How is Black Hair Different from White Hair? Everything you Need to Know!

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Black Hair Different from White Hair?

Among other things, the shape of your hair follicles determines its texture, and black hair differs from that of other races primarily because of this reason. It is difficult for the hair’s natural oil, called sebum, to flow from the scalp to the bottom of the hair when the follicles in black hair have a flattened elliptical oval shape. In turn, this would affect black hair’s texture as well.

White or Caucasian hair has rounded follicles, whereas oils travel freely through the air. As a result, white hair grows at a slightly faster rate than African-American hair.

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In this guide, I’ll explain how black hair differs from white hair, what the differences are, and why they exist. In the next section, we’ll discuss natural hair care recommendations.

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How is Black Hair Different from White Hair?

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African-American hair is richer in lipids, or fats than white hair, but these lipids are less tightly bound, which is why African-American hair is so fond of oils. Additionally, compared to other hair types, the follicle size is substantially greater and it has an elliptical cross-section with a flattened surface.

Water is a great source of hydration and is necessary to maintain the health of the hair, regardless of the structure or pattern of your curls. However, a substance known as sebum is the main source of moisture. Sebum is produced by your hair as it moves from the scalp to the tip, keeping it hydrated. Every hair type’s scalp makes this to nourish and safeguard the hair follicles.

The movement of water and sebum up and down the hair shaft hydrates the follicle. Dry hair results when sebum and water cannot move up and down the shaft, and this is precisely what occurs to black hair. Black hair is coily or kinky, therefore, the tight curl pattern stops the hair from moving as easily as it can with straighter hair types.

As a result, black hair develops in curves like zigzags, coils, loops, and spirals. Because of this, it tends to grow upward rather than downward and can take on shapes that defy gravity, including afros and puffs.

The little moisture that black hair produces, on the other hand, must be preserved. Because of this, black hair does not benefit from daily or frequent hair washing.

Let’s look at why knowing the difference between black hair and other hair types is crucial.

Also Read: Black People Statistics You Probably Didn’t Know About!

Why do you need to know the differences between black and white hair?

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Black women have fewer options for hair products because the majority of them are made for white women. However, the hair of black women is so unique that using treatments made for other hair types could harm their hair. You should therefore utilize various products, according to that.

But how can you choose the right hair products if you don’t know the difference between black hair and other types?

You must be aware of these variations in order to know how to effectively take care of your particular hair type.

How do you care for black hair?

If you have naturally curly or kinky hair, you’ve probably noticed that your hair-care routine differs from that of your white friends who have straight hair. However, we’ve discovered that a lot of women—and black people, for that matter—continue to have misconceptions about how to properly take care of their hair. Let’s review some recommended practices that you may be familiar with.

Common style products like brushes and combs encourage the curl to straighten out, but the hair has a natural resistance to straightening, which is what causes the breaking. Thus, it is important for black people to treat their hair gently in general.

We go through some more examples of how to take care of black hair below.

1. Washing Black Hair

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To stop your scalp from itching, you might be tempted to wash your black hair regularly, possibly 2-3 times each week. However, washing your hair more frequently than necessary will deplete it with the moisture and vital oils that it needs.

The major benefit of having kinky hair is that it requires less frequent washing than other hair varieties. To prevent dryness and frizz, you should wash your hair every week or every two weeks. A conditioner can help restore moisture to a certain extent. We advise using a conditioner with a pH of 6.5 since it will help stop moisture from escaping the follicle and reduce sebum loss.

Remember to avoid using hot water while washing your hair because it dries it out and saps its moisture. Instead, carefully wash your hair with warm water.

2. Use a wooden comb

When it comes to detangling and combing your hair, a wide-toothed wooden comb will be your best friend if you don’t already have one in your drawer. Compared to their plastic cousins, wooden combs are much easier to manoeuvre through hair.

Additionally, more potent styling treatments are needed for these hair types. To control the corks, a thick mousse is required.

3. Use relaxers with caution  

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Use your relaxer carefully if you plan to relax your kinky hair. Always seek a skilled hair stylist to verify that the relaxer is applied safely to reduce hair damage. Only touch-ups on freshly grown hair should be performed every two to three months. On previously relaxed hair, never use a relaxer again.

4. Hydrate Your Afro Hair Always

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Moisture is great for kinky hair. You should regularly hydrate your hair if you have kinky hair because it dries out more rapidly and loses moisture. Applying hair oil or cream is usually a good idea before styling your hair. Use a highly conditioning product to keep your hair hydrated the entire time you have protective styles on, such as braids or twists.

5. Use A Sulfate-Free Shampoo

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It’s possible that a lot of shampoos contain substances like sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, or ammonium lauryl sulfate. Additionally, they tend to damage and dry out your natural hair.

To provide more moisture to your hair while also being kinder to your scalp, it is advised that you use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner once a week. You can use a shampoo containing Jamaican Black Castor Oil, shea butter, and apple cider vinegar to strengthen and restore your curly hair.

The more affordable alternative would be to wash your hair with black soap, especially the local varieties found in the markets if needing to purchase a sulfate-free shampoo on a regular basis is a little out of your price range.

6. Styling

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Individual hair styling preferences can vary greatly, but generally speaking, a decent rule of thumb is to put your hair away and keep it happy. Leaning on protective techniques like braids and twists is essential for maintaining healthy hair because dry air and excessive manipulation can harm sensitive strands.

Avoid rubber bands, tight ponytails, and other hairstyles that could pull your hair, though.

7. Eat Healthy Meals for Your Hair Needs

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Eating well-balanced meals not only benefits your body but also strengthens and improves the condition of your hair. Your hair will grow faster if you eat a balanced, healthy meal that is high in low-fat proteins, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Consume foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and avocados, for a healthy scalp.

Increase your protein intake in your diet by consuming foods like poultry and eggs to grow stronger hair. You should consume meals high in vitamins A and C, such as green leafy vegetables like spinach and asparagus, to keep your hair hydrated.

8. Braid Your kinky Hair Before You Sleep

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Never go to bed without separating your hair into a few braids, even if you don’t have them in or aren’t styling your kinky hair. To keep moisture in throughout the night, braiding or twisting before bed. Your strands will be held together firmly by braiding, sharing their moisture and preventing them from breaking loose and chafing against the pillow. Your bedtime regimen should include braiding before bed.

9. Wrap before bed

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For best preparation for the next day, take the time to gently re-moisturize it and wrap it in a silk bonnet or scarf. Whether we are naturally curly or not, most black people have been urged to wrap their hair at night. Your mornings become simpler and less stressful with this little habit. 

Ingredients to Avoid in black hair Hair Products

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1. Sulfates

The oil and buildup that styling products leave on the hair and scalp are removed by sulphates, which are cleansing agents. They make up a sizable category of components used in skincare, haircare, and household cleaning products. The foaming effect is produced by sodium lauryl sulphate, which is most typically found in shampoos.

Sulfate should be avoided since it might sensitize the skin and irritate it, which is particularly problematic for those with eczema. Due to the removal of the hair’s natural oils, it is particularly drying on kinky hair.

Cocamidopropyl betaine, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, sodium cocoyl isethionate, and cocamidopropylamine oxide are some examples of natural washing agents that effectively clean hair without removing its natural oils.

2. Parabens

In order to stabilize formulae and prevent the formation of mold, fungi, and dangerous pathogens, preservatives called parabens are employed. They come in a variety of forms, including butylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and ethylparaben.

They are frequently present in lotions, shampoos, and conditioners since everything made of water needs a preservative to keep it from forming mold.

In addition to being linked to endocrine disruption, developmental toxicity, and reproductive toxicity, parabens are known to irritate the skin and eyes. They have been connected to the proliferation of breast cancer cells and have the ability to mimic the hormone estrogen.

3. Silicones

The silicones used in hair care products have been supported by science and are regarded as safe. To prevent moisture loss, silicones are utilized in a wide variety of skin and hair care products. While lower-grade silicones tend to build up more quickly, higher-grade silicones allow nutrients and moisture to enter the hair shaft.

Natural sealants like silicones are not. They impart a fake gloss that comes from the impact of plastic. Due to buildup that weighs down hair, silicones can cause kinky hair to look lifeless and drab over time. They can trap dirt and stop moisture from absorbing, which can weaken afro hair.

You might use stearic acid and wheatgerm oil as effective silicone substitutes instead.

4. Phthalates

To make the fragrance of scented products last longer, phthalates are chemicals that are frequently employed. You won’t find them on the back of your products because they are typically listed as “fragrances” in an ingredient list. The EU has prohibited phthalates that were viewed as potentially hazardous.

However, phthalates have been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, and endocrine disruption. They are frequently present in goods created in the United States, even though they are prohibited in cosmetics sold in the European Union.

There are several phalatate-free substitutes, including citrates, sebacates, adipates, and phosphates. Because of their advantages for kinky hair, you can use essential oils.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is black hair so dry?

Fros don’t absorb as much moisture as our Caucasian cousins’ hair; added to this, the structure of our hair (curls and kinks, and increased density) means that nutrients often don’t travel along the length of our strands as well as we’d like.

Why is African hair different from Caucasian hair?

Not only is African hair often coiled, but it also has a unique texture. African hair produces plenty of protective oils, called sebum, which keep our hair healthy. In fact, African hair actually produces more oils than Caucasian and Asian hair.

Why should black people not wash their hair every day?

It is not advisable to wash black hair daily, as it can make your hair dry and brittle. Which shampoos are best for African-American hair? For the best results, use SLS-free shampoos that are gentle on your hair and scalp

Now it’s your turn

Because of the way the follicles are shaped, black hair is very different from white hair. The form of the follicle makes it vulnerable to damage, and there is no way to straighten the hair without giving it minor harm. African-Americans frequently resort to using excessive amounts of heat protectant to keep their curl pattern, and frequently, that approach may not even be effective. Black women are prone to heat damage, which occurs when the curl pattern is lost as a result of intense heat being applied to it.

The best strategy is to just avoid all heat-producing items and substances.

Wearing protective hairstyles like braids should become commonplace for black women since they safeguard the hair shaft and encourage strong hair growth.

Everyone with black hair should take the time to understand their hair type and how to maintain it because there is a lot more to it than you might imagine.

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Sedi here...Fascinated by the interplay between people, lifestyle, relationships, and communication dedicated to empowering women and spreading positive messages about black people. When she's not writing, Sedi is busy advocating for plastic-free earth with her local NGO. Got questions? Just hit the comments" Her socials: @SediDjentuh