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African-American hair is versatile and can transform from curly to straight to intricate braided styles with the right techniques. Unfortunately, black hair is drier than other hair types and needs extra moisture to stay healthy and avoid breakage. If your hair if struggling to stay strong, try changing your shampoo and implementing a regular moisturizing routine.
Shampoos and Conditioners
Shampoo can contain ingredients that do more harm than good. Black hair, especially, can be negatively affected by sulfates and alcohols, which are in most shampoos; these ingredients strip hair of moisture. Instead, reach for a sulfate- and alcohol-free shampoo and conditioner packed with natural ingredients. Washing and conditioning with these types of products will remove dirt and oil, as well as infuse much-needed moisture into your hair. Keep your washings limited to once per week (or every 10 days if you can handle that); more than that may be too drying on coarse or curly locks.
Tons of products on the market claim to moisturize black hair. Unfortunately, many contain ingredients that just sit on the hair shaft without really moisturizing it. Avoid ingredients such as petrolatum, lanolin and mineral oil in particular; favor natural oils or water-based moisturizers. Coconut oil is great for moisturizing black hair and penetrates the shaft. Or seal the moisture into your hair with a light oil such as extra virgin olive oil to keep your hair soft throughout the week.
If your hair is particularly damaged, you may need a protein treatment, which will help rebuild and strengthen your hair. But don't do a protein treatment more often than once per month or you risk even more breakage. A weekly hot oil treatment made of natural oils will also help bring your hair to life. Try a combo of coconut, jojoba and olive oil to create a hot oil treatment at home.
Two main culprits will limit your ability to grow healthy hair, both of which involve straightening. Flat-ironing or other heat styling damages and dries your hair, so limit heat styling to once per week. Wrap your hair in the meantime to keep your hair straight throughout the week. Do so by wrapping your hair around your head in a circle using a bristle brush to create a beehive-like shape and cover your head with a satin scarf to keep it straight and silky overnight. Additionally, resist the temptation to chemically relax those locks, as this will significantly weaken and damage your hair. The only way to reverse a relaxer is to cut it out, so carefully consider whether it is the right step for your hair.