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African-American Women Have Specific Hair Issues

What African-American Women Need to Know to Keep Their Hair Healthy

4. How to Improve Hair Health

Women can take several steps to improve their hair, McMichael says.

If you have breakage of your hair, McMichael suggests this hair care regimen:

  • Shampoo with a gentle, cleansing shampoo.
  • Use a gentle hair conditioner, ideally a leave-in product.
  • Use a silicone-coating product. (Look for an ingredient such as dimethicone.)
  • Use also an everyday, leave-in conditioner.

This regimen can be good for everyone, even without breakage, she says.

When your hair is especially fragile, she suggests taking a holiday from relaxers, color, or both.

Relaxers aren't the enemy, she says. But a holiday might make all the difference. (For children, relaxers should not be started until after puberty, if possible, she says.)

If your hair is fragile, decrease the use of heat, she says. Take a break from flat irons if there is breakage, McMichael says.

Watch the tightness of braids, she says, as that can hurt hair. "If your hair is braided so tightly it hurts when you chew," she says, "it's probably too tight."

McMichael reports serving as an investigator for Allergan, Intendis, Procter & Gamble, and Abbott. She is a consultant for Procter & Gamble, Johnson and Johnson, Stiefel, Allergan, Galderma, and Guthy-Renker.

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