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Black People’s Hair: 14 Most Common Questions Answered

aida turner

Published by Aida Turner

Fact checked by Annie

When talking about the African-American community, there is a lot of important information, ranging from cultural representations, traditions, and history of the black community.

It also includes the Civil Rights Movement, where they fought for equal rights and against racial discrimination, which ended the legal Jim Crow. [1]

They’ve also fought for their hair, as discrimination arose when people glorified Eurocentric beauty standards. Hence, the CROWN Act. This act stipulates safeguarding black women and men against race-based hair discrimination. [2]

These movements also opened up queries about how to properly take care of black hair, the causes of hair damage, hair growth, and other related black hair questions.

With all these, we know that you also have your own natural black hair story and concerns you would like answered.

We wrote this article on the 14 most common questions about black people’s hair. Read through to learn more about your natural hair!

Black People's Hair

What Is a Black Person’s Hair Called?

A black person’s hair is called natural Afro-textured or natural African hair. It is prevalent in many African-Americans, with 94.9% of the population having tightly coiled hair and 5.1% with loose curls. [3]

Many black women and men with this hair type often have biological linkages in South Africa.

One of the good things about having your natural state of hair strands in curls is the different unique, and eye-catching black hair styles you can achieve, like:

Back in the day, hairstyles like these were not just mere designs. For example, having braids was seen as a women’s marital status

These styles also represent the struggles of African-Americans with dark skin and kinky hair. 

It also stands for social movements like the Natural Hair Movement, which pushes African-Americans to whole-heartedly adopt their nappy hair without straighteners and other chemicals despite racial discrimination from Western society.

Why Is African Hair So Different?

Having African hair is different because they do not have straight hair, and their hair types vary from these three:

  • Wavy hair
  • Curly/Nappy hair
  • Kinky hair

Although curls are the number one characteristic that makes their hair unique, there are also other factors, such as being brittle and dry.

According to research, these characteristics make black hair prone to hair loss and slower regrowth. [4]

With this fact at hand, it has been established that black hair needs proper hair care treatments and proper styling techniques to keep the curls as healthy as possible.

Do Black People Have Curly Hair?

Yes, black people are associated with nappy hair. As mentioned earlier, a study revealed 94.9% of African-American women and men have curly hair, and 5.1% have wavy hair.

These curls are apparent because of genetics, as it has been evident in African-Americans since the 1800s and even further back.

Sometimes, biracial or mixed individuals get to have all kinds of strands in one (straight, curly, wavy, and kinky), as mentioned in development research. [5]

Woman With Afro Hair

How Often Should Afro Hair Be Washed?

The number of times you need to wash black women’s hair would depend on the curl type (3A, 3B, 3C, 4A, 4B, or 4C curl type).

In a study, the researchers explained the curl types differences, in which 3A to 3C have loose curls, and the type 4s have these specifics:

  • 4A – S-shaped
  • 4B – Z-shaped
  • 4C – Z-shaped with tight curls

The same study shows that type 4s are more susceptible to breaking, which entails lesser hair washing, once to twice a month. [6]

While for type 3s, washing your hair twice to thrice a week is recommended to maintain the curls’ natural volume.

How Should Black People Wash Their Hair?

Washing your natural Afro-textured hair is different from straight hair, as you need to take extra steps to untangle mattes and moisturize the hair.

To properly execute washing for your black hair, you must follow this step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Detangle Natural Black Hair

Before going into all the wetting and shampooing, the first step is to detangle your locks, mattes, or braids.

You can apply coconut and olive oil or a natural curl detangler, like the Kinky Curly Knot Today. Then, split up the strands using a Boao detangling brush with a wide-tooth and flexible brush head.

Step 2: Use Natural Hair Shampoo

After successfully untangling the curls from your natural hair, you must wet it with lukewarm water, apply shampoo, and lather.

Make sure that what you’re using has natural hair ingredients suitable for black women and men. The best shampoo has these characteristics:

A study shows that having a plant-based or plant-derived external strand and scalp supplement can help make healthy hair. [7]

Step 3: Condition Black Hair

Now that you’re done cleaning your black hair with shampoo, it’s time to moisturize it by applying conditioner for at least five minutes before rinsing.

Note that you may also use leave-in conditioners for black hair that doesn’t need rinsing.

Step 4: Dry Black Hair

Now that everything’s settled, all you have to do is dry your black hair before styling through the use of these methods:

  • Air dry
  • Towel dry

You can blow dry your natural hair. However, it may get damaged if you mishandle the control of the heat.

How to Moisturize Afro Hair?

Human hair and scalp tend to dry, but black women’s hair is always more vulnerable to drying because of the natural hairstyles’ structure.

With this, constant hydrating for your black strands is a MUST. To ensure that your natural hair gets the moisture it needs, you can try these tips and tricks:

  • Use water-based moisturizers (every day) and hot oil treatments (every two weeks)
  • Refrain from using direct heat from a hot comb, chemical straighteners, and other equipment to straighten hair
  • Avoid products with alcohol, parabens, and phthalates

WARNING: A hot comb to straighten or design strands in protective styles is not recommended, as the heat from the hot comb can’t be controlled.

Woman in White Long Sleeve

What Are the Causes of Afro Hair Breakage?

There are a lot of causes as to why Afro strands are prone to breakage; number one on the list is that it has a lower density with an average of 190 hairs cm (± 2) compared to Caucasians’ average of 227 cm.

Additionally, consistently straightened hair using chemical relaxers can damage the hair shaft, resulting in breakage, loss, and thinning.

Moreover, even if braids act as a protective style for black hair, research shows that it can still cause the following:

  • Fiber damage
  • Thinner strands
  • Weak roots, which the hair grows

If you are of mixed heritage, your Afro strands may get entangled with straight ones (as you get a mix of straight and kinky strands), which causes twisting and knotting from time to time, resulting in breakage. [8]

How Often to Cut and Trim Afro Hair?

A black woman and man with curly strands should cut their hair every 8 to 12 weeks. This is highly suggested to maintain the beauty of their hair’s natural texture and type.

Yet, how often you trim your curls will still depend on what style you want to sport – short or long.

What Are the Best Afro Hair Products?

The previous sections mentioned that the best Afro-textured hair products are plant-derived and fragrance-free.

More than that, these products should also be phthalate- and paraben-free and contain essential oils.

Check the Best Shampoos Without Harmful Chemicals.

Here are some of the best products you can consider buying:

Can You Dry Afro Hair Without Using Heat?

You can surely dry your own hair without getting heat damage by using a soft towel or a washcloth.

To do that, you must follow this step-by-step process:

  1. Scrunch your hair in the shower using your hands.
  2. Section your hair for easy drying.
  3. Squeeze or scrunch each section using a towel.
  4. Let it stay in sections and air dry.

Remember that you must know the proper hair-drying technique for your Afro-textured hair, as improper ways may cause mattes and locks after your curls dry.

How to Dye African American Hair Without Damaging It?

Many women apply hair dyes as a fashion or political statement. Sometimes, they do this to complement their facial features.

For black women who want to change the color of their strands, this guide can be of help to get the good hair you’ve always wanted:

  1. First, let your natural oils prosper by avoiding the application of shampoo 24 hours before coloring.
  2. Second, prepare your strands through treatments that can strengthen and repair your strands, like the Olaplex No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment.
  3. Third, dye your hair. You must partition it into multiple sections and color the roots (where the hair grows) to the tips. However, it’s recommended that you avail of the services of professionals to keep your hair texture as healthy as possible.
  4. Fourth, constantly hydrate your scalp and strands using curl leave-on conditioners or other conditioning hair care products to avoid dryness and breakage.

Can Black People Have Straight Hair?

Black women can have their hair straightened. In fact, a study highlights that 80% of black women straighten their hair using chemicals. [9]

This activity is common, particularly in a society where most of the world’s population has favored Eurocentric beauty standards of having long straight strands and much lighter skin.

However, a similar study and another research emphasized that repeated relaxing of strands of those with Afro-textured curls may cause scalp disorders, like:

  • Burns
  • Desquamation
  • Eczema
  • Inflammation

For these reasons, and as part of the Natural Hair Movement, people have been doing the big chop, where they cut off all the parts from their chemically-processed strands to embrace their Afro roots. [10]

Two Women Next To Each Other

Can Black People Have Red Hair?

Aside from dyeing their hair red, a black woman can have red as her natural hair if she has albinism. In this inherited condition, an individual lacks melanin creating a different color in the eyes, skin, and strands.

A study stated that this is common, especially for those who live in sub-Saharan Africa. [11] Nonetheless, for black people, red hair is a product of producing only one kind of melanin, the pheomelanin or known as the red kind.

Another reason why black people can get red-colored strands is if they are biracial, which means their parents come from different races.

Can Black People Get Lice in Their Hair?

Lice are itchy and can cause irritations. It has been a problem in the United States as they get 6 million to 12 million infestations yearly, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [12]

In the case of African-Americans, they can still get lice too. However, as they have tightly coiled strands and differently structured shafts, they often get lesser lice infestations.

Another article pointed out that aside from the shafts, black people have lesser lice as they often use petroleum jelly and conditioners when they recreate protective styles or other black hairstyles, which means they have soft and smooth strands. [13]

What Does Lice Look Like in African-American Hair?

Head lice in an African-American’s natural hair are similar to other men and women, as the lice have these characteristics:

  • Brown, white, or dark gray
  • With six legs
  • Oval-shaped

How to Get Rid of Lice in African-American Hair?

When you have lice on your head, itchiness is non-negotiable, and irritation and soreness come into play when you scratch it. 

To get rid of your lice, these are the things you need to follow:

  1. Thoroughly wet hair with lukewarm water.
  2. Part it into sections.
  3. Apply Permethrin lotion 1% and leave it for 10 minutes. [14]
  4. Rinse and dry with a soft towel.

TIP: You can also soak your clothes in hot water to remove the lice.

Final Words

With all these answered questions, we hope you flaunt your Afro curls in style and confidence now that you are more aware of what it stands for in society, how to take care of it, and all the other essentials!

aida turner

Aida

Founder & Hair Beauty Specialist

I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty and make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!