Long Hair…Short Hair…Who Cares? Is it Healthy? –

It is almost officially fall, despite the fact that for many summer temperatures are still lingering. Weathermen across the country are highlighting temperatures well above seasonal expectations; 80s and 90s in places like Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Washington, DC. People in many of these Indian Summer cities are complaining about the extended summer; everyone seems ready to ditch the shorts and sandals for boots, sweaters, and fashionable hats. From a beauty perspective, no matter what kind of hairstyle a woman chooses, summertime temperatures and sunlight can damage hair. Every woman’s hair is different, almost as unique as a fingerprint. The differences cause women to create their own hair care concoctions and techniques. Dedric Deshon, a Chicago-based hair stylist and educator, admits that most women do know what works best for their hair, but offers his clients advice on topics that most overlook.

Against the likes of most men, the majority of African American women wear satin scarves or bonnets when they sleep at night, which is one of the most crucial habits anyone can have to maintain the health of their hair. However, Deshon adds that sleeping in a room with a humidifier will also do wonders for hair. “We spend the majority of our days in buildings with dry air, so sleeping with a humidifier at least gives your hair the opportunity to replenish at night,” says Deshon. “Moisture is one of the most important factors that contribute to healthy hair. Those living in structures that are still heated by radiators have the driest air. Your body might be warm, but since the air lacks moisture, it will draw the moisture out of the hair.”

Have you ever washed your hair and thought it would be a good idea to leave the conditioner in all day? It’s ok if you say yes, a lot of women do this (until this very moment, I occasionally did the same). However, Deshon explains that this is actually one of the worst things you can do for your hair. Sure you thought you were giving your hair an extra-long drink of moisture; adding moisture back that was sucked out from blow drying and flat ironing. Well, unless the container actually says “Leave-In”, you should be rinsing all products out of your hair. “The conditioner build-up can actually leave the hair hard and fragile, making it more susceptible to breakage,” says Deshon.

Before this information, it made complete sense to leave conditioner in the hair; after this information, it makes complete sense to rinse out all non-leave-in conditioners thoroughly.

The majority of Deshon’s clients are relaxer-free; wearing their hair curly in the warmer months and keeping regularly scheduled appointments in the winter to avoid going outside with wet hair (they would surely turn into popsicles). Anyone with natural hair that can be combed through knows the trials and tribulations of detangling. Most find it easier to comb through the hair when it’s wet, but it’s not best for the hair. “Hair is at its weakest when wet, so brushing or combing in the shower means more hair will break off,” says Deshon. “As annoying as it might seem, you really should take the time to detangle the hair before washing and refrain from combing or brushing until after the hair is dry.”

As the winter months approach, there are other practices that need to be addressed. “One of my pet peeves is to see women, and men, but especially women wearing wool hats and scarves, without a barrier for their hair,” explains Deshon, “Wool and cotton are some of the most damaging materials you can put in close contact with your hair.”

No hair stylist, especially one in Chicago, would tell you to head into the cold without a hat. However, the best thing for your hair is to wear a satin cap beneath those hats. A quick trip to the local beauty supply store will allow you to see all of the various products that are out to help you keep your hair intact beneath your winter accessories.

Whether long or short, relaxed or natural, locked or straight, black or white, winter takes its toll on every strand of hair. “I have a wide range of clients; Asians with long coarse hair, Caucasians with thick curly hair, African Americans with short relaxed hair, and those transitioning. I try to offer specials on hot oil treatments during winter months. It’s a service that everyone benefits from, but very few get as often as they should. It’s my way of urging them during the winter months. Not to mention it makes things easier for me when I have manageable hair to work with when we cross back over into Summertime Chi,” laughs Deshon.

Braids. Weave. Afros. Cornrows. Locs. Twists. Fades. Natural curls. Relaxers.

Not one of the above hairstyles mentioned is new, and by no means is that list complete. These hairstyles have been around for years, some centuries, but still African American women are finding more ways to rock more than one at a time, or add their own distinct angle to make it their own. Regardless of the styles, everyone wants healthy hair.

Dedric Deshon is a celebrity stylist and a licensed educator who has worked with some of the industry’s top brands. Deshon can be found at Lillian Dion Salon and Schedulicity.


Have you been guilty of some of the don'ts listed?

What seasonal haircare tips do you have to offer?

Do you have non-leave-in conditioner in your hair right now?

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