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An African-American woman's hair is a representation of her complex blend of genetics and personal style. Similar to the way the science community uses a periodic table to organize elements, African-American hair is also broken down into categories. These categories are based on the curl shape and size of the hair. Even though curls found in African-American hair are distinguishable, many women opt to wear their hair straight because its easier to style.
After all, style is important!
Eliminating the curl of African-American hair is like a rite of passage for young girls. They are always excited to get their hair straightened for the first time. Usually, by the age of 14, they prefer a permanently straight texture rather than their natural curl. Straight African-American hair is viewed as low maintenance. Today, there options to getting straight hair, although some straightening techniques are messier than others.
Old-School: The Straightening Comb
At a time when hair care for African-Americans was in short supply--no, impossible to find--the straightening comb was invented by Madame C.J. Walker. Over 100 years ago, women would use the comb, along with a softening creme to make their hair more manageable. Today, the straightening comb is a common tool found in nearly every hair salon and African-American home. The comb is a great option to straighten African-American hair because it allows the hair to return to its curl texture once it's washed.
Make It Last Forever: The Relaxer
Relaxers (or perms), as we know them today, have been around since the early 80s. The no-lye solutions are applied to African-American hair in sections, from tip to root. Relaxers should be applied in a salon by a professional. Once the relaxer is processed and thoroughly washed out of the hair, the hair is permanently straight (hence the common phrase; perm). This type of straightening can only be removed by slowly growing it out over time or cutting the relaxed hair off.
The Island Feel: A Dominican Blowout
Its no secret in the African-American community that Dominicans do a good job at blowing out hair. Some Dominican salons specialize in straightening African-American hair. Straightening via a blowout is different from straightening with a straightening comb because a blowout incorporates a blow dryer and a round brush. This technique gives hair a soft bounce. When done regularly, however, this type of straightening can make it less than easy to return to the natural African-American curl texture. Regardless of technique used, straightening African-American hair is a complex task. And, since straight hair is the most popular texture among African-American women it makes sense that each one has her preferences.