Afro Hair Care

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Taking care of black hair happens in steps. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you need for AFRO HAIR CARE. 

The initial step in black hair care is establishing an easy ritual that is best suited for your lifestyle. Once you have a regular routine, it becomes easier to know what works best for you and what doesn’t. Without a routine, it’ll be difficult to know what needs to be fixed if something goes wrong or if you try a new product out.

The concept of creating a hair care routine can seem like too much for several women. In some instances, YouTube has a lot of videos with hair gurus suggesting you need to take an entire day out each week to wash your hair and spend 8 hours and upwards styling during the week. You can do this, but it’s not crucial. The reality is that it’s so much easier to keep an easy, consistent routine that fits around your day to day life. If your routine works for you then you’re more likely to stick to it and see results in your hair health and growth.

Do you still find yourself unsure of where to start? If so, here’s an approach we recommend: Cleanse, Moisturize, Style, Repeat.

Cleanse

It’s important for everyone to have their scalp clean and healthy. It should just be routine- so just as you wash and moisturize your face each day, you need to routinely clean your scalp. This is because hair growth starts in the follicle and new hairs grow through these tiny pores in the scalp. If the pores are blocked it is hard for new hair to poke through and you can get painful bumps and ingrown hairs. A dirty scalp can invite fungal infections, dandruff, stunted hair growth and other problems so it’s essential to keep it clean.

We recommend washing your scalp every 7-10 days with a gentle sulphate free shampoo. Focus on massaging the shampoo into your scalp with a gentle circular movement to dislodge dirt and encourage blood flow to the scalp. A clean and stimulated scalp allows for optimum hair growth.

5 Tips for Washing:

  1. Pre-shampoo with coconut oil to avoid hygric fatigue: simply apply the coconut oil to your hair, focusing on the ends, then cover with a shower cap and leave for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Massage the shampoo into your scalp using your fingertips and work it along the hair strands. Don’t worry about getting shampoo on the bottom of your hair, it will get enough of a clean as the suds from your scalp run down.
  3. Follow up with a conditioner that has a lot of slip to make detangling simpler. When conditioning or using a deep conditioning treatment, don’t leave the product on for longer than specified in the instructions as leaving hair wet for too long will weaken it.
  4. Be sure to untangle with your fingers or a wide tooth comb to minimize manipulation.
  5. After you’ve gotten rid of your conditioner, be sure to squeeze out excess water. Next, wrap your hair with a microfiber turban or towel for swift drying. Avoid blow drying as it can damage afro hair, drying without heat is easier and leaves hair softer and stronger in the long run.

Moisturize

Once your hair is clean and almost dry, you’re going to make time for the most important part of your afro hair routine: moisturizing. You know you wouldn’t shower and dress without moisturizing your skin adequately, and the same is true for your hair. 

The key point of an Afro hair routine is to be sure that you avoid bad practices while keeping your hair clean, moisturized and easy to style and maintain. Having a ritual for your hair will assist in helping you achieve healthy afro hair that is longer and stronger than you ever thought possible.

The primary reason afro hair is prone to breakage is a lack of moisture. Dryness is one of the hardest things about afro hair. Once you have dry hair, it breaks easily. This is because black hair is susceptible to dryness, it is also prone to breakage. Protecting your hair by locking in moisture is key.

Style

It’s best to go for protective and low-manipulation styles to keep your black hair healthy. 

Protective styles are when the ends of your hair are hidden away. Examples of this are braids, twists or weave can be protective styles. With these looks ensure that you keep the style in for no more than 6-8 weeks and keep hair clean and moisturized throughout. Our protective style set contains everything needed to keep your hair in top shape.

Low-change styles are looks requiring little maintenance and those that don’t invite your hands into your hair! Wearing a buns or a roll, twist and pin style throughout the week keeps knots and tangles at bay as you don’t have to handle your hair much. With these looks, wrapping your hair at night will keep it looking great throughout the week.

When styling, we recommend working with your hair’s natural curls. Those that say afro hair is unmanageable are often trying to get it to do something that goes against its very structure, that is straightening it.

If you want to go for the straight look, try stretching and straightening your hair without using heat and chemicals and simply trying traditional African threading techniques. This is a good way to change up your look and keeping your hair healthy. 

Repeat

Once your hair is clean and dry and styled, you can slightly alter your look throughout the week to reflect your changing mood. While keeping the basics of the routine consistent, you can still trade up different styles that you do each week, perhaps going from a low maintenance bun, to micro braids, to a twist out after each wash day. The essential thing is to keep your routine the same and make only minor changes at a time.

Once you have your routine perfected, you can start thinking about how to save time while taking care of your hair. 

Black Women Deserve a Great Hair Day, Every Day

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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.

Care Techniques for Black Hair

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There are many questions black women have for both their hair and their children’s hair. Here are some questions and answers that should give you insight into what it’s going to be like caring for your hair:

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WASH YOUR HAIR?

Experts have agreed that washing your hair once a week was plenty. This is because African-American hair is naturally drier, and washing it more frequently would simply over-dry the hair. In addition, it’s highly unlikely your hair will look oily in a week. Due to the extra curly, kinky nature of the hair, oil would not get the chance to make its way down the hair shaft.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO STRAIGHTEN OR BLOW-DRYING HAIR?

The best way to blow-dry hair is to use a comb attachment to the blow dryer, since the act of blow-drying wet hair takes a lot of pulling with a brush, and that can end up breaking the hair. To avoid breakage, since African-American hair is much more fragile, we recommend letting your hair air-dry or sitting under a dryer for a little before you directly move to blow-drying to minimize on tugging time.

ARE WEAVES GOOD OR BAD FOR YOUR HAIR? IS IT BETTER TO GLUE OR SEWING?

Experts agree that weaves can be good for your hair as long as the proper care steps are taken and you get help from a professional stylist. The upside of a a sewn weave is that it protects your natural hair since you won’t be straightening or exposing your natural hair to any outside elements. Glued-in weaves, however, tend to rip out your natural hair at removal and should be avoided.

HOW DO YOU CARE FOR A WEAVE?

Experts say that you should go to your stylist every two to three weeks to make sure your weave stays as tight as possible. This is because having a loose weave can pull on your hair. It is recommended that you make sure to cleanse your scalp as thoroughly as possible to prevent buildup and flaking. If you wonder when you should remove your weave and get a new one, the answer is between one and three months. And then, after you’ve had two consecutive “weavings,” you should probably leave your hair be for a few weeks before you put in a new weave.

Things to Remember About Black Hair:

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It’s easy to forget these essential things about black hair, but here we go, giving you some tips on what you need to remember before you get treatment for your hair. 

  • Black hair is extremely fragile. A gentle touch is required to avoid unnecessary breakage and hair loss. Always use a wide-tooth comb or pick. Avoid fine-tooth combs because they snag and pull out curly/kinky hair. Invest in a quality brush — natural boar brushes are the best. 
  • Curly/kinky hair needs an enormous quantity of moisture, so you should keep this in mind when you search for new hair care products. Do NOT use drying products such as hair spray, mousse or holding gels. Search around for moisturizers, leave-in conditioners, and styling lotions to get maximum moisture.
  • In addition, just because a product is marketed for “curly hair,” doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be suitable for black hair. For example, the products created for Nicole Kidman’s curly hair might not work for Angela Bassett’s. White hair tends to produce more sebum — an oily secretion created by the sebaceous gland — than black textured hair. This means black hair requires more oil. Really look at the ingredient list. Be sure you have natural oils and quality ingredients.
  • Keeping a good hair regime requires using quality salon-issued products, such as the following. 
    • Moisturizing conditioner
    • A daily moisturizer  
    • Natural oils to apply to the hair. Pomegranate seed oil is your best choice.
    • Cream hair dressing for light control of frizzes
    • Have elastics to secure ponytails

Here are some myths that get in the way of African-American hair that we would like to dispel. 

Myth #1: Many women are under the assumption that it cannot grow long. However, black hair does grow at the same speed as other hair types — half an inch per month. However, the hair is extra dry and fragile, which makes it prone to breakage. In fact, it can break at the same rate that it’s growing. The hair can grow long if you moisturize it all the time and nourish the hair with the right products.

Myth #2: The second myth is that you can possibly use too much conditioning for your hair. If you use a conditioning product meant for “damaged, dried” hair, it will have a lot of protein. On the contrary, too much protein makes your hair hard, especially if you’re sleeping with the product in it. Then, the reverse of what you want happens: the hair hardens and breaks. Fortunately, there is no such thing as too much moisturizing and moisture makes the hair soft and pliable.

Going to The Salon for Black Women: A Ritual Paused During COVID-19

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Going to the salon is ritualistic event for many black women. This is because it is a place of community, therapy, and socialization, on top of hair care. For example, on an episode of Blackish, the young daughter has her first experience in the salon where she also receives her first relaxer and is immediately brought into the hour-ling session that is usual in black beauty salons. In Black Girl Church, which is a documentary about black women and their relationships to salons, treats the experience as a near-religious ceremony and a sanctuary for one of the black community. 

But when COVID-19 shut down all salons and black beauty stores among them, many black women were forced to take matters into their own hands. It really made black women aware of how much they relied on the salon experience, and to be honest, it is really speculative whether they should have been shut down in the first place, as clearly, they are essential, as they help with grooming and hygiene. 

There have been an influx of YouTube beauticians that help black women keep up their hair, as well as blogs that have been written by different black women to help you continue in your hair care journey. 

Just remember that this hair care journey has only slightly changed and you should be up and ready to go back to the salon any day now. But hopefully this experience has given you the time to learn more about your hair and has treated you with a sense of autonomy when it comes to taking care of your hair. 

Taking Care of a Child’s Hair: Black Hair Guide

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Taking care of your child’s hair is going to take a solid routine, no matter which way you decide to go about it. For example, if you start to relax your child’s hair, you have to be consistent. When the natural hair reaches a certain length underneath the relaxed hair (hair grows from the root), the hair begins going through a transition stage. At this point, the hair is very vulnerable to excessive breakage. Usually, a perm will be required every 6-8 weeks unless you are prepared to transition back to natural hair. Transitioning, without taking proper precautions can be very traumatic because of the breakage.

When you relax your child’s hair, the hair is weakened and you have reduced the potential for the scalp to naturally oil itself. Permed hair is especially delicate and must be cared for even more diligently than natural hair. But, it’s better to perm hair than to fry it with excessive heat trying to make it straight or to end up breaking it off by combing it too aggressively.

Ponytail do’s and don’ts

Bound hairstyles are great for little girls. They keep the hair from going wild and from tangling. I can often get a few days out of a style, too. But, these bound styles can lead to hair disaster- as in severe, and even permanent, hair loss.

Here are some dos and don’ts you will want to be aware of

Don’t- use regular rubber bands to hold your hairstyles. Also, do not use the bands that have the metal clips, which grab and break kinky hair. Rubber bands cause too much friction on the hair and will eventually cause breakage. Buy covered bands or smooth bands made especially for hair.

Do- remove any bands from the hair every night before you go to sleep. Even the best bands should be removed before retiring for the evening.

Don’t- pull the hair too tight. While it may be attractive, if you see your daughter’s eyebrows arching like she’s just had a face-lift you could be doing damage to her scalp. If you start to notice bumps around her hairline or elsewhere on her scalp, you could be causing traction alopecia. Normally, changing the hairstyle easily reverses this. But, if it is continued, this practice can lead to permanent hair loss.

Tips Caring for Your Afro Hair

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Deep Conditioning

Deep conditioning black hair is an important part of your hair care routine. Here is some advice I can give you regarding this. At least once or twice a month, after shampooing, I would deep condition my hair.

What I do is apply one of the deep conditioning products on after shampooing and use either a HydraCap for 30 minutes or so. What’s great about this is that the subtle heat lets the cuticles breathe, thus moisturizing product to penetrate the hair shaft. A good hot oil treatment could be done here instead.

How to properly moisturize African American hair

The most crucial key to healthy African American hair care is moisture. Because of the structure of our hair, it tends to become dry easily. Dry hair lacks elasticity and therefore is brittle and prone to breakage. Moisturize with good products and do it often. Moisturizing doesn’t mean the same thing as oiling. And it is certainly not the same as putting on what we used to call “grease” . After the Deep Conditioning or Conditioning, I tend to moisturize.

What about oiling my hair and scalp?

The topic of whether to oil is pretty controversial in African hair care, so that’s a decision you’ll have to make on your own. My experience has been that, for my daughters, and me, oil is good for our hair. The right oil though is of vital importance. We only use all natural oils, mostly plant oils.We avoid mineral oil and petroleum based products. The one notable exception to the plant oil rule is emu oil (an animal oil). I love emu oil!

Consider the following before you start perming.

It is not recommended that you do home box perms. People often ask us to recommend perms to them. We do not recommend any perms because we do not sell any. A beautician has told us that they are not the same quality as the salon perms. I don’t know if that’s true.

But, even if it is not, a chemical relaxer or perm is a process that is best performed by professional. Serious damage can be done to the hair (that can never be repaired, it has to grow out). A relaxer, improperly applied can do permanent damage to the scalp.

The only compromise we would even contemplate on this would be to take your child to a local beauty school, if you just cannot pay the money the salons are charging. At least they’ll get the perm under professional supervision. And, the price is usually a pretty small fraction of the cost in a salon.

If you insist on applying perms at home, please read and follow the instructions carefully.

Do not keep perming the part of the hair that has already been treated. Only apply the perm to the new growth (the kinky stuff underneath). Perming the same part of a strand of hair over and over again thins it a little each time. Eventually, it will break. It’s not a question of “if”, it’s “when”.

Tools for maintaining African American hair

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Be sure that before you decide to carry out any task, remember that it’s crucial to be sure you’re stocked up with the right tools. Sure, it’s true that most products can be picked up for very little at your local drug store, but you do deserve to get the best products you can afford. When you look like your best self, you feel like your best self. 

On the other end of the spectrum, we do not believe in paying tons of money for fancy packaging or a brand from a totally high end salon, since it’s a fact that there are much better products available from specialty stores like Treasured Locks or even your local salon. Here are some examples of supplies you can get for maintaining African American hair:

  • Get wide tooth comb or pick or brush made for African American hair. We like “detangling” combs like the NuBone and the Knot Genie
  • Good moisturizing and cream conditioner. Knot No More is a must. Not only is it good for removing braids, twists, etc. without damaging the hair. It’s amazing for every day comb outs. It’s the product you wish your mother had when you were young.
  • Deep conditioning like Deep V Conditioner- once a month along with the HydraCap
  • Satin sleep cap or satin pillow cases
  • Spray bottle to spritz hair in case you just want to hit it with some water to comb

Here are Additional Tips for combing out Black hair

This section will be particularly important to those of you who have not worked with kinky hair.

  • Never try to comb out kinky hair while it is dry.
  • Use a moisturizer to provide elasticity to the hair and to reduce friction.
  • Be sure you have a wide tooth comb. You might want to look for a “detangling” comb. If you’re used to fine tooth combs, it might look a little strange to you. But, generally speaking, the farther apart the teeth the better.
  • Do not use bristled brushes because I find they tend to grab the hair. I have a Knot Genie which does a great job on the girls’ natural hair. It’s a combination comb and brush in one device. It’s shaped like a brush, but has round teeth more like a comb.
  • Conditioner also helps lessen the breakage and pulling caused by tangling. Tangling happens when the cuticle of one strand of hair (which are more raised in Black and Biracial hair) catches on the cuticle of another hair. Conditioner also smooths over rough broken edges of the outer layer of hair. By smoothing over the outer layer of the hair, conditioner makes the hair feel softer, reflect light better and keeps it from tangling and breaking as much. Lastly, the protective coating left on by conditioner holds moisture and reduces static electricity.

Care for Black Hair

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Black care specialists get inundated with a lot of concerns as it pertains to African American hair. Some of the questions asked the most are the following: 

Why is my / my daughter’s hair so dull?

Why is my / my daughter’s hair so dry?

These questions and others are addressed in this article. The bad news is that I cannot relay to you exactly what is the ideal solution for you or for your child. This is because proper care maintenance is less like a science and more like an art. 

Every individual’s hair is unique, therefore requiring a slightly altered maintenance routine. Even my two daughters have very unique hair. This is evident because I’ll go out and buy an oil that is great for one but doesn’t work for the other. It took years of trial and error to develop routines that work best for all three of us, and yet I still find myself changing these when I find new products and as I gain more experience. 

Our publication is starting to get many more requests from white mothers who have children of black descent and are totally blind-sided when it comes to taking care of black hair. Black hair has a large range of textures and needs.

Here are some common expectations for African American hair: 

The number one complaint we get about black hair is that it looks dry or dull. Before you go too far to make your natural hair full of sheen and shine, it’s best to have the proper expectation. Natural Black or African hair will not be as shiny as permed hair or Caucasian hair.

A major part of what makes hair shiny is the structure of the hair, not just the amount of oil or moisture it contains. If the cuticles lay flat (smooth hair), the hair will reflect light better (translated will appear shiny). If the cuticles are raised, the hair will absorb light (translated will appear more dull).

Unless you change the structure of the hair (as in getting a perm or relaxer for us African Americans), black hair will only be so shiny. The practice of applying a bunch of grease to make it shinier, can actually end up damaging the hair. Having said that, natural African hair can appear healthy, smooth and have a nice healthy sheen.

Another complaint we sometimes get (again it seems usually from White mothers) is that their child’s hair is too curly or too frizzy. There are some things you can do to control frizziness and curliness.

But, if you want to effect “permanent” (permanent until it grows out anyway) changes, you are looking at a chemical process. One thing we often advise mothers about though is please do not expect your child’s hair to be like yours. And, please do not make her feel as though something is wrong with her hair because it’s “frizzy” or curly.

You should picture your child’s hair as a collection of fine fibers. You should treat it as gently as you would a fine washable silk blouse. The better you treat her hair, the easier it will be to grow and the better it will look. You should be aware that African hair and biracial hair tends to be drier than Caucasian hair.

The structure of our hair makes it more difficult for the oils to work their way from the scalp to the ends of the hair. Because our hair is kinky, it tends to tangle more and pulling these tangles out can cause breakage. In spite of appearances, black hair and biracial hair tends to be more fragile than Caucasian hair.

The lack of moisture and elasticity and the kinks that get grabbed when styling or combing make for hair that can be broken easily. Someone once asked me if natural hair is meant to be combed. Actually, the answer probably is no. I don’t think our hair was structured to be combed at all. So, as long as we’re going to do it, we have to do it causing the least amount of damage possible.

Both of my daughters have natural hair. We receive a lot of compliments about their hair. We have a mixed heritage (as do most African Americans). But, many of the same things I do for them can be adapted for biracial hair care. Here are my “secrets”.

Tips for Everyday Care for African Americans

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Because it is so different in the way it looks and the way it is structured, black hair is more frail and likely to incur damage compared to other hair types. The good thing is that there are a lot that African Americans can do to help minimize damage and keep their hair beautiful.

Here are some tips recommended by a dermatologist: 

  1. Be sure to make sure your hair is washed once a week or every other week. This is going to assist in blocking a build-up of hair care products, which can dry out your lovely hair. 
  2. Be sure to be generous with conditioner. You’re going to want to use conditioner every time you wash your hair. It is crucial to lather the ends of the hair with conditioner, as the ends are the oldest and most fragile part of your hair.
  3. Make sure to implement a hot oil treatment two times per month a month, for extra moisture and elasticity to your hair.
  4. Before you style, be sure that you use a heat protecting product. If you add this to damp hair before you style it, it will help prevent damage. 
  5. Exercise restraint with relaxers. To keep hair damage to a minimum, be sure that you always go to a professional hair stylist to be sure that your hair relaxer is applied correctly. That being said, it should be noted that touch-ups should only be done every two to three months and only to newly grown hair. Never apply relaxer to hair that has already been relaxed.
  6. Use ceramic combs or irons to press hair. If you would like to press or thermally straighten your hair, use a ceramic comb or iron and only do so once a week. Use a straightening device with a dial to ensure the device is not too hot. Use the lowest possible temperature setting that gives you the style you want. A higher temperature may be necessary for thicker, coarser hair.
  7. Make sure braids, cornrows or weaves are not too tight. If it hurts while your hair is being styled, ask the stylist to stop and redo it. Pain equals damage.
  8. See a board-certified dermatologist if you notice any changes in the texture or appearance of your hair. Even the slightest bit of noticeable thinning can be the start of hair loss. The earlier hair loss is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated.