When it comes to curly hair care there’s a lot of confusion, a lot of questions, and… not a lot of answers.
We see you. We hear you. And we want you to know, we’re here to help. Color Wow has always been a brand committed to solving problems. And now we’re extending our heart and science to challenges specifically faced by the curl community.
And it just so happens that a lot of color problems, are curl problems (ahem, hydration and breakage?). But there’s a whole host of other challenges this community is facing. And we want you to know we’re here to help because that’s what we do best.
We’ve got our team and for good measure - we’ve grabbed a few curly girls, curl experts, and scientists to help us along the way.
Prepare yourselves because we’re about to change everything.
We’ll be untangling it all - separating facts from fiction, elevating the info that’s tried and true, and schooling you on fresh techniques to take your curl game to the next level.
We’re coming at you with fool-proof science and we’re about to flip your curly girl method on its head. Consider us your method myth busters.
First up: We tackle the biggest concern on everyone’s minds: hair loss and loss of curl pattern.
HAIR SHEDDING VS HAIR LOSS: WHAT’S NORMAL?
Here’s a stat you’ve heard before: each day, you lose 100 strands of hair. We know. But what does that even mean?
How often are we supposed to lose hair? What is normal hair loss?
Dr. Joe (the genius behind all Color Wow Products, and formerly one of the scientists working on Miss Jessie’s) shares that hair goes through three essential phases: growth, shedding, resting. The growth phase (aka the anagen phase) can last anywhere from three to seven years, pending your genetics. That’s a BIG range. If you’re someone who’s constantly saying ‘my entire life my hair has never gone past my shoulders,’ chances are you have a shorter anagen phase.
Once the anagen phase comes to an end your hair sheds. This is the 100 or so hairs you’re supposed to loose each day. Then the follicle rests before new hair starts to grow (this process usually takes one to four months, about 10-15% of your hair is in this resting phase at any time).
Following us so far? Great. Now here’s the real kicker, your body is only going to accommodate a certain amount of growth cycles in your life. Eventually, they will stop. Cycle volumes vary for everyone based on genes. They can even vary on different parts of your head. For women usually, the top of the head has the shortest amount of cycles, for men, it’s the frontal lobes. This means your long hair journey – it’s a game of preservation, longevity, and um, genetics.
How do I know if I’m losing hair?
We know that stat about losing 100 hairs a day – but in reality, no one’s going to sit there and count the hairs that they lose.
Every single person is different and every day is different. Often times, the hair you shed is getting caught in your curls – so if you go two days, three days, four days, five days (no judgement) between washes, it’s going to change how much hair appears to be ‘falling’ out.
If you think you’re losing hair, your best bet is to look for a pattern. Keep a hair diary – take note of how many days you go between washes and how much hair you seem to be losing – is it marble sized, ping pong ball sized? Look at it over a period of a few weeks to a few months and if you’re concerned call your doctor.
Potential Hair Loss Causes
Hormone shifts are the most common cause of hair loss – they can be associated with extreme stress, illnesses, or pregnancy. And if you have severe breakage, that can also ‘look’ like hair loss.
How do you tell the difference between shedding and breakage? Take a look at a lost strand with a magnifying glass and examine the ends – if you see a bulb (sort of like a plant bulb) at one end, it’s shedding. If you see split or frayed ends, it’s breakage.
Now maybe you’re not sick, pregnant, or stressed, and you’ve done nothing but give your hair the good stuff. What gives?
You might have clogged follicles.
There are two case scenarios here:
1. You’ve shed your hair naturally, but you’ve also been layering on products – co-washes, deep conditioners, stylers, that are sitting on your scalp never truly being removed. These fill up the follicle and block it, impeding new hair growth. In this scenario, hair you’ve lost isn’t growing back, so your hair starts to look less and less dense over time.
2. The second case scenario is that you’re using those same products but rather than just blocking follicles, they’re also trapping in your hair’s natural sebum and bacteria. You see, the scalp exfoliates naturally just like your skin, but when you develop a film from product, all of those cells are trapped and that can transform into a breeding ground for inflammation, and potentially even infection. This can be mild like pimples and itchiness, or something more severe. These infections can affect the follicle, stopping growth, and even forcing it into the shedding phase early. Aka you shed the hair, and that follicle, trapped under a film, becomes dormant. And unfortunately for those follicles, your hair growth cycles ends. If you’re genetically lucky, when you unclog the follicles, a new growth phase will hopefully start.
So what can I do about clogged hair follicles? Can I unclog them? How do I prevent the clogs to begin with?
If either of these scenarios is the cause for your hair loss, there’s a few things that have to happen. One, a dermatologist or trichologist may have to prescribe something to help cure the infections in your scalp.
Next comes prevention to save your future strands. You need to make sure your scalp and follicles are clear..
It’s tempting to reach for co-washes and conditioning cleansers, after all curly hair needs hydration – but don’t do it. These products all contain conditioning agents that stick to your scalp and can negatively affect follicles and hair growth. Instead opt for a cleanser that does nothing, other than actually clean. It shouldn’t leave behind any ingredients and the formula should rinse away completely. That’s a tall order -most shampoos on the market contain some amount of stay-behind ingredients (aka anything that promises to hydrate, volumize, fight frizz – your shampoo shouldn’t promise to do anything other than clean). Our Color Security Shampoo is a safe bet. Want to learn more about ingredients to avoid in shampoo? Click here.
What about hair growth products? Supplements? Eating for hair length?
We can dig into this more later, but here’s the summary:
Most of those hair growth products you see (shampoos, treatments, etc) – they contain actives designed to increase the length of the anagen phase. If your hair is in the anagen phase, this can be helpful. But you have to make sure your follicles are clear of any blockages first, otherwise that growth phase won’t start.
When it comes to supplements: zinc and biotin are your friend. They’ll increase the health and appearance of your hair, and they may help your hair grow faster and healthier during the anagen phase. However, they will not increase the length of the anagen phase. But again, you have to make sure those follicles are clear, so the growth phase starts.
Eating certain foods can encourage healthy hair growth – the same as supplements. These foods can positively impact the healthiness of the follicle, and thus help with the production of the hair, but it won’t increase the length of the anagen phase.
My curl type changed too! What gives?
If aside from hair loss, it feels like your curls have lost their spring or are looking a little lanky… you’re probably not imagining things.