Being unique is beautiful.
In fact, not everyone understands what makes African American hair different. From tightly coiled curly hair to looser relaxed waves, there are so many diverse qualities that fall into the realm of this hair type.
In this first series of Your Hair is Unique, we’ll explore the science behind African American hair and what makes it unique when compared to other hair types.
Everyday upkeep and maintenance is such an important part of length retention and hair health. Let’s begin this series by going through the important processes that should be used to care for your hair.
Caring for Your Hair
If you have this hair type, it’s important to understand the maintenance techniques required to protect against damage whether you have choosen to wear your natural hair, a weave hairstyle or braided hairstyle.
In fact, dermatologists say irreparable hair loss affects African American women more than any other ethnicity. So how can you protect your hair and promote healthy hair growth?
In its natural state, the pattern of African American hair tends to be more curly than other hair types. This is because the follicles of the hair are asymmetrical, which produces oval hair that generally tends to be curly. Unlike straight hair for instance, where a follicle is symmetrical and the strand grows in a circle shape.
Due to the extreme difference in structure, the styling techniques used for styling straight hair often differ from those that are used when styling curly hair. Generally, curly hair falls into six pattern categories.
African American hair usually falls somewhere between the 3c and 4c curl type, although this can vary.
Curl patterns can range from an “S” shape to an extreme “Z” shape. African American hair generally holds more of a kinkier “Z” shaped curl pattern that is more tight with bends in the strands and less curves, which is what makes it more susceptible to breakage or damage.
Why is it vulnerable to damage?
Curly hair tends to be dry because oils do not travel as easily down the hair shaft as they do on straight hair. This is especially true with tight, irregular patterns of “Z” shaped curls. When hair is dry and holds less oil, its more inclined to be brittle and break off.
Straightening Hair Struggles
Just like the old saying the grass is always greener on the other side, the same notion holds true with people’s feelings towards hair. It seems as though everyone with curly hair wants straight hair and vise versa.
Unfortunately, the styling techniques and services that are used to create straight/pressed hair can lead to serious problems for those with curly hair, including dryness, brittleness, and breakage. The use of tools like flat irons and curling irons, while helping to straighten hair, can actually cause breakage and thinning without proper heat protection. The same issues apply with chemical processes like relaxers.
Extensions and Braids Damage
For those with curly hair, hair extensions and braided hairstyles can be a helpful protective style option when you want to cut-back on the use of heat damaging tools and processes. The hair extensions best suited for African American hair types are clip-ins, sew-ins and wigs.
It’s important to make sure that with weave hairstyles the braiding that is required to hold the hair extension is not too tight. Braided hairstyles that are too tight can lead to damaged follicles, which can cause receding hairlines and overall thinning of the hair. A good rule of thumb when getting your hair braided is that if the braid feels too tight, have your stylist stop and take it out. The style is not worth the irreversible damaging effects it may cause to your hair follicles.
One way to cover up thinning areas of the hairline due to follicle damage from braids and extensions is with Toppik Hair Building Fibers. Using the Hairline Optimizer and Spray Applicator, spray the hairline with the Hair Fibers and gently pat to blend with your natural hair.
See how Toppik Hair Fibers cover thinning hairlines:
If wearing hair in its natural, curly state is your prefered choice of style, the same gentle care and attention should be used when styling as with extensions or braids. Again, since curly hair tends to be dry, here are some helpful tips to maintain natural, curly hair to help cut down on breakage and damage.
Shampoo & Condition
Wash hair once a week or every other week to help prevent product build up which can be drying to the hair. If hair is really dry and damaged, use a conditioner to co-wash your hair instead of shampoo. Shampoos can often be overly harsh and detrimental to the hair.
Use a hot oil treatment every few weeks to add additional moisture and elasticity to hair. Trim hair regularly every 4-6 weeks to remove split ends which will help hair grow longer and stronger. Try to decrease heat styling as much as possible but if you decide to straighten or blow dry hair, always use a thermal heat protectant to minimize damage.
If you want to press or thermally straighten hair, ceramic combs and irons are your best tools of choice. Try to use a device that has a dial so that you can set it on the lowest temperature possible to achieve the style you want, while ensuring that it doesn’t overheat.
Follow these tips to help cut down on damage and promote healthy hair when styling some of the latest hair trends that we’ve seen this year.
Hottest Hairstyles and Haircuts for African American Women in 2016
Influencing popular media and culture, African American women are often at the forefront of many trends that we see in music, television, runway and celebrity styles. Let’s take a look at some of the hottest trends that we’ve been seeing so far this year in African American women’s hair.
Natural Hair Beauty
For the past few years the #TeamNatural movement has taken off and continues to grow. With influences seen in social media, culture and the music scene, this trend of embracing one’s natural identity has empowered African American women to wear some of the styles that we are seeing below.
As you may have seen, the bob has made a huge comeback in the past few years. African American women of all generations have taken to this look, making it one of the most popular trends that we’ve seen so far. Recreate the look by cutting and styling either natural hair or hair extensions.
Long waves are here to stay! Influenced by celebrities such as Rihanna, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj, long hair and waves are still a trending look. Hair extensions can be used to recreate some of these similar styles.
Color craze! From the runway to everyday style, women can’t seem to get enough colors in their hair. In order to achieve this look on often fragile African American hair, hair extensions can be used to create a temporary style that includes color without damage.
Hottest Hairstyles and Haircuts for African American Men in 2016
Much like women, African American men play a big role in cultural trends that we see across the world. From music to sports and activists, African American men have a strong influence in hair trends. Here are some of the trends that we are seeing today.
African American men have also been embracing the natural hair revolution, with many growing out their hair to more untamed, longer styles. Below are some of the hottest trends that we are seeing this year.
The most classic style that we’ve seen on African American men throughout the years are fades. This style is usually accompanied with shorter hair on top, but recently we’ve seen a trend of longer hair on top. Toppik Hair Building Fibers and Colored Hair Thickener are actually used by many barbers as a way to enhance these fade styles.
Watch this video to see how Toppik is used on fade styles:
An ode to the classic gentleman style, African American men are growing out facial hair and using it a way to enhance their style and persona. From celebrities to the everyday gent, we are seeing this trend everywhere!
Can’t seem to grow out hair past your five-o-clock shadow? Toppik Hair Building Fibers can also be used on facial hair to help create the appearance of thicker, fuller hair in the beard or mustache areas.
With all the unique qualities of African American hair, it’s no wonder hair plays such an important part of a community and culture. Whether it’s natural, straightened or enhanced with extensions, African American hair is unique and beautiful.
We want to know, what are some unique tips that you use to care for your natural hair? Share them with us in the comments section below!
Stay In the Know
Next week we will be discussing hair nutrition and braided hairstyles. Learn ways to bring your damaged, dull hair back to life and see some of the hottest braided styles for spring!
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