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African American Hair Texture: Taking Care of Our Gift
African American hair comes in an almost infinite variety of textures, from curly to woolly, from kinky to wavy, from natural and thick to straight and sleek. But whatever its texture, Black African American hair is a gift that reflects both our beauty and our ancestry. Unfortunately, though, it’s often next to impossible to feel good about our hair. Why? Because it feels like we’re constantly at war with it.
At some point in her life (or many times throughout her life!) virtually every woman wrestles with the question of natural versus relaxed/permed. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but whatever the choice, it’s crucial to take care of your locks.
Good hair care starts from the inside out. That means eating a balanced diet to give your body all the nutrients it needs in order to grow the healthiest hair possible. It also means drinking plenty of water, to give your hair (and skin) much-needed moisture.
The next critical element of hair care – regardless of your hair’s texture – is using the proper comb/brush. The truth is, the vast majority of combs and brushes are made for non-African American hair. The ideal tool for our hair is a combination comb/brush that is designed so that the teeth easily slide under our coiled hair texture. It’s like a detangler that works by rolling out the hair instead of pulling it out. In the process, it naturally conditions and relaxes hair, making it soft and easy to style or braid. This kind of comb/brush also keeps our hair healthy and helps prevent breakage.
In addition to having the proper comb/brush, there are several other things you can do to help prevent breakage. First, use heat sparingly, especially if your hair is permed. Second, don’t wash your hair too often – every seven to ten days is ideal. When you do wash it, use a leave-in conditioner. In between, rinse your hair once or twice a week (and especially after a workout), and use a conditioner every day. And, don’t neglect your monthly deep conditioning treatment.
Embrace Your Texture
The hairstyles you choose will change over the course of your lifetime, but the best hair care advice is to embrace your natural texture and work with it. Hair that is naturally curly will act very differently than hair that is naturally woolly. Similarly, super-kinky hair will respond in a different way to treatments than naturally wavy hair.
When you work with the texture you have, you can still have a variety of style choices available to you. But the key is that you won’t be constantly fighting nature; instead, you’ll be working with the African American texture you were born with and maximizing its beauty. In the process, you’ll have less breakage and healthier hair. The result? You’ll feel more beautiful and project that self-confidence to the world. What could be better?