How to Deal With Scab Hair as Your Natural Hair Grows Out

Do You Have to Do the Big Chop?

Black woman with short hair
Tomas Rodriguez/Getty Images

Relaxed hair, don't care—until you decide to grow out your natural hair. In this case, you might encounter a dreaded issue if you've been using chemical relaxers for years: scabby hair. This is new growth that's dry, wiry, and hard due to damage to the tresses, the scalp, and the follicles.

Don't get discouraged during this rough time. In most cases, the strange in-between texture isn't an indication of what your natural hair is going to be from that point forward. It's typically just the result of residual chemicals working their way out of your scalp. To make your transition go as smoothly as possible, here's what you can do to cope with your scab hair.

Condition Often

Scab hair is thirsty, so keep it as moisturized as possible to prevent breakage. Conditioning is the No. 1 thing you absolutely need to do to fix the problem. This includes a rinse-out formula after shampooing, a leave-in conditioner after washing, and deep conditioners at least twice a month.

The line of demarcation, where your previously relaxed hair meets your new growth, is extremely fragile; if you're transitioning instead of doing the big chop, you'll have to be very careful with this area. Frequent conditioning is one of the best ways to treat it. Even if it seems like it isn't making a difference, never give up. You'll see the results eventually.

These products will give your hair all the love:

Apply Oil

In addition to conditioning, apply oil to your scalp and hair every single day. Pure oils help to lock in moisture. Jojoba, coconut, almond, and olive oils are all great options. You could also use a rich blend like Kérastase Elixir Ultime Oil Serum ($50). Apply after shampooing and conditioning, and at least once a day when you're not washing your hair, paying special attention to the scab hair area.

Cut Off the Rough Ends

Frequent trimming is necessary for keeping rough hair manageable. You don't have to cut all your locks off at once if you don't want to, but if being completely natural is your goal, cutting sooner rather than later is optimal. Trust: You will not miss the scabby hair. As you get rid of it, you'll see how soft your real texture actually is.

Be Patient

This literal rough patch may last six months or more, depending on how long you relaxed your hair or used any other permanent texture-altering treatments. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to hair growth. Instead of wishing and longing and praying for your locks to get back to normal, try to enjoy every stage of the journey. Protective hairstyles can help you get creative and have fun with your tresses in the meantime. Before you know it, your curls, kinks, or waves will be soft and healthy once again.

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