No matter whether you keep your hair straight, braided, loose, or curly, you deserve to enjoy a good hair day, every day. That can mean cutting through myths about how to care for your hair.
Here are some facts about African-American hair that are meant to educate you so you can have the best hair you can:
- 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.” LaVar has done hair for many famous black celebrities, and says that African-American hair different from other types. Generally, the hair contains less water, grows more slowly, and breaks more easily than Caucasian or Asian hair. The idea of it growing more slowly, though, is controversial. Some people think it grows at the same rate.
- Why is it so difficult to style black hair?
Unfortunately, poor product labeling can lead to confusion and you don’t want to invest in 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 does one need to shampoo?
Experts agree that you should shampoo your hair 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 feel concerned 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 conditioner.
- Why does black hair continue to break? When you deprive your hair from moisture, it ceases to have its suppleness and is more susceptible to breakage, LaVar says. African-American hair needs supplemental moisture to stand up to styling because it is naturally dry. Curly textures tend to be the most likely to getting dried out and then breaking because the bends in kinky hair make it difficult for natural oils to work their way down the hair shaft.
It’s interesting because the trend surrounding Black hair is changing as Black women embrace their curls, coils and kinks. Marketing research backs this shift, as reports declair that hair relaxer sales fell 38% between 2012–2017. Conversely, the Black hair care market is growing each year and is valued at $2.5 billion.
But those who choose the natural hair route understand that it’s not as “natural” as you’d think ― there’s a lot of work, time and money involved in caring for natural hair. Nielsen data found that Black women spend nine times more on ethnic-targeted beauty and grooming products than the average for all consumers.
While these studies break down some of the financial components of Black beauty, the numbers don’t account for the time and physical commitment Black women make each week on “wash day” — a day that’s committed to detangling, washing, conditioning and styling their hair in preparation for the week.