Many African-American women like their hair to look sleek and fashionable. But to achieve these styles, black hair must be chemically relaxed and straightened with heated styling tools. The result? Damage to our delicate textured strands. Must you give up on the kind of hairstyles you love? No. These tips from can help you avoid hair damage and get your strands back on track. Here’s how:
Limit your use of chemicals. The chemicals in hair dyes and relaxers cause most black hair damage, especially when paired with other products that also stress the hair.

Avoid excessive use of heat styling tools. That means pressing combs, flatirons and blow-dryers. They can severely damage hair. These styling tools can burn the hair follicles, which leads to hair breakage. To avoid heat damage, opt for natural styles requiring little heat to achieve straight tresses.

Cut back on shampooing and conditioning. Too much of these basic services can deplete hair’s natural oils. Instead, allow hair to produce its own oils by washing tresses every two weeks. After washing, slather a rich conditioner on your hair. This is great for ultimate moisturizing, and it strengthens and reduces hair breakage.

Handle hair gently. That means no rough brushing and combing, please! Damaged hair is weak and won’t stand up to this harsh treatment. Never brush hair when it’s wet because that’s when strands are weakest.

Read RH’s “Damage Control” for more tips on common grooming practices to help keep hair damage-free.