Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tender Scalp: You Don’t Have to Live With It - Part I

Tender Scalp: You Don’t Have to Live With It - Part I

I remember years ago standing in front of the bathroom mirror trying my hardest to push the comb through what I considered to be the most difficult hair to style. Painful scalp which led to a soreness for days.  Hours of blow drying, parting, combing, and then the dreaded sit in the chair where I would endure more heat with the well beloved hot comb. 

Not the cute kind most use today where you have the option to plug it in and choose the dial of degrees. I am talking about the old school style where it was black from constant usage and placed on the gas stove where it didn’t take long to heat up. Man, those where the good ole days!

But that moment I had in the mirror left a very indelible impression of one I could not forget: my inability to come through my hair. So when the Jerri Curl came out, I felt liberated from the bondage of naps. This was my segue into permanently altering my hair with relaxers. No longer would I have to endure the soreness of my hair being tugged from wearing breads and painful barrettes which only reinforced the pain I already had. God forbid my hair was brushed. More terror.

Fast forward thirty years later and I return to natural and the memories overwhelmed my mind. I was under the impression delusion that I no longer suffered from a tender scalp but I was truly mistaken. This time it wasn’t due to the experience of yesteryear but with thirty years of chemical processing, I discovered that my tender scalp was always tender. Now, it was worse than ever before because the sebum had been stripped.

When I returned to natural, my scalp went from looking normal, to red, white, and then back to its natural skin color. It was painful to braid and twist; not to mention I was afraid to sit under the hair dryer because within a few minutes my scalp would feel like sand paper.

Then my journey to true healing began.

At the time I began to research, there wasn’t a lot of information on the causes of dry scalp, just the results. But as I continued and performed my own trial and error experiments, I found a few things that caused or reinforced the tender scalp. Here is a list:

·         Constant usage of relaxers – Relaxers are caustic in nature (lye and no lye) and the ingredients strip the natural sebum created by the sebaceous glands.

·         Excessive use of heat – Whether it is direct or indirect heat, constant exposure will further strip the oils from the top of the epidermis.

·         Tugging, pulling and covering – This does not pertain to the natural “wear and tear” of styling our hair, but wearing tight braids, ponytails and the excess weight from extensions. When the scalp is sore it cannot handle the extra weight. Also, constant wearing of weaves, hair hats, scarves, etc. suffocates the scalp not allowing it exposure to the air.

·         Lack of rest – Sometimes we go from one style to the next and we do not give our hair a rest. An inflamed scalp will never have time to heal if we go from one extreme style to the next.

·         Water with high alkaline levels – If your tap water is alkaline, it will continue to dry out the scalp.

·         Ingredients in products- Contrary to popular belief, hair products containing high levels of petrolatum do not moisturize the scalp. Because petrolatum does not dissolve, it sits on top of the epidermis and instead of moisturizing it blocks which only reinforces dryness of scalp.

·         Infrequent washing – Believe it or not a dirty scalp does not make hair grow. This is a natural hair myth. Your scalp will tell you when it is in need of a cleansing in two ways: it starts to smell and it starts to itch. Failing to wash the scalp clogs it up and adds weight and pressure from the dirt and product build up.

Stay tuned for how to heal a tender scalp.

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