Solutions to Common African-American Hair Problems

Dealing with oily, permed, limp, relaxed hair and more

How do I deal with flyway hair?

Static electricity is caused by friction -- both between your comb and your hair, and between individual hairs. Don't comb too often, and use a good strong conditioner -- it coats the hair, providing insulation. You also can try applying a drop of silicone serum.

 

My hair is too oily. How can I make it appear less greasy?

Many conditioners and styling products formulated for the African American market contain greasy ingredients like lanolin, petrolatum, cocoa butter, waxes and oils. These quickly build up on the scalp and hair and can even stunt future hair growth. If you do use one of these heavy products, apply just a little; keep it on the hair and off the scalp. Wash your hair at least twice a week with a mild clarifying shampoo to remove the residue. Then use a conditioner, but keep it off the roots and be sure to rinse thoroughly. Avoid two-in-one products. Follow this same advice if it's just your scalp producing excess oil, and not buildup that's the problem.

 

Bleaching my hair has made it really coarse. How can I undo the damage?

Bleaching causes a good deal of damage to the hair; the lighter you've gone, the worse the damage is. Use a mild shampoo and the strongest conditioner you can without making your hair go limp. Wash your hair only as often as necessary. Do a deep-conditioning treatment once a week, if possible, and take steps to minimize further damage, such as combing gently (especially when wet) and keeping heat-styling tools on low. Remember that a drop of silicone serum can help smooth down the cuticle and add a bit of shine.

 

I just had my hair straightened. How should I take care of it?

Perming and straightening cause a good deal of damage, and are particularly hard on fragile African American hair. Wait a week after processing. Then use a mild shampoo and the strongest conditioner you can without making your hair go limp. Wash your hair only as often as necessary. Do a deep-conditioning treatment once a week, if possible, and take steps to minimize further damage, such as combing gently (especially when wet) and keeping heat-styling tools on low. A drop of silicone serum can help smooth down the cuticle and add a bit of shine.

 

I have limp, flat and lifeless hair. How can I make it look fuller?

If your hair is lifeless and dull, your problem might be excess weight from styling products or buildup. Try using a clarifying shampoo to remove stuck-on conditioners and styling products, and be sure to rinse well. Avoid all products containing oils or lanolin, as well as heavy gels and pomades. Also consider a short cut -- less hair equals less weight.

 

Do you have any tips for styling African-American Hair?

Texture is always a big consideration when choosing a style for your hair type, which can be dry and is also naturally curly. Going natural, without relaxing the hair, is an option, but hair straightening is also a popular trend. Letting hair curl naturally, whether long or short, is a fashionable look that lets you avoid the process of relaxing. If you use a relaxer, which chemically breaks down the natural bond of the hair to straighten it, you can achieve almost any style.

African-American hair tends to be brittle, so it needs to be treated delicately. Moisturize your hair to keep it healthy, but avoid over-layering conditioners that build up on the hair and clog the scalp. Hair products should be lighter than the hair itself. Avoid ingredients like mineral oil and lanolin, using light oil instead to keep hair from being weighed down and to make it easy to comb. If hair is coarse or dry at the ends, concentrate conditioner from the middle of the hair shaft to the ends.

 

I'm looking to color my hair. Is it safe to do it at home?

Dark brown and black hair is somewhat resistant to permanent coloring and bleaching, which is problematic for fragile African American hair. If you want to change your color by more than three shades in either direction, it's best to have it done at a salon. Coarse hair is often porous and soaks up dyes quickly, so if you color at home, do a strand test first to get the timing right.

 

I recently had my hair colored. How can I keep the color fresh and prevent fading?

All hair dyes fade, whether permanent or not. The culprits are oxidation (unavoidable) and the sun, so your first line of defense is to cover up. (Products that contain sunscreen can help a bit, but they're not enough.) Use a gentle shampoo, then condition as much as possible -- permanent and some semipermanent dyes cause at least a little cuticle damage, and some cause a lot. Dyes are particularly harsh on African American hair, so do an occasional deep conditioning. If you've colored your hair so much that it's seriously damaged, see the section on damaged hair. Between colorings, remember that shampoos containing a colorant can help freshen up your look.

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