African hair is essentially of the same substance as non-African hair. All human hair contains the same base structural components. So what makes African hair so unique and different to care for?
Cuticle: This is the outer layer of the hair. It consists of layers of scales, which interconnect with the cells of the hair’s inner root sheath and tightly attach it in the follicle. This is a thin and colorless layer. The cuticle layer in African hair can be twice the thickness of that of Caucasian hair.
Cortex: This is the inner or middle layer. It is composed of cells that are closely entwined with one another. These bands provide the hair with suppleness and strength. When you use chemicals to treat your hair this is the layer that changes as a result.
Melanin: Is enclosed in the cortex and it holds the pigment substance that determines the color of our hair. The more melanin, the darker the color of the hair.
Follicle: This is the name of the glandular sac where the root of the hair grows. Follicles are composed of many elements including carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Healthy amounts of these elements can improve the condition and appearance of the hair as it grows.
Sebaceous/Sudoniferous Glands: These glands are attached to the hair follicle. The sebaceous glands open and close continuously to release waxy sebum oil into the hair follicle and onto the scalp. The Sudoniferous glands contain many small structures with porous openings leading to the skin.
The way these components are put together is what makes up the structure of our hair. The composition of African hair can cause it to be more prone to breakage and dryness. Because of this, African hair care needs are unlike those for other types of hair. African hair usually consists of thicker layers of cuticle. This makes the hair kinkier, which makes it more difficult for the oils excreted from our scalps to reach the ends of the hair. However, keep in mind there is a variety of hair types with each individual head of hair.
Finding the right hair care products for your specific type of hair is sometimes difficult; the best way to find the one that works best for you is simply through trial and error. Keep trying different kinds until you find one that you are happy with.