Hair can be a great source of pride, pain or both among African-Americans, and Amy McMichael, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, has devoted much time and research to helping these individuals prevent hair loss and take back their hair health.
McMichael, who is also serving as the President of the Skin of Color Society, spoke to Beauty in The Bag about some of the unique hair issues facing African Americans, and shared tips on how to these individuals can better care for their hair.
Here’s what she had to say:
1. Is hair a big problem for African Americans?
Yes, hair is a large problem for African Americans. In our studies looking at the reasons for patients coming to the dermatologist, hair loss was among the top 10 reasons for these visits. No other ethnicity has alopecia in their top ten.
Other studies we have performed have shown that African-American women have many hair and scalp issues at baseline, even when they are not seeking treatment for them.
2. What is the single best advice you can give a person concerned with hair loss or breakage?
Stopping heat and chemicals when there is breakage is one of the most important factors in rehabilitating the hair.
3. What do you do every day to keep your hair looking healthy?
This will vary depending on the person, the type of hair they have and the way they wear their hair. Most important is to have a healthy scalp since healthy hair can’t grow if the scalp is not healthy. This usually means washing hair once per week or every other week. This should be the minimum frequency that hair washing takes place. There are some folks who wash more frequently, and that is fine as well.
Conditioning at every wash is a must. Using leave-on dimethicone-coating agents when hair is wet is important. Next, it is important to have gentle hair care, so very little brushing and combing. Just get the hair into the style and leave it there. At the time of washing, use moisturizing products to minimize how much daily leave on conditioner is needed. Do not use too many oils to the hair and scalp, since these will just impart shine without providing any strength. Regular trims every 8-10 weeks can help the hair look healthy. Healthy hair is really a result of all the weekly and monthly hair care practices and not what you do on the individual day. If you take care of your hair on a regular basis, you will have healthier looking hair on a daily basis.