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Curl Power: Healthy Hair Tips

Curl Power: Healthy Hair Tips

Don't be fooled: Five hair-brained misconceptions
You did what? Five hairy situations to avoid
Good for you! Five favors you can do for your hair

Girls who have straight hair want curls, and girls with curls gotta have it straight, right? When it comes to ethnic or kinky, curly hair care, health simply hasn't been a priority. Whether you prefer natural or permed, braided or dreaded, afro-ed or weaved, dyed or jheri-curled hair, take the initiative and get informed! back to top

Don't be fooled: Five hair-brained misconceptions
  1. Holding it all back. If you're looking for a quick and easy do, nothing is better than the classic slicked-back ponytail, right? Wrong. As you stretch and pull curls back, you're actually causing breakage. This results in more frizzies along the hairline. And the pressure put on the back of your head may eventually leave you with a bald spot—something even the biggest scrunchie can't hide! Don't make the ponytail a daily habit.
  2. Cutting out the scissors. Why spend money on a haircut when your hair never seems to get any longer? Well, that half-inch of hair you get snipped at the salon might spur another few inches in growth. A haircut every couple of months can help prevent the shrinkage of healthy hair due to split ends creeping up the hair shaft.
  3. Building up to a finish. When it comes to managing your curls, not just any goo will do. Choose lightweight products that can restore moisture to your delicate hair without leaving a sticky, waxy residue. Your hair will be cleaner, softer, and more manageable.
  4. Stretching your limits. Pulling hair into tight braids won't make it longer—the stress might even cause it to fall out. But braids don't have to hurt your hair. In fact, braiding can give you a nice break from everyday styling. Don't put heavy extensions on fragile or brittle hair, and do visit your hairstylist every so often for touch-ups on the weaker sections. If your scalp gets irritated (bumps that don't go away) see a health professional. Left untreated, an infection can cause scarring and permanent hair loss.
  5. Falling for the hype. Don't pick up a magazine and choose a hairstyle—many photos are airbrushed and unrealistic. Styles that involve a lot of chemicals, blow-drying, or pressure can be harmful. Get real and talk to girls with hair similar to yours. See what styles work for them. back to top
You did what? Five hairy situations to avoid
  1. It's only permanent. When you use a relaxer to kill your curls you're dealing with a very powerful and potentially dangerous chemical. In fact, according to the FDA, the only cosmetics harsher than home perm and relaxer kits are depilatory creams—products designed to make your hair fall out! If you want to straighten your hair, go to a salon that you trust—don't take the risk of using a home-perm. Better to spend the extra money than to risk total hair loss. If you do decide to get a perm:
    • Don't wash your hair for four to six days before relaxing it. This will maintain its strength.
    • Avoid drinking caffeine and other hot liquids beforehand. This will keep the pores in your scalp shut!
    • Tell your stylist about any medication you take. Believe it or not, drugs can affect your hair.
    • Be extra good to your hair for a few weeks after a perm—no blow dryers or dyes!
  2. Turning up the heat. Thermal appliances may make for easy hairstyling, but they also make for easy hair loss. Instead of a curling iron, blow dryer, or electric rollers, consider a safe, easy-to-use, and equally effective roller set. If there is some occasion when you feel that heat processing is absolutely necessary, use a pressing cream instead of an oil. Oils can fry up your hair (think bacon).
  3. Too much, too soon. Your hair might recover from one treatment, but it's unlikely to survive two. When getting your hair permed, wait a few weeks before putting in a permanent dye or applying a heat-based styling tool.
  4. Washing it down the drain. Wash your hair less often. For some girls, every week to two weeks is plenty. Contrary to what ads suggest, that "squeaky-clean" feeling isn't healthy for your hair. Hair creates its own natural oils for protection. When you wash it, that oil literally goes down the drain.
  5. A brush with failure. Choose a gentle, wide-toothed comb with rounded tips to "brush" your hair. The thicker your hair, the farther apart the teeth should be. Start at the ends and work your way up to the root. When you get to your scalp, massage it—stimulating your scalp promotes oil production and helps make the process as painless as possible. back to top
Good for you! Five favors you can do for your hair
  1. Stay in condition. If you do only one thing for your hair, condition it! A hot-oil treatment once every two weeks will moisturize hair to its very core. For daily use, choose an oil or leave-in conditioner that will condition deeply and not simply leave a heavy or brittle coating on the hair's surface. A conditioner containing mostly silk proteins, or amino acids, will be able to penetrate your hair shaft while remaining lightweight.

    When selecting natural ingredients, follow your nose: sage, lavender, rosemary, coconut, jojoba, awapuhi, shea butter, and aloe can be a treat for nose and hair alike. You can even try snooping around the kitchen: olive and castor oils restore moisture naturally, while some girls find mayonnaise and eggs increase hair's natural shine. Or make your own natural hair treatment.
  2. Keep it under wraps. Invest in a silk head-wrap to keep oils in and friction (from hair rubbing against your pillowcase) out. Remember, only silk will do. A cotton bandanna won't keep the moisture in.
  3. Speak to your stylist. The best hairdresser is one who is genuinely interested in your hair—not just your money. Whether your hairdresser is a relative or a professional in a salon, make sure your stylist is addressing your hair needs and offering helpful advice.
  4. Educate yourself. Find out which chemicals may be harmful to your curly hair. Read product labels and ask your hair stylist about safe products. If you dye your hair, make sure the label says "semi-permanent" or "demi-permanent" and "non-ammoniated" rather than "permanent." Avoid "persulfate" color boosters. If you don't care about your hair's well being, who will?
  5. More than scalp deep. Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet to get plenty of protein and essential fatty acids. (Fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon or in plants such as flaxseed.) Both you and your scalp are very sensitive to stress, so don't tear your hair out over minor problems. Manage your stress by learning relaxation techniques such as progressive relaxation. Remember, caring for your hair means caring for yourself—and what could be more important than that? back to top
Last Modified Date: 3/30/2001
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