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.