The Ultimate Guide To African-American Hair

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There's nothing worse than looking for a new hair salon—whether you're scouring the web, searching the phonebook (if you're old school), or hitting up your list of BFFs for advice, it's just not easy. If you're a multi-textured beauty, the odds are not always in your favor. Of the thousands of hair salons in this great city, only a select few are dedicated to the proper maintenance and care of textured tresses.

Whether you’re a curly girl with a Rolodex full of relaxed friends, or a diva obsessed with flowing extensions who can’t seem to find a tress expert with the know-how to keep your hair healthy, look no further. We scoured the streets of NYC for the best stylists in all the major African-American hair categories. We've interviewed three salon owners who are experts at making textured manes look their most gorgeous. Specializing in everything from kinks and curls to color and keratin-treatments, see what they have to say about proper hair maintenance, including their must-have products. We think your search for that perfect salon is finally over.

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Anthony Dickey
Hair Rules, 828 Ninth Avenue (between 54th and 55th streets); 212-315-2929

His Mane Objective
The care, maintenance and education of kinkier-textured tresses who have been historically overlooked by the mainstream. Hair Rules Salon takes the approach of educating its customers with techniques and products to maintain healthy textured hair.

Tips For Natural Curls
"Wash and wear is the most suitable approach to caring for textured hair. It allows for the best curl definition and elongation. It’s a simple method you can incorporate into your shower routine and it allows you to literally wash and go!"

Tips For Pressed/Straightened Hair
"Most of our clients that are natural, during the winter months, wear their hair straight. We recommend at least three to five days of wash & wear styling before thermal straightening the hair. The hair has a natural ability to be heat-protected when properly moisturized beforehand. Don’t go more than three days without putting water on your curls."

Tips For Color-Treated Hair
"There’s a myth that color dries out the hair. That’s not true! People damage your hair, color doesn’t necessarily damage it. It’s all about preventative measures. You have to keep your hair moisturized. You can’t over-condition so do it as much as possible, and again, keep those wash and wear styles as a regular part of your routine."

His Product Picks
Hair Rules Cleansing Cream
"It’s a non-sudsing shampoo. It’s so important because 99% of the shampoos on the market, are not made for naturally curly hair. It’s like an oxymoron to find an ultra moisturizing shampoo. This is it."
Hair Rules Daily Cleansing Cream, $42, available at Hair Rules.

Jane Carter Wrap & Roll
"Jane Carter is a great product line for transitioning naturals. The Wrap & Roll works really awesome for rod sets."
Jane Carter Wrap & Roll, $8.91, available at The Natural.

Hair Rules Blow It All Out
"This is perfect for straightening and heat-styling. It keeps the hair soft with thermal straightening."
Hair Rules Blow It All Out, $18, available at Folica.

Jane Carter Nourish & Shine
"If you’re all natural, this pomade works really great for maintaining twists and twist-sets."
Jane Carter Nourish & Shine, $22, available at Naturally Curly.


Photos: Dan McMahon, Courtesy Anthony Dickey
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Dana Gibbs
Dana's Loft Hair Salon, 96 Orchard Street (between Delancey and Broome streets); 212-677-7701.

Her Mane Objective
Chemical processes, with an emphasis on teaching clients to love and appreciate their natural hair before anything. African-American women grow up most of their lives not knowing their natural texture and not being comfortable with it. Before you can have healthy hair (be it natural, relaxed or colored), you must love it, respect it and appreciate it.

Tips For Relaxed Hair
"Relaxers should be left to the professionals. If I were to try to relax my own hair I would damage it! As with all chemicals, give yourself moisturizing treatments at least once a week, using heat, for 10-20 minutes. Always put a leave-in conditioner on before styling. Water is moisture, and a leave-in will lock in the water while styling."

Tips For Keratin-Treated Hair
"Always keep in mind that keratin treatments are not meant to straighten the hair, but to remove frizz. Make sure to always shampoo the hair with a sodium chloride-free shampoo, and always use conditioners with plenty of moisture. Stay away from protein treatments."

Tips For Color-Treated Hair
"Hair color is another one of those services that I feel you should leave to the professional, but there are some decent at-home products out now. When coloring at home, stick to colors close to your natural color. Know that most boxed colors will only take you two shades lighter. So ‘honey blonde’ usually comes out dark orange! Use shampoos that are sulfate free and condition the hair with heat for at least 20-30 minutes every time you wash your hair."

Her Product Picks
MoroccanOil's Hydrating Styling Creme
"This product is very moisturizing on dry, coarse hair and it tames frizz. It's great for straight or curly hair."
MoroccanOil Hydrating Style Creme, $31, available at Folica.

KeraCare's Edge Tamer
"This product with a toothbrush is my go-to, on sets and in the salon, to keep my clients' edges under control."
KeraCare Edge Tamer, $9.95, available at Ensley Beauty Supply.

TIGI Catwalk Haute Iron Spray
"This spray is awesome for protecting the hair while flat ironing and it gets the hair super smooth and shiny"
TIGI Catwalk Haute Iron Spray, $19.99, available at Walgreen's.


Photo: Courtesy of Dana Gibbs
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Karen Mitchell
Karen's Beauty Bar Salon, 498 Flatbush AVenue (at Empire Boulevard); 718-221-0181

Her Mane Objective
With locations in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, Karen’s Beauty Bar Salon and her hair distribution company True Indian Hair both specialize in hair extensions. Her MO is fabulous, natural-looking extension installation with an emphasis on maintaining the health of the natural hair.

Tips For Extensions On Natural Hair
"Natural hair still needs maintenance even while wearing extensions. Wash your hair and extensions at least once a week with a moisturizing shampoo and at least once a month with a clarifying shampoo to remove buildup."

Tips For Extensions On Relaxed Hair
"Avoid excessive tension to your hair, especially your sides and crown areas. Relaxed hair is already weakened by the chemical process so it needs care and attention to maintain health and to grow. If you are in pain during and after installation, your hair will definitely suffer. Avoid tight braids. Keep your edges moisturized with an edge pomade or daily leave-in conditioner."

Tips for Extensions on Transitioning Hair
"Extensions are great for transitioning hair as they allow you to maintain one look without worrying about the cross over, but do not ignore your natural hair just because you are transitioning. Remove your extensions every six weeks to two months, and trim your hair ends as transitioning hairs tend to suffer from split ends. Keep your scalp clean and your hair moisturized to promote hair growth."

Her Product Picks
Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner
"A sexy leave-in that moisturizes natural hair and extensions (for kinky, wavy or curly hair)."
Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner, $16.99, available at Target.

Jane Carter Scalp Renew
"The best pre-shampoo and dandruff treatment for dry scalp."
Jane Carter Scalp Renew, $20, available at Curl Mart.

KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo
"Instantly softens your hair and great for detangling."
KeraCare Hydrating Detangling Shampoo, $8.42, available at Drugstore.com.


Photo: Courtesy of Karen Mitchell