Since African-American skin tends to be dry, hydration is the key. Just take a look at beautiful, black stars Vanessa Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey and Halle Berry. Their skin has a glow, and their hair looks healthy with plenty of shine. Here’s how you can achieve great overall beauty, starting with our crowning glory, the hair.
My stylist once told me the secret to doing any type of hair was to add a little more or a little less of certain essential ingredients, depending on the kind of hair. African-American hair tends to be thinner, more fragile, dryer, and easily damaged. The curly, wavy, or kinky texture does not allow natural oils from the scalp to travel to the ends of the hair shaft. The solution is to add oil and moisture to hydrate, strengthen hair, and make it shine.
Conditioning The Hair
Tip #1: An easy and quick way to add moisture to freshly shampooed hair is to combine one-part olive oil to three-parts of your moisturizing conditioner. Shake the bottle well. Apply just enough to style the hair. Do not rinse, leave in. If you wear your hair in its natural state, step out into the sunshine for additional benefits. The heat from the sun will continue to condition your hair, making it soft and shiny. See a video to help you style curly hair here.
If you blow dry or set your hair, the oil will help to protect from the heat and keep hair from drying out, which causes breakage. Before styling, check out this video here.
Don’t have olive oil? Use baby oil instead, adding it to your moisturizing conditioner. Remember to leave the conditioner in the hair. Try other products like shea butter and coconut oil after conditioning. View this video for help with damaged hair here.
Tip #2: Here’s another simple recipe to give moisture and shine to the hair: mix an egg and mayonnaise in a bowl. If you like, you can add a drizzle of olive oil to the mixture. Apply to your hair. The egg will provide protein, the mayo will supply cholesterol and other vitamins to soften and add shine.
Wrap the hair up in plastic or wear a plastic cap. Do not heat the mixture (you will cook the egg). Leave in the hair for 30 minutes. Rinse the mixture out of the hair. Gently shampoo, then condition. And, here’s an extra tip: after shampooing, rinse your hair with beer for added shine. No light beer!
Tip #3: You should deep condition your hair once every two weeks. Apply an ample amount of heated olive oil, (as hot as you can stand it, test on the wrist for temperature), on your hair. Wrap with plastic or wear a plastic cap. Leave in for at least 30 minutes. Rinse out and gently shampoo. Use a hydrating and conditioning shampoo. Video on conditioning here.
Tip #4: Skin needs exfoliation, but African-American skin usually lacks moisture, so you want to exfoliate gently to prevent dryness as you remove the dead skin cells. To prepare the mask, you will need a papaya, a 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin, and one egg.
Cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds. Then, mash. Beat the egg in a bowl, add the papaya, also add in the canned pumpkin, and mix the three ingredients. You can use a blender or food processor for a smoother mask.
Wash your face with a hydrating, gentle cleansing soap, (Try Dove or Oil of Ole). Apply the mask over your entire face, (careful not to get any in your eyes). You will immediately feel tingling as the enzymes in the pumpkin start to work. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes.
These ingredients work like a scrub gently removing the dead skin without being harsh and abrasive. Rinse off with warm water, then cool water to close the pores. Finish by applying toner and a moisturizer. An extra tip: Add a few small drops of olive oil or baby oil to your favorite face cream and body lotion.
Tip #5: For those dark circles around the elbows and knees, here’s a great remedy–lemons. Cut a lemon in half. Squeeze out a little of the juice and place the half lemon on the elbow or knees. Hold it there for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.
The lemon acts as a mild bleach to lighten the skin. An extra tip: whiten your nails, too. Just squeeze out a little juice from the lemon and stick fingers inside the lemon. Swish fingers around for 20 minutes, follow up with a rinse, dry and you know, a moisturizing lotion or hand cream. Do once a week. More tips on African-American skin from dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo here.
What is the key word for African-American women to remember in order to achieve great hair, skin, and nails? Moisturizing. So, before you grab that flat iron or dress after a shower, don’t forget to moisturize, for softness, suppleness, and shine that will make you glow with beauty.
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