Your hair is a part of the largest organ of the human body, the skin. Proper care of the skin begins with adequate hydration, or water. So, drink up! African-American skin has tendencies for dryness. However, dry scalp and hair issues are attributed primarily to heat and chemical treatments. It is important to know how to keep the hair well hydrated and and oiled to prevent breakage and fall-outs.
The key to caring for natural or chemically processed African-American Type Hair, or AATH, is hydration. Tight coiling of AATH prevents effective distribution of oils and contributes to dryness. Extreme dryness is usually attributed to over-processing with chemicals and heat, but hormonal shifts can cause this, too. Use a deep conditioner once a month, or in extreme cases every other week. If you can afford salon deep conditioning programs, go for it! If not, before your next shampoo, mix pure glycerin and a conditioner that contains oils such as sunflower or almond, and aloe vera, and use it to massage the hair and scalp thoroughly. Place a plastic shower cap on your head sit under the dryer for 30 minutes or do housework to generate heat. Heat dilates the hair follicle and allows the conditioner to be absorbed. Rinse, then shampoo to get rid of excess oil, set and style as usual. Fruit and nut oils contain vitamin E and antioxidants that your hair will appreciate. Aloe is one of nature's finest remedies for skin irritations and can be soothing for relaxer burns.
All AATH is not the same. Some hair is very kinky, coarse and resistant to heat and other chemicals, while others are soft but sponge-like and prone to tangling and frizz. The bottom line is that all types of AATH need moisture. A good way to maintain moisture in the hair is by using a leave-in conditioner daily which contains aloe and fruit or nut oils such as coconut, shea and cacao. If you wear your hair natural, dampen the hair and massage a small amount of the moisturizing conditioner from the roots to ends of your hair during your bath or shower. Leave the conditioner in and style as usual. Relaxed hair benefits from products that contain glycerin and light oil, such as sesame. Apply sparingly and smooth the hair.
Avoid using products that contain petroleum or mineral oils. They are not moisturizers and they will clog the pores of the scalp and coat the hair. Oils have their place in AATH care, but the purpose is to seal moisture within the hair follicle and to protect from heat used during styling. If you have not adequately hydrated your hair, coating your hair is suffocating and will not allow growth. Use a small amount of olive or coconut oil daily on the hair and massage the scalp to distribute the oils evenly. Massage will also stimulate blood circulation to the scalp. These simple measures will help with the health and manageability of your hair.
Now living in Costa Rica, Leslie Arthur began writing in 2010 for LIVESTRONG.COM. She has been an intensive-care nurse and currently serves as a health and wellness director. Arthur has a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the Indiana University School of Nursing.