For most Black women the subject of hair loss is a sensitive, complex matter. Excessive shedding and sparse edges can be traced back to a number of reasons, from genetics to wearing a protective style incorrectly. It's a situation that affects most of us at some point in our lives and can have a devastating impact on our confidence.
Recently, actress Jada Pinkett Smith discussed her battle with hair loss. After losing handfuls of hair Pinkett Smith was terrified and wondered if she was going bald. While she still doesn't know exactly the exact cause of her hair loss (she suspects stress) she is open about the emotional toll it took on her.
While hair loss can happen for a number of reasons, New York City dermatologist Michelle Henry does have some practical advice on how to best manage the situation once it's detected, and how to prevent it from worsening.
"Whenever I'm assessing someone's hair I start with the scalp," she tells ESSENCE. While the scalp can sometimes be overlooked, Dr. Henry tells us it's often the root of the problem.
An inflamed scalp can directly impact hair loss. "Something really common is seborrheic dermatitis, which is caused by a yeast and can lead to inflammation," Dr. Henry explains.
Inflammation which typically manifests in the form of itching and scratching can impair hair growth and even damage the hair follicle. Hence why a healthy scalp is so important.
So what's the easiest way to ensure a healthy scalp?
If you ask Dr. Henry, regular deep cleansing is key. While co-washing and conditioning treatments are necessary for moisturized healthy strands we can't skip properly washing our hair and scalp to get rid of build-up and debris. Dr. Henry recommends cleansing with a sulfate-free shampoo (and really scrubbing the scalp) every two weeks to prevent inflammation.