Transitioning 101 – What Is Scab Hair And How Should You Deal With It?

What is scab hair

Scab hair is not a true scientific term. Naturals describe the newly grown hair after the chemical relaxing has stopped as “scab hair” due to its dry and unruly nature. Many feel scab hair is a result of the residual chemicals finding their way out of your scalp.

First off, can I say I truly do not like this term? I mean something as wonderful as going natural does not need such a derogatory term associated with the journey but…I’ll let it go.

No, wait a minute; can’t we call it confused hair, unruly hair, not going to act like relaxed or natural hair? OK, I’m done. I see that this term, although not scientific, has stuck so I will be a grown up and deal with my displeasure with it in a more professional way.

The bad news – there is no known research on the phenomenon of ‘scab’ hair. ‘Scab’ hair is a term used by naturals and transitioners to describe the initial hair regrowth after stopping the use of relaxers. Some say the hair is of a different curl pattern or is dry and unruly. The Natural Haven

When I went natural 8 years ago, I didn’t notice if I had scab hair or not because I was wearing braids and wigs and wasn’t really paying much attention to my hair.  I also never heard of the term at the time.

Now even though technically you are not supposed to apply relaxer on your scalp, we all know that’s a tall order, plus the stories we’ve all heard heard of burns tells me many of us did get relaxer on our scalps regularly.

It’s possible that scab hair comes about because of residual relaxer affecting our hair follicles. Remember, before giving up relaxers some of us were touching up our roots every 6-8 weeks. Still this is not an official or scientific explanation, just conjecture you understand.

Despite the issues scab hair can create, it is not bad hair. (You will NEVER get me to say our hair is bad hair.) This is just our hair’s inability to figure out what it is supposed to do now that it’s not getting it’s regular dose of relaxer. But eventually nature takes its course and your true texture will eventually start to grow out unimpeded.

Scab hair may be the reason so many newly naturals become discouraged early on and go back to relaxed hair. The hair can be unruly, frizzy and dry and the struggle to keep the hair moisturized is challenging and it can become disheartening.

Newly naturals are not used to working with natural hair and actually, the hair itself is not used to be in its natural state which makes it all the more difficult. It can be a lose/lose situation if one is not ready for the journey or armed with knowledge, proper hair techniques and the right products.

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About Sabrina Perkins


Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com

About Sabrina Perkins


Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com

MORE FROM BHI

  • My 7 yr old hair is just like that. I’m trying to manage it but don’t wanna cut it until this summer.

  • Cut it off.

  • My hair is this way. It’s all breaking off and i don’t know what to do with it

    • Your hair may need some moisture. It’s very dry now and moisture is key during the winter months. Drinking water is so important as well as limiting your heat if breakage is an issue. Deep condition weekly or every wash day and either sit under a hooded dryer or apply a plastic cap on your head while you do your deep conditioning.

  • I want to grow my hair to at least three inches more of new growth before i do the bc. what can i do to get some growth, does the inversion method and biotin really works?

    • I have heard many suggest the Inversion method work but just a hair massage with do just fine if you feel that is not a way to go. Biotin has been known to help hair grow and I personally use Hiarfinity which has Biotin in it. I would suggest if you use Biotin or any hair vitamin to consult with your health professional and to up your water intake. Many have found they have more breakouts with using some hair vitamins but upping your water intake may combat that. Using excellent hair routines and methods will help you retain length as our hair is growing regardless of using any supplements. Retaining moisture, eating right, listening to your hair, low manipulation and not applying unecessary tension all aid in length retention.

  • Cut or braid it…i couldn’t deal with the two textures when I was transitioning..but before my big chop I cut an inch every month..happy hair ladies

    • That’s actually a great way to handle it. Thanks for sharing.

  • My hair is also curly at the ends. I got my last relaxer 9 months ago. What does that mean? And I don’t want to do the bc

    • You do not have to BC. You can periodically trim your ends once, twice or more times a year until the relaxer is completely gone. I’m not sure why your hair is curling at the ends. Is your natural hair curling as well?

  • I’m having this issue now, especially when I wash my hair after I take my braids out. It gets tangled after it’s washed and conditioned and it takes me hours to detangle my hair, but it’s becoming easier to manage over time.

    • Use a wide tooth comb and comb your hair through while you have shampoo and or conditioner in it.

    • I’m glad it’s getting easier. The detangling process should be happening during the conditiong and not when hair is dry as it is more prone to breakage in that dry state. Slather a great conditioner in your hair and slowly work through the tangles. You can finger detangle or use a wide tooth comb as Veronica suggests.

    • You might also want to consider washing your hair in sections. It prevents too many tangles and it’s just easier to deal with small sections of hair at a time.

      • Yes, you are right. I have been washing my hair in sections for over a year and the difference is like night and day. working in smaller sections really helps with tangles.

    • First Get a good trim on clean blowed dryed hair to combat frizz knots and uneven flyaway hair. Always wash your hair in sections…never lose. Use wide tooth comb…seameless combs are best are best. Detangle hair in damp wet state with conditioner ALWAYS never on dry hair. PRODUCTS: I LIKE Garnier frutis Sleek n shine conditioner and Argon Oil Sulfate Free Shampoo on scalp. Use Virgin Olive oil, Aloe Vera juice, or c.booth body oil on hair and scalp to seal in moisture.

  • I love your pages! So informative and relative! I learn so much from your info!

  • Wow….this is exactly what I’m going through with my natural hair transition. I understand now….thanks

  • Natural curly

  • Yes, biotin works…condition the hair!!! Also make sure to keep the hair and scalp clean and moisturized. ….

  • Just cut mine off the other day!!! Short hair don’t care #Team Natural

  • My hair is still transitioning and it’s been 4 years since last relaxer, I decided not to cut my hair so I am just dealing with it I wear my hair in a bun

  • I do. I never comb my hair while it’s dry. My hair is thick and transitioning doesn’t make it any easier

  • Try this it’s works great for my natural hair!

    • Ive neen wanting to try this line…where did you purchase it? Online?

    • I purchase at my negborgood beauty supply store, but you can go to their website as well

  • Sammie Time where did you get it?.. Who makes it

  • I didn’t do the big chop.. just trimmed every month and braids, buns, sew n, till it grew out

  • You don’t have to do the BC, you can just trim a little bit as you go along. Eventually you will end up getting rid of all the relaxed ends.

  • I tried that also, but it takes longer. Like I said, it’s not as bad as it used go be I just have to adjust to doing my natural hair again

    • Yes, it does take time and I’m glad it’s getting easier for you.

  • What happens to the scalp though? When it’s relaxed….does it ever recover?

  • Ok , so that’s what it’s called. I transitioned 2 years ago and that’s where I had my breakage. My hair broke off 3 times before I started seeing progress with my growth. Got the last of the relaxer cut out May of 2013, my hair is just pass my shoulders now.

  • i did the whole transition without the big chop its all oveer now and im happy….i just told my neighbor yesturday you gone get scab hair if you dont take care of your hair or cut it…..i told her to cut she would look so good so when she greases it short her hair will be transitioned by the time it gets long again.

  • After mist three years natural I have one patch of scab hair left. I baby but it doesn’t care. That one patch is breaking and slow to grow.

    • I had a patch of scab hair right at my crown. I ALWAYS had to add extra product and oils to it. It FINALLY went away after a couple of years but I had to baby that bad boy for a long time!! Keep adding product and even massage it every night to help it along.

  • Almost. Not mist.

  • I love this diagram:)

    • Me too! Wish it was around when I went natural. A wonderful visual on what to expect.

  • That is what I did. I clipped my ends every 4 weeks until I had gotten rid of all of the perm. My hair is now thick and healthy. I am going for length now.

  • I liked the article but, though Scab Hair may not be an official term, that is precisely what it is. Think of it like this, if you cut or hurt yourself in any other part of your body, a scab forms to promote healing. Well, our scalps and hair follicles have been injured by relaxers, color and other chemicals over the years. our scalp/hair follicles have to heal and recover their original operations or coding as it were, so that our true texture can emerge. So, scab hair is a great way to describe the hair that grows out. It has to heal too.

    • What a great way to look at it. Yes, our hair and has to heal after years of relaxing. Thanks for sharing Crystal!

  • I have this towards the front of my head where my hair was left out for sew ins.

  • Scab hair? Wtf is scab hair?

    • “Scab hair is not a true scientific term. Naturals describe the newly grown hair after the chemical relaxing has stopped as “scab hair” due to its dry and unruly nature. Many feel scab hair is a result of the residual chemicals finding their way out of your scalp.” Not my favorite term a real issue for some naturals.

  • BlackHairInformation.com How can I determine what type of hair I have? I tried asking for help before but never got a reply. I’m multiracial & the back (neck area) is completely different from the rest of my hair

  • No such thing as too products entering into your hair follicle. The ONLY way you can try, key word TRY to restore a damaged hair follicle is by scalp manipulation. Scab hair isn’t a word used in the hair industry anywhere. It’s hair shaft, and there is nothing you can do to change the way your hair grows out of your follicle. Majority of black people hair is considered over curly, due to the size and shape of our hair follicle, which is flat.

    • I don’t think that many of us naturals consider our hair “over curly” really. Just the perfect amount of curly 🙂 Still you are right, scab hair is not a recognized term but then again it has not been studied so give it a few years and perhaps we will get some official recognition for this very real phenomenon.

  • BlackHairInformation.com Thank you so much.. 3a back(neck), 4b everything else 🙂

  • My hair is thick and healthy but I have curly roots then straight and then curly ends. Its weird because I have trouble getting a natural curl with it like that

  • BlackHairInformation.com we as blacks may not think our want to think that our hair is over curly, but it’s a written and documented fact. Think about it. Whether you are natural or not, take a close look at the new growth you will see. Barber Stylist 101…

  • Such a very informative article. Thank you!!

  • Keep growing it out cut ends 4x yr

  • wth yall been natural so long u done forgot what your new growth was like? my new growth was then and is now 3 years later just as thick and coily bka nappy. i LOVE it!!!!!!!

  • Jessie Jess

    This is so true. I transitioned for about 9 months before I decided to chop the rest of the relaxer out of my hair. I’m just going to say that it was a struggle every single day not to put that relaxer back in. My hair only curled when I washed it but as it dried, it became more and more straight. I was frustrated and tried every single product I could find…nothing worked. I started concentrating more on what I ate and thinking that if I could keep my body healthy, my hair would follow. I do took multi-vitamins and Biotin everyday, and I would drink about 12 cups of water a day as well. I also heard about Jamaican Black castor oil and started using that right away. It took about a month to see the difference, but it was well worth the wait. The back of my hair curls perfectly, but I’m still working on getting over the “scab hair” on top. It just so happened that I took a really good look at the top of my hair today and I’m excited because the curls are starting to come through more and more and they are absolutely beautiful! I’ve learned that patience is the real key to getting the natural hair that you want.

  • Yes or the beauty suppy store in my area in Brooklyn but they have a website

  • Spilt textures??

  • Sahara

    This is exactly what I’m going through. I have A LOT of new growth scab crap and it’s been making me so mad especially my straight ends. Ughhh. So yea my roots are It’s extra frizzy and thick to the point where I can’t even pull it back. I can’t pull my hair together for crap! Butttt Keeping a spray bottle with water and conditioner is pretty helpful though. I cN def say my hair is not dry.

  • The top of my head has a straighter, drier texture while the rest is a bit curled. I recently big chopped after only transitioning for two months. We shall see if this changes!

  • My hair right now

  • Omg….perfect timing. I was just telling someone that I put twist all over my head a cut the straight parts off leaving the fluffy my my ends and my roots don’t match. I have a distinct curl pattern then it gets weird at the end. And now I know its scab!!! Wait…is it still scab if im transiting from heat damage and not relaxed?

    • Scab hair happens from relaxers/chemicals. Heat damage would not cause scab hair.

  • Didnt read the article yet….had to post

  • Maybe its light heat damage there Thanks. I’ll just cut it and call it a day

  • My hair is like that at the ends and I don’t have relaxed hair.

  • This is my hair right now

  • What’s scab hair!