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Ever heard that African-American hair shouldn't get wet? It’s time to bust that myth. Moisture is essential to maintaining healthy hair of any type. African-American hair contains less moisture than other hair types, so it breaks easily. Regularly hydrating your hair and avoiding moisture-sapping products is the best way to put moisture into hair, which prevents breakage and keeps your hair manageable and healthy. Whether you sport a relaxed or natural style, embrace moisture.
Water is moisture. One way to keep African-American hair hydrated is to spray it with a small amount of water at least once a day, according to Nicole M. Hewitt, author of the manual "Hair and Skin Care for African-American and Biracial Children." If your hair is relaxed, don’t worry. A tiny amount of water won’t ruin your style. If your hair is natural, water will cause the curls to tighten. You can counteract this by twisting or braiding your hair after you spray it with water. Whether you have natural or relaxed hair, apply a few drops of oil to your hair after you spray it with water to seal in the moisture. Hewitt recommends a light natural oil, such as coconut or olive oil, because hair absorbs those oils rather than the oils just sitting on top.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Many products on drugstore shelves advertise themselves as “moisturizing.” Take advantage of those products and add them to your routine. If you’re worried about shampoo stripping moisture from your hair, you should choose a moisturizing shampoo or avoid shampoo all together and try “co-washing,” or washing your hair using water and a moisturizing conditioner. Whether you use shampoo or conditioner, the best way to wash your hair is to do it about once a week, advises WebMD health and beauty writer Liesa Goins. Use a clarifying treatment once a month to remove product buildup. Apply a moisturizing leave-in conditioner after you wash your hair.
A moisturizing cream can work wonders for dry hair. Hewitt and Goins both say the best creams are lightweight and contain naturally moisturizing ingredients, such as water and avocado. Apply a small amount of moisturizing cream to your hair and work it through your hair with your fingers or a wide-toothed comb.
Ingredients to Avoid
Some ingredients damage African-American hair or strip away moisture. Avoid products that contain lanolin, mineral oil or petroleum jelly because these greasy products clog your pores and weigh your hair down, said Hewitt and Goins. Avoid products that contain alcohol because it dries out hair and can cause breakage by removing the moisture you’ve worked so hard to get.