Effective black hair care strategies can involve everything from an accurate scalp health assessment to proper combing techniques, as well as the use of appropriate hair care products. Taking care of black hair - whether it be relaxed or natural - usually involves an individualized regimen that targets your specific needs.
Keeping ethnic hair moisturized can be difficult. One hint that more moisture is needed is when dry hair snaps easily when stretched. Another clue is when broken hairs around the sink appear after combing. The use of the products below can help to keep the hair hydrated:
- Miss Jessie's Super Slip Sudsy Shampoo moisturizes and cleanses the hair without stripping it, leaving strands dry and rough.
- After shampooing, follow up with a conditioner like Herbal Essences Hello Hydration or Shea Moisture Organic Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner. With consistent use of these, the quality of the hair will begin to improve.
- Weekly deep conditioning is something that black hair can benefit from. Adding honey to a deep conditioner such as LeKair Cholesterol Plus can enhance benefits.
- Look for a good leave-in conditioner like Kinky Curly Knot Today or Neutrogena Triple Moisture Silk Touch Leave-In Cream. They will leave your hair soft and manageable, and help to fight frizz.
- Adding oils into a hair regimen will assist with moisture retention. (Note: oils do not moisturize, they only help to seal in moisture.)
- Try using SOURCE NATURALS Extra Virgin Coconut Oil Liquid. This product will leave your hair with a healthy sheen, and a little goes a long way.
- Any brand of olive oil, which can be found at your local grocery store, can also be used as a sealant.
- Oils can also be used for a hot oil treatment.
People sometimes over-moisturize to avoid receiving breakage from dryness, but this can create another problem. Adding too much moisture will strip and weaken the protein in the hair, which will actually lead to breakage. To keep an an eye out for moisture overload, examine hair strands when they are wet. If they feel stringy and spongy and they snap after stretching, protein needs to be added.
While protein products should not be used every day, they are beneficial when your hair is over-moisturized. Products to consider adding to your recommend include:
- Using Mane and Tail Shampoo or conditioner will help beef up protein.
- ApHogee 2 minute Keratin Reconstructor helps to strengthen hair strands, especially after a chemical service like a relaxer.
- Organic Root Stimulator Hair Mayonnaise is a great deep conditioner that helps with shedding and includes egg protein.
Keep in mind, though, that while protein is good for hair, adding too much can lead to the hair becoming dry and brittle. Use it only when needed, as over-doing it can actually do more harm than good.
When one is able to stretch the hair and it returns back to its normal shape without snapping, protein and moisture balance has been restored. This can be achieved by alternating between moisture and protein products. A stylist can also help customize a shampoo and condition routine in between visits to maintain balance.
There are so many ways that black hair can be styled, it can be very versatile. Although it is okay to experiment, there are still some precautions that need to be taken.
Combing and Brushing
- Try to always use wide tooth combs when detangling or dealing with wet hair.
- Avoid using brushes on soaking wet hair.
- When combing and brushing hair, work in sections to minimize tangles and manipulation.
- Prior to using any heating tools, be thorough when applying a heat protectant like Chi 44 Iron Guard, to avoid heat damage.
- Limit the use of heat, especially direct heat like blow drying and flat ironing, to once or twice per week.
- Tell the stylist if any braids are too tight as this can lead to breakage and traction alopecia.
- Be sure to keep up with scheduled maintenance for your extensions. Wearing them can help with length retention when installed and maintained correctly.
- Trimming hair is an important factor when on a healthy hair journey. Hair expert Traci Washington, says to trim the hair a quarter of an inch every 4-8 weeks to promote hair growth.
Protecting the hair while sleeping is also important, and can often be simple changes. Here are some recommendations:
- If you're wearing a straight style, wrapping it can help to maintain the style longer.
- Wear a satin bonnet or silk scarf to bed.
- Sleeping on a satin pillowcase helps to hair retain moisture. Sleeping on regular pillowcases suck the moisture out of the hair.
An Active Community
Blogs and websites that review popular African American hair products and styling techniques can helpful for educating and assessing certain hair practices. The most popular sites include Nappturality and Black Hair Media, both of which contain forums for discussing unique hair care experiences.
The Outside Is Only Half the Battle
Good hair truly does start from the inside out. Try to drink as much water as possible. A healthy diet contains ample proteins, minerals, vitamins and essential oils so that the hair is provided with all the necessary elements for healthy growth and structure.