Black Hair Care Basics

Taking care of African-American hair can be particularly difficult. Two experts weigh in on the proper black hair styling techniques, black hair products, weaves, and more.
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We talked to Tippi Shorter, hairstylist to Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and Vanessa Williams, and Titi Branch, co-owner of Miss Jessie's salon in Brooklyn, New York, about caring for black hair.

African-American hair tends to be more fragile, shrinks more when dry (wet hair can be up to twice as long as dry hair), and has more elasticity. They answered our top care questions:

How often should you wash your hair?

Both experts agreed that washing your hair once is week was plenty. Because African-American hair is naturally drier, washing it more frequently would over-dry the hair -- plus it's highly unlikely your hair will look oily in a week. Due to the extra curly, kinky nature of the hair, oil doesn't get a chance to travel the whole way down the hair shaft, says Branch.

What's the best technique for straightening or blow-drying hair?

Using a comb attachment to the blow dryer is a must, says Shorter. Blow-drying wet hair takes a lot of pulling with a brush, and that can end up breaking the hair. Since African-American hair is much more fragile, Branch recommends letting the hair air-dry or sitting under a dryer for a short period before blow-drying to minimize on tugging time.

Are weaves good or bad for your hair? Which method is better: glue or sewing?

Both agree that weaves can be good for your hair as long as the proper care steps are taken and you go to an experienced stylist. In fact, a sewn weave 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.

Continued on page 2:  More Black Hair Care Advice


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