Whether you wear your hair straight, braided, loose, or curly,
you deserve a great hair day, every day. That can mean cutting through
myths about how to care for your hair.
How is African-American hair different from other textures?
One common myth is that there is just one type of
African-American hair, New York stylist Ellin LaVar says.
"African-American hair isn't just very kinky, coarse texture," says
LaVar, who has worked with celebrities including Angela Bassett, Naomi
Campbell, Whitney Houston, Iman, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, and
Though the texture may vary, says Philadelphia dermatologist
Susan Taylor, MD, there are some similarities that make African-American
hair different from other types. Generally, the hair contains less
water, grows more slowly, and breaks more easily than Caucasian or Asian
Why is it so difficult to style my hair?
Product labeling can often be confusing and you don't want to buy something that's too heavy or wrong for you.
"Look for products that describe the texture of your hair, not the color of your skin," LaVar says.
How often do I really need to shampoo?
Most experts say you should shampoo at least every 14 days. But every seven to 10 days is actually what's recommended.
"I often have to explain to clients that African-American hair
needs to be washed regularly," says West Hollywood stylist Kim Kimble.
She's worked with Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington, and Vanessa
Williams and has a line of hair care products.
"Bacteria can grow on the scalp without regular cleansing and that's unhealthy," Kimble says.
If you're worried about stripping moisture out of your hair
when you wash it, LaVar suggests lathering with a moisturizing shampoo
designed for normal or dry hair and following with a moisturizing
Why does my hair keep breaking?
When you sap moisture from your hair, it loses suppleness and
is more susceptible to breakage, LaVar says. African-American hair needs
supplemental moisture to stand up to styling because it is naturally
Curly textures tend to be the most vulnerable to drying out and
breaking because the bends in kinky hair make it difficult for natural
oils to work their way down the hair shaft.
Chemical and heat styling suck the internal moisture from hair,
making it brittle and fragile. To avoid breakage, look for
heat-shielding and hydrating products that contain silicone, Taylor
says. They coat the hair and help seal in moisture.
LaVar tells her clients to avoid products designed for limp
hair. Ingredients that add body can actually strip oils and remove
moisture, she says.
Experts also suggest wrapping your hair in a satin scarf or
bonnet before bed to help your hair retain moisture. Cotton fibers in
your pillowcase will wick away hydration.
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