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Textured Hair: The Science

Learn why textured hair curls, and how to make the most of your texture.

The Science of Your Hair Type

Anyone with textured hair worn natural, and textured hair that's relaxed, knows how hard it is to manage their delicate tresses. But with a lot of moisture and some TLC, you can have gorgeous, healthy hair.

Textured hair characteristics: Highly textured hair can be natural and relaxed. In its natural form, this hair type can run the gamut from thick and coarse strands to kinky and very tightly curled. Textured hair that's relaxed tends to be flat and shiny.

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The Science of Highly Textured Hair

The nitty gritty: Scientists don’t know why different hair types develop, but the shape of the hair follicle matters (yours is highly textured), as does the way hair proteins (keratin) are clustered in the hair shaft.

All hair—no matter what hair type you are –twists as it grows. The number of twists affects how curly your locks are: the more twists, the more curls. With relaxed highly textured hair, the chemical relaxing treatment breaks microscopic bonds in the hair so the strands can be manipulated into a straight style.

Textured hair challenges: “Lack of moisture is the most common problem,” says celebrity stylist and salon owner, Ted Gibson. For natural highly textured hair, the areas where the hair actually twists causes weak spots, which makes this hair type susceptible to breakage. For relaxed, textured hair, the straightening process hair weakens the hair structure, so breakage and splitting are common.

African-American hair can be more difficult to straighten and more likely to suffer damage. Most of the trouble arises when the solution is applied to already-straightened areas. Even if your stylist is applying to solution only to your roots, it’s difficult to avoid at least some overlap. Pressing with a hot comb is another way to straighten highly textured hair. The combs are generally heated to at least 150 degrees, which can cause bubble hair, a condition in which the water in the hair actually boils, forming bubbles inside the hair shaft. The bubbles make the hair prone to severe breakage.

Challenge accepted: Deep conditioning treatments once a week helps hydrate parched strands. Wrapping your hair at night with a silk scarf can protect delicate strands, and shying away from alcohol-filled hairspray and styling products helps keep your hair from drying out, according to Gibson. Stick with products that have ingredients like silicone and oil, which replenish your hair’s moisture. After styling, follow a hands-off policy with your hair since the more you play with it, the more it will frizz.

Breakage doesn’t normally happen unless there has been overlapping with chemical services so try spacing out the treatments if you get your hair chemically relaxed. If you prefer pressing to chemical straightening, it’s best to leave it to a professional who has experience controlling heated combs. To minimize damage, avoid pressing your hair more than once a week.

Best textured hair care ingredients:
* Silicone
to smooth strands.
* Oil
for hydration.
* A combination of protein and moisturizing conditioners
to strengthen and hydrate hair.

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