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Ask the Experts: Top Five Black Hair Myths

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While it goes without saying that we adore our grandmothers, some of the hair gems they passed down to us could be filed under "Old Wives Tales" (raise your hand if you thought white hair naturally grew faster than Black hair). Here, we sat down with celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen -- she's responsible for Rihanna's trendsetting tresses -- to get the real deal on the top five Black hair myths. MANE MYTH: Trimming your hair will make it grow faster. TRESS TRUTH: "While frequent trims are great for removing split ends, they don't actually make your hair grow faster," says Ursula. That being said, don't skip your trims! If you ignore split ends for too long, they can creep up the hair shaft, and then you'll need to snip off more than you bargained for. Regular snips every 6 to 8 weeks will keep your coif looking crisp and clean. MANE MYTH: Natural hair is stronger than relaxed hair. TRESS TRUTH: According to Stephen, natural hair is actually quite fragile. "It should be treated gently at all times to prevent breakage," she says. To maintain your strands' strength, never brush your natural hair while it's wet; instead, use a detangling comb or your fingers. Also, skip cotton pillowcases -- the rough fibers can cause fragile hair to break off. Try a silk or satin pillowcase, or wrap your hair in a silk scarf. MANE MYTH: Braids make hair grow. TRESS TRUTH: We think this myth started when Black women began sporting braids to carry them through the grow-out process. But while braids are a cute style option, they have nothing to do with the rate of hair growth. "Hair grows about a half inch a month, period," says Stephen. "Strong, healthy hair comes from the inside out... it has nothing to do with any attachments you might wear!" MANE MYTH: Black hair doesn't need to be shampooed often. TRESS TRUTH: According to Stephen, there isn't a "correct" schedule for washing hair, but infrequent shampooing can result in dirt, oil and product buildup, which weighs down the hair shaft and makes it look dull. It's best to wash hair once a week, at least. MANE MYTH: Greasing your scalp keeps hair healthy. TRESS TRUTH: Stephen says that grease actually clogs pores, which can inhibit scalp circulation and hair growth! "A healthy scalp is gained by a healthy diet," she adds. To help maintain strong, healthy hair, eat tons of proteins (like fish and chicken), and foods high in vitamin C, which help with scalp circulation.
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