Biologically, there is no difference between black hair loss and non-black hair loss.
All mammals have hair with the same basic structure and biological components.
Above the skin surface is the hair shaft, made of the cuticle (outer layer) and the cortex (inner layer). The cortex contains melanin, which determines the hair color.
Below the scalp is the follicle, which is surrounded by other structures, such as the sebaceous gland, that both supports and nourishes the follicle and hair, hair shaft and surrounding scalp tissue.
Straight Versus Curly Hair
However, nature has created different types of hair structure for different types of environments.
For example, straight hair is harder to damage than curly hair because it has more cuticle layers. The size of the follicle determines the thickness of the hair, making it either fine and thin or thick and coarse.
On the other hand, cuticle layers that flatten the hair shaft cause the hair to curl. Wavy hair has a structure that is somewhere between straight and curly.
Curly hair is more prone to damage than straight hair, and the curlier it is, the more fragile it can be for a couple of reasons.
One, straight hair tends to distribute the oil secreted by the sebum more easily than curly hair. Thus, curly hair can more easily dry out.
Second, the way the cuticles combine to create curly or wavy hair tends to result in a less strong hair shaft.
African American Hair Versus Non-African American Hair
African American hair tends to be the curliest type of hair. It’s tightly coiled and coarse.
While this type of hair is physically more fragile, it evolved with darker skin and taller, more slender body types to help protect the body from intense sunlight and heat in equatorial and tropical climates.
But this increased fragility makes black hair more easily damaged during certain hair treatment procedures, such as coloring, relaxing, or certain hair augmentation procedures, such as the application of hair extensions and hair weaves.
In the end, different types of hair require different types of hair care treatment.
All Hair, Black & Non-Black, Is Ultimately Damaged in the Same Way
Hair loss, however, has universal causes. This is because the nature of the hair follicle, unlike hair type, does not vary across races.
While it’s true that certain hair treatments can be more damaging to African American hair than non- African American hair, any hair treatment or augmentation that injures the hair follicle can cause it to die, and when that happens, the hair will fall out, no matter what its type.
Known diseases of the hair follicle, or genetic pre-conditions, such as male pattern baldness, will also cause the same type of hair loss independent of the type of hair one has.
In many ways, this is good news. Because the mechanisms of hair loss at the follicle level is the same independent of race, this means that existing hair loss treatments are pretty much equally effective for black and non-black hair.
These would include the FDA approved medications, such as Propecia & Minoxidil and surgical hair replacement treatments.
© 2012, Anapelli Hair Clinic