Black hair is more fragile than most, requiring tender, loving care. The follicles and hair shaft are tightly curved, creating a naturally curly or kinky texture. With less oil production, black hair also tends to become dry and easily knotted.Cornrow braiding, glues used to apply extensions, use of hair relaxers and other popular services may lead to hair and scalp problems that require a visit to the dermatologist.
Jenyne M. Raines, a former associate beauty editor at Essence magazine, encourages black women to make peace with their hair in her new book, Beautylicious! The Black Girl’s Guide to the Fabulous Life. She outlines six basic hairstyles for women of African heritage, with chic updates. (“The rest is just a riff on a theme,” she writes.)
The Afro was designed to form a perfect circle during the 1970s. Today, aim for a “textured, piecey, free ’fro,” she recommends, perhaps parted to one side.
The classic pageboy, meant for straightened hair, is now a modern, layered bob.
The “slicked-back ’do” for short hair was generously “lubed” and brushed back when you were younger. Today, it’s “texturized to highlight the natural curl pattern.”
Long, straight hair will never go out of style, but Raines recommends angling it at the face or fashioning “a riot of natural curls.”
Ponytails are always a sensible standby when you’re pressed for time, but Raines believes buying an I Dream of Jeannie-style hairpiece confers a more sophisticated look.
Braids are always pleasing to the eye, and Raines urges women to aim for Janet Jackson’s look in the film Poetic Justice.