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October 17, 2010

Scab Hair- Transitioning to Natural Hair

Danielle writes:


I love your site and view it several times a day. I have learned a ton about my natural hair and products however, I haven't read anything on here about scab hair.
Scab hair – Hair that is directly underneath the scalp that has been affected by the hash chemicals(i.e. relaxers, texturizers). Even though the hair is new growth it isn’t “trained” to behave in it’s natural state. The hair can be straight-wiry, very dry, hard, and brittle. It usually takes somewhere around 6 months to a year to completely grow it out. – Derived from Motowngirl.com
When I BC'ed back in February, I knew after 17 years of relaxing and little time spent transitioning, that I would have to get used to my new look. I loved my new texture but noticed that my hair at the edges seemed different-- it was very wiry and harsh, yet as it grew out, became soft. I had never heard of this and began researching, which led me to the CN community!

Have you ever heard of scab hair? How did you cope with it? How long did it take to grow out?

49 Chime in!:

Anonymous said...

I've heard some people say scab hair doesnt even exist. Thoughts?

Ms. B said...

I think its a natural progression. After your hair has been one way for however long, it has to get used to being without the chemicals, straightening, and all the other things. I dont believe in the term scab hair.

Anonymous said...

I guess the term may not sit with everyone but in my experiance the further along in the journey the more my hair changes. Some could say its products or simple tlc however Relaxer does seep into the scalp so who knows what damage it causes.

Anonymous said...

My hair definitely feels better than it did when i BC'd a year ago. I'm not sure what i would call it but i'm happy it is much softer now...

Anonymous said...

This is a good topic, not only can scab hair occur with chemicals but it can also occur with flat ironing, hot combing, etc. if using the wrong products on your hair before straightening. Another reason why gong natural is the best thing to do. Most naturals if they want to retain their curls should probably limit straightening to once or twice a year.
I am so grateful to CurlyNikki and other natural sites! It makes me feel good that my daughters will never have to go through what I did with my hair and other women that are older than me in my family (and some who are my age that have no interest in transitioning). I am sure a good amount of us have some crazy stories about hair salons we've been too and it makes me feel very empowered that I will never have to have make something as close to me as the hair on my head another person's responsibility!

Anonymous said...

What happens to scab hair? Does it change textures or must I cut it off?

Anonymous said...

yea its not a myth. maybe it just affects some women more than others. It took almost a year for my hair to start growing properly. it was very brittle and weird after i bc. not curly at all. but after a few trims it was like normal 4b/4c hair for a year and 1/2.
my hair texture has changed though in the past year. I can no longer do styles i used to do. my hair is about to reach APL and its not really curly like it used to be. granted i normally let it dry in twists but it just looks different. do any 4b/c's who have grown their hair to this length experience that changing curl pattern..that it seems to get straighter?

Anonymous said...

I like the term scab hair, because its like when you cut yourself and you have a scab while your skin is healing, I think scab hair comes from the hair follicle being damaged, but not severely damaged where hair wont grow, the second time I went natural I had a patch of scab hair, its like when a dolls hair its all matted and hard, it took six months for my follicle to heal and the hair that grew was so soft, this lady at my job went natural and I noticed all her hair was scab hair, after a year she did a second big chop and her hair is beautiful now with healthy hair, I am natural now for third time for a year now I have a little piece of scab hair but not enough to be noticeable

Yolanda said...

I believe its real. Although I didn't know it had an actual term. I'm completely natural, but in the crown of my head there is one part that is totally straight and does not have any curl pattern. I believe its just hair that still has some relaxer to it, or the hair is just straight forever.

Natural-ness (LV) said...

You definitely know it's not a myth when you've experienced it. Back in my scab hair days, my only saving grace was Sta-Sof-Fro. No other product helped with the dry hard scab hair. It never totally went away, until I did my 2nd BC after growing my hair out for three years. Now my hair is totally different than it was the first time around.

Anonymous said...

I've gone natural twice! The first time was 07 and my edges were hard and tightly curled. But when I went natural the second time in 2009 my hair was alot easier to deal with. So I can see where scab hair is real. Just think about what state your scalp is in when you big chop or transition from harsh perms! I bet alot of naturals who big chop twice would notice a difference

Anonymous said...

Wow! glad to have a name to put to the hair that I am experiencing. I have been trying to figure out what was going on... I believe it!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous that wrote ate 3:28 pm to answer your question yes! I am not at APL length but some other curlies that I watch tutorials from I have noticed that as their hair grows longer than shoulder length the curl pattern lessens and becomes wavy to straight. What a strange phenomenon! If this person wants curls I've noticed they do bantu knot outs or use flexi rods. Their procedure with flexi rods after they have wash and conditioned is to use a gel such as aloe vera lots of water and twist their hair along the flexi rod. I saw the end result and it is fabulous!!! This person looks like they just stepped out of a salon and put a whole of heat on their head but the best thing about it is they did not! They look like they just stepped out of a hair commercial! Very good resuls! hope this assists.

Cenita76 said...

Yes, scab hair is real. If anyone wants to see pics to prove it, e-mail me at cenita76@yahoo.com. I still have some in my hair after transitioning for 14 months! The hair that grows from my roots are very, very soft -- while the hair that is on the tips is very, very rough... I did not notice the change in texture until I BC'ed!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Thank GOD there is a name for it and others have experienced it. I had a relaxer for 35 yrs before deciding to go natural. I BC'd Sep 2010 (no transitioning). When I wake up in the morning, my hair is tight to my head. I started to worry that this was going to be the texture. Now, I feel a sense of relief knowing this is normal.

Shannon said...

So does that mean the dry coarse yet kinda curly hair that i'm growing out isn't what my natural hair going to be like?

Anonymous said...

you have to see scab hair to believe it.. when i seen it.... it was like three different textures on one strand of hair. the ends where relaxed the middle was dry tangled and looked matted and the new growth was the original texture... the middle was the scab hair..relaxers are not healthy and they do effect the hair follicle. if you've been relaxing for years, you have a better chance of developing scab hair but sometimes you may not notice it.

Anonymous said...

i've also heard scab hair is a myth, like women just dont want to admit the texture of their new growth is the actual texture so they say its scab hair...idk around my edges were ruff and dry when i first BC'd and now their soft and lay down like nobody's bizness lol but i dont think it was scab hair, its just better hair practices and extra moisture and care that nursed those sections back to where they should be...plus when u BC ur hair can kinda go into shock and feel different until it adjusts

Anonymous said...

actually my dears it is not a myth.I lost a lot of hair at my edges(because of the effect of relaxers) and not only that,all of my head of hair was scab hair except the back portion of my head.it was hard,unmanageable,brittle,easily breaks and would never take moisture no matter what i did,then i stopped trying to grow my hair and maintained a twa.it took a year and some month for the hair to be completely grown out.When the real hair grew out,i stopped cutting my hair.
I got so frustrated that i nearly relaxed but im glad i didnt. There is really no solution for it.the only thing to do is wait it out,meanwhile wear braids or weaves that will take you away from your hair. trust me,you will know the difference,when the real hair appears.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon at 8:03. It has to do with hair care practices, not anything with the hair itself, which is dead protein or the hair follicle.

Natural-ness (LV) said...

@Shannon, most likely it's not. Give it time and you'll begin to see your real hair texture.

@anonymous at 8:03pm - I think the only people that believe it's a myth are the ones who've never experienced it. Like I said in my comment above, my hair is totally different than it was when I first BCed five years ago. After my first BC, my hair felt just like a brillo pad for the first few months - literally. I did a second BC last year and now my hair holds moisture well and it doesn't tangle as bad as it did the first time.

Str8 Curly said...

Oh man.. I'm so glad I got up here to see this post.. because my edges are exactly as described. I mean exactly.. My edges are super thick now.. which they haven't really ever been before.. they often feel very dry and brittle, like a brillo pad.. I plan on buying some "refined" (w/o the nutty smell) shea butter and apply to my edges w/ some EOs (essential oils) often to try to get them feeling softer..

iamronel said...

awesome hair is this

ronelmarin.net said...

great share darling..:)

Anonymous said...

It's sooooo real. . .my hair texture is a 3c/4a and my sides and the back of my hair i believe is mostly scab hair bc it does get dryer quicker with barely any life and is really tight and never stays stretched for a long period of time! Scab hair totally does exist!!!

Anonymous said...

I have the exact same issue with my hair as well! The hair in the back and middle portions of my head are fine and wavy and yet the front outer edges are a tangled broken mess with no defined curl pattern. It looks like a wiry halo.

Channing said...

I've never heard of ther term, I didn't even know there was one but a trichologist [hair doctor] told me way back when I was transitioning that relaxer seeps into your scalp and the depending on how long you've been relaxing, your first 6mos or so of hair will not be your natural texture.

Idk if that's scab hair per se, but having an altered texture after you stop relaxing is a fact. the chemicals are under your scalp and have to grow out w/your hair.

Ziggs said...

The idea of scab hair reminds me of farming. If a farmer keeps growing crops without taking proper care of the soil each crop gets weaker. After letting it rest and replenishing it, he gets a beautiful crop. After overprocessing our hair with chemicals we have to replenish it, after the weak crop "aka" scab hair, our beautiful "crop" of beautiful hair starts to grow in :-)

Anonymous said...

I dont understand why so many of us naturals denounce the existence of scab hair in others, just because they didn't experience it themselves.... I hope I find a good patch of scab hair so that I can document this finally...

LBell said...

I went natural before the "scab hair" thing was even named so I have no idea whether I experienced it or not. I do know, however, that my hair was nappy then, and many years and haircuts later it's still nappy.

We already know that most of us have multiple textures on our head. The reality is that some of us may have a patch that's certifiably nappy. For a good number of us, that patch is a great deal more than a patch! If after a year you're still complaining about "scab hair" you might need to check yourself and see if what you're calling "scab hair" is really your natural texture that you're not willing to accept. The problem I have with the term and its use on hair sites is that I really believe some people use it to label hair that's actually perfectly healthy...and nappy.

Anonymous said...

^^^what lbell said.

Anonymous said...

^^^^^ I do not agree at all. As you can see, many people above stated that their hair underwent a change the second time they BC.

And like you said you went natural a long time ago so you wouldn't remember whether or not you even had it. If my hair underwent perms for at least ten years like most people, wouldn't you think there's a chance that the perm would alter my hair when I big chopped?

Anonymous said...

I definitely know scab hair is real, atleast in my case. I've currently been transitioning for 11 months. Around the 3rd or 4th month mark my roots were extremely dry and tangled. It was crazy and discouraging. However, I knew my hair wasn't like that growing up. The new growth growing in at the beginning of my transitioning process seemed to me to be about 4C, much different from my child hood 3b/c hair. Leaning on the fact that I've read a lot of naturals say your hair may seem one texture growing out and end up something totally different, I started deep conditioning my hair as if I was putting on a relaxer and it helped. Now at 11 months post relaxer my natural hair is as I remember it to have been every wavy and soft 3b/c. Also, I get weave sew-ins occasionally and I was speaking to my stylist about it and though she didn't use the term "scab hair" she knew exactly what I was talking about and simply said my hair was yearning for the chemical, but not to give in and I didn't!

Anonymous said...

I believe that scab hair is real. My last relaxer was Feb. 2010 and I did my BC at July 2010. I have about 4 inches of hair and have done two dustings since my BC. I still need to cut about 1/2 inch of my hair. I can feel the difference in texture when i run my fingers down my hair. My ends are rough, dry and wiry. I co wash daily to help keep it moisturized and it's helping. Now that my hair is a little longer, i keep it in twist or coils. I will cut what i'm hoping is the last of the scab hair in Feb. 2011, which will make 1 yr. since last relaxer, 7 months post BC.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand what scab hair is.... very confusing.

Please post some pictures.

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

My ends are a trashy and wiry mess (about 1/2" of hair), but the rest is quite nice. If I do have scab hair, thankfully it's in small quantities.

Anonymous said...

I can understand some people's comments about the term "scab hair". Whether its the correct term or not, it is True. I BC'd in December of '09 and my hair was wiry, super dry with no curl pattern(not 4a,4b,4c) which means when I wet my hair I had NO shrinage. Basically It did Nothing. My hair would not absorb any product, water, etc. I did chop it off again and I'll keep it short until it all grows out. So some may have it,some may not. I think it's wrong to imply everyone who says they have scab hair is somehow rejecting their hair. I'm sure they would have slapped on a perm in a jiffy if that were the case. Scab Hair is real and these ladies who are being judgmental and insensitive are wrong and need to stop assuming. Perms are very harsh and do more than burn our scalps and give us little burns/scabs. They do horrible damage beyond the surface. And to the ladies experiencing these issues only time will tell so continue your journey with your heads held high. Peace and Love!
Oh, Check out GrowBlackHairNET on YouTube she has some very informative information with pics. Also NaturallyCurly.com, and Google sites about scab hair.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with anon at 8:03 October 17.

I'm 4c, pen-spring tightly coiled. I was 4c coarse and coily after my BC in Jan '09, after my second BC in May 10, and I'm still 4c coarse and coily right now.

I will tell you that there's a DEFINITE difference in the smoothness of my hairshaft from root to tip. My hair is smooth and supple from the scalp up to 1/4 inch before the ends.

It's called WEATHERING, y'all!! I believe the sun beats down on your hair, the ocean water coarsens it, the wind dessicates it, and cloth items rub, chafe and roughen the cuticle. TWAs could possibly be 100% weathered, but this percentage should drop as the hair grows in length and forms a "canopy" to shield the new growth. That's why my early twists felt soft at the roots and wild/wooly at the ends.

And, as the hair strand sheds at the end of its growth cycle, the breaking and damage cycle could be interrupted permanently with subsequent gentle haircare.

As your hair grows in length and is placed in protective styles that shield the bulk of the hair from environmental exposure and damage, while you simultaneously employ radically different styling methods to avoid damage -

-you darned skippy you're going to see a change in the texture of your hair.

Any search for weathering can find an article similar to this one:
http://www.hair-dressing.com/hair-physiology/chemical-damage-to-hair.shtml

Be blessed,
HTH

tenderly78 said...

The term scab hair and its legitimacy may be debatable but I know for me going natural was partly due to my awareness that relaxing my hair for so many years was changing the natural texture of my hair. I noticed my new growth was feeling coarser and dry than what I remember my hair to be and although my hair in its natural state is in the 4 category it was never rough just thick. When I started to wear weaves for a while (almost 2 years) I began to notice a change in the new growth texture, which just confirmed what I thought all along, the chemicals were affecting my scalp and follicles. I've never looked back since.

Cenita said...

I just made a short 2 minute video with my cellphone documenting my scab hair.... if anyone knows how I could post it here, the info would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Scab hair is VERY real, at least it is for me. I'd been relaxing my hair since the age of 11 (mostly my mothers choice not mine) & have noticed that in the back of my head i have these super soft ringlets forming, but the front...a whole different story.

Then as I thought about it more and more, I realized that the back of my head was where they always rinsed my head first and literally the top half of my head was almost always burned. No matter what beautician I went to the top half would always have horrible relaxer burns to the point where I would just cry.
So the entire top half of my head is scab hair unfortunately and its very discouraging to see this horrible hair grow out of my scalp that cant be helped in any way.
Water barely affects it, a straightener has NO effect, and no product takes. I'm only about 4 months natural, but I notice a definite difference. This "yuck" hair is hard, scratchy, and just unpleasant to deal with.
My scab hair is the hair that knots up. My TRUE natural hair doesn't even tangle.

Hopefully all the scab hair will grow out in the next 8 months, but scab hair IS real.

Say-now said...

I believe in scab hair, and it occured in the area where I had most damage, my front hairline where it had began to recede from relaxers. I also had hair that grew in straight for 6-7 months in patches. So I do agree that the remains of relaxer left on the scalp can have an adverse reaction to hair, but I do believe it wont happen to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Hello all,
I just wanted to say that scab hair is totally real!! I stopped getting relaxers back in may 2009 and big chopped Oct 2009. When I big chopped the middle of my head formed little ringlets but the sides were so hard and untamable, I call it "taco meat hair" because it literally looked as if it were. I have been natural for a little over a year now and my hair has grown so much but I still have sides that are dry, compared to my tight spirals that I have in the inner area of my head. I was simply starting to accept that maybe my sides were just that way, until I looked into the mirror recently and saw that a little area in the front of my head, where the hair is still kind of hard and resistant, is starting to grow in and actually lay down and curl like the rest of my hair. I noticed that my hair grows kind of straight from my scalp and then curls from the scalp, but that is not the case with the "scab hair". I can totally relate to those who are having this problem. My hair is finally starting to turn over to its true texture after being relaxer free for 1 year and 6 months.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone found a product that treats or removes these scabs on the scalp?

Anonymous said...

omg! I believe I had scab hair when i first BC'ed. I BC'd n Dec 2010 and i absolutely hated how my hair loooked.. It looked dry, unmangeable, straight pieces, ugh i was unhappy.. so wat'd i do? I put another relaxer in it and expereienced more breakage. Then I read about scab hair and I had these symptons and I believe I had scab hair as well. SO currently I'm growin my perm out again. 2 months strong so wish me luck ya'll :)

Anonymous said...

I have decided to stop relaxing my hair and noticed some rough, extremely dry hair growing in. I don't care what you call it, but there is a difference in relaxed hair, hair that grows shortly (few months)after relaxer and your natural hair. I started using Kerastase products on my hair and I can now deal with the newgrowth easier. Don't get me wrong, some moments make me want to pick up the phone and make an appointment to retouch but so far so good. I can feel the softer hair in the middle and bottom of my head, but still have some rough stuff on the top(where you can see it best!!!). The way my "real" hair feels is enough to make me stick this thing out. All I can say is to use good products and take care of your scalp and new growth. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

BoricuaNena:
I currently noticed that I had a small sized scab on my head as I was just playing with my hair at work and tried to find out how to heal it and ran into this website. My hair was relaxed on Sept. 18th 2011. I am considering going natural, but I'm not sure if the rest of my hair will be affected as I try to transition for a year.

Anonymous said...

I agree that scab hair does exist!! I've been transitioning for 7 going on 8 months now and there is an obvious difference in the texture of my hair in the front edges (very dry and wirey) and the middle and back (looser curl pattern). I've tried everything, shea moisture, water, eco styler you name it but although they made my hair moisturised, it still felt wirey and wasn't soft. Can anyone recommend a product that can help me as I am constantly picking at my edges and I fear that I will cause them to break off and thin out.

mz.akilah89 said...

I have scab hair now!!! I am seriously itching it all the time! I have been natural now for 5 months and its driving me crazy! I hope I can find a way to get the itching to stop, thank you for posting....at least I know I am not alone

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