Black Hair Resolutions To Make For New Year, According To Experts

Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images.
Many of us have already set our New Year's resolutions, whether it be working towards getting that promotion at work or having a go at reformer Pilates.
During the lockdown, one of my goals was to try and maintain healthy hair. However, shortly after setting this goal, I soon realised that I knew nothing about how to maintain my natural afro hair; after all, my hair had been relaxed from the age of sixteen. After realising this, I started watching YouTube videos and reading articles about how to adopt healthy hair habits – and some of the tips and tricks I learned have contributed to my hair health and growth (that and my genetics). 
To the Black women reading this who, like myself, want to obtain new healthy hair habits for 2023, I have spoken to 3 trichologists who recommend some dos and don’ts for achieving optimum hair health this year.

Watch your nutrition

A lot of people tend to downplay our diets' impact on our hair health. However, numerous studies have suggested that nutritional imbalances remain some of the most common causes of hair loss
“Having a poor, imbalanced, or restricted diet could very well cause hair loss, or make you more prone to certain forms of alopecia,” says Afope Atoyebi, certified trichologist.
“This is equally true if you live with gut/digestive health conditions that impede your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat. Common culprits include protein deficiency (common in vegetarian & vegan diets), as well as deficiencies in iron, and vitamin D. It’s always best to eat foods rich in these nutrients, but it’s never a bad idea to include a multivitamin in your diet to supplement your nutrition.”

Don’t overdo it with the oiling and creaming of your scalp.

Flaky scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis are rife in the Black community, and according to Afope many cases are self-inflicted. 
“Our scalps naturally produce up to 1 tbsp. of natural oils (sebum) every week. In conjunction with the water and nutrient-rich sweat that our scalp secretes, sebum works efficiently to lubricate and moisturise the scalp - constantly. The problem is it doesn’t stop, and too much build-up of oils on the scalp creates the perfect environment for (unwanted) lipid-feeding fungi to thrive, and these fungi have been closely linked to those pesky flaky scalp conditions. 
“Flakiness can result from either excessive natural sebum production and/or the application of additional oils to the scalp. Coupled with the build-up that occurs as a result of infrequent shampooing, the practice of ‘greasing’ the scalp is doubly problematic. At best, it’s an uncomfortable condition to experience, at worst it can obstruct follicles and also cause hair loss.”
Afope suggests that if you’re concerned about your scalp being ‘dry’, simply take a clean finger and press it into your un-oiled scalp for about 5-7seconds. The oily sheen you’ll see is proof that your scalp is doing a good job moisturising and lubricating itself. 

Protein isn’t just for gym shakes — add it to your hair routine

If healthy hair growth is the goal then it’s essential to ensure that you use some sort of protein treatment or product in your hair. 
 “Your hair strands are made up of ‘keratinious fibre’ which is a type of protein. When you wash your hair, you're losing some of that valuable protein your hair needs to remain strong. This is why you need to ensure you're giving your hair some sort of protein treatment,” says Salem, Cosmetic Scientist, Trainee trichologist and founder of vegan haircare brand Root2Tip
“Each hair strand is held together by a ‘disulphide bond'.  Protein reinforces these bonds, making hair stronger, and thus creating less of an opportunity for hair to be damaged by everyday styling, maintenance and chemical treatments like relaxers and texture releases.”
Salem recommends using a Protein treatment like the Root2Tip Protein to go pouch – Triple Protein masque once a month.

Start a steaming regime

Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images.
After successfully completing wash day, steaming your hair can sound like a chore. But they’re numerous benefits to adding a steaming regime to your wash day routine. 
“Steaming your hair is a real game changer for natural hair. It allows for hair to get a deeper hydration by lifting the cuticles on the outer surface of the hair – thus allowing your hair products to get deeper into the hair strands,” says Salem. 
“The steam encourages blood flow that helps your hair to retain its moisture and increase its softness which can help to stimulate healthy hair growth. Steaming also helps to hydrate your hair strands which is especially important if you struggle with dry and brittle hair.”

Trim your ends

The desire to have long hair is something that many of us have been infatuated with from a young age – when we used to wrap towels around our heads and pretend it was our hair. It’s this infatuation with long hair that deters some of us from trimming our hair. When, in actual fact, clinging to dead ends is stopping us from reaching that optimum level of healthy hair.
“If you want to increase your chances of healthy hair growth then you need to trim your ends regularly. Think of your hair like a plant with withered leaves, in order for the plant to reach its full potential you need to cut off those leaves – it’s the same with your hair,” says Salem. 
“The older hair gets, the thinner it becomes through manipulation and split ends. So, holding on to those stringy ends will ultimately cause more breakage and prevent your hair from growing in length. A regular trim every 4–6 months or once a year at a minimum can hugely impact your hair journey
If you’re guilty of clinging onto those dead ends because you don’t know how to trim your hair, check out Salem’s tips on how to trim Black hair textures. Alternatively, you could also go to your hairdresser for a quick wash, treatment and trim every few months. 

Protect the cuticle (and not the ones on your nails)

Our hair is always being touched, whether it be by our hands, products, brushes, the wind or the rain. Which makes our hair cuticles more prone to damage, which can result in unhealthy hair strands. 
“The cuticle is the outer part of your hair shaft and is the first point of contact that your hair comes in contact with the outside world. Your hair is only as good as your cuticle health. The more cracks and holes in a cuticle, the more prone you can be to breakage,” says Enitan, certified trichologist and founder of Health Hair Studio
“The actual fractioned cuticle can only be seen under a microscope. Frequent split ends, tangles and knotting are all signs of a damaged cuticle. Your hair strands would taper off towards the ends of the strands meaning more see-through ends.”
“Unfortunately, damaged cuticles cannot be stopped. Therefore, the idea is to preserve healthy cuticles for as long as possible as this would enable length and overall health. You can do this by avoiding tension-induced hairstyles.”
“Ceramides are a great ingredient to look out for in your products. It provides armour around the hair strand so that it doesn’t degrade quickly – resulting in you having thicker and healthier hair.” 
Enitan recommends using a deep conditioner that contains ceramides like the Inches Conditioned by Healthy Hair Studio.

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