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What is Texture? You might ask yourself this question from time to time. It can be confusing for some -- Natural? Texture? Curls etc.? Any one who has a curl pattern has texture. You are a Textured Girl if your hair is slightly wavy, curly, or very tightly coiled -– “You” have texture. You may even have a chemical process, relaxer or softener in your hair, but wear your hair with waves or curls. “You” too have texture –- a softer, sleeker texture, nevertheless –- it’s texture. This all brings me to a question I was asked very recently. “Diane, do you think there is a huge market for children’s salons for ages 2 – 12 years old?' The answer is -- most definitely! There is a great demand, and slowly children’s’ salons are popping up all over major cities. This ever-growing trend is catching on very fast. All children start out with natural hair. The texture may differ throughout their formative years. Then as they grow older, they learn how to manipulate their natural hair texture with chemicals and products to achieve a straighter, smoother look. This is all learned from their parents, I might add. What is my point? It is that children can learn all about their natural texture at a very young age. Parent and child alike can learn to love and appreciate textured hair when they start going to an educated stylist. And furthermore, they can learn that they have options early on, so as not to damage and destroy their natural texture. This is why there is a big demand for children’s salons -- a void that has not been addressed. Children’s hair products are constantly developed and marketed to parents in their 30s and 40s to meet the ever growing and overflowing market. And yes, we are busy looking for the next best things to care for our children’s hair. When more options are offered in terms of children’s hair care, a larger audience will participate. In my experience, parents are thirsty and ready for the next level. Transitioning from relaxer back to natural would not be a challenge if one knew early how to care for and style textured hair Texturizing and softening the hair for manageability would be a choice, rather than turning to harsh chemicals to achieve a straight look. There would be an understanding that cutting the hair for style (taking off length), especially with natural/textured hair, is very different than shaping. Parents and children alike would appreciate the education and have a better understanding if they had a salon to go to learn the intricacies of their child’s hair. Reading all about this subject in a magazine is very helpful but there’s nothing like hands-on advice from a professional. A little education goes a long way. We have to start from the beginning. Even stylists can learn a new thing or two about textured hair by keeping an open mind.

Q: I'm a biracial (black/white) teen, and I cannot seem to find the right way to control my hair. I've had about four salon relaxers in my life, and about 7 at-home relaxers . The problem I'm having is that my hair is straight on the top layers, but kinky-curly at the roots. The rest of my hair is either corkscrew curls or loose waves. My hair is also very thick; color treated and reaches my bra strap. But even the length doesn't weight it down. Right now I use Crème of Nature Conditioning Shampoo and Citre shine leave-in conditioner. I do use a small amount of Blue Magic grease that does nothing to smooth the frizz or moisturize my dry ends. I used to use gel on my hair every day, but can no longer find one that smoothes my hair. I hate using too many products on my hair, but it seems I have to mix a million products together just to go to school in the morning. I can only comb or style my hair when it's wet. But I've been told brushing your hair while wet is bad. The only thing I can do with my hair at this point is wear it in a bun or ponytail. I do love my curls, but I want to know how I can form them to be nice and soft, smooth and shiny. And when I wear my hair slicked back, I would like it to smooth down without a big ring of curly frizz around my hairline.

Diane: Believe it or not, you have a head full of beautiful curls that most women would die for. It might be just a little too unmanageable for you right now, but all you need are some tricks of the trade. First, you should stay away from shampoos with wax that coat the hair. Also, no more grease to smooth it down. What you want to do is start out with a very moisturizing cleanser once a week and deep condition your hair with a penetrating conditioner for dry, brittle hair. Make sure you comb the conditioner through with a wide-tooth comb to detangle and penetrate evenly. Make sure you receive a shape that will take some of the weight out of your hair and keep the ends clipped. For daily maintenance, simply wet the hair or spray with a mist, like TAI Texture Lavender Mist –- a botanical conditioning detangler and refresher. Then apply a leave- in conditioner that will form and hold each individual curl. The most important step is to find a product such as a molding pomade or gel that will work for your hair texture. Again, there are several companies that make these pomades and gels -– Tai Texture TwistCreme, Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding, Aveda Control Paste, John Frieda Crème Paste, etc. But please stay away from any products that contain mineral oil, petroleum or lanolin. Apply the product in sections of individual curls, section by section, twirling the hair around your fingers. Let your hair dry with a diffuser or with a dryer for best results. Do not touch the hair until it is completely dry. And brushing the hair will disturb the perfectly placed curls. However, when you wash your hair, you can brush it while it is wet with a wide paddle brush. This will help to circulate the blood flow that feeds your hair, promote growth and massage the scalp. Your curls will last you for days. To freshen up, just mist your hair and reapply your gel or pomade. When your products begin to build up, just rinse the products out completely and start the process over again. For other long-lasting styles, try creating large two strand twist by applying gel or pomade and sectioning the hair into 2” sections, then twist. After the hair dries completely, separate the twist and finger comb the twist for more fullness. Always let your hands act as your comb- they work wonders.

Q: I am African American with a very short half-inch barber cut. I have been using a texturizer to loosen the curl. What procedure do you suggest on a daily basis as a wet-and-go style? Is it better to apply with sopping wet hair; do I massage or do I comb through to get that curly piecey look? Any help you could give will be greatly appreciated.

Diane: To get the best results from a texturizer, you should apply your products on wet hair. It doesn’t have to be sopping wet, if the hair is short. However, you should always leave a little leave-in conditioner in the hair to protect the it and to define the curl pattern. Then apply a gel or pomade to hold the curl or try a foaming mousse. Always use your hands or fingers if you would like to achieve a piecey look. Combing the hair will distribute the hair evenly and give you a smoother look.

Q: I'd like to know what products you use on your famous clients' hair (Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, and Blair Underwood) and what hairstyles are easy to do for people who are hairstyle-challenged? I'd also like to know what things you do to achieve healthy hair?

Diane: I’ve used several products on my celebrity clients. They are always made from botanical ingredients, plant and flower essences. You can try Tai Texture Hair Care, Aveda, Kheil's, Carol's Daughter and PhytoSpecific. It’s hard to answer your questions regarding style without knowing more about your hair texture and length. So I suggest you pick up my book, 'Textured Tresses,' which provides step-by-step details on styles for you to try at home or to take to your stylist to try. Start with a recommended cleanser and conditioner for your hair texture, keep your hair shaped and the ends clipped, and moisturize your hair with a light pomade or gloss/serum as needed. Also, protect the hair at night by sleeping on a satin or silk pillowcase or with a bonnet or scarf. Cotton can rub against your hair fiber and break the hair.

Q: I was wondering how you would recommend doing an at-home steam treatment such as the kind you recommend in your book?

Diane: It’s very simple. First shampoo and condition the hair with the appropriate type of products for your hair texture. Comb through the conditioner with a wide-toothed comb. Run the shower for about 10 to 15 minutes with warm to hot water and fill the bathroom with steam. Then sit in the bathroom for about 15 minutes with your hair loose (no towel or plastic caps are required.) Voila! The at-home steam conditioning treatment.

Q: I'd love to know what (product) ingredients you feel women with natural hair should avoid?

Diane: Women with natural hair should definitely try to stay away from Balsam shampoos and conditions. These products tend to expand the hair shaft. Natural hair tends to need more moisture and products that will smooth the hair shaft and leave it shiny. Other major ingredients to stay away from are beeswax, mineral oil, petroleum and lanolin. They tend to weigh the hair down and collect debris from the environment.

Q: What is the best way to transition without doing the Big Chop? How do you keep your hair healthy and what are some good styling ideas for blending textures, etc. Also, do you have any tips on dealing with multiple textures of hair -- i.e. coarse and fine, corkscrews, accordion waves and ringlets on the same head?

Diane: There are several ways to transition without cutting off your hair. You can braid the hair in individual braids until you feel comfortable with the length to take it off. Another cute style is to twist or flat twist the hair and the let it out for a twist out look. Multiple textures are inevitable for women of color with textured hair, especially multicultural women. Again, twisting and plaits are great ways to control your curl pattern with consistency, Just apply product on wet hair, twist, braid or cornrow, let dry and loosen. Always finger comb. If you would like to wear your hair with the wet/loose look, you’ll probably have to use different strength gels or molding products or strong-holding mousse in different areas of the head where the curls are different. This will ensure longer-lasting curls. Always apply section by section and wrap the hair around your fingers to create defined curls, and then dry. If you run out of the house with wet hair, you’ll get some curls without frizz. However your best results will come with a little drying.

Q: What are the latest trends in styling, accessories and cuts for natural hair? The pony puff and the wide scarf headband can get old.

Diane: Why not go to the next level, with Mohawk puffs -- several puffs down the middle of the head. Or perhaps you might try three angle puffs on either side of the head. You can also cornrow the hair on either side and wear your hair in a twist out on the top, falling in a bob. There are so many alternatives. It just depends on the length of the hair and if you want to use natural extensions.

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