Salon Owner and African American Hair Specialist Santa Cruz Shares Her Expert Tips
We spend countless hours and dollars perfecting our hair. And why not - its style and condition say a lot about who we are! We spend hours in the salon working on braids, smoothing relaxed hair and achieving the perfect curl. Santa Cruz shares her expert tips so you can maintain that style and turn heads this season.
I find that the biggest misconception among African Americans is that it's necessary to grease the scalp - this is not true! Instead of greasing, the scalp needs to be properly conditioned and cared for.
For example, African Americans also tend to grease the scalp to relieve itching, flaking or scaling. A better treatment to effectively eliminate the flakes is to use a medicated shampoo, like NIZORAL® A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, that actually treats the cause of dandruff and stops the itching and flaking. I also like NIZORAL® A-D because it doesn't have to be used every day (which is important since we tend to go days between washings), and it's even gentle on chemically and color-treated hair.
- Turn the bad into good
We've all had them - the inexplicable and unpredictable bad hair day. On those occasions, there is no better cure than a head wrap or a good hat! In case of emergency, I also recommend people with long hair pull it back into a ponytail and wear nice hair jewelry. For short hair, I recommend the "gel" look with a couple of cute bobby pins.
- Skip the relaxer and go Au Natural
Trends are moving toward natural looks, so don't be afraid to let your true colors shine through. I like to give my clients funky "bedhead" styles, naturally shaped curls or dreads for that effortless style.
- Keep your braids in top shape
Braids are beautiful - but only when they're properly maintained. A loose or messy braid looks neglected! I always remind my clients to retighten braids in a timely manner, to keep them looking fresh and stylish.
- Go all out for special occasions
Big, bouncy hair is back, and it's pretty on both long and short hair! Big, beautiful curls are a great (I heard on several occasions that African American woman do not commonly use the word gorgeous) compliment to a special outfit, and make you feel glamorous for a night on the town. You can get this look at home by using a roller set.
- Fix the frizz
Curly hair can be tough to maintain, but the rewards are gorgeous. Try sleeping on a satin pillowcase - because it's slippery, it keeps curls from breaking or frizzing. And unlike cotton, satin won't absorb your hair's natural oils, so it helps keep hair moisturized.
- Out to Dry
A common curly hair faux pas is fussing with the curl while it's drying. I tell my clients never to do this, as it will cause the curl to fuzz or frizz out. Instead, curly hair should dry in clumps for a more defined shape. Comb a leave-in conditioner through wet hair, and leave it alone until it's dry. If you want to separate the curls after your hair is dry, just throw your head over and give it a good, hard shake!
- Let your curls go to your head
Everyone can have voluminous, fun curls with this style that works on curly, straight or relaxed hair: I like to take long hair in small sections at night and detangle them with fingers. Then twist and coil the sections, pinning them close to the head. In the morning, you'll have volumes of beautiful hair!
Another great trick for getting that perfect curl starts with braiding chunks of hair in sections. At the end of each braid, brush the loose hair around your finger to finish off the braid with a curl at the bottom.
Santa Cruz is the Owner and Creative Director of Salon Santa Cruz, a Manhattan salon specializing in the unique hair care and maintenance needs of African American and Latino women and men. She and her staff take particular care to educate clients about the best methods in caring for both hair and scalp, with an emphasis on curly and chemically treated hair.