Why is our hair so dry? What type of deep conditioner should I use? What products should I be using for my natural locks? Do I color or relax my hair first? We African American ladies are always asking questions about our hair. Whether relaxed, natural, or colored, the key to keeping our hair healthy is to understand its unique nature, how to care for it, and what to look for in hair products. So when I got the opportunity to speak with Teneya Gholston, the stylist and hair care expert for Creme of Nature, I just had to get her expert opinion on these and many other hair care questions to share with you ladies!
MJ: Can you please explain the unique nature of African American hair? What makes it different from other hair types? Why does it tend to be so dry?
TG: The complexity of African American hair starts with the varying hair textures. From curly to wavy, coarse to fine, we have many hair types, often more than one texture per head. The unique structure of our hair lies in the size of our cuticle. Our hair can have up to twice the amount of “cuticle” or outer layer which results in a thicker, curlier, or kinkier texture. This makes it more difficult for the oil secreted from our scalps to reach the ends of the hair. Excessively curly hair can be tightly coiled like a spring and the natural oils never fully travel down the entire hair shaft. This leads to dry hair which is more prone to breakage.
MJ: Deep conditioning hair is so very important when caring for African American hair. What ingredients should we look for when choosing a conditioner?
TG: The primary purpose of hair conditioner is to strengthen hair, replenish moisture, increase shine, protect from damage, and nourish and make the hair more manageable. When selecting a conditioner, always use a moisturizing component and a good protein or reconstructing conditioner. Below are good ingredients to look for in conditioners:
- Silicones act as lubricants to the hair, which help make styling easier, improve gloss and sheen, and increase body and suppleness.
- Amodimethicone, Phenyl Trimethicone, PEG 12- Dimethicone Hydrolised proteins give the hair shaft additional strength.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in natural oils can help dry and damaged hair to become more soft and pliable. When hair is shampooed, a lot of natural sebum is removed so it makes sense to replace it. Lubricants such as, panthenol fatty alcohols and dimethicone, help the hair to remain tangle free.
MJ: What advice can you give to our natural ladies? What products should those ladies be using?
TG: For all my natural ladies, there are three must use products. A healthy triple play consists of a detangling shampoo, moisturizing conditioner, with a rich leave in conditioner to keep hair healthy and shiny. Products like Creme of Nature Sunflower and Coconut Detangling and Conditioning Shampoo,and Lemongrass and Rosemary Leave-In Conditioner are perfect because they are infused with Certified Organic Ingredients. Natural Ingredients each have their own unique benefits that are important in achieving healthy hair. Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Chamomile, Rosemary are just a few to look for.
MJ: What advice can you give to those of us who choose to relax our hair to keep it as healthy as possible?
TG: When wearing a relaxer, it is important to not to over process your hair. Much of the damage seen in hair stems from incorrect chemical processing. Retouch applications should be performed every 6-8 weeks; applying sooner can cause overlap damage. In between touch ups, keep your hair moisturized and conditioned. Alternating between thermal styling and sets can also help keep the hair healthy. Try a rod set or loose wave roller set with Lottabody Olive Oil Setting Lotion and give your hair break from day to day styling.
MJ: What should come first? Coloring or relaxing?
TG: First, relax your hair. Wait a minimum of two weeks after the relaxer application before applying color to relaxed hair. Treating your hair with nourishing protein conditioning treatments in between chemical processing will help keep the hair healthy and strong.
TG: How important is that to the healthy maintenance of our hair and what type of scarf should we be using?
MJ: Cover hair with a silk or satin scarf before bedtime to help your style stay in place and protect it from friction and breakage that can occur from sleeping on cotton pillowcases.
TG: My new favorite foam is Lottabody Olive Oil Foam Wrap. It has just the right amount of hold, but doesn’t weigh my hair down. It gives me protection while blow-drying and curling, along with adding the shine to my style. I also love Creme of Nature Ultra Moisturizing Shampoo with Kiwi & Citrus, and Creme of Nature Moisture Extreme Conditioner. These keep my hair healthy, and allow me to sustain hair growth while giving me manageability and fabulous shine.
MJ: What do you think is going to be a big hair trend? How can we recreate it at home?
TG: With every hot celebrity we see rocking fabulous blondes, rich mochas, vibrant reds, and so many other hues hair color is bound to be big. For the budgetnistas, keeping up with hair color transformations can be easy with at home hair color kits. Creme of Nature Nourishing Permanent Hair color offers a variety of shades with easy application process.
I want to give a big thank you to Teneya for sharing all of this great information with us!
Need more expert advice on African American Hair
Photos courtesy of: Creme of Nature