Author Audrey Sivasothy-Davis Speaks on Healthy Hair


I read The Science of Black Hair first, then found out more about you, the author. I was completely surprised and impressed at how young you are, to have taken on such a big topic and to have covered it in such detail. What inspired you to write this book?

Thank you! Yes, that does tend to surprise people! It surprises me too, but I couldn’t have done any of this on my own. I’m a woman of faith (as you can probably tell from my acknowledgements page!) so I am not shy about talking about where my help comes from! Honestly, I had no idea how far the book would go when I was putting it together, or if it would even be successful. It started off as a series of articles that I posted online and took about six years to complete after many stops and starts.

I wanted to write The Science of Black Hair for a few reasons:

The first was that I’d completely just given up on my own hair during my teen years. It was in terrible condition and I learned to live with that—breakage, thinning and all.  But later when I had my daughter, I knew that I’d need to really get the hair thing under control or else she’d be in the same position years down the road. Unfortunately, there weren’t very many resources available at the time to help people who were struggling. Today, we are fortunate. There are blogs upon blogs, Youtube channels, websites and everything.

I wanted to create a go-to reference that combined the practical experience of dealing with textured hair with the body of research currently available on textured hair. I wanted it to be something that explained the science in a way that anyone could pick it up and use it.

What I love about your book is that most of the tips are pretty universal; they work for all hair types. Yet, so much of the information was new to me– it was not at all like the information I had been taught about hair as I grew up.

It’s true! All hair is protein (+water and binding materials!), and so it tends to behave in predictable ways across hair types because of its basic composition. The shape of the fiber (curly/kinky/straight) does influence the hair’s behavior too— but for the basics, yes, there are some universal truths you could say!  This is why so many people find issue with hair typing systems that focus on hair shape and degree of curl without really taking into account basic hair characteristics like porosity, elasticity, and density for example.

What are the most common questions and concerns you get regarding hair and what do you usually offer as advice?

Most of the questions I get are hair breakage and hair loss questions. When I look over most people’s regimens, the main breakage culprits are usually: too much emphasis on the protein balance in their product selection, too much heat styling, and hard water issues. I try to help them reorient their regimen so that it emphasizes hydration.  This usually means suggesting a better moisturizing deep conditioner and encouraging them to stick to a set conditioning schedule—usually weekly in the beginning. Hair loss is a trickier topic to help with because there are so many things that can trigger it.  Sometimes it is a natural part of their aging process, it could also be related to medications, diet, hormone levels, stress, and hair practices. If it’s hair practice– that’s easy to fix, but it’s not always the obvious. You really have to dig into the person’s life and background to resolve hair loss issues and that’s hard to do.  So, I recommend scheduling an appointment with a physician and getting hormone levels checked with blood work done to truly resolve.

I have to ask: do you think healthy hair has shine/sheen? I am sometimes sucked into the advertisements for products that supposedly help the appearance of hair. So far, I haven’t really found one yet that has made honest on its claims.

Companies spend lots of money crafting ads and messages that resonate with customers. They know we want shine and luster… and volume… and other buzz words, but our hair type has its own unique character which has to be taken into account despite the ad copy on the product jar or bottle!  Textured hair rarely shines outright, even when it is healthy. Instead it tends to have sheen which is a subtler, matte kind of shine. If it’s worn in its curly/kinky state, the sheen factor decreases because light reflects from curls differently than it does from straight fibers. When textured hair is pressed or relaxed, you’ll see a different kind of sheen— but still not as sheeny or shiny as naturally straight hair.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!  Finally, each individual head of hair is different, so your sheen mileage may vary.

My focus always comes back to eating right and a healthier lifestyle. Do you have any tips on foods that will promote healthier hair?

This is something that I’d like to focus on more because no matter what we do product-wise, if our body isn’t receiving adequate nutrition for the job, it’ll show in the hair we produce.  In general, we should focus on eating a rainbow palette of whole foods—reds, greens (lots of greens), oranges, blues, yellows—a rainbow!  This is one of the simplest ways to make sure that you are on a good path and are getting the essential vitamins and nutrients you need to thrive.  Since hair is made primarily of protein, you want to be sure you’re getting adequate amounts. Lean meats are great for this, and if you are vegetarian you can meet your protein needs with lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.

I also recommend incorporating more raw foods into your daily dietary regimen.  This is something I’m personally making more of a conscious effort to do. You don’t have to go 100% raw or become a nutrition junkie, but eat what makes sense.  Heating takes away some of the nutrition in foods, so adding in more raw items will help you stay balanced. Processed foods, sugars, salts, empty calories—toss them out and opt for more nutritionally dense, whole foods. Finally be sure that you are getting an adequate amount of water throughout the day for your weight and activity level.  This will ensure that your skin (scalp) stays hydrated.

Where can readers find your book? Are there any more books in the works?

Oh yes! Our production schedule is quite busy! Back in May, we released Hair Care Rehab: The Ultimate Hair Repair and Reconditioning Manual to help people who have specific hair care concerns and are looking for ways to work with damaged hair. It’s a book for all hair types—not just textured hair. We also recently signed a deal with a major cosmetology school to customize The Science of Black Hair for their students—so I am really excited about that!  Of course, we’re also working on the second edition of The Science of Black Hair– but that is still a few years away.

The Science of Black Hair is available at Amazon.com and Barnes&Noble.com in print and electronically. We also offer electronic versions through KOBO and Apple’s iBookstore. You can special order it at any physical bookstore for pickup, and it’s carried by a few beauty supply stores and shops, too. The list of stores is here: http://blackhairscience.com/buy_book.html Finally, the book is carried by over 100 libraries in the US and abroad–so if you live in a metropolitan area or near a university, you can check it out there! Please do!

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5 thoughts on “Author Audrey Sivasothy-Davis Speaks on Healthy Hair

  1. Pingback: Author Audrey Sivasothy-Davis Speaks on Healthy Hair | The Divine Hostess « Hair & Now

  2. Excellent interview , insight and inspiration on the true health of your hair and its connection to Our WELL BEING .
    Tia

    Tia

  3. I’ve been wanting to get this book for a while. Thanks for doing this interview. She mentioned hard water issues, which I am now trying to deal with since my move to California. Do you know if this is covered in the book?

    • Hi Minty! Yes, it is covered in the book. I had to go and check, because I did not immediately remember. It’s a great book and yes– CA water is extremely hard. I’ve begun to wonder if I should wash my hair a little less to avoid it.

      • Excellent interview! I’ve heard about hard water being an issue for hair health a long time . I think in an old Madonna interview of all places? Lol But it’s nice to have so many hair resources out there nowadays.

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