For most African American women, hair is something that needs to be handled with care. Black hair is often more fragile than the locks on Caucasian women, and therefore may not respond well at all to harsh treatment or chemical processing. Still, many of us like to switch from our naturally curly doís to something straighter, or to experiment with different hair colors and highlights for a new look. The good news is that by exercising care when applying a chemical treatment, including a trip to a professional to ensure a goof-proof style, you can enjoy beautiful, healthy hair no matter what style you choose.
Relaxers for a Straight Style
Many African American women have opted for a relaxer to say goodbye to a curly top and enjoy a straighter style. While straight hair can be an attractive choice for you, the damage that is done to hair through the relaxing process is inarguable. This is because the actual act of taking curl out of hair is done by breaking the hair down and weakening it. Some stylists will actually recommend that you only try to relax your hair by about 80%, unless you are going to keep it very short, to prevent excessive breakage that can occur as a result of the relaxing process. It is also wise to avoid relaxers right after coming out of braids or extensions, since these processes can result in tiny nicks to hair strands that will keep your hair from taking the relaxer evenly, and can result in additional breakage.
Once you have completed a treatment using a relaxer, make sure that you keep up with your hair care routine with regular applications of a moisturizing pomade or leave-in conditioner that will keep your hair soft, healthy and damage-free.
Another popular treatment for black hair is a coloring, and this can be done either over the entire head or with a few highlights put in. One of the most important rules of coloring hair is to always add color to a perm, instead of adding a perm to a color treatment. This will ensure that both processes come out correctly, with minimum damage to the hair strands. For best results, book your color treatment within a week to ten days after your perm. Once your hair is colored, it is important that you avoid the chlorine in swimming pools, since this chemical can react with your color and produce a greenish or brassy tint. You can either wear a swimming cap while in the pool, or rinse your hair well and apply a leave-in conditioner before getting in the water. This will protect your strands from a chemical reaction between the chlorine in the pool and the color on your hair.
Black hair is fragile to begin with, and adding chemicals to the hair in the form of relaxers or color can weaken hair further and make it more prone to damage. However, with the proper care before, during and after a chemical processing, you can enjoy new color, texture and a healthy mane as well.