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
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
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
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.