Hair Loss FYI Pt. 1: Telogen Effluvium

First, I’d like to wish all of you a happy fall….into winter. If you’re in Texas, I’ll wish you a happy remainder of summer and winter twice a week! I’ve decided to start an informational blog series on hair loss which is major concern for many people of varying genders, ages and ethnicities. Because there are so many different causes of hair loss, I figured I’d take this little by little so as not to be overwhelming.

Photo courtesy of hairlosstreatment.com

I’ll start with a common hair loss issue, telogen effluvium.

Before I begin, it is extremely important to know that hair shedding is a normal event for all humans and the telogen phase is a normal part of the hair’s life cycle.

Telogen effluvium is when a large number of hair follicles go into the resting phase simultaneously. There are three types of telogen effluvium with the most common being the result of unusual stress that the body has gone through. Telogen effluvium can often be experienced by individuals who have crash dieted, undergone weight loss surgery, or gone through some other event that has caused their body stress like illness. Although not exactly sudden, the individual may notice that their hair is thinning a couple of months after the event while grooming their hair (washing, blow drying, combing, etc).

The good news is that telogen effluvium does not affect the follicles and the condition will eventually reverse itself once the stressor is removed.

Another form of telogen effluvium is when the hair follicles don’t remain in the resting phase but the cyclical growth phase is so short that the individual will see shedding and the hairs that are shed will be shorter than usual (indicating an interrupted growth cycle).

A last form of telogen effluvium occurs more slowly and is characterized by follicles that enter into the resting phase in a standard manner but not re-enter the growth phase for an extended period of time. Therefore, although the individual may not notice constant shedding as in the stress-induced type, but thinning.

Causes

There are several causes of telogen effluvium. Besides the dietary deficiencies I mentioned earlier, life events like delivering a baby (post-partum shedding), trauma, and medications (both oral and intravenous) can cause the hair to go into the telogen phase. One possible offender that some may not realize is exposure to toxic chemicals. Even chronic conditions can trigger this (often disheartening) event.

Cures

I am commonly asked what can be done about this type of telogen effluvium. In general, the way to treat telogen effluvium is to treat the cause. Be patient and allow the body to return to its equilibrium by removing the offending stressor. For example, if crash dieting is the cause, a healthier diet that integrates more iron and other vitamins and minerals will help end telogen effluvium. If you recently gave birth, the hormonal shift will eventually return to its normal status and the hair should start to re-enter the growth phase. If medication is the culprit, get with your healthcare provider to seek options that do not have the same side effects.

If you cannot determine the cause of your hair loss, see a doctor (usually a dermatologist) and see if they can point to a cause. If they can’t, they may be able to prescribe something that can at stimulate hair growth however if the underlying cause is not removed, you’ll likely need to continue with the prescription in order to prevent the problem from recurring.

Next time, I’ll be blogging about anagen effluvium.

Until then, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

 

*Photo courtesy of hairlosstreatment.com

 

What’s It All Worth? Price v. Value

The desire to return to natural, like most things, has become big business. Something that, for most of us, has a deep-rooted personal meaning and even philosophical implications is now being marketed and even companies that previously showed no interest in ethnic hair are packaging new brands to claim their share of the market.

Oftentimes, I hear naturals comment on the fact that many of the leading brands of natural hair products are very costly. When going through the testing phase to see what works best for your hair and your hair goals, it may not be feasible to spend $25, $30, and more; especially when many brands are indistinguishable in terms of their ingredient profile and  include the same ineffective ingredients that ethnic hair products have included for decades.

This week’s blog has to do with being a value-conscious consumer while shopping for your hair care needs. To start, I want to make some delineations. Price, has to do with the cost of an item. At a “dollar store”, the price of the items is $1. There are many situations in which price, for any given item, is key for consumers. Value, on the other hand, has to do with the benefits of an item in relation to the price paid. The easiest way to illustrate this is to use a food analogy.

The price of a meal for one at an average fast food place is about $7. The price of the ingredients needed to make a homemade grilled chicken salad is about $20 (chicken breasts, lettuce, tomatoes, low-fat cheese, and any other assortment of vegetables) and could be more. At first glance, the fast food meal is the better option. At only $7, you can eat, get full and it tastes good as well; but it will only feed you once and isn’t the healthiest option. However, the $20+ for the salad ingredients can feed you for several meals, has a stronger vitamin and mineral profile, and won’t leave you with the debilitating “itis,”

While the fast food has a more attractive price point at first glance, the salad offers more value because of the benefits it offers.The nourishment that you receive from the salad is worth the $20+ price point.

So should it be with your choice of hair care products. You must remember that these choices are not just about looking nice in public. This is about the health of your hair and your body overall, as we know that our cosmetic products are penetrative.  It is much more beneficial to take a value-conscious stance when deciding and purchasing what works for you.

“But, Kristen. All I have is $20 to spend on my hair care regimen!” What I suggest is that you get the best products you can get for $20. No matter how much money you have, you don’t have to settle for cheap (in terms of quality) products just because of a limited budget. You can have healthy hair without going broke.

Until next week, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

 

 

 

First Things First: Positive Self-Image & Its Role In Hair Health

We at Cute & Kinky get to do a lot of traveling and we meet a lot of individuals from different walks of life. They all have specific hair concerns and needs. They inquire and we try, as best we can, to answer their questions. The most prevalent question we get pertains to hair growth. They ask questions about when and how long it will take them to grow hair down their back. They ask why their hair is short or why their hair “won’t grow.” They ask if the product will make their hair grow. They ask how they can make their curls look more curly and less coiled. They ask how they can make their hair “lay down” around the edges. They await my response with wide eyes and baited breath that soon fade when I tell them the truth about hair growth or the fact that the moisturizer won’t make their coils look like Shirley Temple. Then, some say that they are “afraid” to go natural (although it’s more like a return to natural) or let their real hair be seen and proceed to use all kinds of negative adjectives for their hair to explain why. This happens across age groups and even genders.

Besides the interactions that I have with customers, I came across a post this week on my personal Facebook feed that made me upset first, but sad soon after. The plot was that a father  wanted his 1 year-old daughter to get a relaxer.

You’ve probably guessed by the title that this blog will be a little different from the last two and you’d be right. If you’ve read the “About Us” section of the site, you’ll see that we are a company that is based on the belief that self-acceptance is the best thing that anyone can do for themselves. This message follows in our choice of imaging online and in person. The reasoning for this is that how you feel about yourself plays out in how you treat yourself. What you love, you nurture. What you love, you give time and effort.

Oftentimes, we find that many individuals have damaged hair as a result of their desire to try to disavow, hide, or transform their hair in unhealthy and hasty ways. Most of the time, the issues they face are easily remedied with a consistent regimen of safe hair care practices. However, what concerns me more are the negative images they’ve embraced as standards that brought them to the place of wanting to escape who they are.

While I completely stand by any individual’s choice to wear their hair the way they want, I want it to be a choice that they made because it makes them happy; not because it is an effort to dismiss themselves or be someone or something they are not. I don’t want it to be a choice that was born out of the need to shroud who they are or what they look like to be more socially acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, at some point, most, if not all, of us put a towel, blanket or shirt over our heads and pretended to have long hair . At one point, we innocently pranced around the house flipping that blanket or towel or blouse from side to side in a quest to fulfill the desire to be like the images we were exposed to like Barbies, Disney princesses, models and television game show eye candy. We wanted to have some semblance of what many of us were told, either explicitly or implicitly, was not an attainable goal for us (either in length or texture). As we grew older, it was apparent that those images were emblazoned on our minds and we did everything we could to attain our desired looks with real adult tools and methods. Most of us can attest to the fact that grace is likely the only reason we have any hair at all after the teenage experimentation we conducted on our heads. However, many individuals get caught in an enduring cycle and several years past adolescence, they continue to grapple with their own image and the images in their mind that tell them they are not enough as they are.

So what does this have to do with hair health?

I’m not into hair typing (I’ll explain why in a later blog) but I don’t care if you have type 2, 3, or 4 hair. In order to have healthy type 2, 3, or 4 hair, you have to take care of your hair as it is. Treating your 4 like a 3, 3 like a 2, or 2 like a 4 will cause your hair more stress than it is built for and always leave you unhappy about who you are and how you look. Trying to turn your hair into something it wasn’t built for will be equally unsuccessful. Show your hair that you love it as it is by spending more time truly nurturing it and less time trying to make it do something that it’s not designed to do. Leave the quick fixes alone because your hair is a part of a living, breathing, functional entity: YOU!

Unfortunately, the images that tell us what we should be in order to be more acceptable will never end. We will never be able to dictate what Madison Ave. wants to bombard mass media with. We cannot control what even some Black hair companies present to us in terms of imaging. However, what we can do is make sure that we keep a grasp on who we are and treat ourselves accordingly.

You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Sweat It: How To Maintain Hair Health While Working Out

Exercise is inarguably one of the best things you can do for yourself. As I mentioned in last week’s post, exercise helps transport blood, oxygen and nutrients all over your body. These are all things that you need to live a healthy life…and maintain a healthy head of hair.

However, when we exercise at a certain level, we begin to sweat (which, BTW, is good for us). Have you ever noticed that after a strong sweat session, your hair may feel and look a lifeless or your style just isn’t holding up as well (for me, my twists get fuzzy)? This is likely because sweat leaves a film of salt on our hair and scalp that can clog pores, zaps the hair’s moisture and negatively affect our hair’s health if not attended to properly and regularly.

We realize that the feasibility of shampooing our hair every day is low and this is especially so if you are exercising every day (or even every other day). Further, for us kinky-curly types, a daily shampoo isn’t the best thing for our hair. Therefore, you should, at the least, make an effort to rinse the scalp with lukewarm water while you are in the shower. Doing this helps remove the salt deposits and restore some equilibrium to the hair and scalp. Although this may seem like a chore, I have found that wearing a low maintenance style like twists makes this task easier because it allows me to keep my hair in sections and prevents me from having to do the work of a marathon post-wash detangling session.

After washing, make sure to thoroughly moisturize your hair. Not only does the sweat zap the moisture out of your hair, but after rinsing the scalp, you want to replenish and seal in moisture that may have been lost.

As a general rule, I recommend making sure that hair gets a thorough wash (as opposed to a rinse), each week because even if you are not exercising, your body produces sweat every day all over your body. A Cute & Kinky shampoo is coming but until then, make sure the shampoo you use is strong enough to cleanse, but not so strong that it strips your hair.

Above all, never neglect the gift of movement in favor of stylish locks. As long as you know how to manage your locks while undertaking an exercise regime, you will be a cute and kinky masterpiece at all times.

Until next week, you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.