- Written by Silvia Mwendia for Kenyakidz
Kenya kids risk permanently damaging their hair if they relax it before the age of 15 years due to the retardation in hair follicle growth caused by the chemicals.
This according to Kenyan trichologist Muli Musyoka of Hair Hub who contends that early exposure to these chemicals hinders the growth of hair follicles.
“What happens to the kid when you expose their follicles to relaxers for a period of time is that they hinder or rather retard the growth of these hair follicles. Therefore someone who was meant maybe to have very thick hair when they grow up they will have very thin hair because some of their follicles were damaged when they were kids due to exposure to chemicals,” he said.
According to Medicine Net, the hair follicle is a sac from which the hair grows. In humans beings, the hair follicle is not fully developed until the age of 14 to 15 years therefore applying relaxer on a child before then permanently damages the hair follicle.
“It is a permanent damage so that means it will affect them because if the follicle was damaged before it really developed then there is nothing else you can do to restore a damaged hair follicle. The body does not generate new hair follicles after we are born, you can only borrow hair follicles from other parts of the body to replace them,” said Muli.
The trichologist (a professional who has studied diseases ad disorders of the hair and scalp), who has over eight years experience in the manufacturing and testing of hair relaxers explains how they work.
“Relaxers are classified as either lye or no-lye. No-lye means that they do not contain sodium so lye relaxers contain sodium which reacts very fast,” he said.
In today’s market, the two main active ingredients sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide.
“Sodium hydroxide completely reacts and does not leave a residue. Calcium hydroxide, however, does not completely react as a chemical. It leaves a by-product called calcium carbonate around the hair strand and over time the hair starts tanning-changing colour from the usual black or dark brown to some light brown because of the build up,” he said.
Another effect of hair relaxers is that they cause the hair strands to become rough.
“This is because the molecular combination of calcium carbonate is much bigger, at 20. So it is big and it has to damage the hair cuticle more to penetrate into the hair,” said Muli.
It is for these reasons that Muli advises parents to not relax their children’s hair before the age of 15 years, or better yet, leave it natural until they are 18 years so that they can decide for them selves-from a vantage point-if they really want the relaxer.
Muli advocates for good hair care for children’s hair with the following regimen.
“Look for a nice conditioning shampoo that you will use once a week , at most every two weeks. Treat the hair with a deep penetrating treatment then if their hair tangles, you need to have a leave in treatment, the spray one because it really detangles the hair. Spray on the hair before you start detangling it then comb out the hair from the roots. Every three months or so, just trim the split ends because it’s the split ends that tangle and it makes it very difficult for the kid,” he said.