scalp margin due to tension and inflammation of the hair follicles, falls into this category. Approximately 1/3 of African American women have traction alopecia due to chemical and style-related trauma like relaxers and tight braids. Traction alopecia does not usually signify permanent hair loss, but if the traction continues, it can lead to it.

While the word alopecia means hair loss, normally the hair doesn’t fall out right away. Instead it passes through different stages of breaking, miniaturization and thinning until it eventually falls out. If your hair is already falling out by the time you visit a trichologist, you may have already reached the latter stages of the condition that’s causing it.

Conditions That Primarily Affect the Scalp

Scalp conditions are different from alopecias, but conditions like dry scalp can cause hair loss or slowed hair growth as secondary symptoms, if left untreated. If allowed, some scalp conditions can cause hair loss.

Notes are again added to indicate issues that pertain to African American women, specifically.

  1. Seborrheic dermatitis. Also known as seborrheic eczema, seborrheic dermatitis is the most common form of dandruff and is caused by a genetic sensitivity to malassezia yeast.Note: This dandruff, characterized by greasy scales, affects people of different races equally. However, there are differentiated treatments for people of African descent, owing to the dry nature of our hair that isn’t shampooed as frequently as the hair of other ethnicities.
  2. Irritant or contact dermatitis. Skin-irritating chemicals found in relaxers and some shampoos, conditioners and other hair treatments can cause itchy, dry scalp and flakes. Depending on the severity, inflammation and pustules may also develop. Irritation can also be caused by excessive heat used near the scalp, or cold and dryness in the environment.Note: Dry scalp, which is so rampant in the black community, is sometimes a manifestation of irritant dermatitis. This may be due to a single cause, or a combination of irritating product chemicals, excessive heat used during styling and living in cold and dry climates.
  3. Psoriasis. This is an autoimmune condition that is characterized, in the scalp, by small, dry, silvery flakes attached to the skin. It is believed to be primarily a genetic condition that has environmental triggers, like stress.
  4. Pityriasis amiantacea. These are layers of scales that adhere to the hairs. This is usually accompanied by the presence of staphylococcus bacteria. In other words, it is a staph infection.
  5. Folliculitis. This is the infection and inflammation of hair follicles.Note: The form known as folliculitis keloidalis primarily affects black men, and at times black women, in the occipital area at the back of the scalp. This is believed to be caused by the sensitive nature of the occipital area of the scalp combined with the use of hair clippers.
  6. Acne miliaris necrotica is a sparse form of acne of the hair follicles.
  7. Ringworm of the scalp, or tinea capitis, is a circular fungal infection that can cause hair breakage and loss in the area.Note: Scalp ringworm likes dark, damp conditions. So if you’re protective styling, don’t leave the style in past the recommended time period, and make sure your scalp dries thoroughly when you cleanse it.

As mentioned above, it’s important to note that untreated scalp conditions can trigger others. For example, when scratched, the itchy flakes of seborrheic dermatitis, irritant dermatitis and psoriasis can develop into a bacterial infection of the scalp – pityriasis amiantacea. Irritant/contact dermatitis can develop into hair loss.

Time for Trichology Q&A!

Q. Can’t hair loss just be treated with natural remedies? When there are oils around that can help stop hair loss and encourage hair growth, like castor oil, why is a trichologist even needed?

A. If you choose to use natural remedies, remember that there is often more power in a formula that contains multiple hair growth and scalp health ingredients.

Another reason to see a trichologist is that if you have alopecia, there might be an underlying health condition behind it. Hair loss can be battled with natural formulas. But any underlying medical condition should be identified, also, to ensure the war is won.

A trichologist will team up with a medical doctor, or refer you to another specialist, if he or she suspects there to be an underlying medical condition.

Q. What happens at a trichologist visit?

A. Of course, a trichologist will examine your hair and scalp. A trichologist also looks at hair and scalp conditions holistically, so you can expect questions that will help the trichologist determine whether your personal environment and genetics are affecting your hair and scalp.

After the trichologist completes the evaluation, treatment may be suggested or dietary and lifestyle advice offered that will improve the state of your hair and scalp.

Q. What is the difference between a trichologist and a dermatologist?

A. A trichologist is a licensed specialist, but not a medical doctor. A dermatologist is a medical doctor that can practice  trichology, when necessary, but may not have the same level of experience dealing with hair and scalp issues as a trichologist would.

A trichologist can only recommend over the counter medication. A dermatologist can prescribe medication or perform biopsies or other medical procedures.

Do Natural Trichologists Exist?

Yes! Many sell their own anti-hair loss/healthy scalp product regimens online. Others even focus on black hair.

Trichologist Dr. Linda Amerson and HaircareEssentials.com, Arlington, Texas

Dr. Linda Amerson specializes in black hair. Visits can be scheduled through her website and Dr. Amerson’s products are also available for sale there.

Patou Salon And Spa, Washington, DC

French owner of Patou Salon and Spa, trichologist Patou Castay, gives free trichology examinations with every salon appointment. She also crafts relaxers and other products with botanicals and lower percentages of hair straightening chemicals.

Trichologist Lisa Akbari of Lisa Akbari Salon, Memphis TN

Lisa Akbari sells natural products and regimen kits, does hair consultations and offers natural hair licensing. Check out her radio show Ask the Hair Doctor!

The Trichology Clinic at TrichOOrganics, Westmeath, Ireland

TrichOOrganics owns the Davines brand of organic hair products, including the NaturalTech line that complements their trichology practice. Luckily Naturaltech is also sold in the U.S.

Trichologist David Satchell at the Eucaderm Hair Loss Clinic, Eastbourne, UK

David Satchell treats patients using his all natural, hand-crafted products and vitamin supplements for the hair and scalp. His products are sold internationally. There’s a marvellous selection of testimonials on his site. Having practiced trichology for some 40 years, Mr. Satchell is convinced that natural regimens work better than medicinal prescriptions.

Are you are experiencing unusual hair breakage, hair loss or hair miniaturization? Does your scalp itch, burn or flake? See a trichologist as soon as possible!

If you’ve already been to one, share with our readers what recommendations you received in the comments. You can help us spread the word about trichology and give hope to others suffering from hair loss by sharing this article on social media.

What are Malaysian Hair Extensions

What are Malaysian Hair Extensions and, when the ethnicity of hair matters

We’ve walked you through Brazilian hair and Peruvian hair extensions.

Now we’re back again talking to you about Malaysian human hair. You’ve read all of our articles on hair extensions yet still have lingering questions on how to distinguish between all of these types of hair. I don’t know anything about my own hair and even less about  hair on somebody else’s head, you say. We heard you politely make the point that you’ve never even been to Brazil or Peru, and now we’re sending you to Malaysia? For what? Hair?  You weren’t trying to be rude or anything, it’s just that honestly, why do they have to turn a simple weave into rocket science?

Hair extension gurus know how to easily switch from Brazilian to Peruvian, to Malaysian, and back again, in the twinkling of an eye. But even you gurus were once in her shoes. So, hopefully you can still relate.  Besides, you probably know someone in this same situation and it’s always a positive thing to share your knowledge, particularly if it will help someone.

A lot of people will tell you to only shop Brazilian virgin hair because it’s top quality. Though this is true, don’t turn your nose up  at Malaysian virgin hair just yet. In fact, before you hate on it, contemplate this:

Malaysian virgin is another type of hair extension or weave that’s popular on the market right

alongside Brazilian and Peruvian. As the name suggests, it comes from the south-east Asian country of Malaysia. What’s important here is that Malaysian virgin hair holds its own right up there with the others. It’s one of the best quality hair extensions available.  It’s the extension of choice for women who like low-maintenance hair that looks authentic and retains this authenticity over time.

The hair extension itself was invented by an American hairdresser named Christina Jenkins.  When it comes to weaves, the ethnicity of the hair, meaning its source, is a very important consideration because certain features and characteristics including texture and lustre (among others) can be peculiar to each type of virgin hair.

Key Characteristics of Malaysian Virgin Hair

Long curl life: Curls are long-lasting and don’t require extra products in order to maintain them.

Extremely silky and soft, with high natural luster: This is a very prominent characteristic. Added to this is its long life-span .

Low maintenance:  Because of its density, Malaysian remy hair extensions need less washing compared to other kinds of virgin hair, and can be reused over and over again while retaining its softness, smoothness, and fullness of texture.

Exceptional strength: This is one of the strongest types of virgin hair available, which is why it holds curls so well.

Highly voluminous and luxuriously thick: Malaysian virgin hair is your best bet when volume and thickness are critical. For example, go Malaysian if your hair is thin and needs an extra boost of  volume. It provides beautiful bounce and dense body.

But let’s be honest, these hair extensions are not cheap, and with so many types of virgin hair out there, you want to make sure that you know what you’re buying, how to care for it, and above all, that it works well for your hair and the look or looks that you’re trying to achieve.

Malaysian hair extensions come in 7 types:

Malaysian Virgin Remy Straight Hair – beautiful shine; long and sleek

Maylasian hair from samsbeauty.com


Malaysian Natural Wave Hair – delicate and light-weight, natural shine

julia-new-arrival-malaysian-natural-wave-human-vigin-hair-8-26inch-natural-color-human-hair-weave FROM juliahair.com


Malaysian Body Wave Hair – silky to touch, holds wavy curls beautifully

Ms Lula Hair Unprocessed Malaysian Virgin Hair Body Wave 3 Bundles 100g pc Cheap Malaysian Body


Deep Wave Malaysian Hair Weave – naturally flowing curl pattern; easily styled into wet and wavy

4pcs lot MSLULA Malaysian Deep Wave Hair Extension Virgin Curly Weave Human Hair Bundles Rosa Hair


Malaysian Deep Curly Hair –  strong, long-lasting, S curl pattern

honey blonde malaysian hair bundles 3pcs


Kinky Curly Malaysian Weave – tangle-free; tight, thick, neat curls

6A Malaysian Virgin Hair 3 Pcs Malaysian Kinky Curly 100 Unprocessed Human Hair Weaves Malaysian Curly


Afro Kinky Curly Malaysian Weave – bouncy and shiny, one-directional cuticles

ombre malaysian virgin afro kinky curly hair


With Malaysian virgin hair you have a plethora of style options

Be adventurous and keep experimenting until you find the looks that compliment you best:

msbeauty-weave-hair-malaysian-hair-grade-7a-remy-hair-extensions-virgin-straight-hair-products_p_269.html from msbeautyhair.com

http://www.msbeautyhair.com/malaysian/straight-wave/msbeauty-weave-hair-malaysian-hair-grade-7a-remy-hair-extensions-virgin-straight-hair-products_p_269.html Malaysian Remy Straight Hair – bone-straight, long and sexy




Malaysian Natural Wave Hair - looking the part - authentic, strong and glamorous

http://www.hairgawdess.com/wavy/15-malaysian-natural-wave.html Malaysian Natural Wave Hair – looking the part – authentic, strong and glamorous

Malaysian Body Wave Hair - feminine appeal, natural-looking

https://www.noxuhair.com/products/malaysian-body-wave Malaysian Body Wave Hair – feminine appeal, natural-looking


Deep Wave Malaysian Virgin Hair -  helps in your quest for a more youthful appearance

https://www.omgqueen.com/deep-wave-natural-color-high-quality-silk-base-lace-wigs-malaysian-virgin-hair-msw04 Deep Wave Malaysian Virgin Hair –  helps in your quest for a more youthful appearance

Malaysian Deep Curly Hair - power look;  combines beauty with a lustrous sheen   - Ali Bele Malaysian Deep Curly With Frontal 7A Mink Malaysian Virgin Hair Deep Wave Curly Lace

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Bele-Virgin-Hair-Malaysian-Deep-Curly-With-Frontal-Closure-mink-Malaysian-Virgin-Hair-Lace-Frontal-Closure/32708789514.html Malaysian Deep Curly Hair – power look;  combines beauty with a lustrous sheen


Malaysian Kinky Curly Hair - kinky yet feminine; cool-as-a-cucumber appeal - Amazing 7a Malaysian Kinky Curly Hair Weave 4 Bundles 18 Inch Curly Human Hair Weave Discount

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Amazing-Hair-7a-Malaysian-Kinky-Curly-Hair-Weave-4-Bundles-18-Inch-Curly-Human-Hair-Weave/32703352604.html Malaysian Kinky Curly Hair – kinky yet feminine; cool-as-a-cucumber appeal


Afro Kinky Curly Malaysian - In-your-face bold; hair that speaks - Malaysian Kinky Curly Hair 3 Bundles Curly Hair Weave Afro Kinky Curly Hair Malaysian Virgin Hair

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Malaysian-Kinky-Curly-Hair-3-Bundles-Short-Curly-Weave-Afro-Kinky-Curly-Hair-Malaysian-Virgin-Hair/32691833816.html Afro Kinky Curly Malaysian – In-your-face bold; hair that speaks

Now that you’re armed with some inspiration, the next thing to do is gain an understanding of how to install and remove your weave. If you can install Peruvian virgin hair, then removing Malaysian hair will be just as easy.

How To Uninstall Your Malaysian Hair Weave

Care & Styling Tips for Malaysian Virgin Hair Extensions

  • A lot of people don’t like it when their hair shines too much. Remember that Virgin Malaysian hair takes on a more natural look and lustre after the second or third wash.
  • Due to its natural shine and luster, using oils on Malaysian virgin hair can make it look fake.
  • Since Malaysian hair is endowed with thickness, it easily takes on a dry appearance, so it’s important to keep it properly moisturized.
  • Avoid drying your hair with high heat. Instead, air dry it as much as possible.
  • Protect your hair by wrapping it before you go to bed. Malaysian virgin hair is not known to tangle. Treat it well and you won’t get any bad surprises.

Benefits of using Malaysian Hair Extensions

  • Malaysian hair blends very well with relaxed hair.
  •  Malaysian wavy hair is great for women of African/Afro-Caribbean descent.
  • Malaysian virgin hair blends very well with African-American hair
  • Available in shades ranging from dark brown to natural off black.
  • Curls remain firmly intact, even after 2 or 3 washes.
  • Because it’s virgin hair, Malaysian hair suffers very little shedding and is tangle free

You have a right to look beautiful in your weave, so don’t let anybody force a look or weave on you, just because they use it and it works for them. If you’ve made up your mind to go for a  Malaysian weave, think about what sort of look you want, and one that matches your personality and dress style.

Next, consider which type would help create that look – Malaysian curly hair, straight, kinky, or even wavy, for example.

Decide on a method of installation. We talked about this in our article on Peruvian hair. Once you’ve installed your Malaysian hair, concentrate on proper care and maintenance to ensure you get the longevity out of your weave that Malaysian virgin hair is known for.

When it comes to styling your Malaysian virgin hair, the sky is your limit. As far as you can imagine, you can create it. Stay inspired through the tons of resources on our hair talk blog right here at your fingertips.

Do you have a question or a comment? Tell us. We want to hear from you.

What are Peruvian hair extensions

Is A Peruvian Weave Worth Trying?

Nina: A never ending barrage… That’s all it is. People assume just because you’re black, you ought to know everything about black hair.

But the reality is that there are many of us out there who are black. or have hair that acts black and we do want to evolve and experiment with our locks, but we can’t. Why? Because we just don’t know how, period!

To complicate things, on one hand they tell you Brazilian hair is excellent quality, and in the same breath they swear that Peruvian virgin hair is the best for your hair. So if everything is so excellent, how am I supposed to know which is which? How do I even know who to believe?

In fact Nina, while you’re putting your honesty on front street, you admit you can count the number of times you’ve been tempted to try a Peruvian hair weave, but then chickened out when you realized just how little you know about hair extensions, and your own hair in general.

All you really want is  some reliable advice that’s simple, clear and googleable.

BHS: We totally get you Nina.  Believe us when we tell you that we do understand. Even Einstein started from somewhere, so you can too.  But calm down and stop ranting. Grab a coffee. Take a power sip, and read on.

The first thing you need to know is what we mean by hair extensions. These are artificial hair integrations that add length and fullness to human hair  You attach them in different ways that include clipping, taping bonding or micro linking them onto your own hair.

We’re not asking you to go there, but just know that Peruvian virgin hair comes from the South American country of Peru. What is important to know is that the hair extension itself was invented and patented in the 1950s by an African-American hairdresser named Cristina Jenkins.

Nina, don’t let anybody confuse you. Virgin Brazilian hair is NOT the only quality hair extension out there. Depending on your hair texture, structure and preferences, some even prefer Peruvian virgin hair to Brazilian virgin hair. If you’re highlighting as you read, note that:

Virgin Peruvian hair is one of the best types of hair extensions on the market. 

Characteristics of Peruvian Virgin Hair:

  1. Coarseness – It’s mostly negative whenever we think of the word coarse. But Peruvian hair is dense and coarse, meaning  it blends more easily with your hair. This is one of its biggest pluses.  It’s also coarser than Brazilian and Indian hair.  Again due to its coarseness,  Peruvian hair works very well with thicker hair.
  2. Manageability – Hair is shiny and can be styled in many different ways. It’s easy to color, and holds curls extremely well. This is very important for those who prefer a curly look.
  3. Virgin Peruvian hair is durable and combines the strength and body of Brazilian hair, and the smoothness of European hair. 
  4. Volume –  Provides incredible volume, yet still lightweight and soft enough to retain its beautiful, silky texture.
  5. Easy Maintenance – Can still look presentable even during those busy times when we tend to not care for our hair the way we should.  As long as you follow the care instructions, virgin Peruvian hair does not stress you by shedding and tangling.

Ok. Here’s a common scenario: You know lots of women who wear a Peruvian weave, and it rocks on them. You’ve heard a lot of positive things and since personal testimonies are the best, you’re sold on the  Peruvian weave. That’s the one you want because you like it.

Nothing wrong with that, but before you sprint out and spend your hard earned money, pause. What kind of Peruvian hair extension would be best for you or more importantly, for your hair?

Types of Peruvian Hair Extensions

Peruvian hair comes in 3 types

Peruvian straight: beautiful, long-lasting shine and luster

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Peruvian wavy: looks and feels really natural when touched, more so than even Brazilian or Indian hair.

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Peruvian curly hair:  easy to maintain; good choice to give you that youthful, fresh look.

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Peruvian virgin hair extensions  – silky soft and natural-looking with lustrous bounce-back body –  great for African-American hair textures. 

Regardless of the kind of Peruvian hair extensions you choose, these short videos will show you:

How To Install A Peruvian Weave  

Peruvian hair – full sew in weave

Peruvian hair – seamless quick weave install  

Peruvian full weave braid-in bundles – no glue, thread or clips

Know What Hair Extensions You’re Buying

What does Virgin Peruvian hair look like when you purchase it?

Peruvian deep wave hair with frontal closure

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Fourteen inch straight natural color Peruvian hair clip hair

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Peruvian hair bundles

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Peruvian virgin hair drawstring

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Whether you’re just starting out with weaves or even if you’re a seasoned adventurer when it comes to styling, virgin Peruvian hair gives you lots of elbow room for look, style and even color. Remember that your look is not just about hair. Partner your choice of hair extension and style, with your skin undertone, face-shape,  eye-color, and makeup. It’s the total look that counts.

Be Inspired to Explore

Peruvian straight hair – jet black with bangs – striking contrast with hair and lip color

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Peruvian curly virgin hair – kinky flame candy color with graded roots; fuses flawlessly with skin tone

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Peruvian body wave hair – slick & shine; for that feminine, reliable go-to look

Cheap Peruvian Body Wave Lace Front Human Hair Wigs For Black Women 130 Density Peruvian Virgin.jpg 640x640


Peruvian virgin wavy rocks!

Common FAQs About Peruvian Hair Extensions

Q: I’m starting to understand, but still a little confused. What are the differences between Peruvian hair extensions and Brazilian hair extensions?

A: Compared to Brazilian hair, Peruvian hair is more coarse. It can come in light brown, deep brown or darker colors. Although both have similar characteristics, Peruvian hair is  known to withstand varying degrees of temperature better and tends to curl more when wet. Also, because of its natural fullness and body, fewer bundles are needed for a full installation.

Q: I was told to look for a hair color that matches the skin undertone – warm, cool or neutral.  What colors are available?
A: Peruvian hair is available in many colors. These include:

  • Black
  • Dark Brown
  • Medium Brown
  • Red

Q: What are the differences between Peruvian wavy, curly, and straight?A: Good question. Here’s what you should know:

  • Peruvian curly hair has a characteristic tight wavy pattern, which is why it’s often steam curled.
  • Peruvian wavy hair is your best bet if you want looser waves that are not as tight or curly as Peruvian curly hair.
  • Peruvian straight hair has a silky smooth feel and is typically straight.

Q: I live in a hot and humid climate.  I was told that Peruvian hair is one of the best options. Is this true?

A: Absolutely. Durability in hot and humid conditions is one of the strongest qualities of Peruvian virgin hair.

Peruvian Hair & Ethnicity

  • blends well with almost all hair types
  • blends perfectly with African American, relaxed and natural hair
  • particularly well- suited for Afro-Caribbean hair and textures

Care & Styling Tips For Peruvian Virgin Hair Extensions

  • Resists sun and heat damage, but remember that it does have a tendency to curl slightly when it’s wet. This means you might need to straighten it a little after styling.
  • Though strong and durable, it’s important to wash and moisturize Peruvian hair regularly.
  • Due to its rich, deep color, it can be can be dyed without losing its shine and hair quality.
  • When styling, use a heat protector to promote hair longevity and prevent it from frizzing, especially in humid temperatures.
  • For straight Peruvian hair weaves, brushing is best done with a paddle brush.  You should brush your hair regularly (at least in the morning, and before going to sleep).
  • For curly Peruvian hair weaves, brushing is best done with your fingers or with a wide tooth finger comb.  Remember to start from the tips of the hair and work your way towards the roots and scalp.
  • Use a pre-conditioning treatment before shampooing, to lock in as much moisture  as possible in the hair.
  • Wash your hair extensions once per week or once every two weeks.   Before washing, make sure the hair is  brushed and tangle free.

A lot of people just go straight out and purchase a Brazilian weave because their friends say it’s the best. Yet isn’t it  interesting that what is really best is often subjective?  Even when this isn’t the case, every individual’s experience with hair extensions is unique.

So, rather than take a hit and miss approach and purchase based on hearsay or friend-say, why not invest some time and digest what you’ve learned here on BHS, about Peruvian and other types of hair weaves. This way, even if  you’re new to hair extensions, or just considering trying something different, you can do so armed with the info that you need to make the best hair decisions for YOU.

We’re here to help you every step of the way. We’ve created some very informative articles to help you gain a better understanding of virgin hair extensions, as well as other resources to help you take better care of your hair in general.

You know what they say: Ask and ye shall receive. So, even after reading these articles, you might still need some more info to help you decide whether to go for a curly, wavy or straight Peruvian weave.

Questions? Just ask. We’re right here and you will get an answer.  BHS is our nest. We live and breathe black hair. So track us, and stay connected. We’re hair for you.


What is a Jheri Curl

Is the Jheri Curl Coming back?

The Jheri curl was an invention of Jheri Redding, a white entrepreneur and chemist from Chicago, who saw fame in reinventing the curly perm for black people. A curly perm, or permanent, is the process of permanently curling straight European hair. Redding probably thought to himself that since we were already chemically straightening our hair, a curly perm would give us more variety and less breakage.

In a way he was right, but the dream was temporary. Some say Rhedding invented the Jheri curl process, and others ran with it. Others claim that he also created the Jheri curl, as a product, but it was only available in exclusive salons for people like Luther Vandross, Ice Cube and Donna Summers.

Whatever the case may be, the most popular Jheri curl back then was the Carefree Curl, made by black-owned Softsheen, which is now owned by L’Oreal. The Carefree Curl was readily accessible to all who could afford it, and is still available for salon purchasing and application today.

This is how a Carefree Curl was applied:

Getting a Carefree Curl done took 4-6 hours, as some of the stages took an hour to complete.

  1. A thioglycolate form of permanent straightening was applied to the hair in the form of a cream.
  2. Once the hair bonds have been broken and the hair was bone straight, the cream was rinsed out.
  3. The hair was then rolled using perm rods. During this process, another thioglycolate substance, this time a liquid, was added to the hair. This aided the process of rearranging the bonds inside the hair to make the original curl pattern like the pattern of  the perm rod.

Some perm rods are as small as an 1/8th of an inch, and the big ones are an inch and a half. Therefore, you could get teeny tight curls or big loopy curls as part of the Jheri curl process. Whether you had hair that was one inch long or down the middle of your back, you could get curls, curls and more curls.

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  1. A plastic bag was put on the hair, and the person went underneath a hair dryer to set the curls.
  2. After the hair was thoroughly dry, and the person’s head was on fire from the chemicals and the heat, the thioglycolate solution was again added to the hair and left for some time.
  3. The hair was rinsed while still in the rollers, and a neutralizing solution was applied.
  4. The neutralizer was also rinsed out and Carefree Curl conditioner and activator were  added to the new curls.

The Carefree Curl also came with an at-home regimen that included:

  • How to use the leave-in conditioner and curl activator and how often to apply them.
  • The method of using a shower cap to hydrate the hair.
  • Relaxers on top of the curl were forbidden. Heat tools were huge risks for breakage.
  • The regimen was kept up until the following appointment, 2-3 months later.
  • Depending on the stylist, you were threatened with what seemed like life or death hair consequences, if you didn’t use the curl activator daily and other products weekly.

It’s hard to say how many stylists overdid this advice, but judging by the rampant greasiness that was around… probably a great many.

In retrospect, however, the advice wasn’t far from being sound. After all, the stylist was the one who knew exactly how much damage your hair had sustained! And as mentioned above, the damage would eventually manifest.

Once the Carefree Curl began to be associated with greasy, smelly hair, breakage and parodies we moved on. It wasn’t until decades later that Jheri curls made a comeback.

What was old is new again

As a style, the Jheri curl comeback happened years ago. And a lot of us have been working with our curl patterns trying heartily to reinvent this distinctive, curl popping look.

But if you ever had an actual Jheri curl in the 80s, the very thought that a wash and go might have taken its inspiration from the Jheri curl might give you some shocking flashback.

The Jheri curl style of yesteryear.

https://giphy.com/explore/jheri-curl The Jheri curl style of yesteryear.


The Jheri curl style of today.t

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCPMkEnIiOQ The Jheri curl style of today.

We have different names for things now, so it may not have hit you what was happening the first time you got your curls to pop. But you may have seen killer curl definition on someone else and said, “Hmn. That kinda looks like a Jheri curl…”

If you had one of the most popular and most taunted African American hairstyles, it can take a while to own up to the fact that it’s back.

The New, Modern Jheri Curls

Today, there are a variety of ways to get popping curls and ringlets. None are greasy and dripping, unless you want them to be.

These are listed in order of the degree of harsh chemicals used, so the natural wash and go comes first.

The Wash and Go

To get great curl definition on natural hair and avoid permanent processing, try a wash and go. The wash and go caters to our desire for volume, whereas curly perms tend to be more flat.

However, the name “wash and go” is misleading, because you can hardly just wash your hair and head out the door with this styling method.

The main product used in a wash and go is a curl definer, usually a gel. Here’s how to choose a great curl definer.

Have a look at vlogger Chizi Duru going to a salon for her wash and go.

Here’s vlogger Mini Marley with a looser curl texture, doing her own wash and go.

But even with all the effort, not everyone’s hair clumps and defines readily. Different wash and go regimens have been developed to help define all textures, including the Curly Girl Method and the Maximum Hydration Method.

S Curl and Other Texturizers

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In the wake of the expensive, $100-$300 Jheri curl varieties that were done in salons came cheap home kits that served the same function. These are texturizers, like the S Curl, which are milder forms of relaxers that break the hair bonds only enough to loosen kinks into curls. Texturizers are not as harsh as curly perms and full-strength relaxers. They require no perm rods, and are sometimes only semi-permanent.

S Curl


Soft & Beautiful Botanicals Texturizer

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These are just two examples of texturizers. There are many, many others. Men and women tend to use the same texturizer products. Vlogger Laddie Symone used the Botanicals texturizer on a man in the video below.

Texturizing with a Relaxer (Texlax)

Relaxer processing can be timed for a shorter time period to perform like a texturizer. Texlax-ing is a DIY process using a home relaxer, but leaving it in for less time. Texlaxing can help you transition from relaxed hair to natural hair by having a barrier of hair in between that is a blend of the two. This helps relieve tension on the point where the relaxed hair and natural hair meet, and can lessen breakage for that reason.

Here’s how vlogger Curly Monroe texlaxed her natural hair, and what her results looked like.

Modern Curly Perms

It’s a good thing that none of the curly perms in use today use heat on top of chemical processing. That horribly damaging process is history.

The New and Improved Gina Curl – Curly Perm

Gina Rivera’s hair salon Hair’s Talent in East Haven, Connecticut has its own version of the curly perm for black hair. BHS is impressed by the amount of care the Hair’s Talent salon gives to black hair, and Gina’s commitment to the health and growth of our tresses.

What sets the Gina Curl apart from other curly perms is that the ingredients are based on the slightly less harsh Japanese Thermal Reconditioning system. In addition, the Gina Curl supplements with very conditioning products.

However, the biggest distinguishing factor of the Gina Curl is how she uses the perm rods. In order to minimize breakage, she rolls using the piggyback method. By having a smaller perm rod cover the “line of demarcation” between chemically treated hair and natural hair while doing a touch up the curly perm process, Gina greatly reduces the possibility of hair breakage.

The piggyback method helps clients to go for extended periods without another touch up. Most only visit her salon twice a year.

She explains about piggybacking in this video:

The original Gina Curl used a two step process that only used a thioglycolate-based setting lotion and a neutralizer. Today, the New and Improved Gina Curl uses the full three-step curly perm process of the thioglycolate cream and setting lotion, and lastly the neutralizer.

Here is Gina showing a before and after of her curly perm method:

Wave Nouveau and Others

There are other curly perms designed for black hair like Ferm, Design Essentials Wave By Design, Wave Nouveau and Carefree Curl. There’s very little difference between these products. The Carefree Curl line and processing has changed a bit. There’s no heat used during processing and the aftercare ingredients have changed slightly.

The perm processing ingredients and treatment all use the same standard.

The following is the salon procedure of Design Essentials Wave By Design:

About the Jheri Curl Activator

Sometimes referred to as jheri curl juice, curl activators today are very similar products to the old juice. The difference is that the name “curl activator” isn’t used much anymore. The product makeup has changed slightly and other ingredients have been added.

The new curl activators contain drying ingredients like silicones and polyquaternium.

Is this a good thing? Here’s something to remember: The original activators contained little more than water, glycerin and mineral oil. Mineral oil isn’t a great ingredient, but it sealed in moisture. The overuse of the original activators actually became the key to having scalp that was so hydrated, the hair was jumping out of it. At the same time, misuse helped protect the damaged curly perm hair from breaking – up to a point.

It’s  important to note that, when used in moderation, curl activators will still help define a curly perm, but might not help grow hair and protect it from breakage the way activators used to when used in excess.

Curl activators today still used glycerin as a base, and that’s great, but glycerine only works well if the climate isn’t too dry. This is why when people try to substitute glycerin-based curl activators for curl definers like gel, they get mixed results in terms of hydration.

In the 1980’s, when people were soaking their heads with jheri curl juice, the moisture in the air hardly mattered. The quantity of product used made hydration a given.

The key to keeping curly permed hair healthy and moisturized might be the curl creams that are meant for natural hair and have natural and hydrating ingredients – including some with glycerin. Activators, curl definers and other products that have drying ingredients can make our hair suffer, especially if it has had 3-step chemical processing.

Then There’s Jheri Curl Hair…

Will you save loads of time by having a Jheri curl? In some ways you can and in some ways you can’t. You will certainly cut down on the time it takes to style your hair, but there is still a daily hair regimen involved.

If you want to save more time, you can get the curl definition of your dreams with jheri curl hair. Yes, that’s right: a Jheri curl weave or wig.

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Whichever method you choose, a Jheri curl, wash and go or  Jheri curl hair, it’s time to let your ringlets loose! Check us out for more style options, explained regularly.

‘Sis, colouring your natural hair won’t kill you’

What does #Kelis, #ChrisetteMichele and #ViolaDavis all have in common? #colouringnaturalhair #dyingnaturalhair Click To Tweet
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What does Kelis, Chrisette Michele and Viola Davis all have in common?

They took the brave step of colouring their natural hair and haven’t looked back since.

2017 has seen a plethora of naturalistas taking dyed natural hair to the next level. Curls and kinks with hues and ombres of blues, purples and reds have unapologetically graced the pages of hair magazines and vlogs, showing us that natural hair can be dyed, fly and taken care of- all at the same time. I’d like to share my qualms about colouring my hair and how colour ended up adding edge to my tresses.

Tamala Ceasar - saltbloguk.com

Tamala Ceasar – saltbloguk.com

What’s the big deal then?

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What scares you most about colouring your #kinks? Click To Tweet

When it comes to dying natural hair, I’ve come to realize that there are two camps of people:

  • You have group A who are the, “YOLO, I want to try something new and if it damages my hair, it’ll grow back!”
  • And you have group B who are the “Nope, not doing it! My friend’s sister coloured her hair and it broke off!…no thanks”

I was Group B and I too feared the worst when it came to colouring my hair after going natural five years ago. I was anti-heat, anti-chemicals and uneducated about hair colour and I was precious about my untouched tresses; purposely avoiding anything that would damage them. It also didn’t help that I kept seeing the after affects of very damaged natural hair on people in public and confirming my thoughts, “Nah, it’s not for me”.

Do your research

If you don’t ask, you won’t know….#asktheexperts #colour #naturalhair Click To Tweet

This summer everything changed. I got bored with my hair colour. I decided to push past the mental block of ‘colour being the killer to natural hair’ and did some research on different non-bleach colours. I watched YouTube video reviews on the:

  • Pros and cons of colouring natural hair,
  • The different types of henna dyes for natural hair
  • Tutorials on using the ombre method for natural hair
  • And the do’s and don’ts for colouring natural hair – as well as thoroughly quizzing my hairdresser Wendy like Steve Harvey on Family Feud.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way and I went from being the chair of group B, to a strong member of group A, simply because I researched, consulted a professional and fundamentally, I really wanted to give a new dimension to my hair and try something new.

Colour me brown…?

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Source:  Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

Mirror mirror on the wall who’s the most colourful of them all? #colouringnaturalhair #dyingnaturalhair Click To Tweet

There are so many colours to choose from when deciding what colour you want to dye your hair. I decided to go for different hues of honey blonde highlights throughout my medium length natural hair, because I wanted a subtle colour that wasn’t too far off from my natural hair colour- and I totally loved the results.

If you’re deciding to dye it during the summer, you might be inspired to go for more vibrant colours like deep oranges, honey blondes or balayage highlights and ombres. If it’s winter you may want to go for dying your tips a deep red, ginger gold, or a cool bluey/purple.

Start as you mean to go on

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Source:  Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

#FYI Just like a plant needs water, our hair needs moisture #colouringnaturalhair #dyingnaturalhair #moisture Click To Tweet

Moisture, a regular treatment and trim will be your best friends when you dye your hair, because the truth is your ends will be the driest they’ve ever been due to the colour (if you do decide to go down the bleach route) and so you’ll need to keep an eye for split ends.

If you’re still not sure after reading this, there’s no rush. Take your time, research and ask qualified hair professionals any questions that you may have. In the meantime, check out these videos from a selection of top YouTubers on the pros and con of dying, how-tos on achieving ombre tips and how to use henna to dye your gorgeous tresses (and the conditioning properties).

Pros + Cons | Should You Color Dye Your Natural Hair | HONEST Thoughts – Dearnaptural85

Dying My Ends with NO DAMAGE| Creme of Nature on Natural Hair – Honey Byte

Light Brown Henna (Blonde to Brunette) – Kia Jones

How To Do Cornrows

Am I too grown up to wear cornrows?

Cornrows have a special place in every black girl’s heart. Some of our mothers or grandmothers would call us on a Sunday afternoon to ‘bring the comb and the Dax (or blue magic)’ all the way from the living room and we immediately knew what time it was.

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Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

The rest of us would be taken to the local salon on a Saturday afternoon, where the braiding lady knew us by name (and would have us sit on a chair propped up with cushions) to then begin the prepping parting process on our tender heads, making swirls, curves or whatever simple or complex style that our mother’s or family members requested.

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Photo by Dc Lovensky on Unsplash

The former was always better than the latter because we knew that we’d be compensated with a treat from McDonalds or KFC during this visit, because we were (begrudgingly) there for most of the day.

Cornrows are for kids 

Are cornrows really just for kids? #Cornrows #Hairstyle #Blackhair #Naturalhair Click To Tweet

As a young child, I grew up knowing the ins and outs of my grandmother’s hair salon in the Caribbean. The scents of fruity shampoos, hot combs and the humming of dryers were an orchestra of familiar sounds that float up to the top of stairs and tickle my ears. I also learned that straight hair was for adults and plaits, cornrows and braids were for children –  with the exception of drop curls being a special hairstyle only done for a special occasion like a birthday or a wedding. 

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

When I got to high school age, cornrows became somewhat of a practicality and a lifeline, rather than a style though. Whilst everyone else was gelling down their perfectly swirled baby hairs (with a toothbrush of course), accompanied by a sweeping fringe and bun combo, my hair couldn’t do that and I was DIYing 6-8 ‘Set It Off’ Queen Latifah cornrows because it was a) easy to do and b) it meant that I didn’t have to touch my hair for at least another week.

Photo by Isi Akahome on Unsplash

Ok, so can I wear cornrows too? 

Who is responsible for bringing cornrows back #Alicia or #Beyonce ? // Is there an age when a woman should stop wearing cornrows? Click To Tweet

Even though cornrows have been a staple in the African community for centuries (one of the earliest African sculptures donning a cornrow style dating back to 500 bc), it took people like Alicia Keys, Beyonce’, hip hop rapper Lola Munroe and actress Regina King (along with a growing number of celebrities), to showcase to the world time and time again that cornrows are beautiful on all women of colour no matter how old they are.

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Photo by Michael Henein on Unsplash

When Alicia Keys came out with her first single ‘Fallin’ in 2001, where she wore cornrows and beads and Beyonce’ rocked her ‘Lemonade’ braids in 2016 in her iconic yellow dress, these women were making a statement. This statement unapologetically communicated to the western world that what was seen as ‘different’, ‘too black’, ‘untidy’ or ‘unprofessional’ was instead beautiful, traditional, creative and cultural, for us as black women. They were holding the door open, for other black women across the world to walk through and confidently wear their hair in whatever style they wanted by not letting stereotypes and opinions stop them- and it showed the rest of us, including me, that cornrows weren’t just for kids too.

Double standards?

True or false: “The 90s and mid noughties seemed to be the acceptable era where a man could wear cornrows and no one would bat an eyelid” #cornrows #naturalhair #menandcornrows #hairstyles #haveyoursay Click To Tweet

I’m not going to lie, there’s a weird double standard when it comes to adult men and women wearing cornrows. Women tend to get away with it, whilst unfortunately, men don’t.

The 90s and mid noughties seemed to be the acceptable era where a man could wear cornrows and no one would bat an eyelid as groups like Kris Kross and B2K, and rappers like 50 Cent and Ludacris were a big part of that trend.

Cornrows are usually seen as ‘cute’ on boys between the ages of 0 and 17. However society and the general black community responds to a man very differently when he is (still) wearing them post 25 (well unless he’s a footballer or Trey Songz).

For some very strange reason, it’s perceived as unattractive and childish. Rapper Chad Moss aka Bow Wow is the perfect example of this. In his early rapping days when he was a boy, he wore his signature cornrows. It showed his innocence and was a big part of his image; being the youngest rapper of SoSo Def. However, when he matured, his name and his image changed from wearing his signature cornrows to a clean shaven fade. The same goes for Mario and Lil Romeo too. Maybe on a man, cornrows are seen as an indication of immaturity rather than just a plain hairstyle?

Cornrows are here to stay

I think it’s safe to say cornrows are here to stay #Cornrows #Hairstyle #Blackhair #Naturalhair Click To Tweet

As soon as summer waved us goodbye and autumn took it’s reign, I knew that my hair required a protective style which tucked my ends nicely away, for the new season. In previous years my go-to hairstyle for the colder seasons would be my usual single twists or plaits, but this year, I got bored of the norm and wanted to try something different.

Since I BCed four years ago, I quickly learned that my hair and scalp didn’t agree too well to synthetic hair. Being someone who has never worn a weave or a wig (I know, I know), my scalp would react really badly to extensions and I’d end up taking it out within two weeks or doing the black girl pat (for the whole time) to ease the itch. It was like my hair just wanted me to leave it alone, I did exactly that, until I saw the absolutely gorgeous East African (namely Ethiopian) inspired cornrow hairstyles that were popping up on my instagram feed recently.

I was caught between two thoughts, the first being the ‘cornrows are for children and they make my hair itch’, (because in some way I felt like I outgrew them) and the second being ‘but I just want to try something new’. However, after seeing my favourite YouTubers choosing the braid life and the stunning hairstyles that Lola Munroe was rocking on her reality TV show The Platinum Life, I was sold.

Cornrows aren’t just for winter, they’re for life

Cornrows aren’t just for winter, they’re for life #Cornrows #Hairstyle #Blackhair #Naturalhair Click To Tweet

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Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Apart from being a protective style, cornrows are also widely associated with being ‘holiday hair’ because it requires little effort and allows you to just get up and go. However, since it’s made such a strong come back so far, much like box braids, I reckon it’s here to stay.

Whether you’re looking for a protective, low maintenance cornrow braid style that would suit your corporate or creative work environment (and a hairstyle that you can depend on throughout the seasons), there are so many cornrow hairstyles to choose from online. By googling ‘Cornrow styles’ ‘Cornrow braids’ or even ‘lemonade braids’, within seconds your computer screen will be flooded with pages upon pages of various cornrow styles to choose from .

It’s as easy as 1,2,3 right? How to do Cornrows

I would describe doing cornrows like jumping into a double dutch rope: it may seem complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy #Cornrows #Hairstyle #Blackhair #Naturalhair #123 #easy #tutorial #howto #DIY Click To Tweet

I would describe doing cornrows like jumping into a double dutch rope: it may seem complicated at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. I learned to cornrow at age 10 by my friend Natalie (who always wore really neat and pretty cornrows), because I wanted to be able to cornrow my own hair one day, plus it was a skill (which I learned later on) that every black girl should learn and master for her future kids (lol).

If you’re someone like me who knows how to braid your own hair or do cornrow braids, but you’re not quite skilled enough to pull off some of the styles you see online, you can always do what I did and screenshot an image of the style and take it to a recommended hairstylist who specialises in installing cornrows or cornrow braids.

If you’re a novice, but you’d like to learn how to do basic cornrows (without the extensions). Here are a few simple steps to get you started:

  1. Part the section you wish to cornrow with a rat tailed comb.
  2. At the top of the sectioned hair, depending on the size of the cornrow, divide  approx 1. cm width of hair (from the top) into three equal parts.
  3. Holding the first part in your fourth and fifth finger (with your left hand).
  4. The middle part with your thumb and index finger and the third part, with your thumb and index finger of your right hand.

Watch Whitney aka Naptural85 show you how to start braiding in her video: How To Cornrow Braid For Beginners | Clear Easy Steps

Don’t matter if it’s long or short

If you’re working with long hair, medium hair or short hair, braids can work for you. #Cornrows #Hairstyle #Blackhair #Naturalhair #Longhairdontcare Click To Tweet

Like Willow Smith rightly said in her debut single Whip My Hair (whilst wearing her hair in cornrow braids):

“Don’t matter if it’s long, short, do it, do it whip your hair!”. If you’re working with long hair, medium hair or short hair, braids can work for you.

If you’re looking to extend your hair, just add extensions to your cornrows (skilled hairstylists will be able to add them in so neatly that people will be asking you, “Is that all you?”). If you’re wanting to give your tresses a break and leave out the extensions, you can do that too – you can spice them up by adding some beads or gold clips, it’s as simple as that.

However intricate or complicated you want your style to be, it’s a Burger King situation, you can have it your way.

Tell us how you feel about cornrows in the comment section below.

What does Natural Hair mean to You?

The Ideal of Natural Hair

If you’ve ever met a celebrity, you’ll know you can get a little swayed by their ideals.

Well, that was how my natural hair journey began.

The celebrity was Stokely Carmichael from the civil rights movement – one of the original fist raisers.

 Stokely Carmichael from the civil rights movement - one of the original fist raisers.


Kwame Ture (born Stokely Carmichael, June 29, 1941 – November 15, 1998) was a TrinidadianAmerican who became a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement and the global Pan-African movement. He grew up in the United States from the age of 11 and became an activist while he attended Howard University. He would eventually become active in the Black Power movement, first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), later as the “Honorary Prime Minister” of the Black Panther Party (BPP), and lastly as a leader of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (A-APRP)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stokely_Carmichael

Confidence, Mr. Carmichael & the White Prep. School

During my years in a white college preparatory school, my self esteem was shot. I spent a lot of tearful nights with my studies. It seemed the curriculum in Chicago’s inner city, where I’m from, was very different from the curriculum where the cream of the crop were educated. Even though I had graduated from middle school at the top of my class, I had learned no geography, and I was missing half of what was required for English composition class. My level of math was also very, very basic.

Being subpar was gruelling for me.

As an avid reader, books brought me relief from school.. And that was how Mr. Carmichael and I first met, in a manner of speaking, in the tiny library of that elite prep. school.

And why was a collection of speeches by Stokely Carmichael sitting on their upper crust library shelves?

I still don’t know.   But the library became my retreat, on almost every break. It’s where, thanks to brother Stokely, I furtively quenched my thirst for knowledge, sans pressure.

To do so, I would hide in one of the six small aisles of library books. I wondered what my peers would think of my reading choice.   It felt risky, but in my mind, it was a risk worth taking for so many ideas and ideals, so much logic and so very many semicolons. I was amazed.

Who was this outspoken black man?

I didn’t come out of the library a socialist, or any kind of follower. But it was intriguing to me, as a youth, to discover how far Stokely Carmichael’s knowledge spanned, what his reasoning was, and how many different cultures he was familiar with.

I only knew two cultures, black and white. I wasn’t “black enough” for the less than 1% of African Americans at the school – meaning I wasn’t willing to isolate myself with them. So my friends ended up being white.

So what would my friends say if they knew I was reading Stokely Carmichael’s work? The answer I arrived at during my last months there was that it didn’t matter.

Meeting a Celebrity

While home on vacation, my mother said she was taking me to a pan-African meeting. I wasn’t enthused. It would be the same restrictive rhetoric about who, and who wasn’t, African enough. But when she told me Stokely Carmichael would be there… I went.

When I stepped up to meet Mr. Carmichael after his talk, I tried to stand taller, but I was wondering if I could somehow ditch my damning prep. school accent in a hurry. I settled on being myself.

And what were the few words he said? “My young sister, you are beautiful. But you would be more beautiful if you wore your hair in its natural state.”

The gall… The nerve!

The truth.

A Test of Oneself and One’s Values

I knew I didn’t have to wear my hair natural. And I wasn’t trying to cut it to suit the ideals of a stranger, however famous. Doing so would put me in the category of “groupie,” right? Ugh!

My mother was already telling me to think twice before cutting my hair.

But what he said was only a reminder of my own principles. It didn’t matter what everyone would think. It really would be better for me to wear my hair the way it was created. Not out of defiance, but because of my own values: the acceptance of truth and the unwillingness to be false.

That is what it meant, to me, to have natural hair.

Keeping my natural texture meant the same thing as not lightening my skin color, no matter who loved or hated it. It meant being confident enough to fit in anywhere I wanted to, exactly as I was. It meant challenging the narrow mindedness of others just by being present.

I continued, taking what I believed would be the equal reactions of family, friends and peers, and weighing those reactions against my own self-perception. Which was more important?

 I ended the counter advocacy by grabbing the scissors and quickly cutting off every lock.

And I was beautiful.

Did you do any soul searching before embarking on your natural hair journey?

I’d so love to hear about it. Share in the comments below!

About the author: Ghanima is an African American writer writing for Black Hair Spot. She is Fulani, Cherokee, Irish and whatever-else-we-couldn’t-trace American! Check out more of Ghanima’s hair topics on her Twitter account.

What is Hair Banding?

Try Natural Hair Banding/Threading for a NO HEAT Stretch

Banding means to wrap sections of natural hair with small hair bands in order to stretch your hair. When done right it can look as if you’ve blown your hair out with a blow dryer. But nope! There’s no heat used at all.

The nice thing about hair banding is that you can get stretched hair, waves or preserved curl definition. It all depends on how you go about it!

The practice of banding natural hair is borrowed from the African tradition of hair threading, which is still in use. Banding made African hair threading a bit simpler, but the results are very similar, and both stretch natural hair with NO HEAT. For this reason, we’ll be discussing both in this article.


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source: YouTube image – Hair banding with waves. (video further down below)


source: YouTube image – African hair threading. (video further down below)

To band or thread, all you have to do is take a section of dry or wet hair, and starting from the root, wrap the small elastic hair bands or thread down the length of your hair. Then leave your hair, as is, overnight or until it dries.

After you master the basic banding techniques, you’ll even be able to create cute styles for yourself or your girls. But more on that later. Let’s start with the essentials.

What You Need to Band Your Hair

You don’t need much. The basic tools and products of your choice, plus the actual bands listed below.

Hair Bands/Ponytail Holders

Covered rubber bands that don’t have the little metal piece work nicely, whatever way you end up using them.

covered rubber bands - Black Hair Spot


The little fuzzy bands work nicely for stretching your hair or keeping your curl pattern visible after defining.

Janecrafts Cute 24-100pcs Girl Elastic Hair Ties Band Ponytail Holders Scrunchie


What You Need to Thread Your Hair

If you want to try African threading, weave thread is good. Weave thread is also the perfect choice for creating modern threading styles that look like juicy twists or twist outs. (See video further down below.)

multi colors threads


Now that you’ve got your basics together (not much, right?), here’s how to proceed to get the end result you’re after.

How to Get a Good Stretch Without Heat?

It’s best to start with clean, dry hair, so that your results are predictable. If you have different products already in your hair, and it needs to be washed, your results might not come out the way you thought. Dry hair will give you straighter results.

Note: Each video below demonstrates how to do the threading or banding method on natural hair, with before and after shots included.

No-Heat Blowout: Banding on Long Hair

No-Heat Blowout: Banding on Short Hair

No-Heat Blowout: Threading on Long Hair

No Heat Blowout: Threading on Short Hair

Want smoother, shinier results? Here are a few tips to try on clean, dry hair.

    1. Comb out each section with a wide tooth comb before banding, but you’ll get smoother results if you brush each section, as well.
    2. For added sheen and strength, lightly apply oil to a section right before banding.
    3. Gently pull your hair to stretch it before applying the next band or wrapping the thread again.
  1. Leave the bands on overnight.

How to Get Waves from Banding?

If you want a wavy look, this is the time to try banding on natural hair that’s wet!

Want to Preserve Curl Definition Overnight?

Banding your hair overnight can give better results than pineappling. Try it for curl retention!

Styling Your Hair With Threading or Banding

Once you’ve got the hang of threading, try a more defined “twist out” using African threading.

Banding looks really nice on girls to create “bubble ponytails.”

Does the Band Method of Stretching Hair Break Off the Hair?

Because banding and threading both use high levels of manipulation, there is a potential for breakage. Here are some best practices to avoid::

  • Don’t band product-free hair. You should always have something on your hair that will act as a barrier between the fibre of the band or thread and your hair.

Heavy oils like coconut oil and shea butter products can provide a barrier, and also can help maintain hair moisture under the thread or band. Any fibre you put on your head is going to absorb moisture. This includes hair bands or thread. Dryness causes breakage.

  • Try not to use plain rubber bands. They can snap your hair right off.
  • Don’t band your hair too tightly, especially around the edges. It might make your edges smoother, but it can also cause traction alopecia.
  • Protect the ends of your hair by braiding or tucking the final portion. (See the video below on how to tuck your ends.)
  • Remove the bands or thread very, very carefully.

Can You Use Banding for Hair Growth?

Absolutely! If done correctly, banding and threading both act to protect your hair from dryness and breakage, and are therefore great for hair growth. To protect your hair the most, install the bands or wrap the thread close together. The roots, in this case, should be loose enough to have wiggle room. That way the prolonged banding won’t negatively affect your hair roots by being too tight.

And if you don’t like how the banded/threaded hair looks when you’re done, Africans are famous for slapping on a headwrap or wig.

Don’t forget, if you find the right black hair salon, you can get beautiful threading results that way too.

Have you tried banding or threading before?

We know naturals have been having mixed results with banding, in particular. Let us know if it works like a dream for you after watching the videos in this article. Or if you prefer the original African threading!

What is Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA)?

40% Black Women Have Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia

Did you know? According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), almost half of black American women suffer from hair breakage and hair loss at the top or crown of our heads. This is one of the main symptoms of a form of alopecia called Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia CCCA.

Unfortunately, we don’t usually find out we have this complicated form of alopecia until it becomes obvious that something is wrong. Hair is all over the pillow, in the shower and on the floor – everywhere but on the scalp!

Although 40.9% of African American women have hair loss consistent with a CCCA diagnosis, only 8.8% of us are officially diagnosed, according to Dr. Yolanda Lenzy of the AAD.

If you are experiencing hair loss or breakage at the top of your head, and the rest of your head seems okay, please see a dermatologist right away.

What Does “Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia” Mean?

Let’s break this down. Here’s what CCCA stands for:

  1. Central. This refers to the vertex of the head, i.e., the crown. As long as the alopecia has started somewhere on the top of the head, it might be CCCA.
  2. Centrifugal. When it starts spanning out (as it will, if you can’t stop it), CCCA spans out in the same shape as the original balding spot.
  3. Cicatricial means this kind of alopecia scars the scalp.
  4. Alopecia means hair loss.

In short, CCCA is hair loss at the top of the head that spreads and leaves scarring, after which the hair never grows back.  There is usually dramatic hair  breakage in the same area before it falls out. At the breakage stage is when a doctor should still be able to help you avoid permanent hair loss.

What Are the Stages of CCCA?

CCCA hair loss is said to be permanent once it gets to a certain stage. According to a Vancouver dermatologist, Dr. Jeff Donovan, who deals specifically with different forms of alopecia, this is how CCCA starts and progresses:

Initial stages of CCCA

  1. Toxic Sebum Production. For reasons scientists aren’t sure about, the sebaceous glands of the hair follicles start producing less sebum. This sebum is also toxic to the hair follicle, and instead of nourishing the hair follicle and easing the growth of the hair, it causes inflammation.
  2. Hair Follicle Inflammation. This occurs under the scalp. Hair growth will slow, because the hair cannot grow out easily when there isn’t enough sebum. The hair is also being choked by inflammation.
  3. Hair Growth And Sebum Production Ceases. Inflammation eventually makes it impossible for the hair to grow. The stem cells inside the hair follicle that are responsible for hair growth are destroyed by inflammation.The hair and scalp will start feeling extremely dry, too, because the swelling also kills the sebaceous glands in the follicle.

Under so much distress, the hair follicles begin to release hair. For most people, once the hair falls, there is little or no hope for it to grow again from the same follicle. They’ve entered late-stage CCCA.

Late stages of CCCA

  1. Follicle Death. After releasing the hair, the follicle starts to close up and die.
  2. Scarring. After the follicle dies from CCCA, scarring occurs, completing the process.

CCCA Is Similar to an Allergic Reaction

Scientists do not know what causes CCCA exactly. But to make it a little easier to understand how we get CCCA, let’s compare it to an allergic reaction.

The widespread use of chemicals in the west has spiked the occurrence of allergies. With allergic reactions, there is usually some form of swelling or inflammation. If you have allergies, you already know that when you eat something you are allergic to, your body produces histamines that cause swelling.

In a like manner, faulty sebum causes internal swelling of the hair follicle, like an allergic reaction would. The swelling eventually kills hair follicles, spreads and kills more.

So what makes your scalp behave like it is allergic or sensitive to something you’re doing or putting on it? Because most of the time, that’s exactly what’s happened.

What Triggers CCCA? (And How You Can Avoid This Alopecia)

If you wish to avoid CCCA and permanent hair loss, stop engaging in anything that will cause your hair follicles to become irritated or distressed. The triggers of CCCA tend to be:

  • Pulling the hair tightly,
  • And harsh chemical use.

“Everyone who utilizes these styling practices should do so infrequently and for short periods of time,” says Dr. Lenzy. of the AAD.

Why Does CCCA Affect Black Women So Much?

In short, we are doing the opposite of Dr. Lenzy’s advice. We are utilizing tight styles, like weaves and braids, and harsh chemicals, such as relaxers, frequently and for long periods of time! Genetics are a possibility for CCCA, of course, but rarely contributes to this particular form of alopecia. Well, it might if you consider that people of African descent tend to scar easily.

Whatever the case, this condition is almost completely restricted to black women. CCCA was originally referred to as “hot comb alopecia.” When it was discovered in 1968, it was thought that the hot, petroleum-based hair grease that was heated on the hair while hot combing caused inflammation of the hair follicles and hair loss.

Hot comb usage has decreased. But CCCA is endemic: It pretty much only affects us and it is very, very widespread in our communities, according to Dr. Lenzy.

We increase our risk of CCCA developing because we are constantly pulling and irritating our hair follicles with:

  • Tight cornrows, braids, extensions and weaves
  • Relaxers, jheri curls and texturizers
  • Hair dyes
  • Tight rollers
  • Blow drying with tight pulling

We even combine these methods to get the look we’re after. You could probably add to this list after thinking of the many times you’ve been told, “Pain is beauty.” (Long sigh.) Eventually, pain is baldness.

Other Practices That Can Contribute to CCCA

The home use of professional salon products without proper education can also highly irritate the hair follicles. This is because the chemicals in salon stylers and other products are typically concentrated. Many of them are supposed to be diluted in the salon.

But sometimes, stylists achieve quicker and smoother results on black hair by not diluting these products, or otherwise not using them as directed. What happens if the consumer observes this practice in the salon, thinking it to be correct? A lot of women head out to buy the professional grade product themselves and continue the practice at home. This is a big mistake.

It is also interesting to note that stylists are trained to begin chemically processing hair at the crown, in order to avoid damage to the edges of the hair, which are much weaker than the hair up top, which tends to be healthier (i.e., more kinky and hard to color/curl/straighten, at least in the beginning).

The chemicals from relaxers, jheri curls, hair dyes, and setting lotions, are left on the hair for longer periods of time at the top and crown of the head as compared to other areas. Could this be the reason that the inflammation of CCCA starts at the top of the head? It’s food for thought.

How Can You Tell For Sure Your Hair Loss Is CCCA?

You won’t be able to tell if it is CCCA for sure without going to a dermatologist. A biopsy needs to be performed to diagnose CCCA, because the inflammation is usually not visible on the surface of the scalp.

Remember, CCCA begins in the top or crown of the head. A biopsy will show:

  • Destruction of the sebaceous glands
  • Inflammation
  • A missing inner root sheath in the hair follicle
  • Missing stem cells
  • Destruction of hair follicles
  • Hair miniaturization – hairs with a thinner diameter

How Will a Dermatologist Treat Scarring Alopecias Like CCCA?

It really depends what stage of scarring alopecia your hair follicles are in.

What can be done in early-stage CCCA

A good dermatologist will go after CCCA aggressively in order to stop its spread. That usually includes more than one form of medication, and you might receive a topical cream, oral medication and even shots in the scalp to prevent inflammation and hair loss.

Your dermatologist will try to:

  • Reduce the inflammation of your hair follicles with anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Control any other issues happening on your scalp, like infections, that could aggravate the inflammation. So you may be prescribed antibiotic or antifungal medication.
  • Stimulate your follicles to produce hair using prescriptions like minoxidil (the primary medicine in Rogaine).
  • Normalize your scalp help weak hair follicles regenerate with medication like topical steroids.

Is there anything that can be done in late-stage CCCA?

There is nothing that can be done in late-stage CCCA. Recall that with scarring or cicatricial alopecia, the hair follicles die, and scar tissue forms.

At this point, you might be offered a hair transplant – the moving of healthy follicles from one part of the scalp to another.

Also keep in mind, though, that your entire head won’t be in the same phase at the same time. The original spots where the CCCA balding began will scar over first. But you still might be taking a host of medication to halt CCCA from spreading.

Are There Natural Treatments For Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia?

Yes, scarring or (cicatricial) alopecias like CCCA can be treated naturally.

If you’ve been diagnosed by a dermatologist and are now thinking about going to a naturopath for treatment? Here is what you can expect during your CCCA alopecia treatments:

A New Cleansing Regimen

You’ll typically start off with deep cleansing that uses ingredients that decrease inflammation and are antibacterial and antifungal. You may get a mix of some or all of the following as a scalp cleansing mask:

  • Clay powder – deep cleansing
  • Activated charcoal powder – deep cleansing
  • Tea tree oil – antibacterial and antifungal
  • Ginger root juice – cleansing, improves circulation and encourages hair growth. Don’t worry, ginger doesn’t typically burn the scalp.
  • Diluted black soap – an all natural soap and more gentle and nourishing cleanser
  • Aloe vera juice – moisturizing to the hair and scalp to help prevent dry scalp and hair breakage. Also alkalizes the scalp to encourage hair growth

Organic Oils

You will also receive one, or a mixture, of the following oils.

  • Castor oil or Jamaican black castor oil for scalp clarification, and follicle and growth support. Both unrefined and black castor oils are anti inflammatory. They are also analgesic, meaning they soothes pain and itching.
  • Rosehip (rosa mosqueta) seed oil, shea butter and pure argan oil are all anti-scarring oils. They are used in skincare formulas to remove and prevent scarring.
  • Jojoba oil – This oil is structured very similarly to the scalps natural sebum. Sebum is important to healthy hair follicles and healthy hair in general, but CCCA makes sebum toxic then destroys the sebaceous glands. Jojoba oil is used in natural formulas to dilute the toxic sebum, so that CCCA inflammation and hair breakage are lessened.
  • Peppermint essential oil – calms scalp and encourages growth.

You might  be given a hair growth formula that contains oils with similar properties. The naturopath will ensure, however, that the product is free of chemicals, including synthetic fragrances. This root stimulator is an excellent example:

Root Recovery Hair and Scalp Treatment - DHT Blocker, Hair Growth Serum, Hair Loss Treatment, All Natural, Saw Palmetto, Man or Woman



You may also be asked to use a home microneedling device. Microneedling is used to spark collagen renewal in the skin. It can increase circulation to the scalp in order to nourish hair follicles better, decrease inflammation, aid hair growth and help prevent follicle death and scarring.

Microneedling is used after applying organic oils. This treatment helps the oils penetrate the scalp skin deeper. The 0.5 mm size doesn’t hurt when pressed gently on the scalp, and it can be used weekly or monthly.

Dia 540 Micro Needles Skin Care Titanium Microneedle Derma Roller Needle-k2


Should I Choose Traditional or Natural Medicine?

The choice of traditional or natural medicine largely depends on:

  • Your Lifestyle. Both natural and traditional medicines have regimens that require your commitment. Natural medicine can be more rigorous than traditional medicine.
  • Your Preference. Some people think naturopaths are quacks. Others are plain allergic to traditional doctors. Try to keep an open mind, in case you need to switch later.

Because the exact cause of CCCA is unknown, neither traditional nor natural therapies are guaranteed to work on every individual, says research published by the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami.

Don’t Mix and Match Treatments

It is not advisable to use natural oils in the same area as a steroidal or minoxidil cream, unless approved by your dermatologist. This is because natural oils and substances are powerful in themselves. You don’t want to go overboard and cause another problem!

So don’t mix and match, okay? Seek professional advice, and go with one method or other. If traditional medicine doesn’t work for you, visit a naturopathic doctor, taking your lab results with you. A good naturopathic physician might even tell you to stick with traditional medicine or advise you how to use traditional and naturopathic methods together.

If CCCA is eating up your hair, take a moment to make a commitment to yourself to get your hair and scalp in order. If you need to, throw on a hat or head wrap when you go out to reduce your stress levels. Then go to a dermatologist or naturopath, and do what you need to do to stop CCCA.

Hopefully you will get a lot of hair back in the process.

Do you have central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA)? Although half of black women have the symptoms of CCCA, it is under-diagnosed and under-treated. Please help us spread the word! Tell us what is working for you and what isn’t in the comments. And share this article on social media.

What is the Baggy Method

Moisture might just be a natural girl’s favorite word. Everywhere you look, new techniques and methods pop up to teach us how to get our curls popping and more importantly, to promote healthy hair. But if you’re like most, you’ve tried all the products and methods there are for maintaining luscious and hydrated curls. Or have you? The baggy hair method combines simple steps and infrequent use to bring you a new way to deliver those much needed nutrients to your hair.

Keep reading to find out how easy it is to use the baggy hair method!


Are you just over split ends and brittle hair? Try the baggy hair method and thank us later. Click To Tweet

How do you do the baggy hair method?

The actual process of “bagging” natural hair is very simple. On dry and already clean hair, section into large braids, twists, or whatever form you typically use for bedtime protective styles. Make sure your sections are not too tightly secured; breaking hair before you even begin this method is a no no!

Once done with the sectioning, depending on your hair type, apply a butter, pomade, cream, or oil to the ends of your braids. The key here is to use a product that you already know works on your hair when it’s a little dry. Wrap the saturated hair in saran wrap or completely cover the ends with small plastic storage bags. Secure the bags with an ouchless hair tie, and you’re done! You can wear this method for a few hours while you’re doing chores around the house, or you can put them in right before bed. Just make sure not to leave the house before it is completely dry.


Natural girls finally came up with a solution for all those used Ziploc bags. #thebaggymethod #blackgirlmagic Click To Tweet

Dos and Don’t for First Timers

  • Don’t overdo it. Only treat ends you believe are in dire need of moisture.
  • Don’t leave the baggies in for longer than an overnight period. If you let your hair saturate this way for too long, you might cause damage, plus, it’s going to create a little mess.
  • Don’t forget to do this method on hair that is already clean.
  • Do make sure your hair ties aren’t too tight. At the end of the day, this is about creating healthy hair.
  • Do use a moisturizer you know works for you! The baggy method with coconut oil is helpful for some, but not all! If you have tighter curls, try a hair butter, instead.
  • Do allow this hair method time to dry. If your ends are not fully dry before you wear them out, some of your moisture might be lost.
  • Do try this during the winter months, or any time of the year when the elements are at odds with your hair.
When it comes to moisture, how much is too much? Click To Tweet

How do I know this is the method for me?

The best baggy method hair growth tip is to know when you need to repair your ends, and when you don’t. If you have noticed any breakage or splitting, or if your hair just feels brittle to the touch, you might need to try this method.

Also, if you aren’t happy with your length, trying new moisturizing methods might be a good way to inspire a little growth. 9 times out of 10, your stylist has told you maintaining your ends is an excellent way to allow your hair the health it needs to grow. The baggy hair method can create results!

Whether you try out this new method or not, the main ingredient of healthy natural hair remains the same: know what works for you. As much as we hate to hear that, natural hair is a unique journey that we each embrace differently.

Try this simple method for natural hair growth! #baggymethod #throwitinthebag Click To Tweet

Have you tried the baggy hair method? If so, let us know your results in the comments section!

Black Hair Spot is the number one place to ask all your burning questions about black hair. We are a community of women dedicated to educating and empowering women to love their hair as much as we love ours!

Christmas 2017 Natural Hair Product Picks for 12 days of Gift Giving

To take the guess work out of gift giving for your True Love, we’ve worked up a “12 days of Christmas” gift list featuring our 2017 natural hair product picks, so he won’t have to wonder what to get for you!

On The 1st Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… A Subscription Box that Isn’t Cheesy

Loving the idea of getting something new for your hair every month in the mail? Except as it turns out, you’re getting much of the same stuff on a rotation scheme? Been there. Moving forward! Us natural gals are starting to custom-make our own products. Who’s showing us how? For your next subscription, here’s where to point your true love.

CurlMix Helps You Create

What we love:   With CurlMix, we’re mixing up all-natural versions of products that we didn’t know we could. Their job is to stay on point with what we’re looking for in our natural world. Our job, is to love them for it.

Try it and who knows, maybe one day you’ll wind up being the next Carol’s Daughter.

Curl Mix

https://curlmix.com/ Loving these girls.

You should know:  The kits are not $1.99, okay? But if you think of them as basic classes in product making – one from which you take the goodies home – you’ll see the value!

Cost: About $25

Sarenzo Beauty Subscriptions Are Hot

What we love:  Sarenzo Beauty Subscriptions is like getting  handmade products that are very creative! You can even order by the various holidays for lots of delicious surprises.

sarenzo beauty SUBSCRIPTION BOX

http://sarenzobeauty.com/ Pure product confections!

You should know:  Sarenzo Beauty opens again on December 26. So if you get a toaster or a footstool for Christmas, now you know what you can spend the money on when you return the gift.

Cost: $30

On The 2nd Day of Christmas My True Love Sent to Me…  Heat Protectors

Planning on looping hearts with big, romantic curls for Christmas? Time to heat style! Get ready for the big day with silicone-free heat protectants. If you don’t like doing your own mixing, don’t worry, it’s the last DIY on the list.

DIY Heat Protector  – Avocado

AVOCADO - Black Hair Spot

If this blogger says her hair doesn’t get greasy when she whips shea butter with avocado oil and uses it as a heat protectant… believe her. Hint: Grab your mixer before you click for the recipe from Primally Inspired.

What we love:   The principle behind using oils as heat protectors is to only use the ones that have very high smoking points, like avocado oil. It’s smoking point is 520 ℉ . So if you keep your heat tool below 400 ℉ (like you should) things should be okay. Shea butter doesn’t hit its smoking point until 450 ℉.

This whipped butter, used sparingly of course, will slide down your hair and form a thin, non-greasy protective coating. Just keep your blow dryer or flat iron at 400 ℉ or below.

You should know:  The  vast majority of thermal protectors use silicone as the active ingredient, so that when it heats, it forms a barrier on the hair. It’s basically the same science, but silicones form a barrier that can be difficult to completely remove from the hair. With repeated use they can cause severe dryness, as they prevent moisture from entering the hair shaft.

Cost: Less than $10

Alodia Heat Style Kit

If you’d rather trust the pros, try the Aladia Heat Style Kit!

What we love:  Alodia takes you all the way through wash day by layering in heat protection with this kit. (More kits below!)


Alodia Heat Style Kit


You should know: Besides avocado oil, Alodia appears to use great stuff, based on the components of other products on their site. However, the ingredients of the Heat Style Kit are not mentioned in detail. If it matters to you, shoot them a line.

Cost: $50

On the 3rd Day of Christmas My True Love Sent to Me… Natural Hair Colors That Are On Trend!

Of course, henna is brilliant, and the variations that can be achieved with natural color never go out of style. Copper and red hair colors are in this season, but what about the pastels we’re all dying to try?

Natulique Natural Hair Colours Are IT 

What we love:  The Douce line from Natulique takes its inspiration from the dawn and the seas. It’s 98% natural and has no ammonia or sulfates. Start prepping yourself to be all sass with full color or balayage!

NATULIQUE Douce Hair Colours - blueberry


NATULIQUE Douce Hair Colours - lemon


NATULIQUE Douce Hair Colours - Lychee


You should know: It looks like Natulique doesn’t want the world to know their proprietary formulas. It’s clear what’s not in their hair colors. But an ingredient list would still be nice.

Cost: These are professional products. Have your salon contact them (then see if you’ll get a nice discount on your color treatment for the hot reference.)

Eluxe Exclusives Hair Colors Are Henna On Hype 

What we love: Prefer color that combines conditioning and strength? Eluxe Exclusives are pure ayurvedic formulas. Their products include combinations of amla, henna, shikakai and other plant powders that yield blonde, copper, red, black and shades of brown.


Organic Hair Dye in Mahogany by Saach Organics


You should know: Like regular hair colors, this product is  only going to give highlights if your natural hair color is darker than the shade you’ve chosen. It covers grey like a charm, though!

Cost: One treatment pack is about $15

On the 4th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent to Me… Some Really Good Hair Growth Oils

So Mr. Romantic loves your teeny-weeny afro. What a sweetheart! But if you’re ready to prove to yourself that black hair does grow long, start 2018 with these:

Habesha’s Handcrafted Hair Growth Oil and Hot Oil Treatment 

What we love: Hair growth formulas are good at what they do which is to stimulate the hair follicles to grow healthier hair! Habesha’s Handcrafted is a new company. Their Hair Growth Oil and Hot Oil Treatment product (scroll down) features the mega growth castor oil. Jojoba and peppermint are in  there, too!

Habesha HandCrafted


You should know: Hair growth oils are actually for the scalp, so some might find the name misleading and wind up with a very greasy head of hair. It is a thick formula, but it is meant to be massaged into the scalp (in particular) then washed out. You know, like a scalp treatment.

Cost: $13.49 for 4 oz.

Root Recovery Hair and Scalp Treatment 

What we love: Really good hair growth formulas also regenerate hair follicles. That means your hair will grow back thicker and healthier. Root Recovery Hair and Scalp Treatment is one such product.

Root Recovery Hair and Scalp Treatment - DHT Blocker, Hair Growth Serum, Hair Loss Treatment, All Natural, Saw Palmetto, Man or Woman


Cost: $23 for 1 oz., $57 for 4.6oz

On the 5th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… Deep Conditioning

What happened to the five golden rings you say??

Nevermind, honey, this is about hair. And yours is about to rock.

Unveil My Natural Ayurveda Curl Repair Deep Conditioning Mask 

What we love: Unveil My Natural is an ayurvedic/African mix of some of the best ingredients known to nourish hair. This includes extracts of henna, amla, neem and bhringraj, combined with shea butter and babassu oil and other lovelies.



Cost: $26.99 for 8.5 oz.

Inahsi: The Next Big Thing. Period.

What we loveInahsi Naturals is an innovative company.We love their Mango Hemp Restorative Deep Conditioner and will be keeping an eye on their products in 2018!

Inahsi mengo hemp restorative hair masque deep conditioner


You should know: You might want to order two. Just about everything Inahsi makes sells out quickly, so ordering more than one might be a good idea.

Cost: $16 for 8 oz.

Carmella Marie Argan Rhassoul  Hair Mask 

What we love: Get some Moroccan magic going on with this deep conditioner. You’ll have curls for days with Rhassoul clay and argan oil. Carmella Marie is also new on the block. We’ll be watching their progress!

You should know: Half their products are sold out already! Make sure to get yours.

Cost: $15

Curl Origin Coconut Kukui Double Moisture Overnight Mask

What we love: Curl Origin combines carrot oil and coconut make a lovely moisture blend in this mask. Wake up in the morning to serious hydration.



You should know: The hype around coconut oil is slowly dying out from the natural hair scene. Only because, like shea butter, we just get tired of seeing it in everything – miracle oil or not. Nevertheless, coconut oil is an oldie but goodie!

Cost: $15.99 for 8.5 oz.

On the 6th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… Pre-Poo Moisturizing Oils

Pre-shampoo or pre-cleansing oils are great to keep your hair conditioned before washing it. If your hair is very dry, you can even make it a habit to pre-poo.  This practice is also known as a hot oil treatment, if you choose to leave a small cup of the oil in a pot of hot water for a few moments before using. Don’t let it get too hot, though!

And for the product junkies: you probably have a ton conditioners and other products in your bathroom cupboard that are just sitting there. Try adding a teaspoon of one of these. They can boost up almost any product.

Darshana Natural Hair Oil 

What we love: Darshana puts ancient formulas to good use on curls for great conditioning and low frizz.



You should know: Indian formulas tend to be heavy. A few drops should do.

Cost: $18 for 2 oz. or $38 for 6 oz.

Koils By Nature Replenishing Hair & Body Oil 

What we love: If you’re looking for excellent products that won’t break the bank, try Koils By Nature. This hair oil is as good, or better than, the more expensive varieties. There are no cheap filler oils in this, either The first ingredient is apricot oil, then grapeseed oil. If you use oils to pre-shampoo, you’re in luck. This comes in a 12 oz. bottle!

replenishing herb infused apricot oil will moisturize, nourish, and revitalize your scalp and hair & sensitive skin.


You should know: The bottle is heavy (woot!)! So tilt it gently. The bottle can easily dispense more oil than you need..

Cost: $24.99 for 12 oz.

Elaine Hair & Body Pomegranate Mango Mist Spray 

What we love: Protective styling? Elaine Hair & Body has a beautifully fragrant oil that you can spray directly on your scalp to avoid dryness, before and after cleansing. With just grapeseed oil, almond oil and fatty acids, simplicity rules.



You should know: Unless your hair needs something heavier, this oil is perfection. It absorbs directly into the skin and scalp.

Cost: $11.99 for 4 oz.

On the 7th Day of Christmas  My True Love Sent To Me… the Very Best Curl Definers

Curls go straight to the heart. And we’re here to make it easy for yours to shine and define.

While there’s very little difference in formulation between a curl definer and a detangler, the latter are usually lighter products, whereas natural gels are heavy. That’s about it.

They both are made for slip, and slip and that’s what defines your curls. We wouldn’t recommend detangling with gel before cleansing, though! Yet all the detanglers listed here can also be used post-wash.

Soultanicals Slip n Slide Knot Proof Hair Glide 

What we love: Soultanicals’s slip! With all that hydration, watch your coils clump. And it’s chemical-free!

Slip-N-Slide, Knot-Proof Hair Glide- 8 oz


You should know: Some naturals may need to layer a leave-in or oil before or after using this product. Curls don’t like showing up, regardless of what product you use? Curls like water, so try applying Soultanicals Slip-n-Slide Knot Proof Hair Glide to your hair while drenching wet. Then cover with a plastic bag for 20 minutes.

Cost: $16 for 8 oz.

Sienna Naturals Untangled Conditioner 

What we love: Sienna Naturals Untangled Conditioner is also made to penetrate the hair shaft for added strength and minimized breakage during detangling. Plus slip, of course.

ntensively hydrating, antioxidant-rich conditioner softens hair and adds slip, which simplifies the job of carefully detangling your hair.


You should know: Although this product has a host of conditioning ingredients, it is still lightweight. Curls and coils might need oil applied before or after this detangler, depending on your preference.

Cost: $20 for 8 oz.

Tree Naturals Whipped Curl Creme 

What we love: Beautiful, moisturized definition when applied to wet hair. Have a look!

You should know: Might not give similar results on type 4 hair.

Cost: $14.99 for 6 oz.

Oujoi Aloe Boost Detangling Mist 

What we love: Replete with calming chamomile and aloe, this product makes an excellent dry hair detangler midweek. It’s perfect for those times when you want to bring the curls back but don’t want to drench your hair.



You should know: It’s a very lightweight product.

Cost: $16 for 8.5 oz.

Mielle Organics Honey Ginger Styling Gel 

What we love: Liquid gels are perfect for all hair types. Just apply and rake or smooth it through.



Cost: $11.99 for 13 oz.

Oyin Handmade Shine Define Styling Serum 

What we love: Like Mielle Organics, Oyin Handmade is a classic you must try. This formula uses castor oil, flaxseed extract and xanthan gum to lay or define your curls – depending on how you use it. It’s a nice product to seal with after using one of the light detanglers mentioned here, to make your curls pop.



You should know: This is a thick product, so for type 3 hair it’s great for ‘wash and gos’. On type 4 hair, it’s nice for creating soft curls after a twistout from wet hair.

Cost: $13.99 for 4 oz.

On the 8th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… Leave In Conditioners

Life is almost impossible without a good leave-in conditioner to keep your hair soft and moisturized. After all, we can’t shampoo, condition, and fly out the door like other folks. At the same time, heavy products and butters don’t work for every natural.

Leave-in, leave-in, leave-in.

Keep one or more of these on hand.

Giovanni Direct Leave-In Weightless Moisture Conditioner 

What we love: Giovanni Cosmetics started off supplying salons, but their natural products are great for everyday use, too.


Giovanni Direct Leave-In™ Conditioner


You should know: It’s a beautiful formula, but there are no butters or heavy oils like coconut in it. The lack of richness might not work for some.

Cost: $7.16 for  8.5 oz. at VitaCost

Luvnaturals Love Me & Leave-in Moisturize and Seal 

What we love: Luvnaturals makes perfectly balanced products that provide moisture for all hair types.

Love Me & Leave-In Conditioner


Cost: $14 for 8 oz.

Inahsi Naturals Aloe Hibiscus Leave-in Conditioner & Detangler

What we love: Inahsi Naturals is full of surprises. Not because they make a leave-in conditioner… because they add hyaluronic acid to it! Hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in anti-aging products, as it sparks skin cell renewal. What does it mean for your hair and scalp? It moisturizes the scalp, aids follicles in growing healthy hair and can even plump up your strands over time.



You should know: The bottle is small! But no worries, they have salon sizes, too.

Cost: $14.99 for 8 oz. at The Melanin Shop

Koils By Nature Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Shealoe Leave-In Conditioner 

What we love: Koils By Nature has nice sizes. They don’t skimp on the ingredients, either! This leave-in is replete with hair conditioning and growth essences. Seriously, check out this ingredient list!



Cost: $19.99 for 12 oz.

On the 9th Day of Christmas  My True Love Sent To Me… the Best in Heat and Other Tools

Even though relaxer sales plummeted this year, many naturals still prefer straight styles, loopy curls and waves over afros and defined styles.

Here are some of the best ways to get the looks you crave  – plus other useful goodies!

Conair Curl Secret 

What we love: Conair has really made an effort to show us they know natural hair, and what temperatures and surfaces work best for us. This heat curler keeps your scalp safe from damage. It’s also insulated to maintain a constant temperature that makes every curl consistent. Instead of going for bone straight, try to keep the heat below 400°F, and do use a heat protectant.

Infiniti PRO by Conair® Curl Secret



You should know: We posted the video so you can see it’s a big device. It’s only for longer lengths.

Cost: $119.99

Babyliss Pro Ultrasonic Cool Mist Iron 

What we love: Steam devices help keep our hair hydrated and soft. How about straightening while steaming!? As compared to a normal flat iron, an independent study shows the Babyliss Pro steam iron delivers smoother results, more shine, and of course, far less breakage.

BaBylissPRO™ 1¼" Ultrasonic Cool Mist Iron, featuring the latest high-performance innovation! Ultrasonic technology transforms water into a cool micro mist, adding optimum moisture and maximum shine to hair for smooth, sleek results that last longer.



You should know: It heats up to 450 ℉ , a bit higher than recommended for natural hair. The steam helps offset this, but it’s still best to use a heat protectant like the ones listed above.

Cost: $148.48 on ebay.com

Tangle Teezer, Thick and Curly 

What we love: Companies outside our communities ignored us forever, and are now flocking to our doors. This says so much about our culture and buying power. The Tangle Teezer for curly hair is an excellent shower detangling tool. It’s a staple now, in many homes. But we’re posting just in case you don’t have one, because it’s that good!

Tangle Teezer’s Thick & Curly hairbrush in Salsa Red is the ultimate detangling hairbrush for thick, curly or afro hair.


You should know: It’s a great tool, but a brush by any other name is still a brush. Use it gently.

Cost: $16

SSS Hair Stretching Tools 

What we love: Snap…Stretch…Style! This product has flat iron stretching abilities with zero heat! The package comes with plastic, rubber and curler plates.

Natural Hair Stretching Tools / Hair Stretchers / No Heat Curls / Hair Extensions


You should know. Shipping is slow.   We’re not sure where the set is coming from, but their site says 4-6 weeks.

Cost: $54.99

Goody Mosaic Pillow Rollers 

What we love: Leave it to Goody. These rollers aren’t new, but they are such a staple! To maintain your loopy curls (after your hair is stretched), roll them with these and fall fast asleep.

Goody Mosaic™ Satin Pillow Rollers 16ct


You should know: The satin covering means these rollers are prone to slip right out. Make sure to set them tightly, and tie a hair net securely to keep them in place.

Cost: $16 for $3.84 at Target

On the 10th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… Innovative Cleansing

Sulfate-free shampoos abound, but we wanted some innovative cleansers to really make an impact on wash day. Found ’em!

Fortifyd Naturals Sage & Black Soap Conditioning Cleanser 

What we love: Fortifyd uses just the right balance of aloe vera juice, shea butter and black soap for detangling, conditioning, shine and deep cleansing. And we’re so in love with its bright, clean scent!

Sage Infused Black Soap Shampoo


You should know: Black soap makes tons of suds and is deep cleansing. But you don’t want to be rinsing for days. So apply it sparingly, at first, then work your way up in quantity.

Cost: $13.99 for 8 oz.

Camille Rose Naturals Caramel Cowash Cleansing Conditioner 

What we love: Camille Rose Naturals is another classic natural hair brand that we’re not trading in. And this Caramel Cowash Cleansing Conditioner is too delish not to include. If you’re growing your hair out, co-washes help keep you from starting at hydration point zero every wash day. Our hair needs moisture for growth and length retention.



You should know: You’ll get silky soft (and clean) tresses after washing with a good conditioner made for the purpose (cowash). But if you like squeaky clean hair, this isn’t for you. Also make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid buildup.

Cost: 8 oz. for $12.09 at Sista Wigs

Phytoworx Organic Shampoo 

What we love: Phytoworx is leading edge. They might just be the first company to incorporate plant stem cells into a hair product along with coconut oil, ginger and green tea extract. Stems cells are the building blocks of health and healing, so the other ingredients are icing on the cake  in this formula. Hair growth? Phytoworx means business.

PhytoWorx Organic Hair Loss Shampoo | With Plant Stem Cells for Hair Recovery and Regrowth


You should know: This shampoo is sulfate-free, but like most sulfate-free shampoos, it uses a different set of sudsing agents that aren’t exactly gentle. They do, however, make a great effort to offset that fact by using humectants like glycerine and healing agents like cocoa butter.

Oh! And the cost…

Cost: $56.98 for 8 oz. on Amazon.com

On the 11th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… Pomades and Styling Butters

These can be great sealers for all hair types. They also define when used on wet hair for twist and braid outs.

Obia Naturals Twist Whip Butter 

What we love: Obia Naturals is getting it right with their Twist Whip Butter. The reviews are glowing. It’s not surprising, with the blend of butters and plant essences. They also incorporate palm oil, which has a high melting point (hold, hold, hold).

water-based, pH balanced hair butter is a triple treat of unrefined Shea Butter, Tucuma Butter and Mango Butter.


You should know: Use sparingly, or it will weigh down your hair.

Cost: $17.99 for 8 oz.

Luv Naturals Shea I’m Natural Hair and Body Butter 

What we love: Need something to take care of the tips of your hair. Luv Naturals Shea I’m Natural Hair and Body Butter has a lovely spicy orange fragrance, that definitely beats the smell of raw shea butter. Argan and jojoba also come together in this formula for maximum moisture.   Luv Naturals is a new company.

"Shea I'm Beautiful" Hair and Body Butter


You should know: It is thick. Good for ashy feet and legs, too.

Cost: $14 for 4 oz.

Form. Polish.

What we love: Form. Polish. is taking the curl world by storm. A lightweight pomade that gives shine and moisture. If used on wet hair, it also seals.


Form Beauty - Polish Moisture-sealing pomade


You should know: It’s expensive.

Cost: $26 for 4 oz.

On the 12th Day of Christmas My True Love Sent To Me… New Regimen Kits Just For Me!

Single products are nice. But the kits, oh, the kits! They are pure excitement.

Loba Mane Color Vibrante Gift Set 

What we love: Festive and beautiful, the Loba Mane Color Vibrante Gift Set is a complete regimen to protect your new color from fading and frizz.

Loba Mane® Color Vibrante complete kit deep moisturizes, nourishes and repairs dry, damaged, and over-processed hair types, while protecting from color fading.


Cost: $62.95

Naturalicious 20 Minute Regimen Kits (All Hair Types) 

What we love: About tired of a 59-step wash day? Naturalicious is headed straight into 2018 with a quick and easy regimen featuring Rhassoul clay. There are three different kits: a separate set for each of the wavy, curly and coily hair types. How to use it? Check their video.



You should know: If you’re already using clay or clay products to define your curls, you already know that clay cleanses, conditions and defines. Naturalicious won’t be that new to you. However, it does have an excellent system of locking in the definition and moisture clay provides, without the long dry times of most gels.

Cost: $56

Tailored Beauty LOC Package 

What we love: This kit is affordable! And the ingredient list for the Tailored Beauty LOC Package is shocking. The ingredients are beautifully simple! If you’re looking for a low-chemical LOC kit, this is it. The only one there is perfume. This LOC kit is perfect for midweek curl moisture. Owner Inez Moore shows how to use it on her little girl. Warning: cuteness ensues!

LOC Package -  the ULTIMATE all natural Healthy Hair Package

http://www.tailoredbeautyproducts.com/store/p3/LOC_Package.html Tailored Beauty updated the product packaging since that video was made.  Nice!


Everyone’s curls are over the top with Tailored Beauty.

Cost: $32

Peeking into 2018, trends show we’ve got our styles down and are ready to move into secure regimens that work. If you’ve discovered a new styler this year that’s worked wonders for your hair, try using that product line to firm up your regimen.

And so, from your sisters at Black Hair Spot we wish you a Merry Christmas!  This 2017 product review is our gift  to you.

What was your new favorite styler or product for 2017? Let us know… and why in the comments!

The Politics of Black Hair (An African American Opinion)

Black folks have been under an intense magnifying glass for as long as there has been an American culture.

The way we move around the world is constantly judged and criticized, and now, the debate as to whether our lives “matter” has only brought more attention to that judgment.

With so much scrutiny, how are hashtags like #CarefreeBlackGirl and #BlackBoyJoy trending?

Solange Knowles’ most recent studio album, A Seat at the Table, might have given us an answer to that: the politics of black hair.

Encouraging black folks to wear their hair, be it natural or processed, with pride and expression sparked a wildfire in the already blossoming natural hair movement.

Even still, the politics of black hair run deep.

You would think with successful record sales and consistent peaking on the Billboard Hot 100s list Solange would have no further need to protect images of her hair. Wrong.


Earlier this year Solange clapped back hard at U.K. based newspaper London Evening Standard for cropping part of her braided crown from their cover photograph. If someone makes a song called “Don’t Touch My Hair,” it’s probably a good idea not to mess with it.

Erasing black identity through “taming” our hair is not cool, and it happens in more cases than you’d think. Even within black hair communities, dichotomies based off curl pattern and length, obsession over Pinterest “hair goals” and the lack of inclusion of all natural hair types and styles still marginalize something that should be exactly what the title suggests: natural.

Black hair is an extension of personality and quite frankly, it is no one’s business but the person growing it.

Still, here are a few kind reminders before engaging in the town hall discussion that is The Politics of Black Hair. Pull up a chair, take some notes, and pay close attention.

All black folks aren’t rocking their natural hair. And here’s why they don’t have to.

Wearing natural hair is not a trend. It’s a decision to revert processed hair to a pre-permanent state, or to just wear your hair as it naturally grows.

No matter if hair is permed or not, it is still “black hair.”

So, it is not polite to bully people into transitioning into their natural state, black or not.

I was 7 years old when I got my first perm, and not given much of a choice. My mother leaned into my terrified face and told me straightened hair would help me be more successful in life. It would be easier.

At the time, she was right. Growing up black and a woman in the 90s, appearance was everything. If you looked clean and put together, you could get ahead in life. Even though I was born the same year Rodney King was brutally attacked by LAPD, my mother had hoped straight hair would help me blend in and make me less of a target for misguided white aggression.

The choice to go natural was one I made because I felt like whether I wanted to or not, I would be involved in the politics of black hair, so I may as well do it the way I liked. I change hairstyles like I do clothes. One day, I’ll be rocking a wash and go, and the next, I might want full and bouncy curls. I like the flexibility of my hair. I like that I can’t 100% control my curls. In a way, it makes me feel like even though my blackness is always on display, there is still some part of me that can’t be assumed or predicted.

So, don’t make assumptions about black folks based on their hair.

A former colleague once told me I was much smarter than I looked.

Naturally, I assumed it was because I am a woman, and I tend to be dainty in presence. I would never have assumed it was because of black hair politics.

My natural hair caused the person I was speaking with to assume I would be “more aggressive” and less eloquent in speech. Although he apologized for his comments, I still felt him policing my body and my personality every time I passed him in the hallway.

As a society, we have become much kinder to men and women who wear their curls in professional settings.

However, blacks folks fight daily to disprove stereotypes of hyper-aggression and hostility.


When my mother grew up, wearing an afro meant rebellion and protest.

Honestly, in some ways, it still does. Being a curly girl is what fits for me, but unfortunately, when the politics of black hair becomes a trend, there is a lot of pressure to fit in, or be left behind.

Black men and women who do not choose to wear their curls are just as supportive of  the culture as the rest of us.

About the author: Erika is an African American writer writing for Black Hair Spot. She asks ”What’s your vote on the politics of black hair?” Push more buttons, and check Erika E. Wade’s hot topics on her Twitter account

What is Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Castor Oil VS. Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Surprise! Jamaican black castor oil is made from the same castor beans as regular castor oil. There is no darker, more beautiful, especially-for-textured-hair variety of the castor plant made just for our use. Sigh. Castor oil is castor oil. It’s still great stuff and perfect for hair growth…

And one kind does happen to have a higher rate of nutrition. Which one, which one…

Well, when it comes down to castor oil vs. Jamaican black castor oil, we’re a little color biased.

The Cultural Traditions Behind Black Jamaican Castor Oil

And, of course, Jamaican black castor has higher nutrient levels. But, really, you already  knew that, right?

Jamaican black castor oil is processed using the longstanding African tradition of improving nutritional content by roasting oil seeds for consumption and cosmetic use.

1200px Dudu Osun


And sometimes, raw cosmetic materials are actually burnt. Did you know black soap is made of burnt palm leaves or plantain peels? The ashes are mixed with shea butter and palm oil to form a chemical reaction that creates black soap. The distinguishing characteristics of this soap are its rich creamy lather, potent cleansing ability and… high nutrient levels.

Both black castor oil and black soap originated in ancient Egypt. No surprises there.

So, yes, Jamaicans took over the black castor name, but not without improving the original product. To extract the oil, Jamaicans grind, then boil, the toasted beans. Boiling improves the moisturizing quality of the oil and adds softness to it. So after a long time at boiling, what we know as Jamaican black castor oil is finally skimmed off the top.

The Egyptians didn’t go through all this. They simply pressed the roasted beans.

The Jamaican Method Refines Castor Oil

You could say roasting the castor beans, then boiling them, is a true process of refinement. One that certainly can’t be achieved by soaking the beans in chemical solvents, which is the common standard of “refining” oils.

Refined castor oil is what’s normally sold in pharmacies. It still contains the active component for hair growth, ricinoleic acid, but at a meagre level of 20%. Admittedly, 20% doesn’t sound small at all, until you compare it with the other two types of castor. Cold pressed and black castor oils both contain 80-89% ricinoleic acid.

Because refined castor oil is extracted using harmful, volatile fuels that decrease the nutritional value and active components – it is actually degraded (not refined).

Castor Oil: It’s All About The Color

African cultures roast other seeds, as well, for consumption and cosmetic use. These include sesame, soybean, wild gourd, pumpkin, African wild yam and watermelon seeds. In some countries, seed mash is a daily staple, and roasting the seeds prior to mashing serves to increase their nutritional value.

Of course, when beans or seeds are toasted for oil, the resulting color of the oil will be different than when the seeds are cold pressed. Toasted castor beans leave the oil a transparent brown or black color, whereas cold pressed castor oil is slightly yellowish. (Refined castor oil is usually clear.)

If you think of it in terms of sugar, the least healthy is ultra-refined white sugar. After white sugar, comes turbinado sugar. It still has a good amount of brown coloring from its inherent molasses, and has been minimally processed. The molasses itself, which comes from the same plant, is very healthy, indeed.

Molasses retains the best essences of the sugarcane plant. Oh, by the way! That same plant, before making sugar or molasses, is normally scorched during harvesting. Similar to black castor oil, molasses is higher in iron and other nutrients than turbinado sugar, which for our purposes is similar to cold-pressed castor oil.

From a burnt plant or not, refined white sugar has had all the nutrients removed from it and will never be even a little bit healthy.

Castor Oil VS. Black Castor Oil: A Look at the Nutrients

While both cold pressed castor oil and Jamaican black castor oil spark hair growth and renew follicles, as black women, we also want to make sure our hair grows out from the follicles in the healthiest state possible.

Let’s face it. The maintenance and style routines for black hair are not always gentle. Yet our curly and coily hair is more prone to breakage than any other! We manipulate our hair into styles A, B and C with twists, perms, braids, blowouts, weaves… The list goes on. To maintain such heavy manipulation, it’s key for our hair to grow out of the follicles strong and less prone to breakage.  The benefits of Jamaican black castor oil can help us achieve this. Here’s why:

  1. Jamaican castor oil naturally retains a small amount of ash after processing. This gives it its distinctive color — and also mild cleansing and clarifying abilities for the scalp and hair.
  2. Black castor is more alkaline than castor oil that’s made from unroasted beans.
  3. A more alkaline scalp means less room for growth of seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)
  4. Alkaline substances increase blood flow to the scalp for more nourished follicles.
  5. The alkalinity of black castor oil also lifts the hair cuticle, to allow other nourishing ingredients in a formula to penetrate the hair shaft. (Castor molecules themselves are too large to enter.)
  6. Mineral levels are increased from toasting the raw materials used to make oils. For castor beans, this includes magnesium and zinc – which contributes to hair growth.
  7. According to the same research conducted in Nigerian universities, toasting and boiling castor beans also increases protein content, a building block of hair that also provides strength.
  8. But it’s probably the most important aspect that roasting reduces anti-nutrient levels. Anti-nutrients are plant components that block or interfere with the body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals.

With anti-nutrients removed, even if the mineral and protein levels of Jamaican black castor oil were on the same level as cold pressed castor oil, they would still be more active.

Where To Find The Best Jamaican Black Castor Oil?

The best is going to come from Jamaicans. Tropic Isle Living was the first company to produce (and name) Jamaican black castor oil for the U.S. market. The company warns against producers who jump on the black castor’s popularity bandwagon, but use  colorants like cinnamon instead of the Jamaican process. Tropic Isle Living also offers a wide variety of products that are made with their Jamaican Black Castor Oil.

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Shea Moisture has a Jamaican black castor oil line as well. The product that demonstrates a high level of effectiveness (according to reviews) is the Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Leave-In Conditioner. After this product in the Strengthen and Restore line is the alkaline cleansing of Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Shampoo.

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How To Use Jamaican Black Castor Oil

Generally speaking, plain black castor oil is best used as a sealant. It locks in moisture, and is also a humectant. When used as a sealing oil, it helps keep your hair soft and draws added moisture to it.

Pre- or post-shampoo, black Jamaican also castor oil works well as part of a hair masque.

For a great DIY protein hair masque that strengthens and encourages growth, try blending egg whites then add a tablespoon of Jamaican black castor oil. Drench hair, apply and cover with a shower cap for 20 minutes. During and after rinsing, you’ll be able to feel the added strength in your hair strands. And the castor adds a nice sheen, too.

Whatever way you incorporate Jamaican castor into your regimen, don’t forget to massage the product into your scalp for added hair growth benefits.

Do you have a favorite Jamaican black castor oil product or do you prefer use it as a straight oil? Have you seen any hair growth results from using the oil? Share with us in the comments!

What is Castor Oil?

Can Castor Oil Grow Hair, For Real?

There’s a lot of contradictory information out there about castor oil. One side says castor oil grows hair like weeds, the opposing side claims castor oil doesn’t stimulate hair growth at all. Huh? Is there no middle ground in this? We think not. Read on to find out why.

But wait, first things first: castor oil DOES grow hair. Just wanted to clear that up. Now let’s see why it does, and why some people say it absolutely doesn’t.

What Is Castor Oil And How Is It Good For The Hair?

Castor oil is derived from the seeds of the castor plant, the botanical name of which is ricinus communis. In this article, we’re referring to regular, cold-pressed castor oilJamaican black castor oil is discussed in a different article.

Castor oil has a number of benefits for the scalp, in particular. And of course, the scalp is responsible for producing healthy hair, and for holding on to it so it doesn’t fall out.

Some common scalp problems are: dandruff, dry scalp, psoriasis, scalp that’s suffering from heat/chemical burns or gene-related alopecia. These ailments cause your scalp to produce hair that’s less optimal – or can cause it to drop your hair strands altogether.

Consider this: Say a friend of yours just gave you a beautifully smooth blowout. She handles that round bristle brush like a pro. The session was so relaxing you nearly fell asleep. A few hours later you feel little prickles in your scalp, then bumps – right in the area where your hair likes to break off. There’s trouble brewing, but here’s how castor oil might help.

  1. You may not have felt it, but your scalp might be burnt. This is highly likely, since the troubled, and therefore sensitive, area of the head is prickling. Castor oil is anti-inflammatory. It can help relieve the inflammation that’s causing the bumps.When a hair follicle is in distress, the skin surrounding it swells as a protective measure. But while the follicle is focusing on saving itself, the swelling could loosen the hair strand from the follicle. And tragedy ensues.
  2. As for the prickling of the burnt follicles, castor oil, too, helps relieve discomfort.
  3. It could be that the brush wasn’t clean. This can cause a similar reaction on your scalp. Castor oil is antibacterial and antifungal, as well.

Moms With Castor Oil

Castor Oil image from Flickr - Black Hair Spot

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/25740150891

Up until now, you’ve probably been wondering: “Is castor oil the stuff my mother used to give me when my stomach hurt?” Yes, it’s the very same stuff from the bottle that lived in the back of her linen closet or pantry.

When you were forced to down it as a kid, you didn’t know all the goodness it contained. Your mother may not have either! That’s how traditions are. Only the old folks know. We just knew, never get a stomach ache because Mom would hold out that nasty spoon of thick and rich castor oil.

The memories.

Castor oil has been used for thousands of years for good health. Like other natural substances, castor oil and its derivatives are widely used by pharmaceutical and other industries. The full range of its capabilities, however, are not made public. When castor oil is discussed, allegations of toxicity are thrown in somewhere. Declarations about its safety from the International Journal of Toxicity, on the other hand, are ignored.

Ricin, a toxin, is only found in the raw, watery bean mash. Because ricin is not oil soluble, it does not filter into the oil during processing, whether the oil is cold pressed, refined, or refined using the Jamaican black castor method.

Castor Oil’s Active Ingredient Is ‘Concentrated’

The full properties of castor oil are too lengthy to be mentioned here. But one of the reasons castor oil is so good at what it does is because its active ingredient is concentrated naturally within the oil.

The active component in castor oil is primarily ricinoleic acid, which is an Omega 9 fatty acid. Ricinoleic acid makes up 90% of castor oil. This gives castor oil increased abilities as compared to other oils. It is on the level of a serum. It can also be mixed with other ingredients and still remain very effective.

Which brings us to the meat of the matter or, rather, the hairy hair of it.

How Does Castor Oil Grow Hair?

Ricinoleic acid is close enough in structure and action to stand in for the scalp’s hair growth activator, a prostaglandin called PGE2. When massaged into the scalp, castor oil (via its active component ricinoleic acid) literally mimics the hair growth stimulator PGE2. In the most important ways, i.e., for hair growth (right?), the scalp cannot tell the difference between PGE2 and ricinoleic acid.

In case you’ve come across one of the hater websites that says castor does NOT grow hair, let’s get a little more specific with proof that it DOES. Remember, while sifting through this information, that castor oil mimics the function of the hair growth prostaglandin, PGE2.

  1. There are four receptors that PGE2 normally binds to, in order to initiate certain bodily functions. Ricinoleic acid only binds with two of those receptors. These two receptors, EP3 and EP4, are the same ones that are responsible for hair growth.
  2. PGE2 stimulates hair follicles in the early phase of growth.
  3. The common hair growth drug, minoxidil (Rogaine), works to increase PGE2 production and also normalize its production in those who are combatting hair loss. Findings suggest that the mechanism behind the hair-growth stimulating effect of minoxidil is the stimulation of PGE2 synthesis.
  4. Higher levels of PGE2 helps keep cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy from losing their hair

Castor oil works on the scalp because PGE2 is naturally present there. It just needs a boost. PGE2 is not present on every surface of your body. So don’t worry, it won’t be growing hair on your lips. It’s serum quality for eyelashes and brows, however. (Yes!)

How To Use Castor Oil

If you remember Mom’s spoonful of castor oil, you’ll also remember how thick it is. It can act like the opposite of a detangler with all the friction it can cause between hairs. The last thing you want to do when applying a castor oil hair mask for growth, is to lose hair due to the way you apply it! Maybe that’s what happened to the castor oil haters.

Anyways! Blend castor oil with a lighter oil to reduce the viscosity. Add olive oil or jojoba, bit by bit, stirring with your finger, until it the castor oil no longer feels sticky. Then massage it into your scalp for a few minutes.

From here you can leave the oil blend on for twenty minutes to an hour. You can cover your hair with a shower cap, if you like. Then wash it out with a nourishing shampoo (sulfate free). Castor oil is NOT the type of oil you should continue to reapply, over and over, without washing it out. Unless the castor oil is part of a water-based lotion or cream, wash it out before re-applying. This is because it converts into a gum easier than other oils.

If you are serious about growing/regrowing your hair, massage it in daily. But if your scalp starts to get a little tacky, cleanse it.

If you just want general benefits and a slightly increased rate of growth, use castor oil as your pre-poo on wash day.

Note: All things considered, hair growth is still a complicated process. You can compound it’s effects with a well-researched formula that contains castor oil as the main ingredient. A synergistic formula will grow your hair faster.

What Are The Best Castor Oil Hair Growth Products?

When you have a well-made product, the other oils and ingredients work together with the castor oil to increase its benefits, as if there weren’t enough already! Castor oil penetrates easily into the scalp and also helps other ingredients penetrate better, too.

Try the following:

  1. Hair Regrowth Serum - Black Hair Spot


    Eden Kingdom Essential Formula D Hair Regrowth Serum. The recommended use is once daily. Very helpfully, this company includes before and after hair growth testimonials.

  2. Hair Topical Wick and Strom Bottle - Black Hair Spot


    Wick & Strom Apex Crown Extra Strength Hair Revitalizing Topical Solution. The company claims their product works as good as, or better than, products like Rogaine. They also have a 30 day guarantee if you’re not pleased with the results. They say your hair will definitely be fuller in four weeks time.

    Both the above products are also anti-dandruff. These companies know well that issues like dandruff or dry scalp can hamper growth.

  3. Apricot Castor Oil from Thirsty Roots - Black Hair Spot


    Thirsty Roots Apricot Castor Oil. Another all-natural hair growth (and strengthener) oil. This product is appropriate for all hair types and styles. This includes relaxed hair and for use under protective styles.

  4. Amla &Olive Heavy Cream with Castor Oil and Ayurvedic Botanicals - Black Hair Spot


    If you’d also like to layer in the benefits of castor oil for the scalp (and hair), try Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Heavy Cream. It contains castor oil, too, along with a lot of other good stuff.

As far as the information that reaches the public from the scientific world, castor oil seems to be a well guarded secret. Most published studies are sponsored by the mega corporations in different industries – who themselves use what’s being studied. Depending on the market, they might publish material that supports something or rejects it. Or they won’t publish anything at all on the subject. That’s what we found.

And it’s understandable. We can see how castor oil might pose competition to the already popular regrowth products on the market. (Wink!)

Do you suffer from hair breakage or alopecia? What do you use for regrowth? Do you know someone who wants more new growth or thicker hair? Share this article!