Guest Author - Lynne Chapman
Women of color have special considerations when it comes to hair care. While all hair is basically the same composition, it certainly comes in varying textures. With some exceptions, African-American hair is usually coarser in texture, tighter in curl pattern and more delicate and vulnerable to damage from environmental and chemical treatments. The tighter curl makes the hair more prone to breakage since every bend of the hair shaft in the curl pattern provides a stress point. Curlier hair is also more susceptible to tangles and friction damage. Chemical processes used to alter the natural curl of the hair tend to be drying to the hair, which leaves it even more susceptible to split ends and breakage.
Hazards and Considerations:
Relaxing, perming, and coloring can be especially hazardous. Never touch-up or relax your hair yourself. Having this done by a professional will prevent over-processing. Some seemingly harmless activities such as wearing hats without a lining, wearing baseball caps, wool collar coats and sleeping on cotton fabrics also cause individual hairs to break. These activities cause friction when the hairs rub together from constant movement. Avoid the daily use of hot irons as it is drying to the hair. Hair gels often harden the hair so as to make it prone to breakage. Use sparingly. Metal brushes and combs can also cause an excess of friction and cause delicate hair to break.
To protect fragile hair, build it up with moisture. Use deep conditioning, moisturizing treatments that are protein-enriched. After shampooing, thoroughly work the treatment through the hair. Cover it with a plastic cap, keeping it warm for ten to fifteen minutes. If possible, sit under a hooded dryer for this time. Rinse this out and apply a leave-in conditioner containing a sunscreen before continuing to style your hair.
Natural oils can be used every other day on the hair and scalp when extreme dryness is present. Lightweight moisturizers can be used before and after styling and at night. Use styling lotions designed to hold the style while maintaining a pliable feel to the hair. Finish with silicone-based glossers to seal the cuticle of the hair and improve the appearance.
For sleeping, cover your hair with a satin bonnet or sleep on a satin pillowcase to prevent friction.
Always use large toothed plastic combs to carefully comb out tangles and a natural-bristle bush to gently stimulate the scalp and distribute the natural oils.
Finally, avoid products that contain alcohol, which can cause dryness and build up your own natural reserve of moisture by drinking the recommended eight to ten glasses of water every day.