African-American hair is naturally more dry and coarse than other hair types. Oils from the scalp have a tougher time reaching the ends of the hair strands as a result of the hair's kinkiness and thicker outer cuticle. The hair's dryness and coarseness forces the hair follicles to grow up rather than down, since the hair strands are not weighed down by natural oils. People with African-American hair must add oil to the hair. The unique texture of African-American hair, rather it be short or long, requires that it be maintained and cared for differently than other hair types.
Wash hair with shampoo and conditioner no more than once every week. Washing the hair more often can cause the hair to become even drier, which will result in breakage. If you exercise regularly, you will need to rinse the salt out of the hair from sweating, which results in more frequent washings. Use water rather than shampoo to rinse the salt out of hair after exercising. Use a leave-in conditioner after washing the hair.
Wrap a scarf or head rag over your hair before sleeping. This will help the hair maintain moisture and will prevent breakage from the hair being rubbed on a tough cotton pillow at night.
Add oil to the hair. Use moisturizing products, such as hair lotion, on a daily basis to add oil to the hair. Grease, or petroleum and mineral oil based products, can clog the pores on the scalp. Lighter oil-based products can both moisturize and help the scalp breath. Experiment and find the correct product for your hair. Use a hot oil treatment or deep conditioner at least once a month. Also massaging the scalp with your hands at least once a week will help promote natural oil production.
Wear natural hair styles. Avoid using heat, perming or straightening the hair. Styling the hair this way results in the hair being stressed, since they work against the hair's natural texture. Instead, try to plait or braid the hair. Encourage the natural texture with Afro-related styles or dreadlocks.
Use combs rather than brushes, and ribbons rather than rubber bands. Brushing and rubber bands pull and stress the hair. Although brushing can't be avoided altogether, brush the hair as little as possible. When styling children's hair, avoid using rubber bands. Ribbons cause much less stress to the hair.
Eat a proper diet. Drinking plenty of water and eating plenty of protein and vitamins will promote hair growth. Also spritzing a little water on the hair on a daily basis will help moisturize the hair.
Si Kingston has been an online content contributor since 2004, with work appearing on websites such as MadeMan. She is a professional screenwriter and young-adult novelist and was awarded the Marion-Hood Boesworth Award for Young Fiction in 2008. Kingston holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.