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8 Aug 2011

Great Hair Care Regimen Key to Healthy African American Hair

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August 8, 2011 Category: Beauty Posted by:

By Leah Fletcher

 

There are many reasons women experience dry, damaged and weak hair. It may be a particular phase of life that accounts for stress, poor diet, health problems, frequent hair chemical usage and untreated hair conditions that may leave African American hair in ruins.

 

A great African American hair care regimen will solve many of those problems. However, many individuals with African American hair don’t employ such routine hair care schedules. In fact, many shampoo their hair once or twice a month and the leave the rest of their hair care maintenance to the application of petroleum-based hair “greases” and mineral oil-based lotions. Unfortunately, this type of regimen will only lead to hair breakage, splitting and thinning for African American hair.

 

“With special care and proper maintenance, if your hair is damaged it can be restored to its original health,” according to Deanne Hale, owner of Collage Hair Spa, in the Mt. Airy Section of Philadelphia. Hale further explains that hair damage that has resulted in split ends and poor hair growth can leave your hair susceptible to more vulnerability, so it is essential that you do the work yourself or work with a licensed hair stylist to help your hair fully recover.

 

It is often said that African American hair is considered the toughest of hair types, when it is actually the most fragile and prone to breakage. The big difference comes from the thicker outer layer, which is where the hair gets it kinky or extra curly property. African American hair is not difficult to maintain and keep healthy. Hales says that with the right techniques, African American women can have healthy, soft, long and beautiful hair.

 

Shampooing and Conditioning

 

Hale advises African American women to shampoo their hair regularly. She says there are many different shampoos and conditioners on the market and it’s hard to know which is best for African American hair. “Products may be made just for African American hair, but that doesn’t mean they are the best,” she said. “Actually, there are several types of products that should be used at different times.”

 

In her opinion, Hales, who has 30 years of professional experience, believes you should avoid inexpensive or high-priced shampoos that contain the same harmful ingredients as the low-priced ones, disguised under better brand labels. “If you purchase quality products then your scalp will be healthy and your hair will not be dry.” said Hale. “Get professional advice regarding the best products for your individual hair type,” she stressed.

 

Salon experts agree that African American hair needs moisture and deep conditioning. The latter being very important because African American hair does not hold moisture very well, which is why it is easy to break and shed. Hales explains this is especially important when the hair is exposed to chemical relaxers, stressful styles, and heat appliances, like blow dryers and flat irons.

 

“Relaxed hair should be shampooed with protein shampoos at least once a week. During the relaxer process, keratin protein is broken down. Protein shampoos replace the keratin in the hair and shield it from breakage,” explained Hale.

 

Treatments

 

To keep African American hair healthy, certain treatments should be done regularly. Protein treatments are always recommended. Hair is 88 percent protein, and needs to be restored and rebuilt to remain healthy and reduce breakage. If done incorrectly, Hale noted, protein may also add to the breakage.

 

PHOTO: Collage Hair Studio owner Deanne Hale with a customer.

 

“Limit heat when doing protein treatments. If the protein is left in too long, the hair will become brittle and hard. Do not comb or brush the hair when it is in this state. Re-wet the hair and rinse the treatment before combing. Also follow the protein treatment with a moisturizing treatment,” said Hale as she explained some dos and don’ts of the process.

 

According to Hale the increasingly popular Keratin Treatment is a recent trend in the hair care industry. This protein treatment straightens hair semi-permanently, producing results that last for months. Keratin is a natural protein substance found in hair and nails. New innovations in hair care have found that keratin –rich products can help grow hair longer and stronger. Recipients of the treatment also report shiny, frizz-free, and easy to manage relaxed hair.

 

Hale advises those interested in keratin hair treatments to do their research. She offers this advice against the backdrop of the controversial Brazilian keratin hair treatment that contains formaldehyde as an active ingredient. The chemical is considered to be a toxic, carcinogen. Hale also notes there are other keratin products that use a minimal amount of chemicals. But, more importantly, she believes the application of the multi-layered treatment should be left to professional stylists and not well-intended do-it-yourselfers.

 

Styling and Maintenance

 

Experts say that styling and maintenance is easy and simple with the right tools. They advise using large-tooth combs to avoid breakage; moisturizing the hair with oil- or water-based moisturizer twice a day; sleeping on satin pillows, or with a satin or silk scarf around the head, which helps to maintain the moisture in the hair while sleeping.

 

As women with African American hair seek to employ a healthy hair regimen, Hale encourages then to treat their hair as though it is a top priority, because maintaining healthy hair should be.

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