Magazine article Essence

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Magazine article Essence

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Article excerpt

You've been loyal to your lockstreating them to weekly deep conditionings, minimal heat styling, trims every six weeks-all the things you've been taught are the best practices for maintaining a healthy mane But somehow your hair still seems to want to break up with you: It's been falling out in clumps, it's become see-through and your attempted pretty updo looks more like a struggle pony. Alopecia (the medical term for hair loss) is the fourth most common diagnosis in AfricanAmericans. Our hair is our crown, our rj strength, our beauty. Watching it thin i over time can be devastating. And while turning to wigs and weaves may seem, like a sensible solution, many have learned the hard way that it only exacerbates the issue. So what are we to do? To find a fix. let's start with finding the cause Read on to learn how to stop hair loss in its track.

YOUR TRESSES

First it's important to understand what a healthy scalp looks like "The cycle of hair growth consists of three stages a growth, a rest and a shedding phase," explains Lucinda Ellery, hair loss expert and founder of the Lucinda Ellery Consultancy in New York City. At any point, your hair follicle is in one of these phases. Significant shedding is not normal. A few hairs on your bathroom floor every day isn't enough to go running for the Rogaine, but according to Michelle Henry, M D., dermatologist and clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, seeing a Ping-Pong-ball-size clump or anything bigger on a regular basis is cause for alarm. If the density of your mane is decreasing, you're more than likely experiencing some form of thinning that needs to be investigated "Check the strands to see if the bulb is still attached." says Los Angeles-based trichologist Kan Williams. Ph D A visible round bulb (a clear coating at the end of the strand) means that the hair is coming out from the follicle (from which the hair grows). That signals an internal issue. "If the bulb is not attached, it could be a sign of excessive breakage from styling, which may also make your hair thinner." she says

YOUR GENES

The most common cause of major shedding in all women is female pattern hair loss, which is genetic Many of the scarring variations-such as CCCA (central, centrifugal, cicatricial alopecia), typically seen in Black women-have a strong hereditary component. If it's in your DN A. then it's unpreventable, but before you panic know that if caught early it's usually treatable.

"In genetic hair loss, there is a gradual thinning of strands caused by the miniaturization of the follicle." says Lars Skjoth, founder of and head scientist for Harklimkken. a hair regrowth program "In some cases, inflammation and significant episodes of dandruff can herald the onset." Once the bulb Is destroyed, the hair loss is permanent.

YOUR LIFE

A sudden decrease in hair density may be caused by a number of other factors, such as hormonal changes, stress or diet. "Hair follicles are very sensitive to hormonal shifts. The tendency to have hormonal hair loss can be genetic, but genetic hair loss is not always hormonal." says Henry. Again, it's critical to get a proper diagnosis from a dermatologist. What you don't want to risk is a temporary problem becoming a permanent one. The good news is that once you're able to stabilize diet or hormonal deficiencies, the problem should cease. "Chronic hair loss-due to factors like stress, diet, styling practices or illness-disrupt but doesn't destroy the follicle. The problem can last for many weeks or many months Permanent hair loss is caused by the destruction of the hair follicle," says Henry.

LIGHT IT UP

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HAIRMAX LaserBand 82 ($795, hairmax.com).

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