For many, many, many years, black women have been inundated by myths about how they should care for their hair. Here are the most common hair myths, broken down and given to you straight!
MYTH: “African-American hair shouldn’t be washed often”
This is one of the most undeniably ridiculous myths of all time. It reminds me of the weekly game of hide-and-seek that I have to play with my puppy every time he knows it’s bath time. Black women need to stop thinking that water is the enemy of our hair! Instead, think of your hair as a garden: if you want to grow beautiful hair, you have to maintain it…and water it. Washing your hair helps keep the scalp clean, eliminates oil and build-up, and keeps your hair follicles from suffocating. Every head of hair is different, and therefore, the frequency of routine cleanings really should be based on WHAT IS BEST FOR YOUR HAIR! Many African-American women have found that conditioner washing, otherwise known as co-washing, is an alternative to using the sulfate-based shampoos that strip our hair of its natural moisture. However, since co-washing doesn’t actually clean your hair, sulfate-free shampoos and lather-free shampoos are the REAL cleansing choices you should consider.
Tip: If you feel like washing your hair is drying it out, try using different products. Also, make sure you are properly and regularly conditioning and moisturizing your the hair as part of your healthy maintenance routine.
MYTH: “My hair has gotten used to this product. I need to switch up with others.”
Okay let me get this straight: The dead shafts of hair on your head have created their own immune system, and have become strong enough to resist hair care products? This is laughable. Hair cannot become immune to anything; it doesn’t have the functionality to do so. If your hair isn’t as bouncy and shiny as it was the first couple times you used a product, chances are one of two things is occurring: either the product you are using has too many surfactants (foaming agents that dry out your hair), or the product (or another product you’re also using) has ingredients that create hair build-up. Product build-up can limit a product’s effectiveness, as well as prevent vital nutrients from being absorbed into the hair shaft.
Fly-aways and frizz are signs of dried-out hair. Hair that lays flat and doesn’t have much movement tends to be coated with product build-up.
Products that are drying to your hair should be avoided. If you enjoy using serums and sprays that contain silicones, which coat your hair, you need to make sure you are using a clarifying shampoo regularly to remove build-up.
Tip: Look for products that are sulfate-free, make a routine of washing your hair 2-3 times a week, and get to know your hair and its personality. Figure out what your hair does and doesn’t like, and learn how to tame your mane based on those factors.
MYTH: “Greasing my scalp makes my hair grow faster and keeps it moisturized”
Have you ever noticed that when you grease your scalp, your hair seems to have this greasy, gritty feeling by the end of the day? Most grease-like products contain ingredients such as petroleum and mineral oil. These types of oils act as a sealant or a barrier, and the molecules that make up these products are too large to penetrate your scalp and hair. At the same time, this new barrier blocks the natural moisture that your scalp produces from getting to your hair.
Tip: A better practice is to use natural oils on your hair, such as jojoba oil, on top of a water-based moisturizer. This allows the water to penetrate the hair, while the oil seals in the moisture.