While it can be difficult to manage, African-American hair is extremely versatile in terms of being able to achieve a wide variety of hairstyles. For many women, the ideal style is a semi-relaxed, loose curl that still has plenty of body and moisture and is not discharged out or neglected by harsh hair products.
Here are some tips for keeping African-American hair soft, loose, manageable and healthy-looking:
1. The bottom line for soft, healthy black hair is moisture. Start by moisturizing your hair from the inside. Drink lots of water!
2. Select the right shampoo, using one that's moisture rich and detangles while cleansing without stripping the hair of all its natural oils. Also – do not over-shampoo which can strip hair of moisture. Wash your hair no more often than every week to week and a half. And shampoo only once, never twice.
3. Be sure that shampoo is completely rinsed out before conditioning, and be patient – leave conditioner in for several minutes to help moisturize your hair. Hop out of the shower and cover your hair with a towel or shower cap while you organize your jewelry or makeup tray or take off old nail polish, just so you are not tempted to shorten the moisturizing time.
4. Try hemp-based moisturizers on your hair, such as Malibu's Hemp Moisturizer for Dry Skin, as a moisturizer for hair also.
5. After rinsing out the conditioner, towel dry and add natural plant oils back into your hair, such as grapeseed oil, almond oil or a very light application of virgin olive oil. Use your palms to spread one of these shine-enhancing oils evenly through your hair and then comb or brush your hair to secure the ends are also moisturized.
6. Apply a gentle straightening product such as Curlaway® Relaxing Gel, which is natural and semi-permanent. As Curlaway relaxes curl is also moisturizes with plant oils, Vitamin B-5 (panthenol) and MSM. Unlike alkaline, quick-acting relaxers, Curlaway Gel can be used on chemically straightened, permed or colored hair, which permits highlights or even a shade change.
7. All heating appliances can dry and damage hair. It's better to use a mid-range setting and best to let hair dry naturally tightly on rollers. Ironing your hair while it is damp or slightly damp can cause severe breakage and damage.
8. For sleek, romantic waves, set your hair with large rollers or use narrow rollers for sexy, bouncing ringlets.
9. For the tousled, casual look, use a medium barrel curling wand and let the curls fall where they may.
10. After using rollers under a dryer bonnet or air-drying naturally, running your fingers through your hair a few times after you are done straightening will help smooth out your hair, and achieve a natural look.
11. To keep great volume, use a flatiron only on the top layers and the front to achieve a frizz-free, smooth look, while the curlier hair underneath pumps up the volume.
12. Find a style that works with your natural hair type and growth pattern, and do not over-relax your hair until it is bone straight, strawlike and life-less without body or curl. Show off your curls! Try to work with your hair and not against it.
13. Eat a balanced, HEALTHY diet rich in fruits, vegetables and protein and your hair will grow faster and healthier, as well.
The bottom line is, to have healthy-looking, semi-relaxed hair use gentle relaxers and shampoos, lots of moisturizing, and avoid too much heat.