Appearance concerns mean one in five black women risk hair loss
An extensive study into attitudes towards black women’s hair has found that an underlying bias puts pressure on black women to undergo damaging hair styling methods that significantly increases their risk of hair loss in black women.
The Perception Institute in the US carried out the first study to look into the perception of black women’s hair. Known as the Hair IAT, the company analysed attitudes in relation to natural hair.
They also conducted a ‘Good Hair’ survey which looked into hair anxieties, participants’ experiences with their own hair and a general attitude to black women’s hair. The results of both interestingly showed there is negative bias placed upon black women’s hair and its texture which is seen as less attractive. Worryingly, this image perception is causing one in five black women to risk losing their hair.
Why these perceptions cause one in five black women to risk hair loss
Black women often feel that their natural hair is viewed in a negative manner. Therefore, many report spending much longer doing their hair to style it into a more acceptable, attractive look. When preparing for work for example, the study found that one in five black women feel social pressure to straighten their hair, twice as many as white women.
Unfortunately, Afro-Caribbean hair typically has lower levels of moisture so is more prone to damage caused by tight hair styles or overuse of products and heated styling.
Many resort to chemical relaxers, known to trigger hair loss
Hair relaxers have received a lot of negative press over the years, with many reports of hair loss experienced after the treatment. There has even been a report released in 2016 which warned hairdressers against using hair relaxer treatments due to the high risk of hair loss.
While most of the time the hair loss experienced is only temporary, in severe cases it could end up being permanent. This occurs when the chemicals contained within the hair relaxer treatments, destroy the hair follicles. When this occurs, it is referred to as Cicatricial alopecia or, more commonly, scarring alopecia.
Hair loss is an increasing worry for black women. The Good Hair survey and Hair IAT highlight the need for perceptions to change in order to reduce the pressures placed onto ethnic women to over-style their natural hair.
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