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African-American fashionistas can have hair very different from that of women of other ethnicities. Best bet: Pick cuts that work with their hair. Tapered-ends haircuts might need a little extra work for an African-American lady, but these 'dos can look amazing if done right -- Halle Barry and Rihanna are just two women of color who have dazzled with this hairstyle.
What Tapered-Ends Means
Tapered-ends in terms of a haircut can mean two things. It can mean your cut leaves your hair longish on top and shorter on the bottom near your neck. This generally means a short cut. Alternately, it can mean the sides of the cut are angled so the hair looks less wide at the center. Angled cuts can be pretty much any length.
Why They're Fab
African-American beauties tend to have hair that's more coarse. That typically means it doesn't sit very flat and can puff out and frizz fairly easily. If you opt to go short and use tapering, you can keep some of the awesome volume you have up top but take out the majority of hair that would fly out in every direction. You'll look sleeker and more polished. With a longer cut, you keep most of the hair, but the slope of the cut brings the focus to the center of your back. Your hair looks less wide and you subsequently look slimmer.
Texturizing and Relaxing
Some African-American women have hair that looks great in a tapered cut without any other treatments. If you're looking for a sleeker look, however, you might need texturizer or relaxer to get the hair to lie flat and stay controlled. This is a viable option, but texturizers and relaxers are chemical products just like hair dye or perms. They inevitably damage your tresses because of the way they work with the hair strands, so going in this direction for a tapered-ends haircut isn't something to take lightly. If you choose to relax or texturize to get this type of cut, use products for treated hair and take steps to keep your hair hydrated, moisturized and conditioned. Ironically, African-American divas often end up tapering because they have previous relaxer or texturizer damage they need to chop off.
Personalizing the Style
Because tapering can be done at so many lengths, tapered-ends cuts are easy for African-American and other women to personalize. For instance, highlighting could pump up the depth of the cut and bring out your natural coloring. However, the downside of having so many options is that your stylist won't automatically know what you want if you say "Taper it" and leave it at that. To get the results you want, chat up your stylist before you ever let her pick up the scissors, especially if you'll need other treatments before or after the cut.