In Our Heads About Our Hair

04 January 2012

How often do I really need to shampoo?

and other questions...

The experts interviewed for this story told WebMD that you should shampoo at least every 14 days, but every seven to 10 days is recommended.

"I often have to explain to clients that African-American hair needs to be washed regularly," says West Hollywood stylist Kim Kimble, who has worked with Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington, and Vanessa Williams.

"Bacteria can grow on the scalp without regular cleansing and that's unhealthy," says Kimble, who has a line of products called Kimble Hair Care Systems.

Many women are worried about stripping the hair of moisture when they wash (in addition to the time-consuming ordeal of styling). LaVar suggests lathering with a moisturizing shampoo designed for normal or dry hair and following with a moisturizing conditioner.
Why does my hair keep breaking?

When you sap moisture from the hair, it loses suppleness and is more susceptible to breakage, LaVar says. Because African-American hair is naturally dry, it needs supplemental moisture to stand up to styling.
LaVar tells her clients to avoid products designed for limp hair. Ingredients that add body can actually strip oils and remove moisture, she says.

The experts also suggest wrapping your hair in a satin scarf or bonnet before bed to help your hair retain moisture. Cotton fibers in your pillowcase will wick away hydration.

Are there any moisturizers that don't feel greasy?

"If the product feels greasy, it's probably not adding moisture inside the hair," LaVar tells WebMD. "You need a penetrating conditioner with lightweight oils that are absorbed rather than sit on top of the hair."
Why is the hair around my temples thinning?

Braids are usually the culprit, experts tell WebMD. Tight or aggressive handling of the hair causes traction alopecia, a form of hair loss, Taylor says.

Plus, the weight of braids can stress the hair follicles and cause hair to fall out as well, Kimble notes.

Thinning can also be a result of hormone changes, genetics, or a health condition, so you should see a doctor as soon as you notice a change in your hair growth or texture.
Are at-home relaxers safer than salon versions?

The short answer: No. "One of the most common mistakes I see is over-processing," LaVar says. And women have the misconception that no-lye relaxers are safer or that leaving a relaxer on longer helps it work better.

"You just need to relax the curl enough to break up the wave," she says. Leaving it on longer leads to more damage, LaVar notes.

"I don't advocate people doing relaxers at home," LaVar says. The other experts interviewed for this story agree, saying that the strong chemicals need to be applied properly -- without overlapping the last chemical treatment -- and rinsed completely.

Without a professional application, you may cost yourself more in the long run if you develop hair damage that needs repair.

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