Tress Relief Q&A - African-American Hair

Expert solutions to your hair problems

When it comes to our hair, we've all got issues. So we rounded up a crew of experts to answer some of your 'do dilemmas:

 

How Often to Shampoo?

I'm a workout-a-holic, and I go to the gym nearly every day. Should I wash my hair after every sweaty session?
According to master stylist Dekar, owner of Dekar Salon in New York City, washing your hair every time you work out is excessive. "You wash away natural oils, and you're not giving your scalp enough time to replenish them," he says. This can lead to dryness. But if you have a particularly sweaty workout and can't bear the thought of waiting for a weekly shampoo, Dekar suggests rinsing your hair in plain water or cleansing it with a very mild shampoo.

 

How to Go Natural?

I'm feeling Angie Stone's freedom 'fro. Do I have to chop off my relaxed hair to make the transition to natural beauty?
"Eventually, you will have to cut some hair because it tends to break off where the relaxed and virgin portions meet," says natural hair-care pro Veronica Fletcher, owner of Sirca Designs in New York City. Her recommendation? Low-maintenance styles that give your hair a rest. "I urge people who are going from relaxed to natural hair to braid it or wear it in twists, because then you're not putting stress on it with constant styling." Press-and-curl styles, where only the new growth is straightened, are another option -- however, cautions Fletcher, leave it to the professionals.

 

Grow it Out With Style?

I like my hair when it's long and sleek or short and funky, but the can't-do-anything-with-it, in-between stage drives me nuts! Any suggestions for growing out my cropped 'do?
To get through growing-out hell, says stylist Terry Mathis of Sirca Designs in New York City, try less-structured and labor-intensive styles. "I recommend straw and flat-twist sets [for clients who are letting their hair grow out]. They give the hair a textured style that's fuss-free and versatile. You can pin it up or wear it loose." Advises Dekar, focus on the cut. "If you have a great haircut, it will easily transform into another hair style. You can part it differently or do things with bangs, and it will still have good shape." This is also a good period to experiment. "Try some color or add extensions. There's nothing wrong with any tool that will get you over that transitional hump, because it's easy to [get frustrated] and cut your hair when you're trying to grow it out."

Another trick is hair extensions. They give you the long look you're going for while your own hair grows underneath. Using special glue, extensions can be applied to the sides, back and top of the head, and they can be blown, straightened and curled just like real hair. You can leave them on as long as you like or just until your hair reaches the desired length. A minimum of professional maintenance will keep your extensions looking great.
Tip: A quarter teaspoon of olive oil applied once a week will keep hair healthy and shiny.

 

Color Relaxed Hair?

I'm dying to try a sexy new shade this summer, but is it safe to color my hair right after it's been relaxed?
"Because a relaxer changes the structure of your hair, it's best to give it a break before adding more chemicals," says Violet DaCosta, senior manager of hair-color trends and style for Clairol. She suggests waiting at least seven to ten days and shampooing once before you color. And if you are using an over-the-counter permanent hair color, she adds, timing is very important. "Relaxed hair is porous, so the color will take faster. If you leave it on too long, you may get a [more intense] shade than you were originally going for."

 

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