Grooming practices for Afro-textured hair

Dr. Renée Beach discusses common hair growth patterns, washing practices, and bed-time routines (700 words, 3 minute reading time)

Grooming practices for those with Afro-textured hair differ from other ethnicities, according to Dr. Renée Beach, who presented on hair and scalp disorders at Skin Spectrum Summit in Montreal in 2019.

Whereas non-Afro-textured hair types may require washing two to three times a week, weekly washing may be generally adequate for Afro-textured hair. 

“The hair can be quite fragile for manipulation, so you really want to have patients [be] careful with regards to styling practices,” explained Dr. Beach.

“The hair growth is generally less than other hair types and this can be approximately half or three-quarters of the rate of other hair types.”

Patients in this cohort prefer to use conditioners over shampoos mainly because some of the slipping agents in conditioners help Afro-textured hair be more manageable after it is shampooed. 

As a result of the decreased growth rate in patients with Afro-textured hair, trimming frequency should be reduced to twice a year on average, according to Dr. Beach.

Additionally, the bedtime routine for patients with Afro-textured hair is significant for two reasons: first, to preserve a certain hairstyle, and second, to minimize trauma to the existing hair.

Some patients will apply moisturizing products but will also protect the hair with a smooth covering, such as a bonnet or wrap to minimize friction.

The takeaway: Washing and everyday hair care practices may be different for patients with Afro-textured hair as compared to patients with Caucasian hairstyles. Consider this when making medical recommendations for hair-related issues.

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FROM THE LITERATURE ON AFRO-TEXTURED HAIR

Clinical recognition and management of alopecia in women of color

  • Traction alopecia occurs at higher rates in women with Afro-textured hair, according to a recent study. This is due to both to physical qualities of the hair itself—baseline tensile strength, hair density, and growth rates differ compared to Caucasian hair—and typical hair care practices, according to researchers.

    From “Int. J. Women's Dermatology”

The natural hair bias in job recruitment

  • Recent research found that women with Afro-textured hair were seen as less professional and less likely to get a job based on a job interview. Black and white female job applicants were evaluated and authors of the study found that Black women with Afro-textured hair were less likely to be recommended for a job than Black women with straight hairstyles or white women with curly or straight hairstyles.

    From "SPPS"

The Black identity, hair product use, and breast cancer scale

  • A study has found that there may be a link between off-the-shelf hair products commonly used by women with Afro-textured hair, and a higher rate of breast cancer in the same population. However, researchers of the study said that the link is weak and there may be other factors at play.

    From "PLoS One"

AT THE INTERSECTION OF SKIN AND SOCIETY

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Dr. Katie Beleznay discusses why post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is one of the top reasons that skin of colour patients seek dermatological care. Subscribe to Skin Spectrum Weekly and have each issue sent directly to your phone or inbox.

Thank you to our panelists and delegates for making Skin Spectrum Summit 2020 a great success. Conference highlights will soon be posted to the Skin Spectrum website. As always, we welcome your questions and comments on topics in Ethnodermatology.

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