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Black Girl Taboos: Hair today gone tomorrow

This sis is a topic that we at OY have wanted to discuss for a moment, but as so many of you know, Black women do not talk about hair loss. The shame, embarrassment and reduced confidence we are left feeling, leads many of us and our sistas to live with the problem without seeking treatment or advice.

I have personally suffered with hair loss that became more significant after childbirth, where hair loss for many is quite normal. Unfortunately, my initial hair loss was due to a burn and not due to a recoverable illness or disorder and so as I have got older and hair begins to thin it has become increasingly obvious to me. I say to me because others have told me they had not noticed, for others they were unaware until I showed them.

My hair loss is in one patch which is approximately 5cm2. I have tried products, massage and protective styles to maintain and improve the thickness and growth of my hair in that patch, and for me the most effective method of maintenance has been a reduction in stressing about it. That may sound over simplified but it's true! The moment I acknowledged this is me and decided to embrace what would grow, the hair went from strength to strength. In addition, I use a few drops of black caster oil and massage twice a week and this has grown me thickness and length, albeit with a few greys lol.

Me aside, when researching this topic, much of the information available suggests that traction hair loss is the number one player for Black women. Traction Alopecia is caused by the constant pulling (“traction”) of hair, usually some hairs more than others, like losing your edges to achieve the 'tight', up do's. Straight talk, this traction leads to bald patches which are even more common if your hair is chemically permed. This can be reversible, so don't stay silent or ignore it.

Symptoms include little bumps on your scalp which progress to missing and broken hairs. As I said, our edges are most susceptible to this type of hair loss however, depending on your hairstyles you may notice it occurs on other areas of your scalp. You can also get redness of the scalp, soreness or stinging of your scalp

or scaling, this I didn't know, but has made me mindful for when i'm braiding my daughters hair because all of these can lead to the hair follicles becoming so damaged and scarred that they can’t produce new hair.

To prevent and correct this type of hair loss consider wearing your hair down and if you need to pull it up into a ponytail or bun keep it loose, low and get excited about headbands and silk scarfs if the lack of clean edges is displeasing to your vibe!

Other ways you can keep this type of hair loss in check are change up the do, alternate between braids, a wig or wearing your hair down. Avoid excessive chemicals either in processing or products and the use of elastic bands. Consider wearing your braids thicker (although not to heavy) and wigs with satin caps.

Like I said before, I lost hair after all of my pregnancies the most in the last two, don't get it twisted it wasn't Elisa turns into Tangled after the big chop but it felt significant at the time. Keeping it real though, I also gained a lot of hair in my pregnancies in all sorts of places lol! Hair loss during pregnancy isn't common but is considered normal, and related to hormone changes. If it's excessive or continual it maybe related to illness, such as Hypothyroidism, so again speak up and get help. For most women hair growth resumes naturally whilst, hair shedding (not called loss because it was the extra you grew during that time) occurs around four months after birth, when the hormones begin to drop. Your usual rate of hair growth should then return.

There is another form of hair loss that effects us known as central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) and it is caused by repeated use of braids, weaves, corn rows, chemical relaxers and hot combs. Yes, my sistas everything we routinely do with our hair is literally ripping it off, oh lawd! These and other hair care practices cause hair follicles to become inflamed and without changes to your hair care regime can cause you permanent hair loss. This hair loss is usually prominent appearing as balding in the middle of the head which continues out onto the rest head in a circular pattern. Women complain of a tenderness across the scalp which if left untreated can lead to scarring and the permanent hair loss we are all wanting to avoid. The condition is treated with topical (Creams) or injected corticosteroids to stimulate growth and antibiotics to treat the inflammation.

Whatever the reason for your hair loss sis do not hide. I know personally the emotional and physiological impact is real and have shed my tears in the past. As beautiful Black women we see our crown as a reflection of who we are and it often defines our beauty and therefore how we feel about ourselves. I have known hair loss to change a social butterfly into a hermit and this was a waste of her and a loss for society. Other beauties I know cover their heads with wigs and weaves but never pay any attention or love to their natural hair but are subconsciously hoping it will grow. Or are you the buy and try every product on the market but don't give any of it a minute to work before becoming disheartened and on to the next one! I'm not judging, it's just hope alone wont help and products galore (especially without understanding the reason for the loss) will not bring you the results you are looking for.

There are things we can all do and they are not rocket science but sometimes we do need a reminder. Get some good rest gurl, we can't all get 7 hours a night but if what you get allows your mind, body and soul to replenish you are on the right path. Move, mate for me this is shaking my butt around the kitchen to some fine vibes but for you it may be a long run. Eat well, at good times and allow digestion to happen before sleep. Connect with others, where your girls at? Meet up call up catch up laughter is good for the soul and happy hormones thrive on laughter. Put aside 'you' time, to minimise stress and start meditating my friend, seeking that connection with yourself has a powerful impact on your mindset and being at your best will again increase those happy hormone releases that enhance how we look and feel!.

Taking physical action can look like using nourishing oils to re-hydrate dry hair and scalp, whilst adding a massage relaxes nerve receptors to help relieve any pain. Microneedling is another option that is commonly used on the face, and it involves rolling tiny needles over your skin, the needles cause small injuries, encouraging the skin to produce collagen when it repairs itself. When used on the scalp microneedling can help boost blood flow, allowing serums to be used to penetrate deeper within the skin, and boosts hair follicle strength. Ladies I have to be honest this is not a treatment I have personal thought of let alone used, I have shared this and other treatments because for some of you I know this is the first time you have considered looking for help and I am excited for the fruits you produce from the courage you possess.

At the end of the day we all want to look and feel our best. Some of that will require the acknowledgement of where we are at and where we can get to! This journey may involve seeking specialist advice, that of a doctor for blood tests, a nutritionalist, for supplement advice, like increasing our vitamin D intake, a meeting with a trichologist or seeking a herbalist. Whatever you need to do for you, take action, save and produce what you can, and then manage your look. Let's embrace change and enjoy the next chapter, whats the alternative, wear a hat for the rest of our lives and become ugly because we don't get to know what else about us is beautiful? No way sis, SHINE, I dare you xxx

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