Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hair

Scab Hair?

So, quite a few of you have asked me to do some research on a phenomenon known as "scab hair." That is, you wanted to know what it is exactly and how you can deal with it. Apparently, some of you have diagnosed yourselves as having "scab hair," but my biggest question is, does it even exist?

I had to do a Google search on "scab hair," because I had never heard the term until I started receiving requests to talk about it on my blog. Below is the clearest definition I ran across, which I found on a site called Naturally Famous:

"Apparently there's a term called 'scab hair' which is the new-grow hair that grows out after a perm. Scab hair is not like your true texture. It is drier, rougher, and possibly harder to manage."


This definition, and others I found online, imply that growing out a relaxer isn't as easy as simply ceasing to get a relaxer -- at least not for the first few months of the transition process. In other words, it suggests that the chemicals in a relaxer don't just alter one's hair above the scalp, but below the scalp as well. Now that's a scary thought, for it would mean that the chemicals -- which we all know are caustic and can cause third degree burns, are seeping into our pores and affecting the hair at the root. That's why those who have experienced "scab hair" claim that it takes anywhere from three to six months for this "unbearable" texture to grow out, and one's true, natural texture to grow in…

Now, I'm not too sure if I even believe that "scab hair" exists. I for one did not experience it, and know that other naturals claim to have not experienced it. Could it simply be a matter of one not properly conditioning and moisturizing the new growth so that it can obtain the nourishment it needs to thrive? The reason I ask this question is because if you have relaxed your hair for several years, chances are, you may not know how to properly care for your natural hair. Natural hair is going to be drier than relaxed hair because of the curl/kink pattern. That's why it's so important to condition and impart moisture during the transition process. And, just as one's hair can get used to being relaxed, one's hair can get used to being moisturized and conditioned. Thus, who's to say that this drier, coarser texture won't soften up over time? And, if it's simply a matter of not knowing how to deal with this texture (which is supposedly different from one's relaxed and natural hair), then why not experiment with the same styles that are suggested for transitioners? Styles that will give you a uniform texture throughout, such as braidouts, twist outs, and roller sets, may help with this dilemma.

Now, perhaps "scab hair" really does exist and I never experienced it because I only used children strength relaxers and rarely got touchups (only 3-4 times a year). Yet, even if it does exist, why is it such a big deal if the only way to truly get rid of it is to cut it off? Isn't that what one does during a slow transition anyway -- cut off the relaxed and/or "relaxer tainted" hair?

I want to be clear in that I'm not saying I don't believe relaxers can have a large impact on one's hair. Yet, keep in mind that hair changes, on average, every seven years. There are hormonal factors and lifestyle factors (diet and drugs can affect one's hair) to take into consideration. Most of us who transitioned or are transitioning were relaxed for several years, so there's no telling what one's natural texture will be like once the relaxer grows out. It's almost as if some of you have an expectation of what your texture will be before you even undergo the process. And, who says that your texture will be uniform throughout?

If you feel you are truly suffering from "scab hair" and the texture is hard to deal with, my best suggestion would simply be to wait it out. From what I've read, this should be a temporary condition, so if you're trimming your ends regularly as needed and keeping your hair well nourished, then the "scab hair" should eventually grow out.

8 comments:

ColdDiva said...

Hey Princess! Thank you for posting up information and insight about scab hair. I know the jury is out for a lot of people whether or not it exists but for this juror I am on the side that it does.

I know some people would say "your not embracing your natural texture", my response is that this area which I believe is 'scab hair' or 'damaged hair' is only in the very front of my forehead or bang area, which in hindsight is the first place a lot of stylist would start with the relaxer and I distinctly remember a time where I got a chemical burn there and it ate out my hair in this area. So this extra dry wirey, brittle,broken thin dry area may be classified as good ol damaged or have the same symptoms of someone having alopecia, its just going to need some extra extra TLC.

I have been relaxed for 20+ years so there is bound to be some residue of that crap beneath my scalp, though its been a little over a year since the last relaxer I can't expect to undo repeated abuse to my hair and it expect it to be all better.

So how am I going to work on it? I'm going to change my diet up and see what results it has on my hair. I will definitely keep you posted if I see an improvement.

K said...

I'm not sure if I believe the "Hair Scab" theory. I was relaxed when I was 11 to 15 I got touch-ups twice or 3 times a year. I've been natural now for 17 yrs. I never went through this. I have noticed that my texture has become softer and I have more curl definition than when I was younger. I think it has more to do with your hair care plan and how you take care of your hair.Just my opinion.

Pat said...

I believe that scab hair is real! I didn't get a relaxer for oh, over 24 months and the hair at my roots was sooooooo unmanageable, dry and brittle that I could not wear my hair out because it would sit on my head like a hat. I thought that I would be unable to transition, so I texlaxed once more, thinking I would have to continue to do so every four months or so.

Well, that was almost a year ago and my new growth is NOTHING like that hair that led to me to texlax! It had to be the dreaded "scab hair." And I actually can't detect a demarcation between my texlaxed hair and my curly roots. So I don't plan on texlaxing again!

Bridget said...

I definitely believe it exists. I have been natural for several years now, but I remember when I first started transitioning that the new growth was very dry, coarse and wiry. It was shocking because my natural hair never looked like that before I begin relaxing (I relaxed for approximately 12 years or so). I started wearing braids to help with the transition and eventually my hair texture returned to its original texture. Now with several years under my belt, my hair is even softer, more manageable, and curls more defined. I credit this to a healthy hair regimen, healthier eating and regular exercise. I have learned so much about my hair over the last few years through reading the various hair blogs and youtube tutorials. Thanks to all who have contributed!!! I really appreciate all your efforts and wealth of information.

OliCarSco said...

I know that if you are pregnant or nursing, you are not supposed to get a perm/relaxer/any chemical treatment on your hair because it could possibly be passed to the baby. So, it could be possible that the chemical does permeate the scalp and affect the hair just below.

cha cha said...

I completely believe in "scab hair" because after i cut my hair down from my relaxer, it was really rough and course. Then, after about 3 months, I cut maybe an inch off, and the texture was easier to work with. Hair textures does change with one's body. After my mother had cancer and chemo, her hair came back so soft and curly. Even when my sister was stressed, her hair texture changed. I wouldn't mind looking up more research on this information on "scab hair"

l said...

Ok I'm so confused because I have the problem in reverse. When my hair us growing out from a touch up it get deep curls and waves in the front and the middle. I always told that those curls and waves are from the relaxer over doing it's job and that with continued unrelaxed growth it would only become coarser. The kitchen (at times the edges) is a lot coarser than the center but I think it from being the driest part of my hair I usually get breakage back there. I wanted to know if there was a way to tell your curl pattern before getting too deep into transition. Ive washed and conditioned my hair weekly with a milk protein for the last two months (haven't relaxed since then) and I am always tempted to put in a leave in and wear it as is but afraid of a dry mangled look (and damage) I always blow it out ironed it with good results. Should I trust this curly texture???!!!! How do I know if My hair will curl or sponge ( I'm not salon fan so me and straw curls won't mix)

l said...

Ok I'm so confused because I have the problem in reverse. When my hair us growing out from a touch up it get deep curls and waves in the front and the middle. I always told that those curls and waves are from the relaxer over doing it's job and that with continued unrelaxed growth it would only become coarser. The kitchen (at times the edges) is a lot coarser than the center but I think it from being the driest part of my hair I usually get breakage back there. I wanted to know if there was a way to tell your curl pattern before getting too deep into transition. Ive washed and conditionEd my hair weekly with a milk protein for the last two months (haven't relaxed since then) and I am always tempted to put in a leave in and wear it as is but afraid of a dry mangled look (and damage) I always blow it out ironed it with good results. Should I trust this curly texture???!!!! How do I know if My hair will curl or sponge ( I'm not salon fan so me and straw curls won't mix)